Genius loci

[Genius Loci] June 2023

1 June 2023


Italy was unusually wet, but it wasn’t bad enough to dampen my spirits in Rome, Florence, and Venice.1 Most of my time in Italy was spent working, though at night and on my free time, I found myself doing what I love: drifting alone through the crowds, with a camera, observing. I know writing about the traveler as flâneur is a bit tired these days, but I also can respect the fact that not all travelers enjoy or experience solitary walks in foreign places. Alas, I am now back in Florida, and I write this with an unexpected souvenir from Italy: Covid. My Covid experience has been mild, fortunately.

There are a few The Hill of the Skull updates I am dying to share with you, but I must remain tight-lipped about them at the moment. Though, I can say that a digital version of THOTS is in the hands of a writer I admire. This person wrote to me in an email, “I found your piece really terrific: warm and open-hearted and engaging and human, even as it touches on so much that lies beyond our grasp and speaks for larger forces working through us.”

Despite this positive note, and the positive feedback I’ve received from previous readers, I still find myself struggling with self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and anxiety. It has more to do with the content of the book than the unorthodox nature of the publishing experiment. From the outset, and partly to shield myself from these feelings, I wanted to keep some distance between me and my work. But this wall broke down in Bolivia, and it broke down in my writing about Bolivia. Now that I think about it, (struggling to keep) emotional distance/detachment might be one of the key themes of the book.

How does one get over these feelings?

On another book-related note, I’ve been getting quotes and samples from book printers. I’m currently looking at materials like paper and cover. More quotes and samples are rolling in. Not much else to report on this front.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for an alert via Kickstarter or via my self-destructing email list when my book’s campaign launches in September. And please help us spread the word by sharing this link with your friends/social networks/newsletters:

My work

I interviewed Tim Hannigan about his new book The Granite Kingdom on the Travel Writing World podcast. Listen here or in your favorite podcasting app.

I made a YouTube video about sequencing photobooks, which has a sneak peek at some of the images in THOTS.

I wrote a short note from Rome about taking photographs in the Eternal City on my other email dispatch, Drifting.


I’ve been enjoying Jeff Biggers’ newest book, In Sardinia: An Unexpected Journey in Italy. Interview on TWW forthcoming.

Author Matthew Teller profiles publisher of classic travel books Eland Publishing for AramcoWorld.

Ethel Crowley’s tribute to Dervla Murphy in the Irish Times.


Buckle up. Adobe Photoshop’s new AI-powered “Generative Fill” feature is in beta but already turning heads.

Temples of Books - a photographic journey to the world’s most magical libraries.

On Kickstarter: French photographer François Prost takes photos of façades of nightclubs in Côte d’Ivoire. See my review of his earlier book, Gentlemen’s Club, here.

Audio & miscellanea

On The Land Behind, a podcast about photography and place, Peter Holliday speaks with Robert Darch about the latter’s new photobook The Island.

Writing novels inspired by place? Joanna Penn speaks with Tony Park on The Creative Penn Podcast.

Sophy Roberts speaks with Michael Turek on Gone to Timbuktu.

That’s it for this month!


  1. Some parts of Italy got hit hard with the rains. Notably, Emilia-Romagna experienced flooding and casualties. ↩︎