My guest today is Bill Todd, and it’s a first for me, as Bill is actually my first male guest! Bill is the author of a series of crime thriller novels featuring a soldier-turned-investigator, Danny Lancaster. As a former journalist and travel writer, Bill’s certainly been to some interesting places, and I’m delighted he’s agreed to share his five photos with us today.
A big thank-you to Sharon for giving me the excuse to rummage through my photo albums, both digital and old school. It was tough to choose.
Photo1 – Zoe
It’s tough being a baby. All those decisions. Do I chew? Do I stare? Can I do both? I love this photo of my daughter Zoe. And we may be revisiting these tough questions again soon as she’s expecting her first child.
Photo2 – Deserts
The keystone of writing good novels is to tell the story without waffle. I take this road sign as my inspiration. I’ve done a bit of travel writing but deserts are something special. As Alec Guinness says to Peter O’Toole in the film Lawrence Of Arabia, ‘I think you are another of these desert-loving English.’
People have two reactions to deserts. The first sees sand. The second sees colour, texture, shadow and stands in awe of a timeless space, no car parks, no pollution, no burger bars, empty yet not empty. Deserts whisper and if you listen you can hear them.
Dead Vlei in the Namibia Desert has dead trees believed to be 700 years old but they still stand. The Namib is so waterless they dried out but did not decay.
In the Nama language Namib means ‘vast place’. The Namib stretches for more than a thousand miles down the West African coast and is thought to be the oldest desert in the world, perhaps 80 million years. Some dunes stand nearly 1,000 feet high. Forbidden zones protect the Namib’s diamond mines.
Photo3 – St Pancras Station
It’s dreadful to think that St Pancras Station could have been lost to redevelopment if it wasn’t for the campaigning of people like poet Sir John Betjeman, commemorated by this statue.
The fantastic Gothic architecture that gives Hogwarts and the palaces of The Lord Of The Rings a run for their money now has a new life as a major London rail hub with services to Europe. Opened in 1868, the 700ft-wide canopy was the largest single span roof in the world when built. St Pancras is almost a destination in itself with shopping arcades and many cafes where an army of commuting Joan Hunter Dunns can toast Sir John.
Photo4 – Menin Gate
I was greatly honoured to be invited to lay a wreath at the daily Menin Gate WWI commemoration in Ypres, Belgium. The memorial bears the names of more than 54,000 soldiers killed around the city. Every evening traffic stops and buglers play The Last Post. It is very moving. As a result of my interest in military history I have published three short factual books: My father’s war diary from Normandy to Germany, an account of my great uncle’s war in Palestine in 1917, and the story of my cousin Barbara Gubbins, a talented young women who might have been the RAF’s first female pilot if it had not been for a fatal air crash.
Photo5 – Crete
The Greek island of Crete has it all, great scenery, history, food and hospitality. The roads are good now but once driving was a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride along unsurfaced ledges cut into rock faces. My favourite place is a small village on the south coast. The Good Heart taverna & rent rooms does a cracking breakfast and you can enjoy it with a curtain of gorge-riven mountains behind you and a half circle of empty sea in front. That’s worth climbing mountains for.
Thank you so much, Bill. What fascinating photos and stories. I’m so pleased you agreed to share them with us.
Bill Todd spent most of his working life as a journalist and was pleased and surprised to win an award for his travel writing – a job that took him to more than 40 countries, from the pure white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia. Before that he tried all sorts of jobs including furniture removals, photography, teaching and running a magazine group.
He received the Ed Lacy travel award in 2007. In February 2015 he was voted one of the 100 best crime authors in the WH Smith readers’ poll.
He has written six crime thrillers featuring soldier-turned-investigator Danny Lancaster plus three short factual military histories.
You can find out more about Bill on his website here.
You can buy Bill’s books here.