John Baverbrook sat on the roof of his hotel overlooking the Corniche, surveying the edge of the Nubian Desert that almost kisses the Nile in Aswan. It reminded him of the Star Wars films he'd first seen thirty odd years before. As a child, the science fiction had enthralled him, and in many ways his adult life was a patchwork of fantasy and reality. He thought it likely that this juxtaposition had probably cost him a marriage, though to say Julie never understood him wouldn't be correct use of the old cliché. The reality was that she simply ran out of patience with his foibles and mad, seldom finished ideas. And this trip? This was quite probably the most insane thing he'd ever attempted.
It was November 2010 when Sarah (my wife) and I had spent the afternoon on the rooftop of the Memnon hotel in Aswan, a rather shabby place inside, but commanding one of the best views in Egypt from its rooftop terrace. An hour before I grabbed the camera, I was hunting for something to write with. The paragraph above had popped into my head while watching the felucca’s taking tourists on excursions around Elephantine, white sails standing out against the bright orange desert and deep blue waters of the Nile. If you ignored the modern cruise ships moored along the Corniche, the view may not have changed much since Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel, albeit in rather more salubrious surroundings, half a mile upstream. It inspired me, and that first paragraph has survived, almost completely unretouched, as the prologue to The Nubian Quest.