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17 November 2016

Ben StubbsTravel writing is often referred to as one of the best jobs in the world: who wouldn’t want to have wild adventures around the globe and then write up the results in publications read by millions of fervent dreamers who hope to one day walk in your footsteps?

While the reality is not always as glamourous as the dream, University of South Australia Journalism Lecturer, Dr Ben Stubbs knows some of the best travel experiences are rarely found in traditional guide books.

Dr Stubbs’ latest travel writing adventure – After Dark: A Nocturnal Exploration of Madrid - mixes personal observation with literary and historical references introducing the reader to a generally unknown and fascinating dimension of Spain’s capital city.

“After Dark reveals a multifaceted city, full of surprises and possibilities that is very much awake and alive between dusk and dawn,” Dr Stubbs says.

“In 1762 the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau observed that we are blind half our lives because of what we miss during the night, yet we fear the dark and are led to believe that bad things happen during the small hours, especially in cities.

“As cities became lighter, through the advance of technology and commerce, the fascination of writers in the mystery of the night-time city faded but some restless cities retain their nocturnal allure. Madrid is one such city.” 

Bitten by the travel bug in his early twenties, Dr Stubbs’ curiosity has led him through more than 60 countries on military planes, Mongolian horses, paddle-steamers and hang-gliders and he has written travel stories on topics as diverse as eco-trekking in Nepal, utopian settlements in Paraguay and the search for Robinson Crusoe in Chile.

Earlier this year Dr Stubbs spent the summer exploring the Spanish capital at night, setting out when the sun went down to examine the night life of this often-maligned city, a place famed for its late hours and exuberant nightlife.

“Exploring the history of everything from tapas to the new politics of Podemos, I encountered the city’s cultural quirks and clandestine stories while talking to many Madrileños who are normally denied a voice in the city,” Dr Stubbs says.

“I met an amazing cross-section of society: cross-dressing migrants, people who live at the airport, Muslims celebrating Ramadan, hotel workers hidden in the bowels of the Ritz, all-night taxi drivers, party-goers enjoying their nightly marcha from bar to bar, poodle-blessing priests and locals in the poorer barrios who walk the streets during night hours.

“As each hour of the nights unfolded, I discovered different layers within Madrid that many visitors who stick to well-trodden guidebook itineraries do not see.”

About the author

Dr Stubbs is a lecturer in journalism and writing at the University of South Australia but began his career working as a scriptwriter for Comedy Inc. He has written one previous book and has been a travel writer for various newspapers, magazines and guidebooks in Australia and overseas writing more than 150 features for publications like The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun Herald, The Australian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Age, The Canberra Times, The Toronto Star, Get Lost magazine, Meanjin, Griffith Review and Australian Traveller magazine.

About the book

After Dark: A Nocturnal Exploration of Madrid was released on October 27th by Signal Books ISBN: 9781909930438

It's available through Amazon, Book Depository, Fishpond and all other online portals until its release in Australian bookstores in January 2017.

Media contact: Katrina McLachlan mobile: 08 8302 0961  email:katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au

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