Friday, July 27, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer…Roberta Beach Jacobson

Today we are in Greece, interviewing travel writer Roberta Beach Jacobson. Roberta has contributed to over 40 books with titles such as Kids, Have You Seen My Backpack? , Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe, and Travelers’ Tales Greece.

You can find Roberta’s articles in print and online publications such as Transitions Abroad, The Christian Science Monitor, Guardian Unlimited, Family Life Abroad, Disappearing Acts, and Better Budgeting. She is a weekly columnist for The Right Way to Travel and writes for The Net Wits blog.

Hi, Roberta and welcome. Thanks for stopping for a chat at My Year of Getting Published.

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

Sometimes I wanted to be a short story writer, other times a ballerina. In my young years, I also dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. I was eight or nine when my first piece was published in an American magazine for kids. Later I was news editor of my high school newspaper, but I drifted into careers not at all related to journalism. For two decades, writing remained nothing but a hobby - something to occupy weekends and evenings. I sold poems and greeting card verses, also a few short travel pieces and humor essays. In truth, I viewed myself more of a reader than a writer.

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

I'm still waiting for it!

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

You shouldn't do it simply hoping to nab some free trips, that can't be the motivation for such a career choice. I guess a writer should start out small. Don't send your first article to National Geographic. Try some fillers or letters-to-the-editor to your local newspapers. Realize your home turf has worthwhile museums, parks or other attractions. Practice writing about those. You can't sell if you don't write, so just keep at it. So what if 80 percent of your efforts get rejected? Concentrate on the 20 percent getting published and just go forward.

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

Due to the environmental impact of travel, I expect editors will feature more weekend get-aways or close-to-home coverage. It seems to me article length in both print and online media is getting shorter. I suppose readers have shorter attention spans, coupled with limited free time.

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

Time is limited when you zip around place-to-place. It would be nice to have a leisurely picnic on the beach, but you've got tourism people to interview and museums to check out. Your pace is hectic and you always have one eye on the clock. It's not unusual to eat the appetizers in one restaurant, the main course in another, dessert in yet another. Spending time viewing hotel rooms is not exactly fun, but you'll need that information for your articles. To me, being on the road is much more work than play.

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

Europe holds a special place in my heart. I left suburban Chicago, Illinois (U.S.) in 1974 and relocated to Europe. I love the architecture, the food, hearing the various languages, just wandering around. I've been a tour guide around Costa Brava, Spain and on Rhine River cruises in Germany. I make my home on a remote island in the Aegean. We're nearer to Turkey than Greece, but this is a Greek island. My photographer husband, Alf, and I have lived here since 1999. I always said if this didn't work out, I'd like to live in the Czech Republic. Who knows? We've got another 10 years until retirement. My husband thinks Canada and Iceland sound attractive, so we just might end up living elsewhere.


Previous interviews:

Keith Kellett
Nicole Cotroneo
Barbara Sjoholm
Mike Gerrard
Heather Hapeta
Thomas Swick
Leif Pettersen
Rolf Potts
Ian Mackenzie
Sheila Scarborough
Graham Reid
Candy Harrington
Terah Shelton
Rudy Maxa
Shannon Hurst Lane
Wendy Perrin
David Whitley

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Kelly said...

I also like to travel and like you I prefer Europe. Once I had very interesting tour. We took the slow boat. Stylish river cruises operate from Germany to the Czech Republic along the river Elbe, or Labe as it is known in North Bohemia. we had an 11-night trip, with seven nights spent on board whose route takes you to Meissen and Dresden in Germany before we reach the lovely Bohemian town of Litomerice with its great baroque churches and its huge cobbled marketplace. From there we sail on to the Czech capital. The holiday started with a guided tour of Berlin and ended with a guided tour of Prague where we stayed in Prague hotels and explored Prague by food. It was unforgivable!

hotel in prague said...

Very inspiring interview..Thanks for sharing...

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