I’m delighted to welcome Tina from TripFiction today. She tells me that in the picture above she is practising what she preaches and reading ‘Early One Morning by Virginia Baily’, set in Rome, on the steps of San Giovanni in Laterano, in Rome Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature Tina. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi – I am Tina, one of the co-founders of TripFiction, a website devoted to finding books that are strong on locale, a resource for both actual and armchair travellers. I have always been a reader and keen traveller, and have always searched for books set in locale when I travel. When I am not working on the site, I work as a couple counsellor and psychosexual therapist, which is a contrasting occupation!
What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?
I liked Nancy Drew (remembering the frisson of anticipation, way back when, on a Saturday morning at the local library in South London, just hoping that the new novel in the series might be on the shelves).
I have a part German background, so I was brought up on Max and Moritz by Wilhelm Busch, stories of two rascals, beautifully illustrated. Emil and the Detectives, by Erich Kästner tells the story of young boy in the early 20th Century (well before my time, I hasten to add) who teams up with other young detectives, when his money goes missing on a train, set in Berlin; and that is probably where my unconscious love of books with an evocative locale started – Emil seemed to have such an exciting time!
Oh and why not…. I still remember Priscilla and the Prawn by Bryan Guinness and Roland Pym, a very watery adventure.
What made you want to start blogging?
Starting a blog was a natural adjunct to setting up the TripFiction website. In the early days we spent so many man-hours sourcing titles for the website and I was reading a lot of books that were strong on locale. But I wasn’t doing anything really significant with my thoughts, and so naturally a blog seemed to be the way forward.
It is on the blog that we can highlight books of our choice, choose recommended reads and invite guest bloggers to join us. We are so pleased that so many authors are happy to chat to us. Hearing from the writers themselves gives such an interesting insight and perspective; and we love to connect with people in the travel industry as they are such a good match for what we do. In fact we are just talking to a company specialising in travel guides – travel guides are such a good way to delve into any given place, check out the attractions, find the perfect restaurant and hotel; a novel set there is a unique way of getting under the skin of a place and enables a reader to see a location through the eyes of an author.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
At TripFiction we are fortunate to come across books that are both extremely popular but we often discover others, that are just as fabulous and read-worthy, but perhaps don’t have the exposure or monetary backing. Sometimes it is hard to understand why some books just don’t make it but at least we can do our bit to further the cause of a novel that deserves a wider readership. And chatting to authors is always a great feature to go with a book review.
I also like the creative process of putting my thoughts into words. Very often my musings on the “best” books are strangely the hardest to put into words. It’s always a challenge, sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it’s very hard!
Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!
The TripFiction blog is only part of the package. Essentially, we have created the database which now features over 1100 locations. It is a starting point but now we are actively looking for anyone and everyone to come and publish their reviews, and add books they come across that are evocative of locale. There are so many good books that will enable a reader to “travel” – whether through fiction, memoir, romance and more – and we have only touched the tip of the iceberg, there are thousands of books we need our followers to add of their own volition, thousands of books that are strong on setting just waiting to be discovered.
What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.
Oh, that is SO hard! I loved Eden Gardens by Louise Brown set in the last days of the Raj Calcutta; the Love in Provence Trilogy by Patricia Sands (oh, that already technically takes me over my quota of three!); and most recently Siracusa by Delia Ephron – it fulfils both my interests in that it combines vibrant settings (Rome and Sicily) with a good dollop of couple and family dynamics.
What are you reading just now?
I am reading Megan Bradbury’s “Everyone is Watching” – it’s an ode to New York City and to the movers and shakers who have formed it in recent times. Ever heard of Robert Moses? No, neither had I, but he was one of the drivers, a ruthless man of vision, who turned Manhattan into what it is today. It will not be everyone’s cup of tea but it has something about it that might well see it becoming a classic read of NYC. (Picador June 2016)
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Apart from by the pool on holiday (obviously!), I can read virtually anywhere, in short or long bursts, but ideally on a bed or lounger. When the children were younger, I would see them off to school, and then I made it part of my routine to return to bed for a ½ hour read. In this way, it became a reading routine when life was pretty full on and it meant that virtually everyday I was doing something for me (there speaks the true counsellor!)
How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?
Come to the TripFiction website www.tripfiction.com
And Social Media at:
We have just launched our YouTube Channel where we feature authors talking about their books and location – and we are always happy to hear from authors, publicists and publishers who would like to feature there.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
This is a very interesting question. I have racked my brain and I have come up with no-one I would really, really want to be, or even someone with whom I would want to swap places. When I read a novel, I am transported whether by locale, character or scenario, but as soon as I close that book, I am firmly rooted in my own life, whether it is a positive phase or a negative one. So I might neatly have to side-step this question and ponder it some more.