Whilst traveling I wanted the crib notes about each country. Not just to ascertain key landmarks (a quick search on wikitravel can do that) I wanted to sit in the shoes of someone - be fictional or nonfictional - and experience the country through before landing it’s doorstep.
In fact nearly everyone on the truck felt the same. Most of these books went on high rotation, passed along to whoever had dibbed it next.
Britain - Notes from a small island
Tibet - Seven Years in Tibet
China - Wild Swans
Cambodia- First They Killed my Father
Thailand - The Beach
Australia - Down Under
After travelling through India I read 'A Fine Balance'. Even though I was in subzero temperatures in China, each time I flicked open the book I was transported me back to the bustling streets of Delhi. I could feel the hot slap of humidity on my skin and hear the story unfold to a sensory symphony of sights, smells and sounds.
It was a wonderful reading experience! Though I literally had to take breaks from the novel, as at times it became a sensory overland. From the jarring symphony of high-pitched car horns to the soft drag of handmade dry grass brooms on pavements. The angry spit of hot oil from street stalls frying Samoa to the heady perfume of cooked mustard seeds. The sickly sweet chai to the retched stench of faeces from open sewers. The kaleidoscope of colourful saris from roadsides to harvesting in fields. The crush of thousands of people passing under the stern gaze of policemen barricaded by sandbag walls at train stations.
I became conscious of recording the true essence of each country I visited. As I want each country in my novel to be a thumping beast of a character. To leap off the page, to curse, groan, moan or laugh, leap and pulsate with energy. Each country, city and region had its one vibe, it's own personality. Bucharest was crumbling, Delhi bureaucratic, Singapore a slick shoppers paradise, Berlin a bohemian playground and Jakarta a series of sweeping, traffic laden boulevards.
I don't want my novel to be all about me - that would the dullest book written. I didn't travel just to think about myself. I set on the road to see, feel and grasp the globe. I want to ensure I capture the character of each place. I want the reader to feel like they were on the road with me.