An interview with travel writer Holly

A character interview with Holly from the novel 
Sign of the Times by 
Susan Buchanan
Holly, travel writer extraordinaire and heroine of Sign of
the Times
, kindly agreed to be interviewed on one of her very favourite topics,

Q: Hi Holly, welcome and thanks for agreeing to talk to us
about your favourite topic.
H: Well, it’s no secret that I am a bit of a travel nut. I
have the best job in the world and thank my lucky stars every day for it. My
latest book, as yet untitled, is set in Tuscany, but I’d like to keep that
under wraps for now. I will say, however, that there are lots of stunning
places to be uncovered and you’ll be able to pick it up soon for around ten

Q? So can you tell us about your previous books?
H: Sure. Secrets of
the Neapolitan Riveria
was a bold step for me to take. I’d only recently
ventured into travel writing, but I caught a lucky break and the book and the
TV series that followed became a huge success. Here’s hoping the same is true
of the new one!  If you’re not familiar
with the area, the Neapolitan Riviera, an amazing region, contains some of the
most beautiful spots in Italy: the charming town of Pisa, with its leaning
tower; every art lover’s dream – the city of Florence; Sorrento and the amazing
Bay of Naples, as well as quite possibly Italy’s shadiest city – Naples.
Fortunately it has the saving grace of having absolutely amazing food.  Not to mention the fabulous city of Pompeii –
it really does humble you and I swear, when you are there, you really feel as
if you have travelled back through the centuries. Be warned, though, take water
with you.  I suffered from serious
sunburn and dehydration. You simply don’t realise how hot it is and because you
are so awestruck, time passes very quickly.

Q: So what does Secrets
of the Neapolitan Riviera
cover that other travel guides of that area
H: Well, naturally there will be some overlap with other
guides, but I spent over a year visiting villages there and when I visited the
cities, I didn’t focus on the Uffizi art
gallery in Florence or any of the other big hitters. I went behind the scenes,
to places where I wouldn’t find tourists. Often you only need to go two streets
away from the main drag and you will find restaurants overflowing with
Italians, with virtually no tourists – they’re not brave enough, as they’d need
to speak Italian.  Being fluent certainly
has its advantages!  Plus I didn’t
concentrate solely on places of interest, but gathered stories from street
vendors, old men sitting in squares, Italian mamme cooking. There’s a bit of historical info in the book, too,
about each area, very local to those villages which are covered in the book,
but done in a new and I hope interesting way.

Q: And Venetian Dreams
is your second book, soon to be launched? What can you tell us about that?
H: Well, it does what it says on the tin. Venice is a marvellous,
sprawling city, full of dark corners, slow-passing gondolas and water taxis
whizzing past. However, when you step out of the train station, you feel as if
time has stopped. Personally I can imagine it in the era when masked balls were
all the rage. The little island of Murano, where they blow the world-famous
glass is a stone’s throw away.  I
specifically went both in summer and winter. 
The humidity is so bad in winter, you can barely breathe from the
cold.  Just as well then that there are
some amazing cafés selling hot chocolate you could stand a spoon up in! It’s
kind of eerie in winter, though, but a brilliant time to explore and to get off
the beaten track.

Q: So you’ve done most of the research for your third book.
What’s next after that?
H: Well, there are three possibles to be covered immediately
after I finish writing up the third book. The first is the Greek islands,
something I am very excited about, as I have never been. I’ve been to 50
countries, but never to Greece. I’d be looking at it with a fresh pair of
eyes.  The second is a road trip of some
of the mountain ranges in the US, with a particular view at seeking out ex-pats
and how their lives have changed since they moved to the States, having them
show me around, shoot the breeze, so to speak. 
The third is somewhere I have been before and adored, but where I
haven’t yet discovered even a tenth of its potential, as back then I wasn’t a
travel writer –  Andalucia and its white
villages, in Spain. The pace of life is so slow, you feel as if you have been
taken back about 100 years. No-one rushes.

Q: And do you have somewhere you would like to visit and
perhaps write about that hasn’t been discussed yet with your publishers?
H: I’ve never been to Australia and I’ve only been to Toronto
in Canada, so for first world, long haul destinations, those would be my two
choices, but homing in only on a very small area, as they are both vast
countries. And I’d rather do those that haven’t been covered time and time
again. In Europe, I’d love to do Macedonia as I’ve heard it’s absolutely
beautiful and I’d also love to cover Transylvania and the Carpathian mountains
in Romania – I don’t know why but I’ve always been fascinated by Dracula!
Finally, again going long haul, but less discovered, I’d love to write about
and visit the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It’s the region between Azerbajian and
Armenia. I visited Azerbaijan several years ago and loved the history. I’d also
like to visit Tuvalu, in the South Pacific – I first came across it when I was watching
the Olympic Games opening ceremony about eight years ago!  I had to then go and look it up and since
then have watched several documentaries on it and read as many books as I can
lay my hands on. I don’t know – perhaps it’s being one of the smallest

Q : Well, thanks Holly for sharing all of that with us. I
wish you every success with your launch.
H: Thanks for having me. It’s been my pleasure.

Sign of the Times
people. Twelve star signs

Sagittarius – Holly, a travel writer, visits Tuscany to research her next book.
Seeking help when her car breaks down, she gets more than assistance when
Dario, a vineyard owner, puts temptation in her path. Disappearing without
explanation, he proves elusive. Bruised, Holly tries to put it behind her until
a chance encounter brings her feelings to the surface again.
Capricorn – Holly’s fiancé, Tom misses her while she is in Italy and turns to
an internet chat room for solace. His construction business is under threat,
but could foul play be at work?

Gemini – Holly’s sister, Lucy, a serial man-eater finally meets her match,
which puts her long-term relationship and career in jeopardy. Cheating she
discovers, can have devastating consequences.
Libra – Holly’s uncle Jack, an eminent prosecutor, juggles a difficult teenage
son with his high profile career and finds himself lacking. When his son’s
school work starts slipping, he decides he needs to take control, but it’s not
long before the balls all come tumbling down and Jack finds his family on the
wrong side of the law.

One event binds them all… 

Susan Buchanan is the author of contemporary romance: The Dating Game and Sign of the Times (featured today) and both books are available on Amazon. 

Susan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony.

3 thoughts on “An interview with travel writer Holly

  1. Oooooh, totally agree with Tracie. You even have a pen name for your travel guides:>) I am supposed to be working, but read through the whole itnerview with Holly and dreamt of my next trip to Italy. Thank Holly for letting me live vicariously for a while.


  2. What a fascinating interview, Sooz! I am not much of a traveler, so it's fun to learn about all of these wonderful places around the globe that I've never seen. I think you need to write and publish “Secrets of the Neopolitan Riviera” and “Venetian Dreams!”


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