It’s my pleasure to introduce author John Francis Cross as we chat about his fabulous book, 100 100-Word True Travel Stories.
Over to John…
I was born in Lancashire, England, and started travelling overseas soon after I turned 18. I’ve lived and worked in China, India, France, Australia, Israel and Holland, and visited many other places. Now Tokyo is my home. I speak Chinese, Japanese and some French, and have published academic and literary pieces, and some journalism from my time as a reporter in Hong Kong. In China, the UK and Japan I’ve taught English, or Chinese translation at university. For many years I’ve been a spoken word performer in Japan and the UK, did a stint as poet in residence in the Himalayas in 2019, and in 2020 self-published a collection of spoken word pieces called 88.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
Learning how to write started me writing. I still have a notebook from age 6 with stories of dreams, travels and imagined travels. I quote from this book in my latest work. When not writing, I love drawing, painting, cooking and eating, kicking a football, visiting the sea, and walking – which in my case is more amazing than it sounds.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I’ve written a couple of novels (e.g. Ghosh in China, 2015) and a couple of spoken word collections (e.g. 88, 2020).
What genre is it, and what is it about?
Travel stories, very short, all true. The stories describe incidents and encounters from around the world, from way back to very recent. Many places are mentioned, especially in India, China, Japan and England. The stories are all in English but some of the original conversations were in Japanese, French or Chinese.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
The people, the places, the emotions. Plus, someone asked me to write700 words for a magazine. So I thought: I’ll write seven stories, 100 words each. Then later I thought: I could do 100 of these!
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
First, make a date with your pen and paper (or other media) and write, even one sentence. Second, cut ruthlessly but purposefully. And a third thing, think about what you read good or bad. For example, I try to understand why – even though he seems like a nice guy – I hate the writing of Kazuo Ishiguro.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
Like fish like to swim, I like to write.
List three interesting facts about yourself
 I was once interviewed on BBC World Service in Chinese and asked to choose three pieces of music – all rather dark, which pleased the producer. I didn’t know then that my interview – broadcast all over China – was replacing a popular weekly chart show as an indirect protest against the June 4th 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
 On the morning of December 26th 2004 I was at a beach in Sri Lanka just about to go snorkelling when the sea started to look strange. It was the beginning of the tsunami. This story is also in my latest book.
 In summer 2017 I was diagnosed with advanced, aggressive, distantly metastatic, terminal cancer, with an average life expectancy of two years. I’ve had much treatment since, including the replacement of two vertebrae with a titanium alloy framework, which provides excellent Wi-Fi reception.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
Publicity and promotion. I just want to keep writing.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Tell their friends. Gift their friends! But most of all, just enjoy the read.
What is your next project?
A novel set in the future, with much humour.
Connect with John here:
Buy your copy of 100 100-Word True Travel Stories
A lifetime of traveling in bite-size pieces, the chronologically arranged stories describe encounters and incidents from across the globe and follow the rule that everything be true and held within a 100-word frame. In diverse ways and varied settings, this one work of 100 parts, collectively celebrates wandering and discovering, and proves that marvelous, strange, humorous and heart-warming things happen when we leave home and connect with others.