Hard to say when it all started. I wrote my first short story at age 9. I was a failed poet at 12, a failed dramaturge at 15, but a good reporter by age 18. In junior high I founded a newspaper with a couple of friends, and sold the entire print run (50) for peanuts. I went on to write some good copy for the papers of every school I went through, including an award-winning publication. Over the years I had three ephemeral blogs, and wrote columns and one-offs for print and online media.
After college, I started publishing in lifestyle magazines about travel, architecture, and urban space. Eventually I became an international correspondent and editor with China’s leading urban planning magazine. Over the following seven years I published close to 100 articles and interviews, a best seller, a second best seller, and a photo album on steroids, becoming an industry household name (潘德磊). Yes, I’m niche-famous in China.
Between 2007 and 2010 I co-wrote six highly acclaimed travel books with Junior Jetsetters, and since 2010 authored/edited a handful of academic titles, one of which is an influencer considered ’the most complete, well documented, current, and controversial account on African migration to Cape Verde’. A dozen or so other scholarly articles, reports, and book chapters are also out there. I occasionally write for Buala, a blog on contemporary African culture.
But I am still writing my first novel. Won’t really call myself a writer until that is done.