writing habit

Author on the Air

I spoke with Pam Stack for an hour this morning, on her terrific radio show, "Authors on the Air". We spoke about DEVIL'S HARBOR, obviously, but the conversation ranged across many interesting topics from how to write the opposite gender to border politics. I hesitate to call it an interview because it felt like a conversation with a thoughtful, insightful new friend. Thanks Pam! 

If you'd like to listen to Pam's conversation with me, or with dozens of other authors, click here.  

Writing in the shadow of the world's largest atlas

Michael Connelly says he can write anywhere, anytime—airport lounges, planes, wherever. Not for him the sacred writing-space or mental-focus exercises touted in how-to-write books. He writes with the discipline of the reporter he once was. I very much admire him for it, and wish I had a bit more of it myself.

For the moment, however, I've made it my habit to go to the library to write. I'm in Sydney, so I go to the Mitchell Library on Macquarie Street. It's quiet, it's free from distractions, and if I need to look something up, all the books I need are right there. The chairs are back-breakingly uncomfortable and the wifi is achingly slow, but the reading room is one of the finest spaces in Sydney, which almost makes up for the pain in my spine:

Anyway, here's what I wanted to show you: the library recently acquired a copy of the world's largest atlas, published by Millennium House:

And here's a picture with me standing next to it, to give you a sense of scale. I'm 6'1''.

It takes three librarians to turn the page, which they do once a day. It's become quite a ritual: everyone stops whatever they're doing to watch The Turning Of The Page. 

The blurb on the panel behind me in the photo says it's "the largest book of its kind," which struck me as a bit vague, so I googled "largest book in the world". 

Surprisingly, there's no consensus on what a book is. Wikipedia says that the World's Largest Book is a series of stone engravings in a pagoda in Myanmar. I'd call that architecture, not a book. 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest book that most people would recognise as a book (words printed on paper bound between two covers) is in—and this didn't surprise me—Dubai.

So the Millennium Atlas is unchallenged as the largest atlas in the world.