Long way home
A 10,000 mile bicycle ride home to Norfolk was the start of a journey into fiction for lawyer-turned-novelist Theodore Brun, writes ROWAN MANTELL
Author’s inspirational 10,000 mile ride
HIS FIRST novel is an epic tale of adventure and peril, but Theodore Brun also has real-life stories to rival any fiction.
Deciding to return to Norfolk, from a career in law which had taken him to Hong Kong, he cycled the ten thousand miles home.
From breathtaking scenery to breath-stealing mountain climbs, and from the hospitality of strangers to the strangeness of high altitude hallucinations, Theo’s epic journey between China and Norfolk took him through 20 countries, including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
Adventures along the way included near-misses with altitude sickness, traffic and vampiric insects.
The kindness of strangers was uplifting but Theo says: “Probably the most unpleasant thing was being offered a place to sleep one night in Kyrgyzstan and waking up to find my body crawling with blood-sucking ticks!”
Eventually he plans to write a book about the journey, but first comes A Mighty Dawn, launching a series of novels, originally inspired by a lecture he attended about the life of an eighth century saint.
“Before I reached home, I was worried I would hit a wall of anti-climax but that wasn’t the case at all,” he says. “I felt totally exhilarated, grateful, and in a very different state of being to that in which I had set out. The achievement and the process energised me. I wasn’t the same person. I have no fear about taking on apparently immense projects knowing that I achieved that. Hence these books!”
His career-changing, life-changing cycle ride strengthened him spiritually as well as physically. “Out in the desert places, I never felt alone. It makes a lot of sense to me now that the ancient prophets and mystics would go to the wilderness to find and encounter God, or the divine. The stripping away opens your ears.”
Theo studied dark age archaeology at Cambridge and drew on his love of history, as well as some of the challenges of his bike rides, to recreate a world in which his hero must escape the bonds of his past to seek his destiny as a warrior.
The first two novels of his Wanderer Chronicles series are set in Denmark, and then Theo will once again roam ever further afield, through France, Germany and Italy, and into the Middle East and the Caucasus.
Theo himself is a third generation Viking immigrant, his Danish grandfather arriving in England in 1932.
Theo grew up on a farm in Great Massingham, between King’s Lynn and Fakenham, and it was here he finished his 10,000 mile cycle ride. He is now married, has a cottage between Great Massingham and Weasenham, and still loves cycling. A bike ride across Sweden helped him research A Mighty Dawn, but he is mighty fond of Norfolk too, saying: “I have discovered huge swathes of Norfolk previously unknown to me. Norfolk always has another surprise waiting around the bend in the road. It’s a beautiful land.”
A Mighty Dawn by Theodore Brun, is published by Corvus, £12.99.