What inspired you to write?
I grew up on a farm, away from other kids, and never learned to play ball or sports. At school I was the last kid standing when they picked a team. Consequently, I lived a life of imagination on the farm. In that sense I never grew up. And isnít that what writers are, they have never gown up. Until a few years ago when my parents were still alive, they kept asking me, when was I going to get a job.
Why did you settle in Bangkok?
I canít think of a better place to be. The Thais are great people, and itís true they smile all the time. Another reason, here is where the action is. Bangkok is centrally located and only a few miles away in my direction are new cultures, new experiences.
You are considered a travel/adventure writer.
I donít like that title at all. I am a writer. I like to write. I write biographies, short stories, movie scripts, novels. I like to write in every media and I donít like to be classified as an adventurer.
But didnít you set the record for the longest motors trip around the world and wrote a book Who Needs a Road? Thatís adventure, isnít it?
I never intended to set a motor record. In Asia I thought one of the best ways to get around was to own a four-wheel drive vehicle and go where I waned to go. So in New York I bought a jeep, shipped it to France and began driving to Asia. Unfortunately, I tried to cross Russia and got arrested. I intended to continue when I got out of jail and then Toyota offered me vehicle if I would drive it around the world. Why not?
No one gave you a schooner and you sailed the Pacific and Asian waters for many years.
I always wanted to see these far places, rivers and islands, and the best way was with to own a boat, of course. But I never had money to buy a boat, especially a sailing schooner. So in exchange for writing a sailing book for a boat architect I got the plans and built my own boat. I rented a house in Singapore and invited Peace Corps volunteers to come and help. They actually built it for me. I would sill be living aboard my schooner except I lost it in Iniki, the most severe hurricane that ever hit the Hawaiian Islands.
What continues to motivate you to write?
I could say a paycheck. But thatís not so. There are easier ways to make money than writing. I gave up the thought of making a lot of money long ago. Only a handful of writers are rich and they are the blockbuster writers. They are the formula writers. I donít write for money. If money comes, great. I donít write a book to make money. I write it because I have a story to tell. I am writing a book now about the Swiss artist Theo Meier. Heís been dead for twenty years and people are forgetting him. Thatís just the point, the reason for writing. Here was an incredible man, a man who walked across China with an easel on his back, and man who lived for 22 years on Bali and another 20 years in Chiang Mai. I can keep him alive by writing about him, and if only ten people read my story, then I have succeeded.
What do you think will be the future of writing?
They probably asked that same question to Plato. I really donít care. As long as there is ME, and there are writers like me, there will be writing and there will be books.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is interested in writing?
I am constantly asked that question. So what I did to answer that question isĖĖI wrote a book The Education of a Travel Writer that
answers all those questions. Basically, you don't need a writing course or go to Harvard School of Journalism to learn to write: Just buy my book to find the answers.
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