1) I am less and less interested in good guys and bad guys. One man’s villain is someone else’s hero.
2) Don’t go into a really run down area of a strange city (especially Istanbul) unless you have cigarettes to bribe the feral young attackers. Or a big stick.
3) Do not mix raki and beer.
4) With narghile, (hubble bubble pipes) smoke the mint tobacco and drink the apple tea, or smoke the apple tobacco and drink the mint tea but do not smoke the apple tobacco and drink the apple tea. (You smell like a giant Granny Smith. For days!)
5) When the muezzin duel with their beautiful voices from their minarets, summoning the faithful to prayer, don’t discover you’ve left your recorder in the hotel.
6) Don’t expect your wife to favourably comment on the sex scenes you’ve created between your fantasy alter ego and some hot young sorceress.
7) Talk to everyone – the concierge, the bartender, the tobacco boys, the carpet salesmen. They will all have an opinion. (Carry pen and paper to write it down)
8) A mackerel tastes better on the docks of the Golden Horn where it was just caught than in a fancy restaurant.
9) Love your characters, even when you know they will betray you.
Writing is a process made up of several stages. One follows the other. Don’t confuse them. (Actually I’ve always known this but I relearn it every novel!)