I’ve been living and writing for the past few months in this cabin in the woods over the sea. It’s less Thoreau or Bon Iver than Victorian ornamental hermit but it’s been productive and it’s almost impossible for the sound of owls at night or the wind through the trees not to seep into the writing. The recent weather has made it feel like the cabin of a ship on a storm-tossed sea. It’s a world I only imagined existing reading Kidnapped or Moonfleet as a child or The Baron in the Trees much later, a world my fiancée grew up in, and one that becomes more extraordinary the more it’s explored and read about (World War 2 bunkers, the hiding places of medieval ‘witches’, the site of feudal skirmishes). It is a landscape that seems to somehow know secret things.
It’s a pleasant coincidence then that The Next Best Book Blog very kindly asked me to take part in a ‘Where writers write’ series. It was primarily regarding the chapbook A Hubristic Flea (published by 3:AM Press), which was excerpted from a book I wrote in Cambodia. It’s interesting to be reminded of how much has changed in those intervening years and at the same time remember that the moon in the night sky, shining through the trees as I type this, is the same one I watched from the rooftops in Phnom Penh and a thousand other places before and since. What a strange old life and world this is.
For those interested, the chapbook is available via Galley Beggar Press. It’s proved to have been as popular as the bubonic plague so far but hopefully you’ll be surprised if you take a chance (Isherwood and Chatwin were the distant aims) and it’ll set you back not much more than the price of a coffee or a pint. It will also, to quote Groucho Marx, help me work my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty. Meanwhile, if you see a man lurking in the trees, don’t be alarmed; he’s only a danger to himself.