Richard Newsome: “Writing & Travel”

Today, Richard Newsome – author of The Billionaire’s Curse and The Emerald Casket stops by to guest blog, as we celebrate some of the best books in middle grade for your summer reading. Both of his books are now available, and offer some great adventurous reading! So check them out today! And now, here’s Richard … 

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Not surprisingly, one of my most prized possessions is a book.

It’s only 36 pages long and measures about five inches by three-and-a-half.

It’s my passport.

Like most Australians, I love to travel. One of my favourite places is the departure lounge at Sydney’s international airport, passport in my pocket.

So when I get to combine my love of writing with some travel, I’m in heaven.

For my first book, THE BILLIONAIRE’S CURSE, I spent two weeks wandering around London and Somerset in the south-west of England, location scouting for the adventures my three heroes would undertake. It’s only when you can see the quality of the light, smell the soil and hear the birdlife that you can adequately describe a setting. For me, it’s immersion. And it’s the little details you pick up along the way that embellish the story and give it that little extra something. Your story doesn’t need to be realistic, but it does have to be believable.

So when it came to writing the second book in the Archer Legacy series, THE EMERALD CASKET, I already knew where I’d be heading: India.

I’d been lucky enough to visit the country once before, about 13 years earlier for work. And I was bowled over by the sheer scale of the place. The numbers are mind-blowing. Over 1.2 billion people, in a land mass less than half that of the continental United States. One of the oldest cultures on earth, with cities dating back thousands of years. Incredible architecture, bustling markets, amazing legends and fables. How could you not want to set a story there?

The reason I picked India was because of a newspaper article I’d clipped back in 2002. It was about some researchers who claimed they had located the site of a mythical lost city, buried under the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the south of India. For generations, the local fishermen from the village of Mahabalipuram had spoken of stories of a city with seven temples, so beautiful that the gods grew jealous and sent a flood to destroy it. Then, years later, I saw another article about the same village. It was just after the tsunami that struck the area on Boxing Day 2004. Just before the tidal wave hit the coast, the water withdrew and for the first time in almost 2000 years, the remnants of the ancient city were revealed under the sand. The old stories of the fishermen had been true. And I thought what a tremendous place to set an adventure story: in an ancient city dug out from beneath the waves.

So I went to India.

Any trip to India is an adventure. I started in the capital of Delhi and explored extraordinary markets that had been operating from the same site for centuries. I based the chase scene in the beginning of the book on a day I spent at Chandni Chowk markets, a place that excites all the senses.

I had to get my three heroes to Mahabalipuram. The best way was by train: a 43-hour journey from Delhi to Chennai in the south.

So I took the Tamil Nadu Express. And thanks to a mix-up with the ticketing, I found myself in 110 degree heat without a seat in the non-air conditioned part of the train! For 43 hours! The experience of that journey is re-told in part in THE EMERALD CASKET. I met some fascinating people, ate some terrific homemade Indian food and experienced a slice of life that was way beyond my daily routine in suburban Australia. In short, I had a ball.

I’ve just finished the third part in the Archer Legacy series, THE MASK OF DESTINY, and my passport and I went to France, Italy and Greece. Again, I had a ball.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of travelling, and I know I’ll never tire of writing. So I’m looking forward to me and my passport heading off again very soon.

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