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Interview: Frankie Hogan, Author of ‘Livin’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush’

Please welcome my guest Frankie Hogan. Hogan is an American writer, director, and filmmaker. He is a founder and principal partner of Corner Prophets Production Company, a film production company started in 2012, and the company controller for a Los Angeles-based international interior design firm. He is here today to talk about his travel memoir and his inspiration for it, among other things.

Congratulations on the release of your book, Livin’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush. When did you start writing and what got you into nonfiction?

I taught myself screenplay formatting about a decade ago as a hobby. I moved to Hollywood seven years ago to turn it into a focus. Livin’ is my first venture into nonfiction. And that all started with constant pushing from friends who heard my travel stories at the bar. My writing ideas are usually molded into the screenplay format, but I thought a nonfiction memoir was the best way to get this set of stories across.

What is your book about?

Livin’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush was conceived during a moment when I, a lifelong travel enthusiast, admitted to myself that I was letting life get in the way. I decided to stop giving in to the easy excuses. I took trips inspired by childhood dreams and by articles I had read in National Geographic.

This book is a globe-hop, not by a biologist or a mountain climber, but by an everyman. I dig on that dynamic: a man like you or me, chasing famous historic, natural, and nightlife spectacles around the world. And I made sure to include the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s what will draw the audience to this. I want to take you there.

What was your inspiration for it?

The universal excitement for travel is almost unmatched. I’m a screenwriter, and when you’re out bullshitting with friends and people hear you’re a writer, the first question is usually, “what are you writing?”  And then, when you go through your current screenplay pitch, a mixed reaction usually bounces back at you, depending on the person’s taste or the script’s subject matter. That didn’t happen when I told my travel stories at the bar. It was almost a uniform trance of attention. That’s what travel stories bring. The “you should write about that” line was said to me so often, I had to consider it.

Who is your target audience?

This book is for the people who have dreamed of seeing natural wonders and ancient monuments. They would like to venture out, but they have a family life that holds them back or they don’t have the means to see it through. They’re vicarious travelers. But most of all, it’s for the people who dream about it and who can get there. People who yearn but hesitate. Or make up excuses. I want to light a fire under their asses. I want to show them how accessible these places are and what’s possible.

What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?

Being that this is a nonfiction memoir, I of course am the main character. But I didn’t want it to read that way. I wanted to get out of the way of the real main characters: the sites, the people, and the road. That was always in the back of my mind when getting it down.

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

The time is now. Not many goals at home can fulfill you like the experiences of the road. Many excuses, such as a lack of access, money, and time, have all become whittled down to bullshit in today’s world. Go for it.

Did your book require a lot of research?

This was the longest writing project of my life. It took over four years to complete. And it had to do with the research. The selection and variety of the trips also took time, though that’s not research in the standard sense. I didn’t outline and plan travel stops for the sake of writing. These destinations were etched in my brain long before I thought of writing about them. Most of the writing questions and decisions (like tone and flow) came after the fact.

What was your publishing process like?

I have an indie film production company I run, so indie publishing was an easy choice for me. I have the business background, dig the control you retain in terms of decision making, and, most importantly, am O.K. with taking a break from writing for a period. I like to let writing ideas stew. Build the passion. If you’re the type of writer who needs to write daily, self-publishing will equate to electric shock treatment.

What is your advice for aspiring authors?

Put the time in and get it down. If a story tugs at your insides and can wake you up at night, why delay letting it see the light of day? Is it fear? As Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Is it business? Because of the slim chances of it becoming a bestseller? Fuck that. Don’t let the business of writing deter you from chasing your passion.

What has writing taught you?

Writing has taught me to become a better listener. To hone that skill. To pick up on subtle notes and tones of an attitude or character. To understand what lies beneath the surface. That’s where stories blossom—when you can project subtleties to an audience.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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