Welcome to the sixth edition of Writing Festival Friday here at Perspectives on Writing. This week’s interview is with a seasoned travel writer and feature article writer living in Europe, Annie Duguid. She’s also a novelist!
The winner from last Friday is Devon Ellington! I will contact her for an interview soon. As I’m running a week behind right now, it will probably be two weeks before I can post her interview.
Before we get to the interview, here’s a reminder of how Writing Festival Friday works. This is an opportunity for writers to be interviewed so we can get to know you and what you love to write. Any writer is welcome to participate by leaving a comment – see the comment link at the end of this article. Each week I choose one author to interview – it will be one of the people who commented on the most recent Writing Festival Friday.
Writers of all genres are welcome to participate in Writing Festival Friday, and you do not need to be a published writer – I can always think of something to ask an unpublished writer as well. You can leave your comment at any time during the week, from Friday until the following Friday. Right before I post the next Writing Festival Friday article, I’ll pick a new interview winner.
When you leave your comment to this article, you’re welcome to post your links to your blog, site, books, or whatever you want to share. Let’s get to know one another better!
This is a fascinating interview. Annie has a lot of writing experience, and advice to share with aspiring writers.
Linda: How did you get started as a travel writer?
Annie: Travel writing is something I have done sporadically for newspapers in the past but was afraid to specialize in. This year I broke through the fear barrier and pushed myself out there. I am lucky that my visits to Eastern Europe give me an edge at a time when European investors are looking to buy property in countries like Bulgaria. More and more holidaymakers are going there because of the wonderful scenery and low prices so editors are interested in first hand up-to-date information.
Again luckily, I love traveling by train and with the emphasis on green travel, this is now a popular angle.
Iâ€™m not a photographer. The larger newspapers source their photos from libraries but my happy snaps from disposable cameras have even made it into local newspapers. I have invested in a much better digital camera now as using my own photos gives me a larger market and better fees.
Online travel writers at Travel Writers and Media Kitty have offered lots of encouragement, leads and advice for which I shall be ever grateful. I read guidelines carefully and try to find unusual seasonal angles six months in advance. Travel writers are remarkably generous in sharing market recommendations and warnings. The British Travel Trade Fair provided more contacts and leads for stories than I can ever use in a year
When I am going somewhere, I pitch storyline ideas to online, magazine and news editors before I leave. I write up everything I do whether it is pre-sold or not. An unsold article used in ten or more low-paying markets still brings in useful money.
And of course you can always be a travel writer without leaving home. I wrote an emergency guidebook on the Isle of Wight (UK) this summer and have another due out next Spring specifically about a local harbor town.
Travel Writing by L. Peat Oâ€™Neil is a brilliant book for anyone interested.
Linda: What were some of your most memorable experiences while doing feature writing for newspapers?
Annie: Interviewing the Beatles was fun and I met many celebrities. People who are deservedly famous are invariably thoughtful in their answers and incredibly patient and kind. Some celebrities, however, just think being themselves is enough to entitle them to be rude and arrogant.
One of my favorite stories came from attending a weekend fair in a small French village whose all-bachelor population advertised for single women to marry. I like following up tales of the supernatural too and met families living with poltergeists, ghost hunters and even a composer of well-known TV theme tunes whose home in Portugal was haunted by a ghost that had followed him from a previous house. I had nightmares for months after that.
Nowadays I look for local people who have hidden talents or back story. I find that much more satisfying than hanging about â€œdoorsteppingâ€ a celebrity. One elderly neighbor had developed an improved form of wireless communication in World War 2, another had fought as a teenager in the Spanish Civil War.
Linda: What are your writing goals now?
Annie: As a child I dreamed up countless happy-ever-after fairy tales and always expected to write romances. This is far more difficult than I anticipated but I aim to have two completed by the end of the year. They are already first and second drafted. It is still a possibility.
The travel writing and the personal features produce regular writing income. The fiction is my luxury aspiration. I canâ€™t pretend Iâ€™m writing a bestseller.
Linda: What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Annie: Write every day even if itâ€™s just a letter to a friend. See where your stream of consciousness takes you. If you feel yourself flagging, try another genre or writing discipline just for fun. Push yourself into publication. Even if what you write only appears in a local church magazine or freesheet at first, it will give you some cuttings and spur you on.
Be open to your heart. Ask for advice when you need it and listen. Listen to everyone. Note the tricks of speech that bring them alive on paper.
Join an inspirational writing group with similar aims and ambitions like the Muse Online Writersâ€™ Conference or Freelance Writing Organization International.
Linda: Are you still in Bulgaria?
Annie: I go to Bulgaria two or three times a year and hope to spend longer there next year. There is so much to research and write there. We share the house with a family of chinchillas which have spent most of summer 2007 stripping the wallpaper â€“perhaps itâ€™s a hint I should be an interior decorator rather than a writer?
Annie Duguid is an Associate Editor at Freelance Writing Organization, International and can be found at Garden and Hearth – Travel Europe She has umpteen blogs in various stages of disarray and her own jottings website at Personal Features. She also moderates the weight watching Writersâ€™ Support Group at Spark People.