This week I’d like to welcome traveller and adventurer, Jamie Alexander, to the Thursday Throng chair. Jamie was bitten by the travel bug when he was young and has been experiencing the world in his own, unique way ever since.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you will know that one of my favourite genres is the armchair travel book. It allows me to get a glimpse of the world that is ‘out there’ without actually having to get my feet wet, spend time in dodgy restaurants or worry about not catching flights. Jamie’s book provided me with the opportunity to indulge this side of myself once more and it came at me from a completely different perspective than normal. This was the grittier end of travel, this was travel that might get you killed if you happened into the wrong alley at the wrong time and it was also travel that makes you think about what it is we call ‘home’, and all that we take for granted alongside that.
It is by turns irritatingly funny and thought-provoking, often in the same paragraph. It is insightful and engaging, and encourages the reader to wonder what life could be like, should be like for many others around the world. However, there is a poignant and underlying question that Jamie frequently refers back to and that is, at what point does travel become an addiction in itself, fueled by a voyeuristic need to see for oneself just how difficult life can be whilst never actually becoming part of it, safe as we are in knowing that we can always ‘go home’. A must read for everyone who has ever thought about travelling as a hobby.
Well, I suppose the strangest thing – for an adventure travel writer at least – would be that I am actually prone to extreme homesickness whenever I fly out of England. I go through almost exactly the same process every time I get on a plane, whether it is to Palestine, to Thailand, or to New Guinea or wherever. As soon as I sit down, I get a lump in my throat and I regret my decision to go abroad…it’s not until I get off the plane, get outside and taste unfamiliar air again that something reawakens. From that moment on I couldn’t love travel more, but the flight out is always horrible for me.
How did you choose a title for your book?
It was a mistake really – I was chatting with my girlfriend about the project and we got on to the topic of the name of the book. I’d thought of a few options, but the book is so broad in scope that nothing really sat too well. As a bit of a joke I thought I’d try and come up with the most pretentiously ironic name for a travel book that I could think of. In my head I thought, “There’s No Place Like Home”, but when I opened my mouth it came out as “Nowhere Like Home.” Rather than the grimace I was expecting, she told me it was her favourite of the lot! And she was right – it just seemed to click. It made sense. It was a winner.
I have since allowed her to make all decisions for me. As a result, I’ve spent more money on shoes, candles and spa breaks than I have on beer this year, but I don’t question her judgement.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
I guess it depends what you write. I had typhoons, motorbike crashes, gunfire, mob violence, poisonous fish, parasites, terrorist attacks…all kinds of exciting things trying to kill me in the course of Nowhere Like Home. Brilliant fun, not sure I could survive the same onslaught again though. I should probably switch genre to something like erotica; then I could avoid the danger and still get my fair share of sticky situations… Actually, with jokes like that, perhaps my next book should be on gardening.
Having said that, I am working on a project at the moment that carries some occupational hazards. I can’t say too much about it just yet, but just that this is why my face is not visible in the portrait.
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
Well, I’m perhaps not the best person to comment, but I think most people in the world agree that travel is the best genre, followed closely by gardening! Actually, I think it all depends who you talk to. In my opinion, elitism always comes from those who don’t know enough about others. Great writing is great writing, irrespective of whether it is used to describe a political situation or a romance or anything in between. That said, George Orwell probably wished he had the literary prowess to write a travel book like mine, but alas, he did not. Poor guy.
Have you ever written naked?
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
My social life was the biggest challenge! I found that I got so sucked into the writing process that I almost dropped everything else. It was cathartic in a way, I felt like I was purging myself of the feelings and frustrations I’d had when I was going through the time the book described. There were so many things that didn’t fully make sense until I wrote them down, so for a while, it was all I needed. I had to make a conscious effort to occasionally speak to real people!
Are you jealous of other writers?
I struggle to be jealous of anybody else. I really enjoy being me. Being stuck in a mind like mine is always entertaining, and no amount of riches or career breaks would take that away. What I am jealous of, however, is the future me that has had all the riches and career breaks that I will inevitably receive when the world discovers my writing! I hope.
What is the strangest thing you have ever had to do to promote a book?
Admit that I’d written naked.
If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body?
I’d learn taxidermy and try to sneak the body into Madame Tussauds as an ironic imitation of a wax model.
Actually, if I had to commit murder, the chances are it would be Robert Pattinson anyway as that way I’d be able to regain the title of “World’s Sexiest Man”. And there’s already a wax model of him there so it wouldn’t look too out of place.
Naw, I’m just kidding. He’s immortal anyway, right?
Where can I find Jamie online and buy his book?
Update: And now Jamie is on Twitter too … @jamiealexand3r
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/