Friday, 19 October 2018

SWEDEN reviews

So, reviews of my debut novel, Sweden, are trickling in, and so far they're pretty good.

In the Midwest Book Review, senior reviewer Diane Donovan describes Sweden as: 

"... a moving, multifaceted story that cements its plot with strong characterization, astute cultural insights and social inspection, and a backdrop that will seem both familiar to any regular reader of Vietnam novels and alien to those anticipating the usual military encounters." 

In his review for the Asian Review of Books, Bill Purves writes:

"... this is not a novel about Sweden, but a few hours with Sweden will be well spent. You’ll come away with an interesting picture of mid-century Japan and an appreciation of a little-known movement with a place in modern history."

On his blog, Throw Out Your Books, William Andrews (author of Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture from 1945 to Fukushimawrites:

"Across its 300-plus pages, the novel encompasses a wide range of characters and settings. Along the way we encounter activists, hippies, servicemen, girlfriends and culture clashes aplenty. It portrays a vibrant, exciting time at the end of the 1960s, packed with the passion of personal entanglements, street riots and ideologies."

And finally, writing for the The VVA Veteran's Books in Review II, Angus Paul says of Sweden:

"The narrative keeps moving, thanks to Turner’s efficient prose, as well as an attractive supporting cast. The Beat poet Gary Snyder shows up at a Buddhist temple. And JATEC operatives—the jazz enthusiast Masuda among them—show resourcefulness in guiding the deserters on their individual perilous journeys."

Sweden is available in paperback and ebook formats and can be purchased through the following outlets:

Directly from my publisher, The Mantle
Your local bookstore (in the US)   
Book Depository

Thursday, 18 October 2018


Some photos from a visit the other day to the recently opened Christchurch central library, called Tūranga. Christchurch has been without a proper central library since the 2011 earthquake, so it's good to see this up and running. It's a beautiful space, full of light and with lots of wood used inside. It's also in a great location on the edge of Cathedral Square. Though they don't seem to have a lot of books on Japan (considerably less than in the old central library, if my memory serves me correctly), they did have one that I've been keen to read for sometime: Walking the Kiso Road by William Scott Wilson.

Monday, 2 July 2018

My debut novel, SWEDEN, is set in...Japan

It's 1968. As war rages in Vietnam, a group of American deserters holed up in Japan plot their escape with help from local peace activists. Their destination: Sweden.
Based on true events, Sweden takes readers on an exhilarating journey from the killing fields of Vietnam to a fogbound fishing port on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, with stops along the way at a hippie commune in Japan's subtropical south and a student-occupied university in Tokyo.
Sweden is your passport to discover a part of American history you never knew.

August 1, 2018
327 pages
pb ($14.95) and ebook ($3.95)
Historical Fiction | Japan | War
5.5" x 8.5"

Available for pre-order from the following:

The Mantle (Buy directly from the publisher for $9.95) 
Small Press Distribution
Book Depository 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Sweden II

Very happy with the cover design (by Jose Lucas) for my forthcoming novel.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Route 16 schedule

So, in just over a month I'll be setting off to walk the length of Japan's National Route 16, which more or less encircles Tokyo, from Yokosuka in Kanagawa prefecture to Futtsu on the other side of Tokyo Bay in Chiba prefecture. Below is my schedule. I've given myself ten days to cover the 241 kms. There are some long days (37 km!), but I won't have much gear and as far as I know there are no major hills. I've done about as much training for this walk as I did for last year's Oshu Kaido hike, which is to say very little! I know the scenery won't be like the kaido I've walked over the last ten years, but I'm looking forward to seeing some places on the outskirts of Tokyo (Yokosuka, Kawagoe, Kashiwa) that I've never been to before.

May 10 (Day 1): Maborikaigan - Yokohama (30 km)
May 11 (Day 2): Yokohama - Sagami-Ono (25 km)
May 12 (Day 3): Sagami-Ono - Hachioji (20 km)
May 13 (Day 4): Hachioji - Kawagoe (36 km)
May 14 (Day 5): Kawagoe - Yoshinohara (15 km)
May 15 (Day 6): Yoshinohara - Kasukabe (22 km)
May 16 (Day 7): Kasukabe - Kashiwa (25 km)
May 17 (Day 8): Kashiwa -Chiba (37 km)
May 18 (Day 9): Chiba - Sodegaura (30 km)
May 19 (Day 10): Sodegaura -  Futtsu (22 km)

Hmm. Just realised those distances add up to 262 km. Don't know how I got the extra 21 kms. Probably I added a bit on some days to account for walking to my pre-booked accommodation, which in some cases is off Route 16. At least it's not less than 241!

Sunday, 28 January 2018


Not so much a new post, but an update on an old one from March 2011(!). So, the novel I've been working on for more than seven years is due to be published later this year. It has a title: SWEDEN. And a publisher: The Mantle. I'll be posting more details, including the publication date, as they become available. But for the time being, here are the photos I posted back in 2011 as clues to help those curious determine the subject matter. If you can identify the people and places in the photos, you should have a good idea of the true story on which SWEDEN is based. There may also be (or not be!) a clue in the title.

Friday, 20 October 2017

It was ten years ago today...

Nihonbashi, 13 November 2007
Ten years ago today, on 20 October 2007, I flew out of Christchurch bound for Osaka to begin my first epic walk - the Nakasendo. Two days later I met up with my friend Erik in Kyoto and on 23 October the two of us set off on the first leg of our 22-day, 534-km hike to Tokyo.

We arrived in Nihonbashi in fading light on the evening of 13 November. I remember feeling a mixture of exhaustion, relief, fulfilment and joy. But I also felt sad. Sad that the walk, which I had been planning, writing about and thinking about for more than eight months, was over. There was only one thing to do. Plan the next one.

I have since completed four more epic walks in Japan, the latest back in May this year. Soon after returning to New Zealand I began thinking about my next adventure. And today I can announce I am in the middle of planning not one, but two more treks in Japan.

In May next year I intend to hike Route 16, the 241-km national highway that all but encircles Tokyo, from Yokosuka on the Miura Peninsula to Kisarazu on the opposite side of Tokyo Bay on the Boso Peninsula. Along the way I will pass through such scenic spots as Hachioji, Kawagoe, Saitama, Kashiwa and Chiba. I have set aside ten days for this journey.

Then, in October 2019, I will be teaming up with Erik again to do the Shikoku pilgrimage. At 1150 km, this will be by far the longest walk I have ever attempted. It will take us around a month and half to complete. I can hardly wait!