I am the author of two self-published books, Lebanese Nuns Don’t Ski and Hvar: An Insider’s Guide to Croatia’s Premier Island, and I am looking for a publisher to work with me for a series of humorous travel books in some fairly offbeat places. Jon XXXX recommended you, having read some samples of my work, and he thought you might be interested in some more information about my writing.
I am British citizen, former aid worker and wine merchant, who has been living in Croatia since 2003. I have travelled widely to more than ninety countries and been fortunate to work in some fairly interesting places, and it is these experiences which form the background to my writing. I have six travel books either written, planned or in process, a summary of which is below.
1. Lebanese Nuns Don’t Ski (self-published on www.blurb.com, manuscript available)
So what would you do if your wife ran off with a hairy truck driver?
A drunken moment of clarity sent the author out of his local pub in Oxfordshire down to the M40 motorway, armed with little more than a daypack and a fluorescent orange cardboard sign 'South Africa', in a half-baked attempt to put distance and perspective to his pain.
What started out as self-indulgent escapism quickly turned into an educational journey of other people's suffering and loss, which helped put personal events into context. From visiting the prisons of Rwanda, gun battles in the West Bank, being held at gunpoint in Kosovo and playing Stalin's piano in Georgia, to causing a bomb scare in Jerusalem, surviving a plane crash in Eritrea, a hospital visit in Somalia and a friendly rat while camping in Madagascar, this nine month trip from local pub near Oxford to local pub near Oxford via the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Africa brings to life the lives, loves and losses of the people and places encountered.
2. Around the World in 80 Disasters (sample chapters available, first draft due October 2011)
Arrested in a schoolboy dressing-gown outside St. Petersburg train station, injected with alcohol following a head wound in Cuzco, and facing the consequences for inadvertently destroying a military road block in Rwanda, Around the World in 80 Disasters is collection of true stories of one intrepid traveller over the last 25 years. From Confessions of a Male Chambermaid in Munich and undercover reporting for a Polish satirical paper in Rome, to elevated status as a Manchester Rain God in Somalia and being $430 short of a ticket home from Rio, 80 Disasters is a light-hearted compilation of stand-alone stories from some of the more remote parts of every continent.
3. Notes on a Small Island (sample chapters available, first draft due January 2012)
The consequences of a spontaneous property buying decision from a Somali compound are laid bare, as the romance of an impulsive holiday home purchase in peak season on an unpronounceable Croatian island gives way to the harsh reality of the impending winter. From trying to find out one’s address to dealing with the realisation that there is no mains sewage, Notes on a Small Island is a hilarious account of an Englishman’s attempt to come to life with his new home, as well as the conservative locals coming to terms with him. Written in blog style where Bill Bryson meets Bridget Jones, Notes also documents the daily struggles of foreign buyers fighting to buy goat shed ruins via a newly-formed British estate agency on the island, and examines the antics of foreign tourists through a decidedly local eye.
4. Laser Crystals Salesman and Siberian Aid Worker: Russia in the Nineties
A chance encounter with an eccentric Manchester dentist solves the problem of employment for the mandatory year in Russia as part of a language degree. Armed with an English-Russian-Japanese technical dictionary and an ‘O’-level in physics, the author heads to St. Petersburg with the aim of bringing the finest Soviet laser technology to Western markets. Never having seen a laser crystal and unable to speak Russian, doors to Russia’s largest military research complexes are nonetheless opened, with hilarious results. A second chance encounter over a Guinness in Moscow heralds a change in direction, as the author takes charge of aid distribution on the edge of Siberia, from peanut butter and brownie mix to milk powder for cows.
5. Alboland: A Tale of Curry and Concrete
Albania, the final frontier on the property investment scramble along the Adriatic coast. Two hardened British investors based in Croatia take the trip into the unknown in early 2008, to find a world of golden virgin beaches, incredibly cheap property... and curry. From prime seafront plots overlooking Corfu to apartment blocks in the rougher parts of Tirana, numerous property deals are chased until one is chosen. Headquartered in Albania’s first Indian restaurant, the cultural introduction to Europe’s most surreal country is laced with onion bhaji and chicken tikka masala, a relationship which leads to an unfortunate investment.
6. How Not to Do Business in the Balkans
An impulsive property purchase from Somalia and a chance encounter in a small library results in the author relocating to a stunning Adriatic island. Once settled, the realities of being self-employed on a small island with no language and limited opportunities became apparent. Ever the enthusiast, the author embarks on several ventures in the Balkans with varying (although broadly unsuccessful) results. From Croatian real estate agent, Montenegrin land speculator and Bosnian property developer, to Welsh hand sanitiser, Swedish compressed air leakage detection and Norwegian halal goats, How Not to Do Business in the Balkans is an amusing view of Western business mentality entering the Twilight Zone.
In addition to my book writing, I work as a freelance journalist, most notable for online Canadian magazine, Suite 101, where I am a Feature Writer (http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/728053 for samples of my writing and more information about myself).
I look forward to hearing from you and to discussing possible collaboration at your convenience.