You might well have been wondering what I have been up to since I returned from my United States coast to coast adventure late last year. The answer is simply that I have been working flat out on my new book. A Bridge Even Further is the second book in my Trans-Siberian trilogy, and I’m pleased to be able to say that it was finally published this week.
Your feedback on my first book has been really helpful in deciding how to approach writing A Bridge Even Further. I wanted to keep all the detail of my experiences of the individual trains, but also to share a bit more of my life off the rails. Trans-Siberian Adventures was a bit of a whistle stop trip, whereas my journey to Singapore has allowed me time out to explore in many places along the way, and I have included some of these ‘off piste’ activities, some quite bizarre!
In some ways the experience has been easier than my first book, but in other ways it has been much harder. My expectations have been higher, and I have had to push myself further, not just as an adventurer, but as a writer. They say writing really does get better with experience, and I hope that my second book is received as more rounded than my first. Ultimately what I think doesn’t matter; it’s all about what you think.
I also wanted to improve the look and feel of what I was doing too. A Bridge Even Further contains more detailed maps than my first book, and also some amazing illustrations of the bridges by my great friend Mark Hudson. I hope you like the front cover, which was designed by Colin Brooks. I chose a design that incorporates a photograph of a train on the Wang Po viaduct travelling from Kanchanaburi to Namtok, the final working section of the ‘Death Railway’.
The one thing I have not quite yet solved is being able to include photographs of any real quality inside the book without making it cost a fortune to print. I plan to link my book to photographs and source material here at my website, more of this to follow. Think of it as the ‘Director’s Cut’.
I have been playing adventurer’s catch up for the last year or so. After making four big rail journeys on the trot, I wanted to get the trilogy written before the next serious adventure. I have already started writing the third book, with a personal objective to finish it this year. More on this in the months ahead, but it is about my incredible journey to Tibet by train in 2016.
Whilst I have been able to take smaller scale trips whilst writing, I now long for the next really big one; and of course one which I can hopefully write an interesting book about when I return. I have just such a journey in mind, but it will have remain a secret for now in case someone does it before me!
As I have discovered, writing a book doesn’t just happen. Not only do I have to endure the at times crippling process of love then hate of my own writing, but others have to read it too. Fortunately I’m blessed with a great team around me, and this has helped me improve every aspect of my work. I would particularly like to thank my editor Caroline Petherick for her support. People often ask me what an editor does and if they need one for their book. My answer is that to publish a book without an editor would be total madness. Caroline not only corrects my grammar and punctuation, but she proof reads my work and checks the consistency of facts – names, places, people, dates. It would be embarrassing to have to reveal how many errors she finds, but I don’t think I am alone amongst other authors. We all need a second pair of eyes.
My thanks also to Olga Tyukova for handling the design and look of this website. I feel through simplicity and clean design it helps me communicate much better what I’m up to.
I hope you have a chance to read A Bridge Even Further. I would love to hear what you think!