Book Publications:I’ve published five works of non-fiction and three novels. Details on the “Books” page of this website. I tend to write about true crime, communalism, football and contemporary (and 20th century) Italy.
Journalism:Having previously been on the staff of the London Review of Books and the Independent on Sunday, I’ve been freelance since 1999. I’ve occasionally had a weekly column (in the Observer and in Internazionale). Many UK, US and Italian publications have published my work, but I tend to write mostly for the Guardian.
TV, Film, Radio:
I’ve written and presented three documentary series for Italian TV: Ricchi d’Italia (Rai 3), Cervelli d’Italia (Rai 3) and Travelogue: Destinazione Italia (Rai Storia).
I’ve made various documentaries for BBC TV and Radio, and often appear on shows talking about Italy or communal living.Various books and articles (A Place of Refuge, Ultra, Blood on the Altar and the Yara Gambirasio Long Read) have been optioned by film companies in both London and Los Angeles.
Prizes and Nominations:
Short-listed for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award
Long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize
Teaching, Speaking etc:I love teaching as much as I love writing. Formerly a Visiting Fellow of Creative Non-Fiction at UEA, I was also a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Exeter University for two years.
Since moving back to Italy, I’ve taught journalism at Parma University.I regularly lead creative writing workshops for the Arvon Foundation, and for a variety of schools, prisons, charities etc. and I often do gigs at literary and music festivals. Although I mentor a lot of aspiring professional writers, I particularly enjoy working with the disadvantaged or dispossessed who use writing as a form of personal discovery / therapy.
I’m slightly bored of the “sages on stages” approach, and always look for more creative ways to share ideas and information.
Charity and Community Work:
In 2009, I co-founded, with Francesca, Windsor Hill Wood, a sanctuary for people going through a period of crisis in their lives. We lived there for 8 years and that communal adventure was the subject of my 7th book, A Place of Refuge. Now a registered charity and being managed by a new family, WHW continues to offer refuge to those who need it.A few years later, in 2018, we co-founded another woodland community, this time non-residential: Shepton Mallet Community Woodland. This beautiful site is a space in which local people (and not only) can reconnect with nature: appreciating creation, learning woodland crafts, tending and managing the woodland together, making charcoal, sourcing wild food, processing timber, organising events and so on.
We’re hoping to set up a new communal project in the hills / mountains south of Parma, but are in the all-important, patience-testing “discernment” phase!
Personal:I was born on All Souls Day in Somerset. I’m a middle-child, which might be why I used to be difficult and am now a peacebuilder. I love planting trees, possibly to make up for the wood I use as an amateur carpenter. I’m a listener but am growing bored of people always on transmit. I’m married to Francesca. We have three children and live in Parma (northern Italy) where Francesca is from. I occasionally play football for the England Writers Team and am a convinced communitarian, believing that the more we share homes, tables, rooves, land and resources, the more fulfilling and purposeful life becomes.