My whole life has been marked by many wanderings and adventures, passionate pursuits and sudden changes of direction, from one country to another, from the present to the distant past, from image-making to literature, and from the here and now to the world of the imagination.
I was born in Hong Kong in the ‘60s, but my first real home was my mother’s stained glass workshop in Paris, where I grew up surrounded by half-assembled windows, strips of lead and the black diamonds used to cut the glass. This made for a rather unusual childhood, but one full of light and colours.
At the age of 19 I became a photographer and then a photo-journalist. My reporting assignments and background research took me to many countries (Italy, Scandinavia, Japan, the United States…), led me to explore many different worlds (docks, casinos, aerodromes, funfairs) and brought me into contact with people in every walk of life (artists, philosophers, scientists, archaeologists, astronauts, mariners, polar explorers, computer hackers…). At this time, I wrote a great deal of poetry and filled notebook after notebook with ideas and tentative sketches for novels.
In 1991, I took part in the exhibition at the Foundation Cartier in Paris on the theme of speed, which has always been one of my favourite subjects in photography, especially speed as experienced at night. My photos are really journeys into other dimensions of experience. There are not many portraits among them, but rather, glimpses of places which only come to life at night, secret and forbidden places (deserted factories, industrial wastelands, twilight zones), together with extended studies of the elements of fire and water.
During this time, I flew a great deal – in planes, hot air balloons, gliders, whatever enabled me to experience the astonishing spectacle of the earth as seen from above. I dreamt of space travel, and spent much of my time on runways and landing-grounds. My most memorable flight was in a Fieseler-Storch, a reconnaissance aircraft from the Second World War.
But even though I still felt passionately about images, they no longer satisfied me. I decided to give up photography, and devote myself to writing full-time. I sold my Linhoff, my Nikon and my Hasselblad, and kept only my first camera, a battered old Leica M2.
My fascination with the Middle Ages prompted me to draw up a list of all the principal historic sites of twelfth-century France and Italy, which I then visited and spent much time sketching, photographing and drawing inspiration from. By the end of my travels, I had absorbed not only the history of these places but also their distinctive atmosphere and the deep impressions which they had made on me. I filled up yet more notebooks with my thoughts and impressions, sketches and first drafts of stories.
I published my first novels in 1997, and began work on a series of historical crime mysteries featuring the Breton knight-errant Galeran de Lesneven, some of which have been published in English (by Orion Publishing) and Italian (by Tea Libri). I have continued to explore the world of the twelfth century in the saga of Tancred the Norman, but have also increasingly been drawn into the phantasmagoria of modern life in several works of science fiction and in a series of novels set in contemporary Japan.
From time to time I go sailing, closely observing the sea and the sky, and recently, I took out my old Leica in order to journey to the far north, to Spitzbergen. It was one of my most cherished childhood dreams come true, to visit a land of perpetual snow and ice – an experience hard to come back from.
Nowadays I write more and more, though I will never have enough time to get down on paper everything which comes into my mind. Eventually, after many years of wandering, I have come to rest not far from Saint-Malo. As I work, I can see only the open sky from my window and hear the waves.