Blogger/Travel Writer/Huffington Post Contributor/Co-author for Rough Guides/Author of Girl Gone Greek (available from Amazon)
To what extent do your surroundings impact your writing, whether it’s a travel piece or a work of fiction? Are you inspired by what’s around you, do you need complete silence and solitude to write, or are you able to write on the move?
As a blogger, I usually carry my trusted laptop with me and if inspired, then I’ll blog where I am – but I need complete silence, so usually put some time aside to do so. For example, in the summer of 2015 I visited Seattle and the Pacific North West. Seattle is blessed with an amazing public library, and also little district libraries – so I would spend time exploring, then put my ‘work hat’ on and spend once a week, maybe twice and go into the library (which was a blog post in itself!)
The same for writing the follow up to my novel Girl Gone Greek; I can only work with complete silence around me, and usually having my two cats around me helps too – they’re such sweet and gentle creatures to watch, they inspire me just by their existence :0)
I haven’t turned into a ‘trendy’ yet who can work with the noise of a café around me!
I have to put this one in! Your passport must be pretty full. What are some of the countries you’ve visited? Any favourites?
I’m British, so I love travelling to different places in Europe. I’ve recently finished reading a book entitled “Hot Climate vs Cold Climate Cultures” and have discovered Hot Climate cultures are relationship-based, whereas Cold Climate cultures are individualistic-based. Even though I’m from a cold climate culture (Britain), I definitely fit into the hot climate inclusivity of relationship-based countries, so therefore this reflects in my travel plans too.
I love travelling around Greece and her many islands – it’s not just about the aesthetic beauty, but the beauty of this country’s people too.
I loved Sri Lanka, again a ‘Hot Climate Culture’ and I’ve mentioned Seattle before – I spent 5 weeks there and would go back again, no doubt about it. Even though the Northern U.S. states are considered ‘cold climate’ in terms of actual climate, the mentality of the West Coasters is definitely ‘hot climate’ in terms of relationships to others, or at least I found.
The San Juan Islands, just off Seattle, are also beautiful; amazing sunsets, not a huge population so it’s quiet, even in the peak of summer.
As a travel writer, you are always on the go. What tips can you give the rest of us when it comes to arranging a trip away somewhere?
Use packing cubes! They’re great if you roll clothes and squeeze them in, then you just need to place the cubes in your case. You can have one for underwear, one for hot clothes, one for cold, etc,
Try to take clothes that can double as different items, I find Diane Kroe, a Canadian company to be great for this (www.dianekroe.com). Signature pieces that:
can be worn so many different ways
I don’t bother with a travel hair dryer. Usually hotels and AirBNB places provide these, or just go eau natural with your hair!
You can always buy essentials like deodorant, toothpaste, etc when you arrive at a place. If I am spending an extended time in a place (ie; because I am researching it for a guidebook company) I will try to live like a local and therefore buy local.
You divide your time between the UK and Greece and I know from your writing that you have great affection for your adopted country. What is it about the Greek people that you love the most?
Their ‘philotimo.’ Philotimo comes from the Greek root words “filos,” meaning friend, and “timi,” meaning honor, so it means to ‘honor the friend.’ If a Greek person likes you – they will do anything for you. It may take them a long time to trust you (and who can blame them? They have been through – and are still continuing to go through a terrible time and are being punished by Europe and vilified in the International Media), but when they do, they cannot do enough for you.
Greece is a ‘warm-cultured climate’ and therefore, relationship-based in its every day interactions with others. Even in Athens – the capital city – people will greet you on the street with a smile – and it helps that the weather is predominantly sunny most of the year. I feel like Athens is a huge village! This is a positive thing as I feel safe there. If I see a group of teenagers being loud, for example, I don’t feel threatened – like I would do in my home town in the UK. I don’t feel the need to cross the road in Greece. The Greeks are loud people anyway and actually, young people still have respect for older people (not that I’m old!) That’s another trait of relationship-based cultures.
I understand you are an Indie Author. How did you go about publishing your debut novel ‘Girl Gone Greek?’
Amazon Createspace for the print version, and Kindle for the Kindle version.
I sourced a good editor, someone that I could work closely with.
Then I sourced a great book designer who designed my wonderful book cover.
Next a friend who’s a graphic designer helped me with the practical issue of typesetting, etc.
The rest was easy: upload the book to Createspace, upload the cover, set your price (I had researched on Amazon prices of similar books in my genre), publish!
I also sourced a friend of a friend who re-formatted my print book to suite Kindle’s format and uploaded the file to Kindle’s website.
However, you don’t need to go to all these different places – Createspace offers a cover design process and help with the upload, the same with Kindle. I just wanted to work with professionals who’d done it before and therefore I didn’t feel alone.
Can you tell us about your next adventure? Is there a new book in the pipeline perhaps?
I definitely plan to write a follow-on from Girl Gone Greek – but one thing about self-publishing: a lot of your time is taken up with marketing, therefore I am spending time marketing Girl Gone Greek (released in June 2015). Not that I don’t enjoy it! And it’s paid off:
I’ve been invited to go on two short Mediterranean cruises that have a theme relevant to my book, so I’ve been invited on board to present my book to the passengers!
I am also going to present my novel at a Literary Festival in my UK hometown.
I like the freedom self-publishing offers me.
I also need to find time to write in between my travel commitments and travel writing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining!