Many moons ago (also known as 2003), I was between lives: working at home, traveling abroad, repeat. Much was in flux. Much is a blur. But I know one thing for certain.
The Rucksack Universe was born on an early-morning bike commute, when the idea for a fantastically realistic novel about a globetrotting traveler blazed into my brain like sunlight glinting off a gold statue of the Buddha. From there I knew there would never, ever be any turning back from a new world waiting to be traveled, and I knew that, sooner or later, this new world’s stories would need to be told to the rest of the world.
Stories from life, life from fantasy, the amazing from the ordinary and vice versa
In the midst of travel, life changes, work changes, love lost, love found, and more trips taken, an idea germinated in my head. Stories about travelers, utterly and totally made up, but believable. Stories about all the things we learn when we travel, be it about the world, about other people, about ourselves. Stories about all the people we love and lose, find and befriend, detest and come to understand better. In my mind kept growing stories about people globetrotting through a world very familiar as ours… but with the thin skin of it scraped away, to reveal something bright, glittery, fantastical and… beyond… yet just as real as what we see and live and do every day.
The first seeds came from my first travels abroad, in Scotland and Ireland, as a college student and recent grad in 1999-2000. Then, from 2000 to 2003, I worked as an online copywriter for the BootsnAll Travel Network, back when this worldwide name in independent travel was just a wee fledgling dot-com startup. For 3 years I met travelers and filled my brain with their stories. After leaving my job, I figured I’d do some traveling, mainly so I could see more of the world, and also so I could see a woman I was dating, who at the time was traveling around the world and soon heading to Asia.
One morning on a bike path in Eugene, Oregon
At home in Eugene, Oregon, I planned my trips to Asia. First one: India, Thailand, Cambodia, for 3 months in late 2003. Second one: China, Tibet, Nepal, for 2 months in 2004. I read voraciously, for logistics, inspiration and the sheer feckin glory fun of reading. I stepped up my intake of Tim Cahill, Lonely Planet, Terry Pratchett (and his wonderful Discworld novels), Bill Bryson, Tom Robbins, BootsnAll, Douglas Adams, and more. So, so many more.
To fund my jaunts to Asia, I worked as an office temp. Every morning at 6:30 a.m., in the dark cool as the sun just started coming up, I rode my bicycle down the riverside bike paths of Eugene, Oregon. As I pedaled in the dark, I whiled away the morning’s chill with thoughts about my trips taken: the highlands of Scotland, pints and love in Edinburgh, fish stew and aloneness on Ireland’s Inisheer (smallest of the Aran Islands), nearly breaking my foot in Galway. And I pondered future trips dreamed of—Australia, New Zealand, Asia and more Asia, Europe and, and, and…
And one particular morning as I rode to work, an idea flashed into my head.
A traveler… and not just any traveler. The traveler of travelers, globetrotter of globetrotters. A strange object hides in his backpack, leads him to a mystical city in India and accidentally causes him to wake up an ancient evil that wants to destroy the world. There’s a mysterious woman, a bartender who seems to serve more than drinks. There are funny t-shirts, bad curries, the all-senses assault of India, a mountain only the traveler can see and, above all, the world’s only Himalayan-Irish sage, who is both exactly who he is and nothing at all what he seems.
Bugger. I’ve already said too much. That’s all going down in my first Rucksack Universe novel, which I’m working on right now, for release later this year.
See what I mean?
The Rucksack Universe is a new world for you to travel
In one way or another, one form or another, these stories and characters have been rattling about my brain since 2003. I’ve fiddled with writing these stories here and there, but never made enough effort.
Then, in 2011, I realized the time had come to put up or shut up. I quit my cozy, good-enough-so-not-good-enough-at-all day job, and set up shop as an independent copywriter. And then, holed up in my home office or in coffee shops all over Eugene, I started setting down the first stories of the Rucksack Universe.
It was time to let loose.
I’m at work right now on a novel and a bunch of stories. Some will be available only on this blog; some will be released as books and e-books. The stories simply won’t be contained anymore. If I don’t write them, I’ll never forgive myself. There’s so much happening. My head can hardly contain it, and I can’t wait to share the tales, these people, this world, with you. There’s so much to see. So many people to meet.
The Rucksack Universe. It’s an amazing world to see. And it’s just like ours. Only more so.
Thanks for traveling with me, fellow globetrotter. Let’s see where the road goes.