How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
At a very early age I was an avid reader, a ravenous consumer of almost any genre. By the time I was in college I often found myself thinking of alternative endings to the books I was reading— that really began to nurture my fiction muse. After fifteen years of writing non-fiction books I decided to give voice to that muse and was lucky enough to win an Edgar for my first mystery.
What keeps me going as a writer is the bond between reader and writer, the need to be able to speak meaningfully, on every page, to those who invest time in reading my books. In doing so I seek to explore themes and messages that are neglected elsewhere, voices and peoples which have been lost in the rush of globalization and the revision and dilution of our history.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Currently I am working now on my tenth novel, having written six in my Inspector Shan series, two in my Bone Rattler series and my latest, Ashes of the Earth. You have to be zealously invested in your current project if it is going to be effective—so I would have to say my favorite is always the book I am writing now.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I have been a globetrotter for much of my life, roaming around every continent but the frozen one, and in doing so I have invested a lot of time in interacting with, and learning about, people in out of the way places. Many of my characters and themes are inspired by these interactions. I also have a deep interest in Tibet and the Silk Road region and for many years have been seeking out little known histories of that region and of colonial North America. I also collect colonial-era newspapers, and get a thrill out of picking one up and learning some 18th century “news.”
For the full interview, visit: http://goo.gl/9N3Nr