What unites Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and 3 Seconds in Bogotá?

I've just had a funny thought.

I was looking at two books that sit alongside 3 Seconds in Bogotá, that I wanted to recommend to you. Two other books that have much in common with my book. Each is a true story based in an exotic location, telling stories of peril, intrigue and survival in incredible circumstances.

Then the Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp link hit me.

Continued...  I’m currently reading Marching Powder that is set in Bolivia in the late 90s. It is a tale about the British drug smuggler who was caught leaving the country with 5 kg of cocaine and ended up at the now-famous San Pedro jail. He become a cog in the fascinating mini-economy that mirrored real life, where the prisoners were separated into several sections divided by wealth, status, power and muscle. The tale of survival against all the odds is hard to believe, yet as I know personally, the truth is way stranger than fiction. Hence, the title of my adventure series being called “You couldn't make it up.” Because you couldn’t!)

Marching Powder was written by Rusty Young, who was backpacking in South America when he stumbled across the jailed smuggler Thomas McFadden, and realised his personal story was one that would intrigue people. The book is written in the first person, imagining the voice of the drug smuggler Thomas. Marching Powder is considered a contemporary must-read on the backpacking travelling circuit of South America.

Shantaram is also a classic. I spend up to half the year in India annually and can say since the book came out in 2002, it is almost impossible to sit in an Indian tourist cafe and not see the distinctive blue and red cover, indicating that at least two or three copies are being read. The book, at 944 pages, is a doorstopper. Not a quick read. Most readers that I know, consumed it in stints. 

Robert, in the late 80s, was on the run from the authorities in Australia in managed to vanish into the heady masala where the Mumbai underworld meets Bollywood. I personally know the city very well having edited and mixed my films in Bollywood. Having also met some of the shadier financiers that keep the industry afloat, I can vouch that his stories are incredibly realistic and give the most beautiful and detailed insights to a country I adore. 

Robert wrote the book whilst in jail and had it destroyed twice, re-writing each time. Even though it’s a self-absorbed account, and in parts has lived by the writing mantra, ’never let the truth and getting away the good story,’ it is a great read and once completed, you will feel like you know India and have the taste of that special country on your lips. And that is priceless. A great book. 

3 Seconds in Bogotá. well, you already know much about it. A backpacking adventure story from the early 90s, another gripping tale of survival against all the odds. This one is also written in first person and is a true story. I can vouch for its truthful rendition. I was there. I wrote it. Enough said.


So what links the stories?

1-  Each story happened over 20 years ago

2 - All three are about travellers in exotic and potentially dangerous parts of the world populated with enticing, colourful characters.

3 - Each book, to use that phrase again, is an incredible story of survival against all the odds.

So back to my question. What do famous A-list actors have to do with these stories?

Both Marching Powder and Shantaram are very close to becoming feature films.

Brad Pitt and his production company have bought the rights to Marching Powder.

Johnny Depp, enraptured with Shantaram, wants to play the role of Robert.

Quite a few reviews have also said 3 Seconds would make a great film.

So, my thought was, if top actors love these wild stories of survival in distant locations, who might read 3 Seconds in Bogotá and want to make the story and/or play the lead role?

This thought has tickled me greatly. Especially as they will be playing me!

So, for today’s fun if you have read the book, reply with your guess to the actor’s name. And my promise is, if you are are the first person to predict the right name (actor or other) I will invite you for a day on the film set, or get you a seat at the premiere. And you can hold me to that!



The real-life story of a Brit drug smuggler banged up in Bolivia's most notorious jail.

San Pedro is Bolivia's most notorious prison. Small-time drug smuggler Thomas McFadden found himself on the inside. Marching Powder is the story of how in 1996 he navigated this dark world of gangs, drugs and corruption to come out on top.



A novel of high adventure, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld.

In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. 




The true-life action adventure of two travellers facing the ultimate nightmare. Page-turning suspense.

In the early 90's thousands of people disappeared without trace in Colombia. It was so dangerous that when taxis left Bogotás main airport, all vehicles were stopped and the police recorded the registration plate and taxi driver's ID against the names of the passengers. Then when someone vanished the authorities would know who did it. Well, that was the idea... 



3 Seconds in Bogota

"...Sometimes with movies/books and they say these events are all based on true stories, but... that isn't the case? Yeah, this story isn't one of those. From the beginning, we jump into a world full of youthful adventure and mishap... We follow him as he travels the world.. a joyride with him through his ups and downs. A great book. A great read. A memorable story..."