I am Professor and Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Hull, where I am the Director of the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing. My most recent book is Suffer & Survive (Simon & Schuster), the biography of the scientist Dr J. S. Haldane, which was awarded First Prize, Basis of Medicine in the 2008 BMA Book Awards. I also write novels (next up is a supernatural thriller, Look Who’s Watching, due out 2010), travel books, plays and short stories. I have a special interest in sacred lives (writing the biography of the Hindu holy woman Mother Meera, a book on Peruvian shamanism, and my current project, the biography of the Japanese Zen Master Taezan Maezumi Roshi) and sacred place (On Sacred Mountains, Heart of Albion, 2002). One trend in my fiction is to examine the after-effects of war, my current novel considering the place of music in the Third Reich. Recent critical attention focuses on Zimbabwean fiction, and writers of the 1950s. Travel has fuelled my writing, having worked in Germany, Thailand, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Italy, with years spent writing in New Mexico and the French Pyrenees.