I’m delighted to share an Author Q&A Interview today with Jules Brown. As a travel writer, Jules has explored many countries over the years, sharing his stories in newspapers, magazines and Rough Guides. More recently Jules has published a series of travel anthology books collating stories from some of his numerous trips. Ahead of the authors latest travel book release this month, Watch Out For Pirates, Jules has kindly agreed to chat with Touring Tales.
Author Q&A Interview
Firstly, welcome back to Touring Tales, thank you for chatting with me again today. Last time we connected up it was to promote your book Not Cool. Europe. By Train. In a Heatwave. So I was thrilled when you contacted me about your new book, Watch Out For Pirates. Before we find out more about your new book, I have a few questions for you:
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?
I was an avid reader as a child, and I did a History degree at college, but it never really occurred to me that you could get paid for this reading and writing business. But then I quit the first job I ever had to go travelling, in my early twenties, and I took a copy of a new travel guidebook series with me, the Rough Guide to Portugal. And as I travelled around, jotting down notes of things that had changed, I thought – I could do this! When I came back I sold my first travel feature to the local newspaper for the princely sum of £12.50 and then I wrote to Rough Guides and basically begged for a job. They sent me to Scandinavia to write a new guidebook, and that was my first commission and published book.
How have you found transitioning from a Rough Guides Travel Writer to a Travel Book Author? Have you had to learn any new skills?
I’ve always written other things, not just guidebooks. I was a newspaper travel feature writer for the Daily Mail for years, and then I started my blog – Jules Told Me – where I began to share my travel stories. So in the end, it was a fairly seamless transition to writing travel memoirs and journeys. It’s all just writing – in the end!
What has been your most memorable assignment / trip?
Good question, but maybe too many to count! For Rough Guides, it would be the opportunity to go and live in Hong Kong for six months while I researched the Rough Guide. That really was an extraordinary time – I was in China for a side trip when the Tiananmen Square massacre happened. Writing for the Daily Mail, I never knew what was going to come up next – I’d get a call saying, ‘Can you go to New Zealand tomorrow?’ and I’d go, ‘Oh ,OK!’ My best trip for the paper was that trip to New Zealand, where they asked me on the way back to go to Singapore and then Vietnam as well. I wasn’t going to argue.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten whilst travelling?
I’m going to say the pizza in Naples – I wrote about it in Never Pack an Ice-Axe. There’s a pizzeria – the one in ‘Eat Pray Love’ – where they only serve two types of pizza, with tomato sauce and cheese, or just with tomato sauce, and they only serve beer or Coke. That’s it, nothing else. And the queues outside the door are insane. Seriously, you’ll never look at pizza the same way again.
What’s the worst thing that you’ve eaten whilst travelling?
Oh boy, I have a whole routine about this. Puffin and whale, recounted in my book, Don’t Eat the Puffin. There’s a clue right there, in the title.
Can you introduce us to your latest book?
Watch Out For Pirates is the third book in my travel memoir series, called ‘Born to Travel.’ It’s another collection of tales from my travelling life, which now spans over 30 years. So if you want to read about an ‘Outlander’ adventure in Scotland, or hear about the time I drove across the Australian outback, or sang at a Sicilian wedding, or appeared as Santa at a Portuguese village school, this is the book for you!
I’ve also included some bonus chapters about what it’s like to be a jobbing travel writer – the day-to-day, nitty gritty stuff that maybe you don’t think about. It definitely isn’t all palm trees and five-star hotels. To be honest, it’s almost never palm trees and five-star hotels.
How do you come up with the catchy titles for your books?
I think long and hard! There’s no real secret, just an intention to try and give a flavour of what my writing style is like. I hope from the titles that you get the idea that these might be fun to read!
What do you like to do when you’re not travelling or writing?
To be honest, not much! I don’t have any real hobbies and I spend a lot of time writing. When that’s finished, I spend the rest of the time marketing the books or thinking about the next trip. I spend way too much time on the train-travel website Seat 61, which if you don’t know it already, will change your life.
Who inspires you and why?
My Dad was a huge travel inspiration – if you read my books, you’ll understand why. And anyone who writes for a living – just turning up every day, sitting down and powering out words. I’m a member of various writing groups on Facebook, and follow all sorts of people on Twitter, and we all keep each other going.
Lastly, are you working on a new project / book at present? If so, can you share a sneak preview with us?
I have some new travel books planned, and just being able to think about that – and go when I want – after the last two or three years, is so liberating. I loved researching and writing my Europe-by-train book, Not Cool, and I’m trying to stick to train travel as much as possible, so that’s my focus right now.
My partner Elaine appears in some of my travel stories, but we’re thinking of doing a trip together so that I can write about it – the tag-line is ‘Around Spain. By Train. With Elaine’. So that might happen. And I have a cunning plan to go as far north, south, east and west in Europe as possible by train – I think that could be a great trip too.
Wow, they sound like great trips. I totally agree with you about being able to travel again, it’s amazing to be out and about. Have a fabulous summer exploring, thank you for chatting with me today. I look forward to reading more of your Touring Tales 🙂 in future books.
About The Author
Jules Brown took his first solo trip around Europe when he was seventeen, and he’s been travelling and writing professionally ever since, publishing his first travel guide – to Scandinavia – in 1988.
An experienced Travel Writer, Jules Brown wrote Rough Guide travel books for over thirty years. He has eaten a puffin in Iceland, got stuck up a mountain in the Lake District, crash-landed in Iran, fallen off a husky sled in Canada, and got stranded on a Mediterranean island. Not all of those things were his fault.
Where To find Jules Online
Jules Brown Books
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Jules Brown’s new book, Watch out for Pirates. I shall be sharing my thoughts in a book review post later this month.
In the meantime, you can order or download Jules’ books including:
Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave
Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.
It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.
A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.
Order Now: Amazon UK
Never Pack an Ice-Axe. Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life
You’d think a long-time travel writer would have some great travel tips. You’d think.
Jules learns about travel the hard way, whether it’s setting out on his first European hitch-hiking adventure, writing about offbeat destinations for Rough Guides, or braving the shouty waiters of Naples on the hunt for the world’s best pizza.
Not everything goes according to plan – what happened in Bali stays in Bali – but during a life in travel, Jules has racked up enough useful tips to fill a book. Just not this book.
Hit the road with Jules – from Scotland to the South Pacific – and you’re guaranteed a great story, a good laugh and an occasional heartfelt sob. As long as you don’t listen to his advice, you’ll be absolutely fine.
Order Now: Amazon UK
Don’t Eat the Puffin: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life: 1
It’s the job of his dreams. Get paid to travel and write about it.
Only no one told Jules that it would mean eating oily seabirds, repeatedly falling off a husky sled, getting stranded on a Mediterranean island, and crash-landing in Iran.
The exotic destinations come thick and fast – Hong Kong, Hawaii, Huddersfield – as Jules navigates what it means to be a travel writer in a world with endless surprises up its sleeve.
Add in a cast of larger-than-life characters – Elvis, Captain Cook, his own travel-mad Dad – and an eye for the ridiculous, and this journey with Jules is one you won’t want to miss.
Order Now: Amazon UK
Related Post: Book Review of Not Cool. Europe. By Train. In a Heatwave
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