Interview: Susan Farewell, Travel Writer and Author
We have a real treat for you today, dear readers!
Yes, I snagged an interview with Susan Farewell (woot!)
For those of you newbie travel writers who may not be familiar with Susan, she’s an accomplished and oft-published travel writer and author, a former travel editor and staff writer at The Condé Nast Publications in New York City, and the current Editor-in-Chief of FarewellTravels.com, an online boutique travel magazine.
Her work has appeared in numerous publications (and sibling websites) including Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Travel and Leisure, Outside, Metropolitan Home, McCall’s, Child and Bride’s. She also writes for newspapers such as The New York Times and The New York Post, newsletters (BottomLine Personal), and numerous in-flight and regional magazines as well as various websites.
Susan is also the author of one of my favorite books, one I read and re-read years ago when I was learning this business, “How to Make a Living As a Travel Writer“.
Without further ado, on to the good stuff!
1. What made you decide to become a travel writer?
I grew up traveling a lot with my family and always imagined having a career that would allow me to travel as an adult. As a child, I loved sending postcards from wherever we went and prided myself on writing clever things in the very small space on the back of the card. It nurtured the skills I would need most as a professional travel writer: the ability to observe my surroundings and effectively describe them in a very small number of words. Over the years, I started to read different travel writers and was very inspired to try travel writing of my own. When I graduated from college, I applied for a position of editorial travel assistant at The Condé Nast Publications in New York City and got the job. It led me down the magazine road of travel writing and just grew from there.
2. Describe the moment when you felt you’d finally “made it” as a travel writer?
Well, it might be easier to tell you about the many, many times I felt I was never going to make it as a travel writer. I really struggled for several years. Condé Nast was a tough place with very high standards and so much competition. But after a while, I started getting lots of letters and acknowledgments from co-workers and other colleagues and it helped with my confidence. I think when my first book, How to Make a Living as a Travel Writer was published, it was a major validating moment. That was a few years after I left Condé Nast.
3. What compelled you to write your book, “How To Make A Living as a Travel Writer”?
As I grew in the profession, I had all sorts of ideas about travel writing floating around in my mind. I was always thinking about how I would structure such a book. When I finally sat down to write the proposal and then the book, it took very little time. I had pre-written it in my head.
4. Any plans to update your book?
I would like to completely rewrite it to address new media. Travel Writing is a completely different animal today. But I feel it’s also changing so quickly right now, that anything I write now will be outdated very quickly. Things need to slow down first.
5. Describe a typical day in your life today.
There are no typical days in my life. I do see the profession as having three main prongs though. One is the travel and research, another is the writing and editing, and the other is promotion and marketing. I spend a lot of time going to press events in NYC and meeting with editors and writers. I can say that the best days of travel writing are the days I feel most productive. I can’t stand when I am pulled in other directions and can’t focus. Having stretches of time to just write are what I like best.
AND now for more great news……Susan has graciously agreed to author a monthly column here at TWE, with advice and tips for new and aspiring travel writers.
Her column – to be called “The Ambidextrous Travel Writer: Surviving in a New World” – will publish on the first Monday of each month, beginning in February. Don’t miss it!