This month, I got in touch with Sheila Swanson and James Hawkins, who go on Travellerspoint by the pseudonym Hawkson. Over the past couple years, Sheila and James have been two of Travellerspoint's most prolific bloggers, detailing their trips through Asia, Europe and most recently to Egypt. I decided to get in touch with them for this month's installment of the Talking Travel series -- and discovered in the process that James is in fact the author of several popular mystery novels (see his website here). Enjoy their thoughts on travel and writing below!
Sheila and James at Windsor
Over the last few years, you have travelled quite extensively throughout the world, from Asia to Egypt and Europe. What excites you about travel?
Now that we are in our early sixties we would describe ourselves as “Young senior citizens of the world” and are drawn to visit as many of our earthly neighbours as possible before travelling becomes too tiresome or difficult.
The prospect of seeking new horizons and of encountering different peoples, cultures and foods always excites us. Despite the fact that we have both lived in a number of different countries, and have travelled extensively throughout all five continents, there are still many places for us to discover. The Earth is, at one and the same time, both very big and very small, and our natural curiosity leads us to explore as much of it as possible.
You're one of the most prolific bloggers on Travellerspoint, with 110 posts at last count! Do you find that blogging from the road helps you appreciate the places you visit more?
Blogging has greatly enhanced our travel experiences and has given our friends, families and followers a vicarious opportunity to enjoy the sights and ambience of many countries. A blog is just a snapshot of our time on the road but, in striving to capture the essence of each venue and its people in a way that is interesting and informative, we have a much greater appreciation of the places we visit.
At the end of each trip our blog becomes a permanent reminder of our travels. Because the blog requires that we carefully choose just a few meaningful photos, and that we write concisely about our experiences, we have created a journal that is both informative and interesting for ourselves and our friends.
A question for James: Do your travels influence your novels?
The answer is that all of my mystery novels are in some ways based upon my travels. I have lived in France, England and Canada in recent years and have used these locations as the venues for my novels. Many of my novels feature all three of these countries whilst others include Holland, the U.S., Turkey, Iraq, etc.
I only write about countries and places that I know.
Being a successful novelist requires an eclectic knowledge of people and places, in addition to having an ability to write, and I find that world travel broadens my mind and enables me to give my readers a more satisfying experience.
Your current trip is a holiday through Egypt, England and the south of France. What inspired this trip?
Our present trip was inspired by an opportunity to crew on a barge on the Canal-du-Midi in south west France. We are food lovers and decided that we would use the two week cruise to blog about the renowned cuisine of the Languedoc- Roussillon region. As for the Egypt leg of the trip, we dug into our bucket list and came up with a country that neither of us had previously visited – and what a wonderful place it turned out to be.
What have been some of the biggest highlights of your trip so far?
Egypt assaults the senses in every possible way. The sights, sounds and smells of Egypt are so intense, so strident, and so unique, that it is impossible not to be moved by the experience - We have touched ancient history and ancient history has touched us.
Where to after this trip? Do you have any more travels in the pipeline?
As for the future... we have someone to look after our house and cat from this September through to next spring and are looking at spending much of the winter travelling in India and Japan.
Check out these past interviews in the Talking Travel series:
- Talking Travel with Dodger
- Talking Travel with Derek Logan
- Talking Travel with Lynn and Paul
- Talking Travel with Tom Rhombus
- Talking Travel with Grant Gibbs
- Talking Travel with Claire and Chuck
- Talking Travel with Brendan Harding
- Talking Travel with Jennifer Johnson
- Talking Travel with Sander
- Talking Travel with Rob and Pol
- Talking Travel with Michael Johnson
- Talking Travel with Izzy and Marisa
- Talking Travel with Marlis
- Talking Travel with Gretchen
- Talking Travel with Andrew and Courtney
- Talking Travel with Purdy
- Talking Travel with Maria
- Talking Travel with Niels
- Talking Travel with Amy and Wim
- Talking Travel with Hien
- Talking Travel and HIV/AIDS in India with Dave Reidy
- Talking Travel with Utrecht