Talking with Tom Brosnahan (page 3)
Talking with Tom Brosnahan
page 1, page 2, page 3, 
On an average book, how much time is spent researching the country and how much time do you spend writing?
  It really depends on the book’s format. Some guides are prosy travelogues, others are virtual encyclopedias with hundreds of facts on each page. For a brand-new 700-page Lonely Planet guide, I might spend four or five months in research (most of that on the road), and six or seven months writing, with a month or two of answering editors’ queries after that.
  How do you pay for all the traveling? Hotels? Cars? Etc. Does the publisher give you an expense account or do you get “freebies” from hotels, etc.?
  Almost all expenses come out of the fee or royalties earned from the book. A few publishers pay a few expenses, but in most cases it’s up to the author to pay. Official travel offices may sometimes get us free air travel and perhaps a few hotel rooms, but our need for anonymity doesn’t allow us to accept much more in the way of freebies.
     A guidebook author has to travel fast because information is always changing, and s/he can’t afford to spend much time chatting amiably with “hosts” (hotel managers, restaurant owners, etc) who offer freebies in exchange for a chance to pitch their establishments to the writer.
Who are your favorite travel writers?
You can purchase
Incidents of Travel in Yucatan
Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas andYucatan
My all-time favorite is John Lloyd Stephens, New York lawyer, sometime ambassador plenipotentiary to the fledgling United States of Central America, pioneering archeologist, and author of two excellent works, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, and Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, published in the 1830s and 1840s. His writing is graceful and lucid, enjoyably descriptive, often eloquent, and always exhibits the joy of travel and the author’ s positive outlook, healthy sense of humor, and thirst for adventure.
  One last question. If you were suggesting a great trip for an RPCV where would it be?
  The best trip an RPCV can take is back to where s/he served, and the greatest reward is to meet people you knew and came to love during your service.
     For me, this is now bittersweet. I’ve returned to Turkey dozens of times since my service there, and although many of my students are alive, well, and serving in prominent positions, most of my other, older friends from my service time are gone.
     These days Volunteers of all ages set out to serve. In my day we were all young, mostly in our early to mid-20s. We had little acquaintance with the world. However much our Peace Corps may have helped the people of our host countries, it helped us, the Volunteers, far more. It was our coming-of-age, and a rich one it was.
     We left our homes and went abroad to find other customs, traditions, beliefs, and ways of living. Perhaps more importantly, living and working abroad taught us more about our own country than we could ever learn living at home: what was right and wrong, good and bad in it.
     Peace Corps service was a real education in the School of Life, a crash course in the way the world really works. Returning to our Peace Corps “alma mater” is sweeter and more telling than a high school or college reunion could ever be.
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