Travel writers seek out wonders. That's our job. It always has been -- and always will be. For me that wonder is in the remarkable, courageous stories of ordinary men and women who are separated by borders, fear, emigration, even time and death. In collecting their stories I try to enter and empathise with their lives. In retelling them I often tread the boundaries between fact and fiction. In writing - and you reading - I hope to draw together their - and our - divided worlds.
On these pages you can find excerpts from my books and explanations as to why I wrote them. But the internet can turn the relationship between writer and reader into a two-way street. You can click here to email me a question, follow and comment on my Meet the Germans Berlin blog, join a travel writing workshop in London, Dublin or Paris and just sign on to my mailing list (details on the 'contact Rory' page). You can read my biography and check out the FAQs below.
This site is here for you - for readers, listeners, travellers and writers. So click on to motor through eastern Europe in a Trabant with a pig named Winston. Or to sail across the Atlantic in search of a promised land. Or to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and ride shotgun with a Burmese hill tribe warlord. Or to get married in Disney World. Or to fly above mourning and into the blue Cretan sky. Or even to catch the Magic Bus from Istanbul to Kathmandu along the hippie trail.
Come and join me on a journey.
Rory MacLean’s eight books, including UK best-sellers ‘Stalin’s Nose’ and ‘Under the Dragon’, have challenged and invigorated travel writing, and – according to the late John Fowles – are among works that ‘marvellously explain why literature still lives’. During his journeys, MacLean walked through the newly-opened Berlin Wall, met Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon and interviewed Pashtun elders at the Kacha Garhi refugee camp after the destruction of the World Trade Center. In a moving departure, with his latest book ‘Gift of Time’, Rory – accompanied by his wife Katrin – comes home to travel with his mother on her final journey.
Rory’s books have won awards from the Canada Council and the Arts Council of England, were shortlisted twice for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. He has written and presented over 50 programmes for BBC radio and worked on movies with David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. Born in Canada and resident for many years in Britain, he divides his time between London, Dorset and Berlin.
I always wrote. I don't remember a time when I didn't: short stories, home movies, student newspapers, vapid feature films and busted blockbusters. In 1989 I submitted a story on Prague to the 'Independent' newspaper's first ever travel writing competition and won. That led to a commission to write a book on eastern Europe, the week before the Berlin Wall fell. Since then I haven't stop travelling - except when I'm writing.
Six days a week, when I have a book on the go. I write long-hand in the morning, then edit the scribbles on my steam-powered Mac in the afternoon. Heart then head. I eat too many Hobnobs, drink too much tea and write six or seven drafts.
'A Time of Gifts', Patrick Leigh Fermor's fluent, exotic account of his youthful journey from London to Constantinople, published more than 40 years after the event. It is a book that makes everything seem possible. Raymond Carver's ‘Elephant’; his moving short stories are honest, direct, lean and adverb-free, each creation a triumph of minimalism which conjures extraordinary hope from the minutiae of ordinary lives. No word spare. Nothing wasted. Remarkable and poetic inventions. And 'Mary Poppins', for its healthy disregard for authority, especially bankers, its promotion of women's rights and its emphasis on the role of fantasy.
Yes, but I never leave home without my lucky Tamworth pig's foot.
Well obviously, ever since Homer wrote 'The Odyssey'.
Details of all up-coming events are included in the newsletter. If you are on my mailing list, you'll receive it every month or so. Click the 'contact Rory' button in the right hand links.
With pleasure. Just come along to a reading or send it to me via either of my UK publishers: Viking-Penguin, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL or IB Tauris, 6 Salem Road, London W2 4BU.
Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge & White, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN tel: 020 7221 3717
If I say yes I'll never get any work done. Sorry, no.
Almost certainly - as long as they are not rude or boring.
'He believed in wonders. Poor sod.'