The Glitch and The Heckler

My advance copy of Sicily, It’s Not Quite Tuscany arrived in Singapore about 12 days ago. It was a big moment. Gill took photos of me ripping the top off the parcel, removing the contents, popping the bubble wrap (though I spent rather longer on that than she had the patience for), and holding the book aloft like it was the holy relic left behind by a religious figure, or a placard being waved by a ring girl at a boxing match. Then she went to grab the champagne off the ice. Continue reading

Lava and other palaver

So, Mount Etna kicked off again last week, with a bit of a lava show. Catania’s airport was closed briefly because of hot ash in the sky, and players from the Serie A football side AS Roma were left stranded in the city for a night. The latter doesn’t sound like the worst outcome in the world, except perhaps to the American travel writer Josephine Tozier who had this to say in 1910: Continue reading

Grab yourself a bargain!

My book comes out very soon – perhaps I’ve mentioned it. As a first-time author, the last thing I have on my mind is the money I might make from sales. It’s not like I’m planning to retire to a Caribbean island from the profits of Sicily, It’s Not Quite Tuscany.

Having said that, there is something vaguely disconcerting about the readiness of online booksellers to start discounting the thing before it’s even been released. Continue reading

The long wait

When a mate of mine heard that my book was finally coming out in a few weeks, he emailed me with this:

“I’m looking forward to the arrival – it’s almost like a pending birth!”

I’m guessing he means that, as a first-time author, I must be feeling like an expectant mother in the final days of pregnancy. (He recently became a dad for the third time, so he probably has these things on his mind.) Continue reading

Bunch of no-good ear biters

A bit of trivia. The main photo at the top of this website shows the Cunziria, an abandoned historical quarter in the rustic Sicilian town of Vizzini. [update: I’ve changed the photo since this post, but you can still see a picture of it in my Galleries section, here – middle of the third row] The name Vizzini will be familiar to film buffs as one of the villains in The Princess Bride (1987). I know it better as the place where Gill and I mistakenly got off at the wrong train station, miles from the town itself, at an unmanned platform, surrounded by empty countryside and rolling tumbleweeds, with not a human being in sight; no phone either, and no idea when the next train might rumble past. All my fault, by the way, and didn’t the missus let me know it.  Continue reading