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

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

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.

Theodore Brun

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