September 20, 2019 § 2 Comments
Excited to return to one of my favorite corners of the planet to embark on this new National Geographic program, my first in nearly a year.
In my capacity as featured expert I’ll be delivering a series of lectures on the long, colorful history of the Iberian peninsula, from the earliest clues about human life to the Romans and the Moors and the rise and fall of the Hapsburg dynasty—and possibly beyond that, if we have time, to Francisco de Goya and the Peninsular War.
If there’s enough interest, I’ll also be offering an ad hoc field-based creative writing workshop, and hopefully getting some of my own scribbling done too.
Also looking forward to visiting some of the fascinating sites we have on the itinerary, meeting everyone else on our river ship, the Scenic Azure, and of course sampling some delicious food, wine, and port!
September 9, 2019 § 3 Comments
December 20, 2018 § Leave a comment
A heartfelt thanks to Anais Concepción, the smart & effervescent host of Literary Roadhouse, a weekly podcast on a public-domain short story. It’s a fun and lively podcast with the noble mission of celebrating the short story form, and I had a very good time hosting a recent episode on Edith Wharton’s masterpiece, “Roman Fever.” You can listen to the podcast here—and to a wide-ranging follow-up conversation on video between Anais and me about nature, Will Poole’s Island, a career combining writing and travel, National Geographic, Cuba, my goals of as a teacher of writing, the need to break writing “rules,” new writing projects, history as a foreign country, escapism, and more. Watch the video interview here.
December 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
Happy to report the release of “Diamondback Mountain,” the final previously unpublished story in the fiction collection A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing. The folks at Craft have done a beautiful job and I’m happy that they’re hosting this story, which holds a great deal of personal significance for me, as explained in the author’s note. In the story, a young ski instructor at a remote hotel in 1930s Colorado falls in love with a rising Italian movie star, but fate conspires to keep the couple apart. Read the full story here.
December 10, 2018 § 2 Comments
Very enjoyable conversation this morning with Olga Peters of the Green Mountain Mornings radio show on WKVT Radio 100.03 FM about the local landmark and the historical characters that inspired my novel-in-progress, The Confession of Michael Martin, one of fifteen works selected for the 2018 long list of the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award. HNS describes it as “A novel of adventure, friendship, and immigrant life inspired by the true story of early American outlaws that is intriguingly different from Hollywood mythologies.”
The history behind the story is also of local interest because it represents a landmark in early Vermont and Brattleboro publishing. It’s of general interest because it’s an early entry in the great American outlaw myth, and because of what it tells us about the power of narrative to grip the human imagination and about the blurred lines between what we call history and what we call fiction. I’ll be presenting the research in a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Brattleboro Words Project at 6pm this Thursday, December 13, at 118 Elliot Street in Brattleboro. If you’re in the neighborhood, please come by!
If you’re interested in the topic but can’t make the discussion, listen to the 10 minute interview here. My heartfelt thanks to Lissa Weinmann of The Brattleboro Words Project and Olga Peters (feel better soon, Olga)!
November 25, 2018 § Leave a comment
A freshly-minted short story (one of the first to appear post-A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing) is out in Western Press Books’ wonderful new anthology, Manifest West: Transitions & Transformations. The story is titled “Gunnison Gorge.” It concerns a lonely traveler who gives a ride to a mysterious couple on his way to a remote fly fishing river in a wilderness area of central Colorado. He worries that the woman may be in some kind of trouble, and believes himself well-positioned to do something about it.
To read “Gunnison Gorge,” at least for now, you have to order the anthology. But that’s a great thing to do anyway, especially if you want to support literature and/or are interested in writing about the contemporary American west!
November 4, 2018 § 3 Comments
On this key midterm election day in the USA, I’m so thrilled to be heading back (after voting, of course) to one of my favorite corners of planet Earth, an area of vast and stunning wilderness encompassing the islands, waters, and mountain ranges of the southernmost reaches of the South American continent.
We’ll be stopping over for a few days in Buenos Aires, but the real adventure begins in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, as we board the Stella Australis, a small (150-200 passenger) Chilean-run cruise ship, and set off into the stark and storied landscapes and seascapes of Tierra del Fuego.
We’ll visit the legendary Cape Horn, making a landing if the weather allows, and then follow in the wake of Charles Darwin’s Beagle and use zodiacs to explore various fascinating features, including fjords, tidewater glaciers, a penguin colony, and pristine high latitude temperate rainforests of this spectacular convergence of land, sea and ice, we’ll be on the lookout for whales, sea lions, penguins, albatross and many other fascinating bird species.
Next, we’ll stay in the amazing Tierra Patagonia hotel at the foot of the dramatic granite spires and horns of Torres del Paine National Park. Here we’ll have several full days of hiking and/or horseback riding amidst one of the world’s most striking landscapes, in a part of Chile with some of the lowest human population densities on the planet.
This rich and diverse ecosystem is of particular interest to us because it includes an apex predator, the elusive puma, and its primary prey, the charming and highly entertaining guanaco. What a magnificent opportunity!
This will be my fifth time on this particular National Geographic itinerary, and I’m thrilled to be heading back. One of the advantages of being a writer is that it’s a multi-disciplinary pursuit—and a trip like this provides great material.
I’m a big fan of history, geography, ecology, and biography as disciplines that enrich any travel experience, and it will be my privilege to share some of those wide-ranging interests with the National Geographic group.
Talks will focus on the history and geography of the region and the lives of explorers and adventurers who went on to make important contributions to humanity and the planet—and whose early lives were shaped by their journeys to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. My final talk will be more personal in nature, about my parallel careers as a novelist and travel guide, the links between travel, writing, and environmental awareness, and what I call the “geographic imagination.”
All in all, it promises to be an unforgettable experience. This is a really fantastic part of the world and I highly recommend you get there if you can. I could be convinced, by the way, to organize a custom trip or two if anyone’s interested . . .