I loved reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven stories. The adventures in these books were great fun. At age twelve, I wrote a sequel Famous Five novel. I'm afraid I am still waiting for a publisher to take the project to completion.
I also loved the books written by James Herriot, which detailed his life as a country vet in the Yorkshire Dales and was the basis for the 1970s TV series, All Creatures Great and Small.
I became interested in travel books later on. Like fiction stories, these books are set far away from my normal life, but also have the advantage that I can actually visit them myself! I've enjoyed books by Bill Bryson (Notes from a small Island, Down Under, The Lost Continent), Paul Theroux (Pillars of Hercules), the late Pete McCarthy (McCarthy's Bar, The Road to McCarthy), Sarah McDonald (Holy Cow), Jonathon Harley (Lost in Transmission), Sarah Darmody (Ticket to Ride - Lost and Found in America), Samantha Wood (Culua: My Other Life in Mexico), Sarah Turnbull (Almost French) and Peter Moore (Vroom with a View, Vroom by the Sea).
My friends, Lucas, Rebecca and Chris Rogers strongly influenced my decision to travel overseas to work. My wife was determined that we would go to Europe! She did let me choose the country.
I could only speak English, so the choices in Europe were limited to England or Ireland.
Ireland had called me for years - I'd always been curious about it. It had so much unhappy history, and yet the people seemd to be so friendly. I had a lot of expectations about this country. It was completely different from those expectations!
I noticed many things that were different from my own country of Australia. I felt so overloaded with these changes that I had to write my observations down. I was clear I didn't want to write standard 'I went here, I saw this, it was good' tales. I wanted to let my friends and family a sense of what it was like to live there. I sent my stories home as emails, and my first book began from there.