Reading to Write: How Much for a Book?

The connection between landscape and character is never far away…

A few readers have asked me how much research goes into the writing of a book.

How much do you have to read in order to write?

Drifting Through a Cold War Haze

We had fallen into a Cold War movie…

I turned up the collar of my black trench coat and thrust my hands deep into my pockets. I didn’t have a semi-automatic pistol to clutch, so I held my phone instead. We had fallen into a Cold War movie, and I was trying to act the part.

With Head in the Past and Feet in the Clouds

The magical mountaintop world of San Marino, one of the world’s smallest independent countries…

“Oh come on, ‘I’ for Italy!”

“What’s the problem?” Tomoko asked, buckling her seatbelt and settling in for a drive.

“It looks like my recently updated sat nav has maps for all of continental Europe…except Italy.”

Potsdam: Palaces, Gardens and 18th Century Dreams

Schloss Sanssouci

There’s a smallish town just outside the Berlin city centre that’s completely encrusted with palaces.

It’s only 30 minutes away, at the end of the S7 line, on the River Havel. And it’s the most popular day trip from Berlin.

A New Life in a New Town

A new life in a new town…

I learned and experienced many things during my years in Malta, and I wrote around 30 articles about it — most of them were positive, about the places we discovered, from small village streets to the windswept heights of Ras ir-Raheb and the coast of Blata tal-Melh.

My Island Years Are at an End

Thus ends my island years…

I moved to the Mediterranean because I wanted to write an island book inspired by Lawrence Durrell. But it had to be a place no one else had written about — at least, not in that way.

Drifting With The God of the Winds

...before long the entire island chain was spread out below us...

…the entire island chain was spread out below us…

We weren’t even halfway up the mountain yet, and I was already coming to terms with my own mortality.

Take a Drink at Beckett’s Head

No Berlin visit is complete without a drink at Beckett’s Kopf...

No Berlin visit is complete without a drink at Beckett’s Kopf…

I’ve been in Berlin for the past few weeks, soaking up some art and inspiration in my favourite city. And no visit is complete without soaking up a few of the local spirits, too.

Inside Krakow’s Collegium Maius

The Old Library Chamber is a peaceful place to read

The Old Library Chamber is a peaceful place to read

When I was a teenager, my vision of university was one of solid stone buildings, some covered in vines. The footsteps of a single person echoing from a lonely courtyard late at night. Vast libraries with wood panelled walls and statues of ancient Greeks. And new worlds of knowledge opened by brilliant professors, who would spark discussions that would rage far into the next morning’s light.

The RoadWisdom Guide to Traveling Iceland

Iceland feels like another world, one caught midway between geology and Norse myth...

Iceland feels like another world, one caught midway between geology and Norse myth…

I’m just back from a couple weeks in Iceland, exploring remote corners of the Central Highland deserts, and just soaking up the silence and that clean subarctic air.