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Thomas Swick: Writer Profile – Journey Writing World

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Thomas Swick

Thomas Swick stops by Journey Writing World to reply a couple of questions on his profession as a author. He’s the creator of a number of journey books, together with, most just lately, The Joys of Journey: And Tales that Illuminate Them (Skyhorse 2018).


How did you first change into interested by writing journey books?

After school I went to France for a yr with the obscure concept that I needed to be a journey author. In Paris, on my option to language college in Provence, I picked up a paperback copy of Evelyn Waugh’s When the Going Was Good. I had learn Waugh in school, however none of my professors had talked about his journey books (usually). The style for eccentric characters and the attention for the absurd that I cherished in his novels inhabited his journey tales, and the e-book confirmed me that journey writing might be literature. 

How did you handle to get your first journey e-book revealed?

I had the great fortune to reside in Poland within the early ’80s when the nation was front-page information due to the Solidarity motion after which martial regulation. After I returned residence, I wrote a memoir of my time there, however with the main focus extra on Poland than on me. I positioned a pair excerpts in literary magazines however discovering a writer was tough; many needed the story to be extra about me and my Polish spouse. Ultimately I bought an agent who, after 41 rejections, discovered a very good residence for it. 

What’s your writing course of like, each on the highway and at residence? And the way lengthy does it take you to jot down a e-book inclusive of the analysis, journey, writing, and modifying phases?

I’ve by no means written a journey e-book the standard means–choosing a spot, touring round it, after which writing about it. My final two books have been collections. For tales, my course of includes intensive analysis. I learn lots, not simply journey and historical past books however novels, memoirs, poetry, newspapers. I additionally watch motion pictures and take heed to music from the place, and go to an area restaurant serving its delicacies. My server could have a cousin again residence who’d love to satisfy me. I collect as many contacts as I can.

After I get to the place, the very first thing I do is stroll, taking in all the brand new sights and sounds and smells whereas they’re nonetheless recent. Then I sit, which permits me to look at the folks higher. Sitting, I can even jot down notes–taking notes is a useful a part of the method–and, if I’m at a café, eat an area delicacy. Lastly, I attempt to meet some folks and, if doable, take part within the lifetime of the place. 

I don’t write the story until I’m again residence, although typically the lede, or the construction, will happen to me whereas I’m touring. I edit as I write, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and repeatedly learn over what I’ve written. Writing is difficult–arising with one thing the place there was nothing–however modifying is a pleasure, altering a phrase right here, deleting a phrase there, chipping away on the materials till it feels proper. 

What books or authors affect or inform your personal work?

It’s most likely wishful considering, however together with Waugh there’s Vladimir Nabokov (an honorary journey author). I additionally love the previous humorists like James Thurber and S. J. Perelman (a someday journey author). As for full-time (largely) journey writers, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Kate Simon, Jan Morris, Jonathan Raban, and Colin Thubron stand out from a big crowd. 

What recommendation would you give to somebody interested by writing a journey e-book?

My recommendation to aspiring journey writers is at all times: Don’t simply journey however reside in a spot, get to know the language, the tradition, the prejudices, the jokes. The books that consequence from sustained, immersive experiences are sometimes extra insightful than these by folks simply passing via. 

What’s so interesting in regards to the journey e-book as a literary kind?

It accommodates components of many of the others. A very good journey e-book has the narrative arc of a novel, the substance of a historical past e-book, the digressions of an essay, the lyricism of poetry, and the (typically inadvertent) self-revelations of a memoir. 

Why write about journey?

To be taught in regards to the world–and its inhabitants–and to go that information on to others. I might add that journey writing’s significance grows in direct proportion to the self-regarding tendencies of the nation by which it seems.


Thomas Swick stops by Journey Writing World to reply a couple of questions on his profession as a author. He’s the creator of a number of journey books, together with, most just lately, The Joys of Journey: And Tales that Illuminate Them (Skyhorse 2018).

In case you loved this interview with Thomas Swick, you would possibly take pleasure in our creator profiles part for extra behind-the-scenes interviews with authors of journey books.



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