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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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.
Three 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.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
I was deep underground in a remote Bolivian mine when I first came up with the idea of writing the book. My wife and I had just managed to run for cover from an unplanned explosion that ripped through the labyrinth of dark passageways. When we eventually emerged into fresh air and safety, it became clear that our adventure travels would make an engaging story.
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
The hardest part for me, was coming to terms with the feedback from the professional editing. There are interesting events that I wanted to keep, but for multiple reasons they were discarded. As for any tips to pass on, there are a few I can recommend if you want to write about travel.
1) Get up early (best light and you see the place awaken).
2) Don’t always follow the pack (other travelers and guide books).
3) Look for an alternative angle (for photos or viewing an activity).
4) Be considerate of cultures and always act politely (you are a visitor passing through).
5) Get involved with the locals. Forget the 5 star hotels and stay with a family. You will learn so much more about the places you are visiting.
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
I decided to reverse engineer in the hope that successfully self-publishing will get me in front of an agent. My logic, if that is what you would call it, was to hire professionals for editing, proof-reading, and cover design. With these essential foundations in place, I located a professional self-publishing company in the UK and within weeks it was available in print and online.
During July 2014, the eBook became an Amazon best seller, reaching number 5 in travel guides and has had positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. My next goal is to share this news with agents that are looking for travel books!
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
Marketing is the key to success and the amount that is required has certainly surprised me. You have to believe in your story and be passionate about sharing, without being too pushy. I believe that the best form of marketing is finding your tribe and becoming a worthy advocate. This means reading similar books in your genre, reviewing them, helping others, and most importantly of all, writing the follow up book.
Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?
I am working on the follow up to round the bend. After twelve years of living and working in Australia I have picked the best moments and written a series of standalone short stories. These include an outback adventure with an Aboriginal guide and getting caught up in an Australian land rush, which at the time seemed akin to the Oklahoma land grab of 1889.
Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?
I post weekly about all things travel and life in Australia at www.thecreativenomad.co
When not writing blogs, I scroll through search engines looking for inspirational people. I love the talks and videos on the Ted site and spend too long on YouTube watching 80’s music clips.
Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
There is adventure everywhere. You don’t need be in darkest Peru or climbing Kilimanjaro. While I write this I am overlooking the Indian Ocean. Some people are happy to walk their dog on the beach, others are kayaking and in the distance I can see two fishermen preparing their bait and rods. By the day’s end they will all have a story to tell.
Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?
As a teenager I was very shy. During high school I kept below the radar and rarely made a fuss. There was one poster, pinned to the walls of the stairway, which constantly tugged at my conscience. The words were, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It took me over 30 years to take heed of those words.
After the Bolivian mine explosion I realised that the adventure trip was the lemons. By the time I had rafted the Zambezi and been chased by lions, I knew that the lemonade would be my book.