Tag: silk road

FROM AUNTY IVY TO AN OPIUM DEN IN FANG

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

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My primary school teacher’s name was Mrs Boyne.

classics illustrated, Colin FalconerShe once told my mother at a parent interview: “Your son is a complete dreamer. He’ll never amount to anything in this life.”

I still think that was a pretty harsh judgment on a seven-year-old.

I was, and am, a dreamer. She got that bit right.

It was about second or third grade that I first read Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff. To get my hands on it, I had to endure a slobbery wet kiss from my Aunty Ivy, but I considered it well worth it.

By the end of that first afternoon, I was hooked on classic literature. Continue reading

THE JOYS OF RESEARCH #2: SIBERIA. MIDNIGHT. JUST YOUR PAJAMAS.

So this time it was the Trans Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostock. Photo: Jim LinwoodWe had got as far as the tundra and so far no one had thrown up in the dining car. Things were looking good.

There were four people in our cabin; a Dutchman, well into his sixties; a young English bloke; and us. The Dutch guy was very quiet and kept himself to himself, sitting on his bunk, staring out of the window or reading paperback.

Late one night, somewhere in Siberia, we pulled into a train station. I sat up. The Dutch guy got out of his bunk, put on his dressing gown, and said we seemed to be stopping for a while and that he was going to stretch his legs. The others were still asleep.

After a while I dozed off again, too.

photo: Jim LinwoodWhen I woke we were rattling away again, the vast tundra stretching out either side. The Dutch guy – never did find out his name – was not in his bunk. Wonder where he went? Must be in the dining car.

As the morning passed and he didn’t come back from breakfast, we started wondering aloud where he was. We asked questions of other passengers. Finally we told the conductor, who organised a search.

He was no longer on the train. But is passport was still in backpack. So were his wallet and all his credit cards.

Bugger.

Dutch train passengers outside the Netherlands Consulate in Omsk

Dutch train passengers outside the Netherlands Consulate in Omsk

Never did find out what happened to him. Sometimes I imagine him standing on a deserted train station, in the middle of the vast tundra wastes, in his paisley dressing gown and slippers, waiting for the next train and nervously eying the wolves watching him from the end of the platform.

Or toiling in a windswept prison farm, somewhere near Omsk, eating gruel and tearing at a moldy hunk of stale bread with frost-blackened fingers.

How did he miss the train? I’ll never know.

But at least the story had a happy ending. He left behind some rather tasty poffertjes in his backpack. They were delicious.

silk road, china, templars, love story, romance, adventure, historical romance

THE MOST DANGEROUS JOURNEY A MAN COULD EVER TAKE. THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY LOVE STORY YOU’LL EVER READ.

 

CB Valencia croppedCOLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

 

the joys of research #1: BIG CHUCK IN LITTLE CHINA

photo: jan reurink

photo: jan reurink

I was finishing the research for SILK ROAD. We were on a train from Xian to Kashgar, three days that would take us south of the Great Wall, skirt the Taklimakan desert and on towards the Pamir Mountains and the distant Stans – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan.

It was dinner time. We went into the dining car and sat down. The menu was in Mandarin, of course, but never mind, once we saw something we liked on another table we would just point.

We looked around. There was nothing that didn’t look like gristle floating in fat.

"So who's turn to throw up and who's turn to mop?"

“So who’s turn to throw up and who’s turn to mop?”

So we ordered two beers while we thought about it. The beers came warm, in a big wooden bowl.

Okay, never had beer that way before. Something new.

The guy sitting at the table in front of us stood up and patted his belly with both hands. Wow, he must have enjoyed whatever he had.

Or maybe not so much.

Because next thing, he projectile vomited down the aisle of the dining car. It hit the door behind us like pellets out of a shotgun. There was a stunned silence.

The chef is informed his services are no longer required

The chef is informed his services are no longer required

The guy nodded and walked out. The waitresses ran up with a cloth and a bucket of water and gave them to his wife. She then got down on her hands and knees and started mopping up after him.

We finished our beers. The waitress came over and pointed to the menu. We shook our heads. What’s: ‘Thanks but we’ve lost our appetite,’ in Mandarin?

We lived on biscuits and chocolate bars the next three days. Never mind, when we got to Kashgar, things were bound to get better.

We reached our hotel. There was a tourist standing outside.

We waved. He leaned over and threw up.

Welcome to the world of research.

Wednesday: The Joys of Research #2. Why not to get off a train in Siberia in the middle of the night.

 

 

 

THE MOST DANGEROUS JOURNEY A MAN COULD EVER TAKE. THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY LOVE STORY YOU’LL EVER READ.

 

CB Valencia croppedCOLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

 

 

 

ETERNAL LIFE, MAN-EATING ANTS, STRINGY NOODLES – HOLD THE TOMATOES

Somehow western culture has equated the word Mongol with ‘barbarian’.

silk road, china, templars, love story, romance, adventure, historical romanceThere is no doubt the Golden Horde that invaded Europe during the thirteenth century was savage, but that overlooks the comparable excesses of western armies at the time; think the Albigensian Crusade and the sacking of Constantinople.

In fact in the Orient they referred to Christians as ‘barbarians’.

It’s a word that all cultures apply to anyone who thinks differently to them.

When my Dominican monk, William, and his Templar bodyguard, Josseran Sarrazini, set out from the Kingdom of Jerusalem on their great journey eastwards they, too, thought they were going to a land of savages.

“Some say that in the land of Cathay there are creatures with heads like dogs who bark and speak at the same time. Others say there are ants as big as cattle. They burrow in the earth for gold and tear anyone who comes across them to pieces with their pincers.’ Continue reading

WHY A TOMATO IS NOT AN ESSENTIAL PART OF ANY HISTORICAL NOVEL

photograph: Pauk

photograph: Pauk

Looks harmless enough, doesn’t it?

But Solanum lycopersicum could cost you readers.

I got this the other day:

“I started reading Silk Road a couple of days back and was enjoying it very much, just as I had enjoyed one of your other books.

However, when I reached Page 164 I found these words: “…green fields planted with tomatoes and aubergines…” I don’t know about aubergines but I do know, as do most people, [my italics] that tomatoes were not introduced to European cuisine, let alone further east, until the 16th century …

photograph: Ronhjones "This is a tomato and this is what I think of your book."

photograph: Ronhjones
“This is a tomato and this is what I think of your book.”

Until I saw these words I had been impressed by the breadth and quality of your research but this is such a basic mistake that I just don’t feel I can read on – it’s not possible to enjoy an historical novel once one realizes that the facts can’t be trusted. I thought I’d point this out so that the mistake can be amended in future printings.”

So there you have it. The case for the prosecution rests.

I have admitted my guilt and have taken to my bare back with chains. I leave on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela within the week. Continue reading

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