This week for our Author of the Week series we have been privileged to interview fellow travel blogger and author, Michael Huxley. As an accomplished writer of both travel guides and a novel Michael’s hard work and determination has led to the development of a strong personal brand.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
There isn’t really all that much to tell to be honest. I’m Michael, and I am a charge nurse by vocation with a specific interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine. In what little spare time I get I like to train, and still practice the numerous martial arts I have trained in since I was a boy. My real passion though is writing. I am an author and travel writer and I am also the founder of the travel website Bemused Backpacker. I have spent the last ten plus years travelling the world trying to see and experience as much as possible. I absolutely love travel, I think it is one of the best things anyone can ever do for themselves. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for those experiences, and I have poured those experiences into my website and my books in the hope it will inspire and empower others to travel.
You have written several travel guides. If you could describe these to someone in just a few sentences how would you entice someone to want to read one?
Do you dream of backpacking around the world? Do you want to take a gap year? Then the bemused Backpacker website and books will help, inspire and empower you to do just that! I have travelled the world for over a decade now and believe me if I can do it there is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing it too. Take advantage of my experience and knowledge and use it to inspire you to take your own round the world adventures.
There are two main guide books available in print and eBook format, Backpacking: the ultimate guide to first time around the world travel, and Gap Year Safety: the ultimate guide to safely travelling the world, as well as a range of shorter eBooks that focus on more specific travel related themes such as Solo Female Backpacker Safety. There are more in the pipeline too.
Can you tell us about the website?
The Bemused Backpacker website is really an extension of the guide books, but it is also becoming a business in it’s own right under the growing Bemused Backpacker brand. It can be used as a starting point for people to get basic travel advice and tips, and then they can use the guide books to read more in depth. The website also allows me to provide extra services to my readers such as the online travel clinic which gives professional, qualified travel health advice to potential travellers, and allows me the opportunity to discuss and talk about a whole range of issues within the travel industry on the blog, which is really fun to write.
You have also deviated slightly and written a novel, what led to this decision?
I actually wrote and published my novel before I became a travel writer. I have been writing since I was really young, mostly a ton of short stories that no one will ever see but me, and my novel was the culmination of many years of hard work and countless revisions. Deciding to publish it was really quite scary, but I’m glad I did!
Do you believe you need a different set of skills to write a novel?
Definitely. It may seem strange because at the end of the day writing is writing, but it is a very different process and I personally think a very different frame of mind writing for an academic essay or an informative article for my website or my guidebooks than it is writing a piece of fiction.
Are you happy to share with our readers what your novel is about in just a few short sentences?
The Sphinx Legacy is an adventure thriller that follows the archaeologist Ben Rowan as he uncovers evidence that will rewrite human history. His discovery puts him on a treasure hunt from the halls of academia to the Egyptian desert and beyond, and will pit him against thieves, kidnappers, ruthless mercenaries and a billionaire treasure hunter as they all struggle to find the greatest treasure of archaeological history, the Hall of Records.
When and why did you begin writing?
When is easy, at school. I used to love the English classes where we were given free reign to write a short story and I just carried on doing it in my spare time and never stopped! Why is a little more difficult, writing is who I am, what I do, I never really had a choice!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
When I’m writing about travel it gives me a chance to talk about something I am beyond passionate about and I love that! You get me talking about travel and I can go on for hours! I also get a lot of emails through my site from people saying they have taken my advice and now they’re setting off on their own gap years or backpacking trips, and that is seriously awesome, I love that!
If I’m writing a novel or a short story it lets me escape into that world I’m creating, it gives me a huge sense of escapism and again lets me delve into some of my other interests and passions from martial arts to ancient history. I think that is what has kept me sane over the years. My novel The Sphinx Legacy for example lets me write about one of my major interests beside travel, ancient history and Egyptology. I got to take all those theories and dry informational texts that I have devoured over the years and weave all of that into a work of fiction. I loved that! When I had the book published my close friends told me they thought I based some parts of the characters on myself or those I knew, I absolutely didn’t, but what I did do is make my passions, my interests come to life through those characters and the situations I put them in. That was a really enjoyable part of the process.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Definitely putting your work out there to be viewed and judged by anyone who cares to look at it, especially when writing novels. It’s a hard thing. Really hard! It isn’t so bad with travel writing because a lot of that is informational or instructive and I love the fact that what I write may be inspiring or helping others to travel, but when you are writing fiction I think that so much of yourself goes into the process, so much of who you are is exposed by the characters you create and the world you put them in, and that can be hard to give up for someone else to see and read.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve said before I have a wide range of interests and passions, and a lot of my inspiration does stem from that. I think though it has just been the fact that I have read as much and as widely as possible since I was old enough to pick a book up, and that has implanted this instinctive, burning need to write.
When working on a new novel, what is the first thing you do?
After that I’ll write down a rough storyboard of how I want the plot to play out, including any side plots, character development and plot twists, then I’ll just keep building on that layer on layer.
Which Writers do you admire and can you name a favourite book?
There are quite a few! When I was a kid I used to love fantasy books, I’d devour them. The Dragonlance novels by Weis and Hickman were my favourite, I still have those same copies from my childhood too. I also really admire Wilbur Smith and love his River God series, but I think Clive Cussler is my go to read for the plane or the beach, especially the Dirk Pitt novels. And Harry Potter. You have to love Potter!
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write, write and write some more. Just keep doing it. It doesn’t have to be a huge novel straight from the off, write short stories, poems, haiku’s, a blog, it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is that inspires you or piques your interest, it will all help you hone your craft.
If you want to become a professional writer and you have a specific interest (it doesn’t matter what it is), then start a blog. Write regularly, consistently and well, and over time you will have built up a solid body of work that can showcase your talents to potential employers and clients.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m writing the sequel to my novel at the moment, so I hope those who have read my first book will want to read that! I’m also building a lot more on the travel writing too, I am working on new travel books as well as focusing a lot more on the business aspects of the Bemused Backpacker website. There is a lot to keep me busy for the near future!
If you wish to find out more about Michael follow the links below:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael for his time this week.
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