Where is it?

Joshua Tree, California. About a two-hour (or perhaps four, depending on traffic) drive due east from Los Angeles.

Why do you go there?

When people think of California, they probably think beaches, but 25 per cent of the state is desert and, for me, the stark, often surreal, landscapes of the deserts are a huge attraction.

Joshua Tree, particularly the National Park area, is an otherworldly environment, marked by its trademark trees and rugged rock formations.

The area looks so alien that it was frequently used for filming other worlds on Star Trek. Think giant cacti, nature trails and the biggest dropped-from-space boulders you have ever seen.

I am also a big fan of the Joshua Tree Saloon on Twentynine Palms Highway and live music at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown.

How often do you go?

At least a couple of times a year, depending on work commitments.

How did you discover it?

My wife, the author Alexandra Sokoloff, is from California so we spend two to three months a year in the US, most of it in SoCal (Southern California).

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She took me there on one of our early trips and I loved it, driving on dusty, unmarked roads in search of weird public art installations and derelict cabins. We love the area enough that we got married there in 2017 (one of our three weddings in four days, but that's a long story).

What's your favourite memory of being there?

I'll get into trouble if I don't say our wedding, so … that. But it was special to take family and friends to a part of the state that tourists don't know much about. We had a post-wedding banquet among the giant rocks in the national park and that was certainly memorable.

We all spent the night at Pioneertown, a former Old West movie set built by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, where the rooms are the actor's cabins and they still have horses in corrals and a daily gunfight on "Mane Street".

It's far from urban civilisation so after dark, we took blankets and sat under the stars with a bottle of bourbon, catching meteor showers and shooting stars.

Who do you take?

My wife Alex and maybe the bottle of bourbon.

What do you take?

Sunscreen. Bug spray. Lots of bottled water.

What do you leave behind?


Sum it up in five words.

Alien. Hot. Eclectic. Vast. Natural.

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What travel spot is on your post-lockdown wish list?

Seville. We were supposed to be there this week with a group of friends and it stings a bit not to be going. It is postponed rather than cancelled and I can't wait for a few days of sightseeing and tapas.

Watch Him Die by Craig Robertson is published by Simon & Schuster, priced £8.99