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Today Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as a guest travel writer and author, Robin McKelvie.

Robin has visited more than 70 countries and has written over 1000 articles for 50+ publications in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the USA.

He has authored Author/Co-Author: Time for Food Edinburgh - Thomas Cook (2001), Croatia - Insight (2003), Croatia - Berlitz (2003), Ljubljana - Bradt (2005), Slovenia Bradt (2005), Croatia - Globetrotter (2006), Dubrovnik and Dalmatian Coast Dorling Kindersley (2006), Latvia - Thomas Cook (2006), Lithuania - Thomas Cook (2006).

Good day Robin and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Norm:

Robin, when did your passion for travel writing begin? I notice you are a prolific writer, what keeps you going? Was there anyone who really influenced you to become a writer?

Robin:

Basically it all kicked off with a 15,000km rail adventure from Edinburgh Waverley all the way to Hong Kong Kowloon Tong in the mid-1990s. All the sights, sounds and characters on the way fired up my imagination and really pushed me towards writing to try and capture it all. No one writer inspired me as such.

Norm:

In view of the many countries you have visited, if you had to choose 6 of the most romantic venues you have visited, which ones would you choose and why?

Robin:

Scotland, Scotland, Scotland, Scotland, Scotland and Scotland. My favourite country in the world is my own. I genuinely find the remote parts of the Highlands the most wildly romantic oasis in the world; a wildscape of sweeping beaches, vaulting peaks and violent seas where man firmly plays second fiddle to nature. On the other end of the scale the South Pacific Island of Bora Bora, with its over-water bungalows and starched white beaches, is hard to beat for a more traditional romantic escape.

Favorite Scottish Romantic Venues

  • Boathouse - Lovely wee seafood place in picturesque South Queensferry near Edinburgh. Tight ship run by Paul and Alistair with views of the Forth Bridge.

  • Scarista Beach - Sweeping Atlantic beach on Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Bracing place to embrace a loved one and swear undying love.

  • The Witchery - Top class food in the gothic room or lighter atrium then suites with four posters and all sorts of bricabrac.

  • Plockton - Picture postcard perfect wee village in the Highlands. Great pubs, restaurants and stay in a B&B by the water enjoying the sunsets and palm trees of the Gulf Stream.

  • Morar - The beach of Local Hero fame where my future wife fell in love with the country and found that a Scottish husband came as part of the package.

  • Three Chimneys and House Over-By - Great getaway on the northern extremities of Skye. Lovely old croft with top food and funky accommodation.

Norm:

As a follow up to the last question, which six would you choose for adventure? Why?

Robin:

You guessed it Scotland over and over again. For a relatively small country Scotland packs a big punch when it comes to adventure and the great thing is that so few people really know about what it offers beyond the clichéd images of castles and kilts. There have been rounds of the World Windsurfing and Surfing championships as well as World Cup Mountain Biking, but there are still swathes of the country you can rumble over on a bike, ramble over on foot or scoop around in a canoe seeing more deer than people and camping in absolute silence.

Norm:

Besides writing for magazines and newspapers, what other writing gigs have you found profitable or rewarding?

Robin:

Books are ok financially if you can tie other work around them and also writing for the internet can work though beware as so many start-ups fold quickly.

Norm:

What challenges or obstacles have you encountered while writing your articles and traveling? How did you overcome these challenges?

Robin:

The biggest one is trying to make it pay. If you spend 6 months a year on average traveling you are not earning as such for half the year so the maths don't work. You have to find a way to make it more of a business than a hobby if you are serious about travel writing long term.

Norm:

How have you used the Internet to boost your writing career?

Robin:

I have used it before and interviews like this are great. Seriously it is great for research, looking for new work and checking out travel practicalities, though, there is a lot of rubbish out there too in cyberspace.

Norm:

What advice would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing and to achieve success as a travel writer?

Robin:

Start writing about what you know, as in your local area, then build it up part-time, keeping your day job. Then if things do take off you can go full-time. Also if you are not prepared to work as hard or even harder than everyone else you know in real jobs then forget it travel writing is very hard work, though the rewards are good.

Norm:

What does travel mean to you?

Robin:

A difficult question to answer. Think it really changes. When I am at home banging words out on a laptop from 7am to midnight it is a job, but when I slip through the airport and jet off somewhere exotic it is something completely different. When I am traveling I am at my happiest and most natural, eating when I want to eat, sleeping when I want to and having much less of a fixed plan.

Norm:

Are there any future projects in the works?

Robin:

Yes, piles more articles for newspapers and magazines, as well as books on Bermuda, Latvia and Lithuania to add to my titles on Croatia, Slovenia and Scotland.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Not really. Just hope this interview has been interesting for people to read and if you want to know more about me and my work just look up my website.

Robin

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

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