I’ve been writing travel guides (to Eastern Europe, Russia and Egypt) for over 20 years, but writing fiction is entirely different. Naturally I’ve drawn on my knowledge of places and people acquired during my travels, but formulating plots, dialogue, emotional empathy and all the other elements of a good novel requires a whole new array of skills, so I’m still an apprentice in this respect.
Authors that inspired me:
I like Alan Furst for his pared-down elliptical spy novels (The World At Night, Dark Star etc), Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns) for his character arcs and Afghan settings, and Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building for its microcosmic view of contemporary Egypt. On the technical side, I’d acknowledge Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois, and Fatherland by Robert Harris, for their vividly imagined contra-factual history, and the revelation of documents that move the plot along.