For anyone not familiar with what you do, tell us a little about yourself and The Book Trail.
I travel using novels as guidebooks as I have always thought traditional guidebooks didn’t really always show the city or place I was visiting. When I’m reading I can see where the characters are and seeing a place through their eyes as well as the author’s, can be a unique way to visit a place that tourists may not see.
I’ve worked as a translator for many years and have always marvelled at the new worlds that books introduce me to as well as helping me to learn not only the words but the nuances, the culture and the mindset of people in different countries.
I love reading and like to share my passion for reading and travelling by combining the two and showing how booktrails can be a unique of reading and discovering new worlds!
The Book Trail is an interesting concept – How did the idea come about?
I was fascinated by Phileas Fogg as a child – the way he travelled around the world with a friend called Passepartout who spoke French. My dad used to read the story to me and I decided that I would be Passepartout one day – speaking languages and travelling. Why not travel to the places Passepartout had seen I thought? What adventures he had had! The things he had seen!
Sadly my father died when I was very young and having needed speech therapy for a while, I used the book to help build my confidence. Determined more than ever to be like Passepartout, I started to read more and more, learned French and Spanish largely by reading and then following university decided to do a mammoth booktrail to all my favourite spots that Passepartout had been on – plus many more. It was a great way to discover Canadian fiction too.
I spent a year in Canada and America, Colombia and Mexico devouring any book I could get my hands on and improving my language skills at the same time. Since then I have lived where ever a book took me, even learning Swedish to go and live in Stockholm so I could immerse myself in Scandinavian crime fiction for a while and even visit Camilla Läckberg land – Fjällbacka.
Its amazing what you can see when you merge travel and books – they really bring the locations to life in ways that nothing else can!
Do you have a favourite book trail? If so, which and why?
Ooh one!? That’s hard. I would have to say three?
My favourite has been the ‘US leg’ of Phileas Fogg’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ as I stood in the same spots he had, discovered the history of the International hotel in San Francisco and followed partially in his footsteps all the way to New York.
Another would definitely be my trip to Fjällbacka after having read Ice princess by Camilla Läckbergin Swedish. This was a challenge to myself as I wanted to learn another language and had become intrigued with Läckberg’s work. After that I knew I just had to go and see where the book described and I was not disappointed! I still have the battered old copy I took around the small town which taught me so much about Sweden, its landscape, people and language although my first words were not really suitable for class!
My other favourite booktrail has got to be my time in Barcelona following in the footsteps of Daniel whose father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The gothic architecture and the narrow, twisty streets of the city are the perfect backdrop to the mysterious novel. I loved finding the streets where Daniel and the characters had done and discovered many hidden parts of the city that I wouldn’t have noticed without this novel.
I could go on……but I won’t 😉
If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Oh I think I would find that too hard, but the books I save up to read are those by Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Camilla Läckberg the first two create such evocative worlds from their words and the latter inspired me to learn the language.
As for Kate Morton, I am intrigued to learn how she writes so well about England despite being Australian – not that she shouldn’t but the nuances and habits of the characters are so ‘English’ that she continues to amaze me. I so desperately want, no need, to go to The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall after having read The Forgotten Garden. She fascinates me with her intricate plots and secrets from the past. She read a lot of Enid Blyton as a child apparently and her books are just as magical but for adults.
Lucinda Riley is the Queen of evocative descriptions and I feel I have toured Italy, NYC and London via the opera houses (the Italian girl), and genuinely was moved by The Midnight Rose which evoked a mother’s love for her long lost child in India and the links between her homeland and Dartmoor – totally captivating.
I do reread novels but if they’re in a different language, it’s like another book!
Which countries do your favourite books hail from and why?
A mixture. I love to read translated fiction for obvious reasons but also love to read in a foreign language as its a way of seeing a country and its people in a unique way.
A good book is a good book wherever it comes from and its just a shame that not more fiction is translated. I spend hours in bookshops and buy my favourite books in more than one language. I actually have four copies of Jane Eyre – as once I can read it in the language I’m learning, I know I’m nearly there.
There is something special about Canadian and Spanish writers for me – probably as both countries have given me my favourite booktrails as well as helping my language skills. I just love being able to go and browse in a bookshop wherever I am and find new authors that aren’t translated. Learning what is popular in one country and not another fascinates me too.
Canada introduced me to French Canadian writers and the concept of space and rural environments. I discovered the country via the books at first- from the Saskatchewan sand fields to the fishing villages of Anne of Green Gables country on Prince Edward Island. I also remember some very happy hours spent in a shop (Indigo) very similar to that in the movie “ You’ve got mail’ with sofas, a piano and lots and lots of books. I think that helped too!
French was the first language I learned and I picked books I thought Passepartout would have picked out for me.
And lastly, what can we expect next from The Book Trail?
I’m working to improve my blog at the moment as I’m very lucky as to be asked to do more and more booktrails and cuppas and a cake so I am hoping to launch a revamped site later in the year to make it easier to read and navigate. I love booktrailing and have done it for many years now but technology is making it easier to share all of this now. It will be a nice memento for me to to look back on and see all my travels in the form of booktrails! I also have a few authors who I have not met yet but who I would love to have appear on the site. Oh and maybe learn another language so I can read even more books!
That Passepartout has a lot to answer for.
Thanks very much to Susan from The Book Trail
Head over to The Book Trail site to learn more about how you can take part in your own trail!