I have a new book out on May 23 2013: Red Nile- biography of the world's greatest river. It's on Amazon for preorder. Otherwise I am writing about extreme places and extreme people in a new novel about the desert.
For a different take on exploration and new expeditions go to theexplorerschool.com
"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." Helen Keller.
I went on a tour with the excellent Historical Trips company to see the site of the Great Escape and also Colditz. The tour - led by renowned author Guy Walters was fascinating, fun and highly recommended- here's the piece I wrote for the Spectator:
check out my latest article on selling silence: http://www.aeonmagazine.com/oceanic-feeling/robert-twigger-desert-silence/
When writing dialogue in a story or novel think about the way the talkers connect in a REAL way. Talking only rarely allows of a real connection (so rare that in real life the result is often silence). So even if the talking or the scene demonstrates lack of connection it's good to show the lower level on which there IS connection- this could be hostility or desire for attention (in fact it's always worth looking at a scene and asking yourself - who's looking for attention, who's giving it here, is there an attention battle going on). Melville is good at connecting his characters through the way they may touch each other physically. Updike is good at finding the level of connection that surrounds otherwise banal dialogue. If you can look for that connection you'll bring interactions between characters to life- because you will be depicting life and not some jaunty back and forth exchange of ideas.
There is only one question a novelist need ask himself:
What do I want?
Not: what does the editor want, what does the reader want, what does the public want, what does the critic want, what does my mother want, what does my best friend want?
Of course it is possible to write with all or any of the above questions in mind but you'll find when the going gets tough your mind will begin to skate unless you pull up and say to yourself- screw all the rest- what do I want to write here? It's the only way to break though the topsoil into the clay beneath. And clay is the stuff real people are moulded from.