Genius loci

[Genius Loci] September 2023

1 September 2023


I need your help!

The Hill of the Skull will go live on Kickstarter from September 25 until October 26. (Join the book launch livestream via YouTube on Oct 1, 2023).

I need help spreading the word!

Do you know any podcasts I should reach out to for interviews? Any newsletters, blogs, websites, journalists, or media outlets I should pitch and reach out to? Is there anything you can do to help me on this front? Social media sharing, introductions, etc.?

I cringe as I look back on what I just wrote. This stage of the creative process—the marketing and promotional stage—feels the worst. I hate pitching. I loathe this type of outreach, this calling attention to myself. It feels like begging, like bothering people. It is self-aggrandizing. It reeks of self-importance.

I complained about this to a podcaster friend with whom I recently spoke, and he snapped back: “Yes. But you also GIVE and GIVE and GIVE on your podcast and your newsletters without asking for anything in return. It is your turn to receive.” This is a part of the job, he told me. The independent creator must wear different hats at different stages of the creative process: the Maker hat, the Manager hat, and the Marketer hat. As a podcast host, I understand the promotional side of things fairly well. And yet I cannot shake the feeling of shame and embarrassment when I place the Marketer hat on my head.

As I type this, I wonder if the resistance I’m feeling is rooted in some toxic masculine trait of self-reliance. You know what I’m talking about. This ethic of not asking for help, this do-it-yourself rugged manliness. Don’t get me wrong: I want to believe that there is some virtue in self-reliance. If we are to believe Kant, it is one of the requirements in man’s emergence from immaturity. But the virtue turns to vice when our aging egos won’t let us become students again and learn from other people; when our hubris deceives us into believing that we can singlehandedly conquer anything that comes our way.

So I ask for your help with extreme, rugged, and manly humility.

In book-related news, everything is coming together. The map is almost done. The Kickstarter campaign page is looking great.

As you no doubt know by now, the star of the campaign is the premium, limited edition, hardback book.

But my buddy Joanna Penn convinced me to offer more affordable options for those who believe in the project but can’t afford a $40/$50 book. These options include a black and white paperback (affordable, mass market style), an audiobook (of me reading just the memoir section), and an ebook (epub & pdf).

Early feedback on the book so far has been all positive! Though, I must keep in mind that 1) most people are nice people and 2) not all feedback will be positive. But receiving positive feedback at this stage fills my heart. It also calms my nerves, as this book — the memoir section in particular — is a bit personal.

Anway, thanks for joining me on this journey.

And sign up to get notified when the book launches in a few weeks!

Now, onto what you came for:

My work

I’m hosting a book launch livestream via YouTube on Sunday, October 1 at 12 pm EST. Join me via this YouTube link. Click the “notify me” bell to watch live ort to get the replay.

A few of my photographs were recognized by the Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) 2023! What good timing, as some of these photographs appear in The Hill of the Skull.

I didn’t do a lot last month as I was on the road and preparing for classes (and my book’s launch), which are now in full swing. Though, I did briefly write about Arles, France in my other newsletter Drifting.


Lonely Planet at 50: how two young backpackers changed the world.

A New Frontier for Travel Scammers: A.I.-Generated Guidebooks.

The Wainwright shortlist 2023 has been released, and the titles look great. Winners will be announced September 14.


September brings us the publication of Don McCullin’s book Journeys Across Roman Asia Minor, featuring commentary by Barnaby Rogerson (publisher at Eland) and a foreword by William Dalrymple.

There are a number of talks and launch events in September and October for McCullin’s new book. See more info on the Eland website or here.

A photographer is capturing India’s disappearing single-screen cinemas.


Ryan Murdock speaks with Simon Winchester about outposts and the British Empire on the Personal Landscapes podcast.

I’ve discovered the End of Tourism podcast. I’ve particularly valued the episodes with Nick Hunt, Bani Amor, and Dean MacCannell.

An interview with Steve McCurry on the Behind the Lens podcast.

That’s it for this month!