Can you hold that steak for a min? Cuz I have something else that tastes good, too! It’s an interview with one of our favorite travel/memoir writers, Terry Lister. You may recall Terry’s book, Immersed in West Africa. If you don’t, here’s our review: Immersed in West Africa: Not Your Average Travel Book.
Today we’re talking with Terry about his book and his writing. Lots more! If you ever wanted to know more about the how and why of travel/memoir writing, you won’t want to miss this! (Besides. We like anyone who likes Mark Twain and Bill Bryson.) So. Take it away, Terry:
1. What motivated you to write a book?
I have been travelling as a solo traveller since November 2014. One of my daughters suggested l write a blog in 2015. To me this sounded like work! So l ignored the suggestion and continued to travel. But a few months later l began posting my daily adventures to my FB page. These posts were being enjoyed by my followers and some started to ask for a book. For sometime l ignored them but in Spring 2019 l thought should do just that.
2. Why did you write this book?
I had been all through Central America and South America but l felt that there is much travel information available about those areas. However, the whole African continent is vastly underreported. Most information about Africa is on East Africa and a few North African countries. So starting my travels in West Africa, l was very keen to share my experiences.
3. Tell us about your book
Immersed in West Africa is a travel adventure story about an eight week solo slow travel trip to five West African countries off the grid. I enjoyed all the ups and downs of travel, the people, the food and the haggling! My book shares the daily life of the people and sheds light on the real side of West Africa. My book both educates and entertains. After reading, the reader should be thinking about how soon he will be going to West Africa.
4. What do you want readers to take away from your book?
First, form opinions from their own experience. Many people form opinions of other people and other lands from what they see on tv. I want to expose them to what these five countries are really like and to make them want to go to see for themselves.
Second, l wanted to give a fair representation of the countries I went to. I do not believe the average person in the West as an example could answer five routine questions on any of Mauritania, Guinea Conakry or Guinea Bissau. So l want to expose my readers to those places without carrying any personal bias. The tone in my book is free of condemnation or ridicule.
Third, I want the reader to see that these countries are not dangerous at all. You are more likely to have some bad experience in your own country than there.
5. How do you write?
When l am travelling l write a daily Facebook post. Once l am ready to write the book l review and revise. I add some historical information that will help the reader to appreciate the why of the circumstances of the people of West Africa find themselves in.
6. Who are your favourite authors and why?
Two authors have been favourites for years, Mark Twain and Bill Bryson.
Both tell tales which take us” to the place”. While l have never physically been to the places Twain set his books in, l feel like l have! The same applies to Bryson in a more modern setting.
7. What is your favourite travel quote?
Given the nature of my personal travel a quote from the great writer, JRR Tolkien is my mantra,” Not all those who wander are lost”. This describes me quite accurately. My trip planning is spent searching for unknown and unusual. So l am off the beaten path often. I want my readers to frequently say,”l didnt know that”.
8. What is your favourite story in the book?
Having said that these five countries are safe, l had read that the Senegal- Mauritania border crossing is one of the most corrupt in the world! I can testify that it is a very scary proposition for a solo traveller. While l went toe to toe with all the characters l ran into there, I was very scared. I kept remembering the words of a friend who years ago said to me,” never let them see you sweat”.
9. What has been the most positive response to your book?
I get the greatest joy when l read reviews where the reviewer says he never considered going to West Africa but now he wants to. l feel that my objective has been attained when my book gets this response.
10. What are some of your hobbies and interests?
Growing up l spent most of my free time playing sports like cricket, soccer and track. As an adult l no longer participate but l have followed these same sports closely. And, of course, l have always loved reading-history, travel,biographies- these hold my attention.
11. How can readers contact you?
While l do not have a website, readers can follow me by going to travels with Terry Facebook page@travelswithterrylister. This page is constantly added to as l share the developments relating to my book. My email which is always responded to is firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Any last thoughts?
I am now working on my second book which continues my solo journey through Africa. I remain in West Africa going to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana. The first two countries suffered through terrible civil wars around twenty years ago and the effects are still present in various ways. Ivory Coast had the reputation of being one of the most stable countries in Africa, largely due to the fact that the leader from Independence, Felix. He has always been an avidxtravelker Houphouet-Boigny, led the country from 1960 to 1993. And Ghana was, in Colonial times, named the Gold Coast which says much about the wealth there.
Terry Lister is from the small island of Bermuda. He has always been an avid traveller. After an exciting work career as a partner at Deloitte, a Government Minister and the owner of a real estate company, Terry took on the career of traveller. At retirement he had been to 52 countries, today he has been to 96. Terry believes that travel allows one to grow in a way that book study would never make possible.
Africa photo: Public domainn. CC0 license.