Round Up

Round Up

It has been a while because I’ve been a bit busy!

First news is that Le Fanu 3 is now with the publishers and will appear in the coming months sometime. There will likely be some new avenues for availability that I will keep you informed about.

In this one, Le Fanu finds that being the boss is tougher than anticipated, so seizes on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and the apparently unrelated murder of a visiting Englishman to give him some diversions. However, the dreaded Jepson threatens to return to his position so the Raj sends Le Fanu out of India to pursue the cases. Along the way he meets a woman who complicates the Ro McPhedren situation that is already confused by her reluctance to join him.

Stay tuned!

A Madras Miasma and The Pallampur Predicament had a great run through the Madras Week celebrations recently in Chennai, thanks to marvellous support from S. Muthiah and Sriram V., both great writers on the city’s history and heritage. Muthu arranged some special readings to focus on the locations in the books, and both he and Sriram have done nice reviews. Thank you, gentlemen, and I look forward to being back in Chennai soon.

Over the past few months Sandi and I spent some time in Osaka, Japan before joining the Holland America cruise lines’ Volendam on which I delivered lectures as we sailed around Japan, into the north Pacific then across the Bering Sea and onto Alaska then down the coast to Vancouver. Following that we had a week chasing bears and eagles and whales on Vancouver Island. We are fortunate, indeed, to have these opportunities.

My memoir of being in Syria, A House In Damascus: Before the Fall, will soon be in Print On Demand form as well as in e-form, so I’m looking forward to that even if the Syrian situation just becomes increasingly sad. I think a lot about my friends who are either still there or dispersed across the world.

In a small world Hans Kemp, one of the publishers at Crime Wave Press has been volunteering with refugees in Greece as the European crisis deepens, and many of those whom he has been helping are from Syria.

Back in New Zealand I have started writing a true crime book that examines a nineteenth century case. The archival search has turned up some marvellous material and stories and I have written about 20,000 words so far. Being an archive rat as a result of training as an historian has many benefits.

In addition I have been working on some television and/or film scripts, of which more later, I think.

While there are so many great books coming out these days, two have stood out for me in recent months.

Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt’s The Whites is just outstanding crime fiction: great story, terrific plotting and wonderful writing. A must-read in the genre, I think.

Greg McGee is one of New Zealand’s most versatile and successful writers and his latest novel, The Antipodeans, is a stylish and compelling three generational study of one family’s interactions between New Zealand and the Italian region of the Veneto near Venice. It is simply a marvellous book.

McGee pops up everywhere. He has written an episode in the new series of the excellnt Kiwi crime show, The Brokenwood Mysteries filmed around Warkworth north of Auckland. And he was the collaborating writer on All Black captain Richie McCaw’s autobiography, The Real McCaw.

Yes, McGee is one of those annoyingly accomplished people: he played junior All Black rugby in his earlier days.

Like everyone else in New Zealand I am consumed by the World Cup, worrying about All Black lapses and being thrilled when they get it right, as against France in the quarter final. A real mystery, still, is how a country this small continues to provide such world class rugby players – the answer is a complex mix of cultural evolution, national expression through a relatively simple game, and the power of rivalry as against South Africa and Australia.

As a Kiwi and a passport holding Australian I am fascinated by the current brouhaha over Australia deporting convicted Kiwis back home. No one yet has commented on the oddity of the convict-founded Australia transporting convicts out of Australia. But there has been much talk of special bonds, mateship and all the rest of it.

There was not much of that as my brothers and I endured vitriolic abuse from rabid Ocker fans in the Sydney stands as the Wobblies had a rare win over the ABs. Special bonds? I don’t think so.

Go the ABs!

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