Saturday, 17 March 2018

Diana talks to Tony Robinson-Smith

Last month I went to a talk at the local community library by a former resident of the village, travel writer and world traveller, Tony Robinson-Smith. His talk was interesting, informative, moving, touching and totally inspirational.

Tony Robinson-Smith, his wife Nadya, and ten Bhutanese college students set out to run 578 kilometres (360 miles) across the Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas. Joined by a stray dog, they slogged over five mountain passes, bathed in ice-clogged streams, ate over log fires, and stopped at every store, restaurant, guesthouse, and dzong to raise money for the Tarayana Foundation. The “Tara-thon” was the first endeavour of its kind and gave 350 village children the chance to go to school. En route, the Long Distance Dozen met a Buddhist lama, a royal prince, a Tibetan renegade, and a matriarch who told them the secret to long life. On arrival in Thimphu, they were decorated by Her Majesty the Queen. In this contemplative memoir, Tony describes Bhutan in rich detail at a transformative period in its history and reflects on tradition, belief, modernization, and happiness.

1) I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!
Which author in your genre do you most revere? Peter Matthiessen (the most introspective of travel writers.)

2) What is the genre you are best known for?
Travel writing

3) If your latest book, The Dragon Run, was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I don't watch many movies... someone skinny who likes distance running could play me!
4) What made you choose this genre?
I have always enjoyed discovering foreign cultures and journalling my findings.
5) How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich.
6) If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
Sci-fi (no plot in mind).
7)Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
Writing sprung from travel - a compulsion to record my experiences
8) Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Marmite is okay
9) Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
Run and think. The sit and write
10) I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
11) Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
Professor of English

12) Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Tea, red
13) How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I resurrect memorable scenes, then look for a way of stringing them together
14) If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
Most legible

15) Cornish clotted cream fudge or Strawberry?
Don't like fudge
16) Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
None spring to mind
17) How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
Some research before the trip, a lot more, targeting areas of interest, on my return
18) Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
No. A non-fiction "plot" should not be tidy
19)Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
Important. Accuracy lends veracity to a non-fic text
20) Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?

21) What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Travel classics (Thesiger: Arabian Sands, Davison: Tracks, Newby: A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, Matthiessen: The Snow Leopard, H.M. Tomlinson: The Sea & the Jungle, etc)
22) What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
Ara (Bhutanese liquor)

23) Last but not least... favourite author?
Peter Matthiessen

Tony Robinson-Smith in the Community Library at Sapcote in Leicestershire, UK with the hard working volunteer librarian.

© Diana Milne 2018 © Tony Robinson-Smith 2018

1 comment:

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