Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Livin’. What was your inspiration for it?
A: I’ve always been a storyteller—at the bar with friends or over dinner with family. I’m a screenwriter and usually put my writing ideas into that format. Writing a book just wasn’t on my radar until I started my international travels. I would come home and tell stories at the bar and faces would light up. The universal excitement for travel is almost unmatched. Again and again, people responded, “You should write about that!” It took me a while, but I finally admitted to myself, they’re not shittin’ me.
Q: Why was the writing of this book important for you?
A: I know and grew up with people who love hearing stories of far-off lands. These are people who picture themselves riding on a camel in the Sahara or hiking through the Amazon. They had childhood dreams that, for one reason or the other, couldn’t be realized. But stories of those places still bring smiles to their faces. The vicarious travelers. I also know people who are exactly like the first group, except they put up imaginary barriers. A lack of money, time, and access have all been blasted out of the water as excuses in today’s connected world. I want Livin’ to motivate those people to hop off their asses and get after it.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A: Livin’ was written over a four-year period with another four months of editing. So this has become my longest writing project, not because of the writing, but the trips it covered. Like I said, these started as stories told in bars about trips I took. I dig that tone of a buddy bullshittin’ over drinks about what he got into, with a smile glued to his face. And it was important for me to keep that tone. I made sure all the way through editing that I stayed true to that.
Q: What is the one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?
A: The time is now.
Q: What discoveries or surprises did you experience while writing this book?
A: An early reviewer of Livin’ said that one of her favorite parts of the book was when I described navigating my way through a chaotic airport. How I brought her there. This put a smile on my face because, as a screenwriter, a scene like that would hit the cutting room floor. If a scene doesn’t advance the plot, it doesn’t make the film. But in a nonfiction memoir, you have more leeway. And I love how something like that can build a connection with the reader.
Q: How do you define success as an author?
A: Fuck fortune. I’ve been happy with next to nothing and I’ve made money now. I usually feel successful if I feel I was able to deliver emotion to my reader. When you sit down to write, there’s an intended reaction that you hope to convey to the reader. A dreamed response to your work. I’m not talking about good reviews. I’m talking about how you make your readers feel after months and years of pouring your soul into something. It doesn’t always go as planned. But when it does, that’s success to me.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about your publishing process?
A: I’m lucky that I come from the film business, which is a bit further down the road when it comes to indie projects. I run a film production company, so I understand the ups and downs of producing an indie. Let’s say you’ve written your book, have decided you want to publish independently, and now you’re thinking, “What’s next?” Money is what makes the train steam ahead. Pitch away. You never know. A friend of a friend loved the travel stories I told at a party. He heard I was writing a book about them and became my main investor. Once the money was in place, I made a budget and put together a solid team, from editing and design to publicity, printing, and marketing. My time in film gave me a step up, but it’s all out there if you plan on going the indie route. Do your research. Read articles and books on self-publishing. Talk to other authors. Talk to vendors. It’s doable.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring nonfiction writers? Could you offer some tips or resources that have been helpful to you?
A: I’d say remember what nonfiction means. It’s not a collection of greatest hits. Be real with it. Livin’ includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more you open yourself up, the deeper the connection you’ll have with your readers.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: If you’ve ever daydreamed about a safari in South Africa or wondered what modern-day cities in Vietnam are like or even wished to smoke the finest green in an Amsterdam coffee shop, Livin’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush is the book for you. www.livintravelbook.com