How long does it take you to write each book? Do you write as you travel or after the trip has ended?
All my books are initially constructed from daily journals. I've always found it best to write each night while the events (and aching muscles) are fresh. In that way, I capture the passing thoughts and fleeting nuances along the way, events that otherwise melt together if you attempt to reconstruct it all months later. I write an hour or so each day, no matter how late, creating a running narrative that becomes a very first rough draft. Returning, I pour myself into the project, beating it into shape over the next year or so.
Tell us a bit about your books.
My books bridge the typical travel genre by infusing a destination with adventure, history, culture, the mystical, and a bit of social consciousness. I avoid using broad brush strokes to describe a place. Readers are tired of hearing about another beautiful sunset. And I can’t blame them. They expect to truly “experience” a place.
Traveling slowly, often on a small budget, I share the good, bad and gritty of each destination. That often brings out the good and bad in people — as well as myself. At the risk of sounding like a terrible person, I strive to expose it all — the ups and downs, as well as the small triumphs and laughs that make each day unique.
Some reviewers have called my three books a trilogy. Soon after Yak Butter Blues was published, Dead Men Don’t Leave Tips followed. This book provides an intimate look at Africa — the trials and tribulations of crossing an ever-changing landscape filled with quirky characters, raw challenges, and edge of your seat adventures. It’s not a guidebook, but a real uncensored, darkly humorous look at what it takes to cross some of the wildest places imaginable.
Unlike Tibet, we initially set off with a loosely organized safari guided by “experts” (who’d never been to Africa). That was our first mistake. Then again, Mark Twain once said, “You never really know whether you love or hate someone until you travel with ’em.”
As our seven-month overland dream safari quickly turned into a nightmare, we left the ship of fools and set off across Africa alone. And that made all the difference. Once outside the cocoon of group travel, our immersion in the controlled chaos of African life led from one wild adventure to another—from the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the depths of war-torn Mozambique and beyond.