Wednesday, March 26, 2014


"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make."

Truman Capote

You know my own question—sparked off by the above Truman Capote quote—has stopped me in my tracks. By nature, I tend to be intellectually curious, observant, and relentlessly analytical—pleasant enough, nonetheless—but somehow I don’t seem to have thought through the reasons underlying my passion for writing.

Instead, I seem to have fallen in love at an early age—and to still be in love all these decades later—and love, while a wonderful thing, is never rational. In fact, if it’s possible, my passion for the wonders of the written word has increased. I’m now confident that this is a relationship I will maintain with great joy until death. Mind you, ours is a shared relationship, somewhat akin to having a mistress, but I’m a tolerant European, so what can I say! What counts is that it works for both of us. Our chemistry is right.

I really don’t know what aspect of writing I like best because my approach to the process has always been holistic. Many people tend to assume that research oriented thriller writers like myself enjoy the research aspect most—and regard the actual writing as something of a slog. Some do, in fact, feel that way.

Not so, in my case. Yes, I do enjoy the research aspect greatly. It’s a chance to meet the most interesting people, ask anyone anything (you would be amazed at what we authors can get away with) travel the world, and experience the arcane, the dangerous, and the delightful—all in pursuit of a good story. The Knights of The Round Table were rarely so lucky. But exhilarating through the research phase is—nothing, but nothing, compares to the extraordinary satisfaction and pleasure I experience from the actual writing itself.

The challenge is the essence of it all. It is diabolically hard to convey the endless complexities of the human condition with clarity, ease and humor—let alone create a good story. When it works, it’s magic.

Does that come from anticipating fame, fortune, and the respect of my peers? Not so. I’m not interested in fame—except insofar as it helps me to sell books. I would be na├»ve indeed if I expected a fortune from this line of work. And as for the respect of my peers, though I certainly value that—I am realistic enough to know that more than a few think I should get a proper job, and others (including members of my own family) have absolutely no idea of what drives me so—and disapprove.

Yet it’s a truth hidden in plain sight. It’s not just the wonder of having the hard-won ability to turn thought into the written word in such a fashion that it can touch the lives—albeit in some small way—of millions. The greatest pleasure lies in actually doing it.

Writing is its own reward—and there is no finer one. But, I’m willing to share!


I love the pioneering aspect of flying—and at one stage did a lot of small plane flying—frequently with fairly crazy people involved. In that spirit, I hold authors who write about flying in especially high regard. One of my favorites remains ERNEST K. GANN. Look him up. You won’t be disappointed.

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