Stories About Place

I work hard to create good characters and interesting plots. Increasingly I realize, though, that all these years I may have been writing, more than anything else, about place. A look at my titles should have clued me in: “Tangier,” “Madagascar”and, looking to a November release, “Sri Lanka.” I also have a work-in-progress, “King's Valley.” Yet, all these aspects – character, plot, setting – tie together. Some places so shape who we are and what we do that they become their own character. The things that happen there would not have played out in the same way anywhere else.

My Foreign Service career changed my life, leading me to experiences I could not have anticipated in places I never imagined I would see. And I have felt an urge, really an obligation, to share what I have learned about the people of other cultures and the things that can happen in them. It's no coincidence that each story revolves around a character new to these places, as I was in each of them. A stranger in a strange land. I also served in Paris and in Mexico, but plenty of Americans have written fine books about those places and, as for now, I don't think I have anything to add.