I sit on the front porch of small, thatched-roof cabin within sight of the Strait of Malacca in western Malaysia listening to the cry of the muezzin from the mosque across the road and wishing the bats would return to feast on the mosquitoes or a breeze of any sort would appear. For the first time in a week the stars are out tonight and the wind has died off completely, making for a sultry evening that leaves me smelling of sweat and mosquito-repellent. And there’s a hell of a kink in my neck from the reason I’ve ended up in the tropics of southeast Asia.
For the last several months I’ve been working on a new book that looks at modern-day piracy, crime and terrorism on the high seas. From my home in Canada, I’ve been immersed in far too many official reports, sifting through a litany of analyses of the situation and spending a lot of time on the phone and the computer. I’ve ventured off to the deserts of Nevada and the east coast of Canada, with a rash of towns large and small thrown in for good measure somewhere in between, interviewing dozens of people from admirals to deckhands to United Nations personnel. But, in the end, I had to get out and visit the places that have been most affected by this global problem and meet the individuals dealing with it.
The final story will be told, of course, in the book I’m working on, which will be released in 2009 in Canada (Raincoast Books) and the United States (St. Martin’s Griffin). In the meantime, you’ll find some initial impressions of my travels at this site. I welcome your comments.