Episode 28: A Grave in Gaza
I talk about the real events in Gaza that are the basis for my second Palestinian crime novel A GRAVE IN GAZA (UK title: THE SALADIN MURDERS.) Over a decade reporting on Gaza, I accumulated stories that few other reporters noticed. In this novel, Palestinian sleuth Omar Yussef faces the corruption of senior Palestinian security officials, the kidnapping of colleagues, and the smuggling of missiles under the Egyptian border into Gaza. Each of the characters is based on a real Palestinian I’ve known. I also read from the opening chapter.
Episode 27: Yoga for Writers
I use yoga and meditation to prepare myself for the mental and physical challenge of writing. I introduce this podcast by talking about the importance of yoga and how it helps to open a writer’s creativity, and to prevent fatigue from sitting for long periods. I describe several stretching techniques you can do throughout your writing day. Then I talk you through a 20 minute yoga practice sequence for you to follow along with the exercises. The postures should leave you feeling energized and creative — ready to write!
Episode 26: The Collaborator of Bethlehem
My award-winning first novel was THE COLLABORATOR OF BETHLEHEM (UK title: THE BETHLEHEM MURDERS). Set against the backdrop of the Palestinian intifada, it tells the story of schoolteacher Omar Yussef, who is forced to take on the violence of his hometown to save a former pupil. In this podcast, I lay out how I came to write the book and read from the first chapter.
Episode 25: Psychobibi
With experienced Mideast correspondent Matthew Kalman I discuss and read from our ebook PSYCHOBIBI: Who is Israel’s Prime Minister and Why Does He Want to Fail? Benjamin Netanyahu, the man often portrayed as an extremist, is really just locked in a deep psychological battle with the ghosts of his tough father and golden brother. The result: Bibi’s driven to succeed, so long as he can always get it wrong in the end. Confused? You won’t be. Not after you’ve met Psychobibi. Hard-hitting and irreverent, incisive and hardboiled, we eviscerate the myth behind the man everyone loves to hate.
Episode 24: DeltaFourth–the Special Forces of Journalism
This podcast is about my new alternative news project DeltaFourth. Ireads from THE MURDER OF YASSER ARAFAT, the first explosive ebook from DeltaFourth. The ebook reveals how Yasser Arafat was murdered by people in his inner circle. It’s the prototype for DeltaFourth’s forthcoming series of long-form journalistic ebooks — stunning breaking news written in a hard-boiled novelistic style that responds to the excitement of the events it describes.
Episode 23: The Sweetest Things
A short story set in Amman, Jordan, during the Arab Spring. A Western journalist, befriends a wealthy sweet-seller named Said. He grows close to Said and his lover, a poor taxi driver named Nizar, as he covers the anti-government riots of the Arab Spring. He observes the growing conflict between the two men until its shocking conclusion. The story draws on my many years reporting and, for a while, living in the Jordanian capital, which finds itself at the seething center of the Mideast’s many conflicts.
Episode 22: Lazarus’s Brush: Caravaggio in Sicily
As an introduction to my Caravaggio novel A NAME IN BLOOD, here’s a short story about an incident in the artist’s life that was very striking to me, but which didn’t fit with the narrative of the novel. In “Lazarus’s Brush” Caravaggio flees the men who seek to kill him and arrives in Sicily. He’s commissioned to paint the raising of Lazarus. The result teaches him about his fears of the violence that stalks him — but more than that it represents a profound change in his artistic technique, inspiring him as an artist in the face of desperate circumstances.
Episode 21: New Jerusalem — Transforming the Report
Matt interviews Matthew Kalman, editor of The Jerusalem Report. The Report is a highly reputed magazine covering the Middle East and the Jewish world. It gained a wide readership during the 1990s, but in recent years has been a little, ahem, dull (more on that from the new editor himself). An experienced British journalist, Kalman took over earlier this year and set about changing the kinds of stories the magazine offered and the look of “the book,” as magazine journalists call their pages. Here Kalman explains how he’s doing it and what he hopes to achieve as editor. He also tells Matt about new products the magazine’s preparing, such as a Kindle edition.
Episode 20: Jasmine Schwartz on Money and Sex
Jasmine Schwartz is the hottest new voice in crime fiction. Her novels “Farbissen: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Money” and “Fakakt: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Sex” are witty and daring, sneaking weighty subjects like sex-trafficking and drugs into storylines that at first seem breezy. In this interview with me, Jasmine talks in her inimitable style about how she wrote the books and reads from them. She also discusses the persona she invented not only for the books’ writer, but also for her blog.
Episode 19: Touching Caravaggio: Researching A Name in Blood
Describes the challenges of researching and writing about the great Italian artist Caravaggio for my novel A NAME IN BLOOD. I deliberately took my research too far, not only learning to fence with a rapier and to paint with oils, but dying my beard and cutting my hair in Caravaggio’s style and using New Age spiritual techniques to connect with the energy of Caravaggio. I did all this because I wanted to be sure I could accurately portray the real Caravaggio, not the “gay psycho bitch” as whom he’s usually portrayed. Here’s how I found the real Caravaggio.
Episode 18: Behind the Book A Name in Blood
I was on a book tour in Spain when, on a visit to a Madrid gallery, I fell for Caravaggio’s St. Catherine of Alexandria. Here I tell the story of how that encounter with Catherine drew me into the work of the great Italian artist — and to the mystery of his disappearance. The result is my historical crime novel A NAME IN BLOOD.
Episode 17: Reading from A Name in Blood, my Caravaggio Novel
A reading from A Name in Blood, my historical crime novel about the great Italian artist Caravaggio. In this chapter, we’re in Rome, 1605. The new Cardinal Scipione Borghese views Caravaggio’s work alongside the artist’s patron, Cardinal del Monte. The novel is my answer to the mystery of Caravaggio’s death. Though he was the most famous artist in Italy, he was on the run with a price on his head in 1610. Then, he disappeared…
Episode 16: Poisonville, the Music of Crime Fiction
The only thing as evocative as a good noir crime novel is music. So, I thought, how about making an album of music about crime fiction? That’s what I’ve done and I unveil it here. The project’s called Poisonville, after the mispronounced location of Dashiell Hammett’s first novel “Red Harvest.” (The place was really called Personville, but Hammett’s Op learns that people call it Poisonville for a reason.) You can listen to the songs free on my website. Share them. I found it inspiring to work on these songs. You’ll see the styles vary from industrial to rock to funk to the sound of hoboes in a speakeasy, as well as my impersonations of Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed.
Episode 15: My Los Angeles
I was born in Britain and live in the Middle East. But as a lover of noir crime fiction, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler and have spent a great deal of time there. A soft spot that’s almost as soft as Los Angeles itself… An outsider’s witty take on Los Angeles. Which Angelenos would surely describe as “deep.”
Episode 14: Right Now, You’re Gibernau
A writer’s identity is important to his work. Here I recount a couple of occasions on which Italians questioned mine.
Episode 13: Crappy Jobs
Before I became a writer, I worked a number of crappy jobs. I hauled cement on my back, gleefully destroyed hospitals, ate meat pies, and watched homoerotic wrestling while draining a deep-fat fryer. And got paid badly for all of them. But without them, I wouldn’t be the writer I am.
Episode 12: My Part in Salman Rushdie’s Peril
When I was a very young journalist in London, I had the last interview with Salman Rushdie before Khomeini pronounced his fatwa against the writer. Unfortunately I was drunk. He was rude, and so was I. Here’s the story of how it happened.
Episode 11: Finding the Truly Real in Fiction
Writers usually decide to be writers before they know what they might write about. In my case, a journey from teenage isolation in Britain to the violence of the Middle East led me to the elements of my fiction which could be true — not just based on reality, but in the sense that they show something true about the souls of the people I had come to know and most of all about myself. Here I talk about how Dashiell Hammett, journalism and teenage alienation were staging points on that journey.
Episode 10: The Best First Paragraphs in Crime Fiction
As an award-winning crime writer, I’ve studied the greats of the genre and lectured about how they do what they do. Here I take my three favorite openings to crime novels — including “Red Harvest” by Dashiell Hammett, “The Little Sister” by Raymond Chandler, and “The Saint-Fiacre Affair” by Georges Simenon — and examine what makes them great. Either as a writer or a reader, I hope you’ll be intrigued by the analysis.
Episode 9: The Other Mozart No Longer Forgotten
It’s hard to tell them apart, Wolfgang Mozart and the great composer’s sister Nannerl. Both had prominent noses, mischievous eyes, and a certain naiveté to their gaze. But there was a difference. Nannerl was a girl, and that decided which of these fabulous musical talents would be remembered. Until now. My novel MOZART’S LAST ARIA and the work of other artists are reviving this often-scorned sister.
Episode 8: Meditation for Writers Part 2
This is a guided meditation for writers. Sit or lie down and listen to it. Do what I suggest in the podcast, and you’ll be meditating. I’ve used meditation techniques to help my concentration and to build my creativity in writing my award-winning crime fiction and historical novels. I’ve also found it transformative in my daily life. I hope you will too.
Episode 7: Meditation for Writers Part 1
I’ve used meditation techniques to help my concentration and to build my creativity in writing my award-winning crime fiction and historical novels. I’ve also found it transformative in my daily life. This podcast describes why that is and tells you a little about the guided meditation for writers I’ll be doing in my next podcast. In other words, here’s why you ought to do it. The next podcast will be a practical tool with which you can meditate, clear your mind, and open up your creativity.
Episode 6: How to Write a Book: Writing and Editing
As an award-winning writer of nonfiction, crime fiction, and historical thrillers, I’ll show how to write and edit your book. This is the final episode of three titled How to Write a Book. The previous episodes detailed the researching, structuring and plotting of your book.
Episode 5: How to Write a Book: Structure and Plot
I use my experience as an award-winning writer of nonfiction, crime fiction, and historical thrillers to show how to structure your book and, in the case of fiction, how to lay out your plot. This is the second of three episodes titled How to Write a Book. The next episode will cover writing and editing the book.
Episode 4: How to Write a Book: Research
I use my experience as an award-winning writer of nonfiction, crime fiction, and historical thrillers to lay out exactly what you need to do when you research your book. This is the first of three episodes titled How to Write a Book. The next episode will cover structuring, planning and plotting your book. The third episode will be about writing and editing the book.
Episode 3: Mozart’s Last Aria–Behind the Book
I describe the story behind my historical crime novel MOZART’S LAST ARIA. I tell how I became interested in Nannerl Mozart, the great composer’s sister, while traveling in the mountains of Austria; how I developed the idea for my novel with the help of great musicians; how I researched the book; and how I used the form of one of Mozart’s great piano sonatas to structure my novel.
Episode 2: Introducing Mozart’s Last Aria
I introduce my historical thriller MOZART’S LAST ARIA and read the first chapter of the book. The first of several podcasts about the book, which will include a discussion of the new historical research about Mozart’s death I used to write it and background on the real-life characters who appear in the novel.
Episode 1: Arab Spring short story in Syria
My experience as a foreign correspondent throughout the Middle East places me uniquely to understand the ‘Arab Spring’ freedom movement sweeping the region. ‘Damascus Trance’ is an original short story about the violent current events in the Syrian capital. In this podcast I read the story in full and explain why my fictional response to current affairs is a better way to understand what’s happening in Arab countries than journalism.