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Expat Living as a Writer

Updated on February 14, 2021

Writers and Expat Life - Always Up For The Challenge

Perhaps all writers are misfits of a kind. Many relish standing outside the herd to commentate on what happens within it. And what could be a better way of taking a distant view of one's own culture than by moving to another country? Becket to Bogarde, Greene to Rowling, Fleming to Coward . . . they all spent years abroad in their prime. The beauty of travel is that it not only broadens the mind with fresh experiences but it also begs you to study how cultures and habits differ. The focus is sharpened and for the first time you begin to realise that what you had always thought to be the 'right' way to do something, or react to an event, or express an emotion is nothing of the sort. Finding choices in these areas for the first time can be a delight: there are numerous ways of slicing a loaf . . . or greeting a friend, or enemy.

La Cite - Carcassonne
La Cite - Carcassonne

The Carcassonne Affair

A Contemporary Thriller

In 1989, Peter Mayle set publishing records with A Year In Provence, a well-written but often unpleasant account of settling in a new country, France at that time (his books understandably prompt frequent personal moves), and meeting the locals. Ever since, publishers have been attempting to ride on the back of his success with a string of books, most of which have sunk without trace. No wonder . . . the majority are of the 'poor me' or the 'oh so clever me' variety that would have flopped even as letters home to bore friends and family.

One of the tricks of writing a successful book, any book for that matter, is to take the ego out of the narrative and let the place, people and events rule rather than for ever harping on about how clever or stupid the writer thinks he or she is. Autobiographies are often crashingly awful because writers forget that their esteem and brilliance is not what readers wish to know about; what really interests them is putting themselves in the place of the writer and imagining how they might have performed better or worse, faced with the same predicaments. This is a tricky thing to get right, but it can be done. The two books below, one about France, the other set in Tuscany, Italy, show how this can be achieved.

Jonathan Veale's latest offering, the 2012 thriller, The Carcassonne Affair, is a Kindle gem that describes the fate of a writer who moves to France to continue his successful career. The tranquillity he relished is soon rudely shattered, however. An amoral financier who fears the writer, in his next book, is about to expose shady dealings in his business is prepared to go to any lengths to stop the book's publication. The expat world receives more than it bargained for . . . and a death in its midst.

Laura Graham's 2011 book, Down A Tuscan Alley, is less turbulent but deals intelligently with old and new relationships that all expats encounter when they first settle in their new habitats.

Both these books offer insights into expat life . . . but always obliquely. Egos are kept muffled. These are stories that readers can relish as they put themselves into a life abroad.

The Plot Thickens

It started going pear-shaped for Mark Brayfeld on the day events in three countries coincided. But to an outside observer, indeed to Mark himself, no danger signs flashed. A New York publisher with more money than sense decided to offer a staggering sum for Mark’s second novel; a yearling colt was entered for his first race at Newmarket in the following flat race season, and a feisty English woman running gites in South West France received a writ threatening the future of her business

The Carcassonne Affair - A New Kindle Book on Amazon

Making a new life abroad in a new country with a new language is never going to be easy. But when you have some nasty Irish henchmen on your tail set on ruining your plans at any cost things can quickly become very complicated.

The Carcassonne Affair - a fast-paced contemporary thriller laced with intrigue and humour
The Carcassonne Affair - a fast-paced contemporary thriller laced with intrigue and humour
A look at expat living through the genre of a fictional mystery thriller.

Mark Brayfeld inadvertently threatens to expose corruption in the horse racing world

The Carcassonne Affair

A contemporary thriller or a bit of a damp squib?

See results

Down a Tuscan Alley - by Laura Graham

A new life in a new country, but this time it is Italy. The main character is a women separated from her husband at a time when life should be a series of contented episodes. With no money and few possessions Lorri heads for Italy with her two cats and faces the challenge of expat living and all that it throws at her.

Recommended Reading - Fiction and Non Fiction

The Kindle has overtaken printed book sales on Amazon and provided a platform for new authors to launch their books into the public domain as independent publishers. Below is a selection of some of the more interesting offerings.

eBooks on Amazon, Smashwords and eBookIssues - Multiple formatted eBooks

Both fiction and non-fiction reference eBooks.

For a Holiday in France - Self catering or catered the choice is yours

If the Caracassonne Affair gave you a bit of a hankering to take a holiday in France then here are a few links to sites you may find of interest.

What Has eBay Got for Expats

There are expats living all over the world so anything could turn up in an eBay auction. I just thought that seeing what does might be a bit of fun and you never know it might just be something useful.


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