Monsoon Postcards. Or a Book in Search of a Title

In the jungle at Andasibe National Park, Madagascar. If you look closely, there's a lemur climbing the tree to my left.

In the jungle at Andasibe National Park, Madagascar. If you look closely, there's a lemur climbing the tree to my left.

I confess that I am addicted to writing. The symptoms—intensive note-taking and asking of questions, followed by late-night computer sessions—started to appear many years ago, but, as with any condition, it was easy to ignore them or dismiss them as a passing phase.  I cannot deny the addiction any longer. I even joined a writing group in Charleston, hoping for a 12-step program to help me cure myself, but it turned out to be a group of fellow writers who only encouraged me to write more. I have concluded that writing is a condition (like my aversion to complicated seafood that requires special tools) that I will just have to live with for the rest of my life.

My condition worsened this year. In addition to sending travelogues from Madagascar, Malaysia and India, I had a couple of travel articles published. I helped a friend edit his debut novel, Double-Edged Sword, a thriller set in the last decade of the Soviet Union in which a disenchanted KGB agent, Oleg Medvedev, uses his wits and muscle to solve a high-profile murder and to foil a plot to derail democratic reform. It will be published by a press in South Carolina in April 2017. I have just sent off the introduction and annotated text for the re-publication (by Slavica Publishers of Indiana University) of Donald Thompson in Russia, a book of letters by an American news photographer who was in Petrograd for six months in 1917, covering events from the February revolution to the failed Bolshevik coup in July. And an essay on my dark days at a British boarding school has been accepted for publication in the Spring issue of the literary journal Broad Street.

Since the publication of Postcards from Stanland: Journeys in Central Asia in March 2016, I’ve had to respond to what, to writers, must be the nicest question anyone could ask: what’s your next book?  For some time, I’ve toyed with the idea of weaving a narrative based on travels I’ve done in South and Southeast Asia and, more recently, Southern Africa, a broad arc around the Indian Ocean.  And so, I’ve started, without a publisher and without a clear idea of where I’m going.  But what can I say?  I’m an addict.

I know that the narrative will begin in Madagascar, and so far, I have two chapters on the country in rough draft.  But you can enjoy a brief taste of some of the stories to be featured on these blogs:

Sociologist or Traditional Healer? A Madagascar Puzzle

Vive le Renault 4!

Five-Star Hyderabad

The Dry Side of Hyderabad

Boarding, Boating and Building on the Brahmaputra

Scotland of the East

Incredible India

Indian Cricket Adventure

Hyderabad, City of Signs

Desperately Seeking SIM Card

  I am searching for a good title, something with “Postcards” in it, because I have, um, a small brand.  For now, the working title is Monsoon Postcards: Journeys around the Indian Ocean.  But I think there’s a better one out there. A lovingly signed free copy of the book to whoever comes up with it.