Alistair McGuiness grew up in the UK in a town called Luton, which lies 30 miles north of London. Family holidays were spent in County Donegal, Ireland, staying with his Grandmother in their large family home where she had once raised fifteen children.
It was these annual trips that made Alistair realise his Great Uncles were Seanachaís (Irish story tellers). After a few pints of Guinness in the family bar, brothers Barney and Francis would entertain the evening crowds with their recitations of life in rural Ireland. As their rustic voices carried across the crowded room, Alistair would watch and listen as the animated tales mesmorised the overseas visitors.
44 countries and four decades later, Alistair now calls Australia home and in the tradition of Great Uncles Barney and Francis, loves to recite stories. He lives between the beach and the forest with his wife, two young boys and a fun puppy called Peppi. After decades of adventurous escapades Alistair is calming down and has decided to write more and bungee jump less!
He works as a Business Improvement Specialist and has just spent three years as a fly in fly out employee at a remote iron ore mine site in Western Australia. As a trainer and facilitator, he has worked in Europe and Australia and is passionate about helping people and organisations to become successful.
A fun family day for Alistair would be fishing from the local jetty with his boys, taking the puppy for a walk along the beach at sunset and cooking a scrumptious curry in the evening with his wife.
An ideal adventurous day for Alistair would be a days walking and scrambling in the Lake District with friends, followed by a visit to a village pub nestled deep in the English countryside.
His latest book is the adventure travel, Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, A Search for Life After Redundancy.
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What made you decide to become a published author?
Storytelling seems to run in my family. My Great Uncles were Seanachaís (Irish storytellers) and as a child, I always enjoyed listening to their animated tales about rural life in Donegal. I feel very proud of their talents and felt it was time for someone in the family to write a story instead of telling one!
Would you consider your latest book, round the bend, to be a one of a kind? How so?
The diverse amount of adventure travel books available to readers these days can be daunting. Every jungle, mountaintop and remote village seems to be inhabited by travel writers who are eager to capture their escapades in a book. In such a competitive genre the standout for me, is when a book gives you an entertaining insight to the landscape, the journey and the local people encountered along the way.
Round the Bend captures the emotional turmoil of redundancy, the thrill of safari, the solitude of long distance travel and the apprehension of moving from one country to live in another. I wouldn’t say it is one of a kind, but in terms of adventure travel, it is has been described as inspirational.
Where is your writing sanctuary?
I live in the south west of Australia, in a small coastal town called Busselton and have found a quirky beachside café that overlooks the Indian Ocean. Being a part time writer, early mornings are my time to scribe and the ever-changing moods of the bay are a constant source of inspiration. The coffee is sensational too!
What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?
You shouldn’t scrimp on professional help. It is essential that you use proof readers, editors and cover designers to ensure your book is as good as it possibly can be. You shouldn’t try and write a book that will appeal to everyone as this is near impossible. In my opinion, the narrower you make the field, the higher the likelihood of finding your tribe.
What inspires you?
The people that never give up, no matter what obstacles bar their way. We all have dreams and aspirations, but to make these come true requires passion and tenacity. I learnt to switch off the television for weeks on end, in order to get my book completed. It’s all about sacrifices.
What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?
I learnt so much, especially the amount of book marketing required before and after the launch. Early reviews on Amazon are essential and this comes down to having a well thought out strategy including beta readers, an author platform (blog), a sign up page and plenty of buzz around the launch. Authors that sit back and wait for the publisher to do the marketing are in for a shock!
Why do you love to write about travel?
When I travel to a new country, the first thing I enjoy doing is going for a run at sunrise. During this magical hour you see, smell and hear things that are lost as the sun climbs higher. I enjoy capturing snippets of everyday life in faraway places, especially when they can be shared in a quirky way to a global audience.
You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book. What’s the first ingredient?
I think the first ingredient should be a zesty character that the reader believes in and wants to succeed, no matter what the odds.
What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?
During the three years it took me to complete, I estimate that I wrote the book from 30 different places. These range from Greek Islands, the Australian outback, an English castle, beachside cafes, historic English pubs, an Irish hill side and from 38,000 feet somewhere over India. My mission was to write for an hour a day, no matter where in the world I was.
Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?
The book is exactly that. It is ten months of adventure travel crammed into a few hundred pages. From deep underground in a Bolivian mine, to teaching English in the Amazon and scaling Kilimanjaro to stand on the roof of Africa. They were all real experiences and I have the scars to prove it!
Aside from writing, what’s your passion?
Spending time with my wife and children, exploring remote areas of Australia, kayaking, playing tennis and coaching a local soccer team (as I’m now getting too injury prone to play).
What’s next for you?
The follow up to Round the Bend is due out in early 2015 and this will be a series of short stories about Australia. Children’s writing is something I am keen to try, so there will be plenty of coffee being enjoyed at the beachside café while I work on these projects. I blog about travel and everyday life in Australia at www.thecreativenomad.co