Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer…Michael Shapiro

Today we are joined by Michael Shapiro, travel writer and author of ‘A Sense of Place’. Michael is an award winning freelance writer with articles published in many national magazines (National Geographic Traveler, Islands) and newspapers (Washington Post, SF Chronicle, New York Times, etc, etc).

Hi Michael and welcome to My Year of Getting Published.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing?

I started as a news journalist in college at UC Berkeley's Daily Californian. Went to work for San Francisco Bay Area daily newspapers and then to Guatemala to learn Spanish. I wrote my first travel story about that, a service piece on the Spanish language schools of Antigua, Guatemala.

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer?

Getting that first story about Guatemala into the SF Chronicle travel section. My biggest recent break was having my story about Jan Morris's Wales features as the cover story in National Geographic Traveler (May-June 2006).

3. What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing? Any tips to breaking into newspapers and magazines?

Don't limit yourself to travel - write relentlessly - read widely and voraciously - tell stories, don't just report.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

Newspapers have smaller freelance budgets and less space. Many agazines appear healthy and there are some opportunities online. Be ready to add other media to online stories, such as audio and video.

5. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

Discipline, occasional loneliness as I often travel alone, but that's the best way to travel on assignment as it forces you to get out and meet people and it makes you more approachable.

6. Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

It's hard to pick one but I'm just back from Cambodia and Mongolia, two amazing destinations that are on the rise.

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