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Mark McCrum speaks with James McConnachie about his first travel writing adventures in South Africa during the last days of apartheid, being sent rather unwillingly for a further book about Australia, and working out what you’re writing about as you go along.

‘I only discovered thrillers a year or so ago but they soon became an addiction; in fact I’ve probably read as many in the first five decades of my life as I’ve read in the past year.’