I was born and brought up in Somerset and studied English and
History at Jesus College, Oxford. After graduation I had an idyllic
year working in an antiquarian bookshop in Bloomsbury and then
joined the editorial team of the London Review of Books for
two years. I left the LRB to become a staff features writer
for the Independent on Sunday.
In 1999 I moved to Italy to woo a woman I had met a few months before and ended up staying and getting married. Whilst there I wrote articles and essays for the British and American press and published a book called The Dark Heart of Italy which was later turned into a BBC documentary. I was nominated for the Sunday Times young writer of the year award but, ahem, didn’t win. I wrote and presented two four-part series for RAI 3, the Italian state broadcaster: Ricchi d’Italia (“The Rich of Italy”) and Cervelli d’Italia (“The Brains of Italy”).
Utopian Dreams, my next book, was a search for community, a travelogue looking for the bonds and glues that create communal well-being. It was a journey that persuaded my wife and I to set-up an “extended household” in a small woodland in Somerset. If you want to read more about the Windsor Hill Wood project, click here. I’ve written a book about the first five years of Windsor Hill Wood, A Place of Refuge. It’s a very frank, and hopefully funny, diary of all the weird and wonderful things that happen when you turn your family home into a sanctuary for those in a period of crisis in their lives.
My first novel, The Salati Case, was a crime caper set in a foggy city in northern Italy with a limping, beekeeping private detective who owes a lot to Lew Archer, Ross MacDonald’s memorable detective. The second novel, White Death featured the same detective and was published in 2011. Blood on the Altar is a true-crime book about the tragedy of Elisa Claps in the deep south. She went missing in Potenza, in Basilicata, in 1993 and the crime was only solved in 2010. Death of a Showgirl was published by Faber & Faber in 2013. It’s set in the murky world of Italian television.
Both Blood on the Altar and A Place of Refuge have been optioned by an impressive production company, so the hope is that either or both of those books will come to a screen near you some day...
I play football when I can for the England writers team. Francesca and I have three children: Benedetta, Emma and Leonardo.