I was born in North Vancouver, Canada, in 1953. After a fairly typical suburban childhood, I spent much of the nineteen-seventies on the road in Canada, South America, Europe and North Africa. I left my native land for good in 1979 when I realized that the then-depressed Canadian economy offered little opportunity for someone who had dropped out of both high school and college and whose accomplishments were limited to studying Spanish colonial history at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid during the heady post-Franco years—where everyone under thirty passed their evenings arguing politics in seedy neighborhood bars—without becoming either an Anarchist or an Alcoholic.

My life in Indonesia began in early 1980 when a geophysical exploration company desperate for manpower during those oil-boom years snatched me from a backpacker's dormitory in Singapore, where I was waiting in vain, as it turned out, for money from home so I could continue my journey to India. Twenty-four hours later, I was in the Kalimantan rain forest, riding herd on several hundred local workers contracted to seismic-survey crew. My only qualification for the job was the ability—essential for serious budget travelers—to adjust to isolation and strange environments, which I put to good use during a two-year career in the oil industry that included brief stints in South Sumatra and Aceh.

Though I left the oil fields with more than enough resources to continue my travels, I elected to remain in Indonesia, exploring remote regions of the archipelago, or barreling down the back roads of Java and Bali on a vintage Harley Davidson. In 1983, I settled in Bandung, in the mountains of West Java, to start a writing career. In 1985, when my savings were sufficiently depleted, I moved to Jakarta to work as a travel-trade correspondent and freelance corporate copywriter, as the booming export and tourism industries created an insatiable demand for English-language brochures, books, and videos.

I spent fifteen years as a Jakarta-based freelance hack writer, which is not nearly as bad as it sounds. Those were heady times; Jakarta was flush with hot money from the overheated economy, companies were eager to pay inflated rates for foreign expertise, perks were numerous (I did not pay for one airfare during ten years of constant travel), and distractions cheap and plentiful.

When the region-wide economic crisis brought Indonesia to its knees in 1997, I retired from the copy writing business to devote myself full time to books. I now divide my time between Jakarta, Jogjakarta, and Bali.