New year, new plans

With nearly three months of 2023 already gone, it’s probably too late to wish you all a Happy New Year, but I sincerely hope that your year is off to a good start.

The last few months have had me literally tied up in a sling: in mid-January I went into hospital for (much needed, but delayed) shoulder reconstruction. I am recuperating well, however the sling tended to get in the way of much keyboard-based work for the first 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation. Typing a blog with the fingers of one hand is a bit tedious and takes forever. I am well on the mend but it will be a long process before I have full use/strength back — likely six months at least.

On the book front we have exciting news.

BETRAYED is finally available in the UK and Europe through my publisher Hachette’s export program. I am already beginning to hear from UK readers who had ordered it (in the expectation of an early December release) who have now got their copy. Unfortunately, post-COVID global supply chain issues affecting us all delayed the book’s shipment to, and arrival in the UK, and then its distribution to bookstores.

But I understand it’s now available through independents, Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Foyles and of course, To tie in with the book’s UK release, I will be attending the London Book Fair from 18-20 April.

I am also exploring book readings further afield so keep your eyes peeled to my website and socials for dates/locations.

Naturally, I am hoping to help expose the story to a much wider readership base in the UK and Europe. More recently, an Australian magazine — That’s Life — published a two-page story about BETRAYED, dubbing the women “Drug Run Nannas”. Where do they come up with these names?!

Some of you might remember one of the more minor details of the drug grannies’ preparations before they set off from Stuttgart was when Toddie and her nephew Vern travelled to London to obtain a Carnet de Passage (the document which facilitated the camper van’s movements into/out of countries, crossing borders and securing custom clearance). A trip to the UK was never part of the women’s plans, but for Toddie, it was an exciting opportunity to see the sights and take a short trip aboard a double decker bus in the capital while Vern went about his business.

The women were blissfully unaware of the ever present danger of the increasing instances of drug smuggling operations masquerading as “innocent” tourists on the Hippie Trail. Unrelated to these smuggling operations but certainly mirroring the route taken were at least 32 operators who arranged bus trips between the UK and India (starting with the ‘Indiaman‘ in 1957). These included the Waltzing Matilda, Topdeck Travel, Swagman Tour’s Asian Greyhound, Tentrek Expeditions, King Kong, Crazy Bus, Penn Overland, the Magic Bus and No Sweat Overland Tours. Vehicles varied from double decker buses to converted fire engines and typically took 20 days each way. Penn Travel had a “Marco Polo Tour” route that ran from London to Kathmandu over 72 days. 

If you’re interested, there’s a terrific Facebook group called 60’s, 70’s & 80’s Trails to India and Beyond with plenty of pix and stories from those who travelled the route all those years ago. I keep a close watch on any new posts in case someone has a photo encountering Toddie and Beezie on their journey.

Keep your eyes on the blog and social media for updates. If you are signed up to my emails, you will be among the first to know where I will be and when.

There are still lots of lovely reviews and feedback from readers coming in from around the world. Many have been sending me tips and unknown material about the drug grannies — some relevant, some very distantly associated, but it all helps to tie up many loose ends.

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