What's the story with the extremely short stories?
They're yarns, tales, musings and fibs - none of any great length. They started writing themselves quite a few years ago. And over the years I’ve let them appear, collected words to see if they’d make stories, or I’ve just written stuff to clear my head.
Why did you originally take the "TRIP"?
I'd always wanted to travel. For three summers in a row I'd hoped to save enough
money to go inter-railing but hadn't managed it. So I had a lot of pent up wanderlust.
By 1995 I finally had the money. I felt that if I didn't do this trip I'd be
letting myself down, having dreamt about it for so long. I didn't want to squander
the opportunity, so I was determined to see as much of Europe as possible. Other
people might have liked to relax somewhere for a few days. But I was on a mission
to keep it going till the end - a new place everyday for a month.
Why did you write the "TRIP" book?
I wrote this book because I felt I had to. At the time of the trip, I couldn't
believe that I made it through all the countries safely. If I'd written the
book after I got back it would've been incomprehensible. It was years later
before I decided to write the story down. I think the perspective was important.
Mainly I wrote the book for Mrs. MacO. - to explain what it was like to live
that trip. I wouldn't and couldn't have written it without her.
At what point in your life did you take this trip?
I was 24 and it was my first summer being single for over five years, so I felt
very free. I also had a lot of questions about the universe. I wasn't sold on
the whole God thing, but I didn't really know what to think. All the people
wanting you to believe in them seemed like they needed it too much.
How did the solitude of the trip affect your state of mind?
I lost it, without doubt. In particular, when I ended up back in Amsterdam after
having started there two weeks earlier. It was my seventh country and twelfth
city in fourteen days. I still had two weeks to go, and could go to whatever
countries I wanted. That was when I broke down and cracked up. From then on
I continued adventuring around all these cities like a lunatic. It definitely
threw me off kilter.
Was there any one part of the trip that affected you most?
Auschwitz affected me, for
obvious reasons. That chapter of the book was
the easiest to write because it's so ingrained
in your mind. It really stays with you. Apart
from that, the Amsterdam incident in the middle
of the trip affected me more than anything else.
The whole journey changed the way I looked at the world and myself. I wouldn't want to do that trip again, but I am glad that I did it. And I'm happy now that I've finally put things into words.