I read Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University and, back in the days of Good King Idris, did archaeological fieldwork in Cyrenaica when I traced the main water supply of ancient Ptolemais from its source to the city's cisterns…  

I followed this up as a member of a field survey of sites in Fezzan and later I worked as a site supervisor for several seasons on a Byzantine excavation in Istanbul…   but Archaeology and I drew apart and I went into teaching- English literature to 'A'level and Art History (including some Russian history on the way)…   I also produced a lot of plays- more than 30 productions- a number of which were my own creations. Foreign travel has always played an essential part in my life. I have travelled in Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Yucatan, Haiti…  ), Peru, Turkey extensively, North and East Africa, Iran, Eastern and Central Europe, Russia and Ukraine, Malaysia, Italy, France...

Indeed travel has been one the chief stimulants to my writing as the book I am now offering should make clear…   while to an extent my journeys have been defined by the piece of English literature that I happened to have had with me at the time- (Barchester Towers in Peru…   Dr Thorne in Belize…   David Copperfield in the Sahara Desert etc etc…  ) In the Nineteen- nineties I taught English in Poltava (Ukraine), in  the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union (alas, I had missed Yeltsin's climactic moment on a tank in Moscow by just two days!). I later taught my mother tongue in Prague and enjoyed the aesthetic pleasures of Bohemia and Moravia. Another stint in Istanbul followed, teaching English, and further travels in pursuit of Turkey's archaeological treasures.

More recently I have travelled extensively in Russia- especially in Siberia, though I have also visited a number of the cities of the Golden Circle…   needless to say I made a lot of Russian and Ukrainian friends (included among them a former KGB officer- a very charming and civilised man!). All of this and my abiding fascination with the Russian people and their history have fed into my writing- and the question I posit in the book for my characters is this: where do you go now?  The Russians' identity has always been a central theme in their history- Peter the Great exemplifying the problem. I also draw on a more sinister tradition which has not been rooted out of Russian life following the demise of Bolshevism. This, of course, is what provides the book with its element of suspense (while at the same time making it into something of a pastiche of the conventional spy thriller).
Christopher Arthur
Dynasty Press, 36 Ravensdon Street, London SE11 4AR.  Distributors: UK. Orca Book Services Ltd; US. Pathways; Designer: Two Associates;
Typesetter & book publishing services Shore Books and Design; Printers: Cromwell UK, Finland; Promoters: Colbert & Macalister, London.
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