NEW Adventure Travel Story by Author Shane Lambert
I would like to welcome today’s guest author, Shane Lambert. He lives and works, in western Canada in Edmonton, Alberta. He just released a new book titled, “Back to Alberta, Back to Edmonton” Vol.1. It is a fictional account of a travel story based loosely on Shane’s life, and presented in the first person.
BOOK BLURB: Part 1 of Shane Lambert’s travel/adventure ebook series “Back to Alberta, Back to Edmonton.”
Loosely based on several years of his life, Lambert draws upon his memories of travelling through North America, Central America, Europe, and Asia to construct a fictionalized story of the time he spent travelling.
In doing so Lambert regales a travel story that takes him to nineteen different countries. It is a story about adventure, romance, growth, and maturation as much as it is about failure, danger, and hardship.
1) Shane tell us why you decided to write this book, and why fictional, not biographical? The description states the book is loosely based on your life, how loosely?
For the first part of your question, one motivation in writing the e-book was annoyance, with a lot of travel fiction out there. I remember reading “On the Road” and feeling as though the book was more about marketing travel than representing it. It’s been years since I read the book now, but I remembered thinking that the protagonist had too much good luck, both with the opposite sex and when facing travel issues. I realize that Kerouac wrote about a different era, but I still felt someone should represent the harder and harsher side of budget travel, especially from the point of view of poor or middle classed travelers.
Furthermore, I can remember scoffing at a play I saw in New York called Passing Strange. I think that was in 2008 or 2007 and the play represented a Californian who went to Europe. What I scoffed at the most was his fantastic luck as well. Like he goes to Amsterdam looking for a place to stay and I think someone who worked in a coffee shop or something just bought into the guy’s problems and gave him a set of keys to an apartment. I mean I don’t mean to say that you can’t have good luck when you’re traveling, but I just don’t think there’s been a balance between representing the adventure of travel and the hardship of it and that’s what I wanted to represent in the “Back to Alberta, Back to Edmonton” series. The main character is not someone who bounces from grand scene to grand scene, having the time of his life, rather there’s plenty of hardship mixed in with the romance, adventure, and growth.
As for choosing fiction as the medium when the story is loosely based on my life. A main reason is privacy, whether privacy of an individual or of businesses. Writing a biography could bring people I know into the limelight, people that don’t want to be written about. So I wrote fiction, so that I could take the artistic license to change the protagonist from me into someone that doesn’t exist. There’s truth in theme in the series, I think, but in terms of actual events, not really. Things are out of context, manipulated, and changed and I think that’s alright as long as you let your audience know you’re writing fiction. I hope that makes sense.
On that matter, I also wanted to keep real-life businesses largely out of the series in hopes of avoiding blowback. For example, if I hated a hotel or some other company in real life and I wrote an e-book that represented the reasons behind the hatred then the real-life owner might take exception. In writing fiction, I can change the context or venue and I think that’s important for avoiding conflicts.
2) When I checked out your book out on Amazon.com, I looked at your writer’s profile. I see this is not the first book you have published. You had several non-fiction books about travel, the hotel business, Facebook, advice on online writing, and golf. How many books have you written? How long have you been writing, and why switch from non-fiction to fiction?
Well, I don’t remember writing about golf, but you might be thinking of a tennis e-book I wrote. I think my total e-books is at 15 and they are largely short publications, below 20K words. I‘ve been writing for income since March 2009 when I was offered a contract to be the Head Editor of Crunchsports.com. That contract lasted until July of 201 and it ended for reasons that I don’t wanna get into if you don’t mind.
The switch from non-fiction to fiction is largely just because I felt it was time to write something about my backpacking days and fiction was the approach I chose to do that.
3) How did you choose your book cover? When I first saw the book cover, I thought it was a travel book, not a fictional adventure. Why this cover, and not one that shows it is a fictional story, rather than biographical or travel advice?
I admit the cover is crap and that’s something I need to address. I know how to write, but the artistic cover design is a weakness of mine. I just used Amazon’s do-it-yourself e-book covers hoping that people would pay more attention to the preview as opposed to the cover but that’s probably more wishful thinking than anything. The cover is a matter that I need to pay more attention to and I guess your question of that highlights the need.
4) So would you classify your fictional story as a novel and adventure story? Would the genre be mainstream, or something else? Are there any other fictional works out there similar to yours?
I don’t know if I could call it a novel yet just because it doesn’t exist in print. It’s an ebook. I could call it an “adventure story” for sure because there’s adventure in it. For genre, I selected “Coming of Age” of the Amazon genres because of the representation of growth through experience. This work is unlike anything I have ever written before.
5) Shane, in one article you mentioned “Travel Realism”, briefly tell us about that.
That has to do with what I mentioned before about “On the Road” and “Passing Strange.” I could call those works, “Travel Fantasy” because I don’t think that there’s enough representation of the hardships of travel. I’ll explain with reference to Passing Strange, a musical I saw on or off Broadway – I don’t remember – with a travel-friend from Germany.
The protagonist is looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam and, in what has to be considered INCREDIBLE LUCK, he bumps into a woman who lives in Amsterdam and her roommate is out of town. Not only that, but she’s willing to give a total stranger keys to her apartment while her roommate is gone and that solves the protagonist’s problem. Here’s a look at the lyrics from a song called “Keys” from Passing Strange.
“Hey, Mr. L.A, I know a place that you can stay
Right next door to here is a nice flat, yeah, it’s OK
The roommates gone to Spain,
The place is sloppy, it’s insane
But, the sun shines through big windows, only Dracula would complain
No one’s ever there, you’ll have your peace,
There’s a view and a bottle of gin
She’s back in, oh, two or three weeks
The room would be all yours ‘til then
So here’s the keys…”
I scoff at things like that. I mean have you ever been in a strange and foreign city without a hotel reservation booked? You might have trouble with clearing customs for starters, but even if you get past that point, it’s not going to be a cushy ride for you. Bumping into someone that wants to help a transient, strikes me as odd and improbable. Anyways, I’m not going to say that it can’t happen so I can’t call it unrealistic, but I feel like there’s a disproportionate amount of good luck represented in works that represent travel. I could call that “Travel Fantasy” because it’s more about imagining how things should be or could be.
“Travel Realism” I mean as a contrast to what I’ve read for travel novels or seen in travel/adventure movies. If my character, whose name is Shane Christopher, showed up somewhere without a hotel reservation booked, he’d be in for one hell of a rude awakening. Someone wouldn’t just walk up to him and solve his problems for him. He’d end up sleeping somewhere he didn’t exactly wanna be. In fact something like this happens in Part 2 of the series.
6) What is “your” best piece of advice for people who want to travel, but cannot really afford it?
Speaking as a man in his late 30s, I would say don’t travel until you *could* afford it. If you asked the question ten years ago, I’d say rack up a credit card. There’s pros and cons either way, of course.
My total best piece of advice would be to read my series because I think it’s educational for someone who is thinking about backpacking. Also, I could recommend a movie called “Into the Wild” with Emile Hirsch. I think that movie has insight into how difficult budget travel can be and I am a fan of it.
7) When is the next part of this series due out?
I have Parts 1 and Parts 2 out right now. Part 3 I could put out at any time, but I think I will upload it in June 2014. Right now, I am looking at marketing the first parts more and more.
8) Do you have a writing routine, or ritual that you go through, before you sit down to write?
Not really, no. Nothing I can think of.
9) If you were trying to help other aspiring writer to publish, what would you tell them?
Publishing is pretty easy nowadays. I guess I could offer some tips on publishing with Amazon. The formatting is tricky, so I could see how someone new to the site might need some advice with that. Also, I would recommend putting a lot of thought into your description before uploading your e-book because changes aren’t necessarily done in a timely manner.
10) Can you give three things you should never do, when traveling?
Be careful around locals when you go to a second or third world country. I know that might sound harsh, but too many have been out to get me. I’m thinking about time spent in Cuba more than anything as I stayed in Old Havana for a week back in 2008. I had so many Cubans approach me, treat me cordially, and then try to swindle me. How exactly? I’ll get to it in later parts of the series. But not trusting the locals in poor countries is a tip I would give for sure and it’s one I lament giving because meeting people is a big part of travel.
Second tip. Sometimes we think of the USA as a grandiose land of luxury. Maybe TV has something to do with that. My advice is to never go to a city in the United States, unless you know where the ghetto or rough part of town is. That could certainly apply to other countries as well but a lot of my travel experience is in the USA so perhaps that’s why I’m stressing it. You could end up on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks pretty quickly in America as every major metro-area seems to have an area that is absolutely destitute. I represent something like this in the second part of my series as well.
Thirdly, never cross the border in the company of someone you don’t know very well. If you make a friend while travelling, you might not know who he/she is exactly. The last thing you want is to cross a border with someone you barely know who has a joint in his/her possession. I think we could imagine things turning ugly for you pretty quickly, even if you aren’t really doing anything wrong yourself.
11) Can you tell us three things, different from above, that readers will learn, or get out of reading your book?
Firstly, I’ll make a general comment. My readers will learn not to romanticize budget travel.
Secondly, they will learn the value in planning ahead, and the consequences of when you don’t. I used to like having an open schedule, but I learned over time to plan trips instead.
Thirdly, they’ll learn a lot about the world from the point of view of an Albertan male in his 20s. The series is about travel but, as the title suggests, it’s also about going home.
12) What did you find most difficult about writing this adventure story?
There are some episodes in the series where I do not draw on personal experience. For example, my character goes to Alcatraz even though I never went there myself. Representing the historical jail took research and that’s more difficult than just drawing upon experience or memory.
13) What is the one thing you learned about yourself, and writing, in writing this story?
That my e-book cover design skills are a little lacking. 🙂
14) What is it you feel you still need to learn?
The marketing side of things are skills that I need to acquire. I mean the people that have reviewed part 1 of the series have been clear in their approval of the e-book. Presently there are only two reviews out, but both of them are five stars and both of them ask where the next part of the series is. However, unless I can learn how to reach a broader audience, this publication could sit in cyberspace without a large volume of people reading it and that bothers me.
Thank you Shane for taking the time to do this interview. I wish you the best of luck with your book series launch. Shane Lambert’s e-book ““Back to Alberta, Back to Edmonton” Vol.1 at Amazon: links to purchase the ebook:
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BE SURE KEEP WATCH FOR VOL. 2 & VOL. 3 OF THIS SERIES
Shane Lambert, an Edmontonian and a graduate of the University of Alberta, is a 37-year old writer who is based in western Canada. Topics Lambert writes about include hospitality management, tennis, and fiction.
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