Home » Author Interviews » Interview with Alistair McGuiness, author of ‘Round the Bend’

Interview with Alistair McGuiness, author of ‘Round the Bend’

Alistair McGuinessAlistair 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.

For More Information

About the Book:

From the Amazon to the Andes and Kilimanjaro to Cape Town. This adventure story captures the reality and exhilaration of leaving home to undertake Gap Year travel in South America, Africa, Fiji and Australia.

Round the Bend 2Three things happened simultaneously. The lioness charged, Alistair fled across the parched savannah and his wife screamed for him to run faster. Stuffed deep inside his tattered rucksack was a guidebook containing advice on what to do in wildlife emergencies, which he planned to read if he survived the next thirty seconds. Future plans to climb Kilimanjaro, teach English in the Amazon and live in Australia were temporarily forgotten as he turned to face the pouncing lioness, thinking back to the words of advice from his mother-in-law. “Don’t do anything silly, and look after Francine.” From deep underground in a remote Bolivian mine to the scorched Australian outback, Round the Bend is an adventure travel story. It explores the turbulence of redundancy, the excitement of travel, the anguish of leaving home and the challenges of starting a new life in Australia.

For More Information

  • Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, a Search for Life After Redundancy is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

It was a few weeks after my dad died, when it suddenly dawned on me that I would no longer hear his stories again. He had been a Merchant Seaman and had tales to tell about all four corners of the globe. After his funeral, I decided to convert my travel diaries into an adventure travel story. Now our two children can read the many adventures of their mum and dad across South America and Africa!

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

Yes this is my first published book. To be truthful I haven’t submitted to a traditional publisher yet, as finding an agent seems near impossible these days. As soon as I made the decision to become Indie, I knew it was imperative to use professionals for proof reading, editing and book cover design. My hope is that I will be able to prove to a traditional publisher that my story is worth investing in. This means that it is error free, has fabulous reviews, a compelling book cover, and a genre wanting to purchase it.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live in South West Australia. If you visit between June and August it could be wet and windy, so I suggest a beachside café with a cosy log fire. If you arrive in spring and summer, we could head to a local winery, to enjoy cool drinks in a sensational bush land setting. If you prefer to talk while walking, we could go to the local cliffs and watch whales in the bay as we trek along the coastal footpath.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two young children. We enjoy bike rides, bush walks, tennis and visits to the beach. On a personal note, I enjoy travel writing, soccer coaching, kayaking and mountain biking.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I have just spent three years working in a remote iron ore mine site in western Australia as a business improvement facilitator. It was during this period that I began to write each evening for an hour. I have been a few times for magazine travel articles, but have a long way to go until I give up my day job!

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

A central character that you really believe in.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

Now you’re testing me as that was 39 years ago! From what I remember, I wanted to discover nomadic tribes and venture to faraway places. I used to play in the local woods, dreaming of one day making it to the Amazon jungle.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

“Within an hour we were sitting on the deck of a modern catamaran gliding across the Indian Ocean towards the low shoreline of Zanzibar. It was hidden by a low band of ivory clouds shimmering in the late afternoon heat.

For centuries, travellers and explorers have been drawn to the labyrinth of crumbling walls and cobbled streets seeking fortune or adventure. The ancient town reeked of history. It was here that Livingstone stayed before his trek into the African interior, in search of the source of the Nile. Arabs have been using the island as a trading base for centuries, growing and exporting exotic spices of nutmeg, pepper and cloves to the four corners of the world.

If ever a tourist needed a map, Stone Town is the place for it. The epicentre is a hive of twisted paths, entwined with dark alleys, hidden pathways and unnamed cobbled roads. Even with a map the humidity, heat and distractions means that you will probably get lost. Stone Town moves at a different pace to the western world. Ambling slowly through the winding passages we came across intricate doorways carved with meticulous care but now fading with age.

Houses and apartments were alive with laughter as the zesty aroma of spices drifted in the balmy night air. Our aim was to exit this maze at the quay side, where each evening, local fisherman set up food stalls. More by luck than logic we ventured through a narrow unlit alleyway and found ourselves at the water’s edge. The first kerosene lamps were just being lit by the vendors, throwing pale amber light across the ancient harbour walls. We shared our meal of succulent king prawns, grilled kingfish and fresh chapattis with an extremely healthy cat. Anchored dhows clinked gently in the bay, waiting patiently for dawn.”

What’s next for you?

I am working on the follow up to Round the Bend, which is due for release in January 2015. After twelve years of living and working in Australia, I have written a series of short stories about life Down Under.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. I blog about all things travel and life in Australia at www.thecreativenomad.co

Happy travels,

Alistair

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