Summer vacations are for rest and relaxation, but for travel writers, vacations bring inspiration for writing and research. They relish the opportunity to explore, interview, and record what they are experiencing.
For retired Minnesota attorney Tom Mattson, a lifelong passion for travel naturally led to writing two remarkable books that showcase his favorite memories and photographs from many of the 75 countries he has visited. Today, these lively travel books from Dudley Court Press continue to attract new readers – and also inspire budding travel writers to share their own unique journeys.
The Other Worlds: Offbeat Adventures of a Curious Traveler (2020) takes readers on a youthful journey “around the world in 400 days,” and more recently on long sojourns in China, Japan, Vietnam, Latin America, and even two weeks in the tiny kingdom of Bhutan. With his sense of humor, intuitive eye for surprising details, and gift for making new friends, Mattson makes us armchair tourists feel as if we were right beside him in each story.
Meeting Strangers, Making Friends: More Surprising Travel Adventures from the Minnesota Storyteller (2021) introduces readers to “average” people from around the world – all of whom turn out to be far from ordinary. Starting in South America, Central America, and Cuba and moving on to Africa and Asia, Mattson learns about history, culture, and customs directly from the people. He also includes stories about people he met during seven annual motorcycle trips across the western U.S. and Canada. It is clear that he has the same curiosity and affection for all the characters he encounters, regardless of where they live.
To learn more and order these books, visit tomsglobe.com.
We caught up with Tom at his home in the woods and lake country of Minnesota to get his perspectives.
What was your greatest challenge in writing your travel books?
My most important goal was to put out a “good product,” and not to focus on potential sales or fame. I knew from life experience that doing a job well requires work and time. When I’m creating a written product, this means revising the writing many times. “The secret to writing is re-writing,” Tom Hanks recounted a successful author telling him. I was fortunate to have an excellent editor go over my manuscripts once I couldn’t make them any better. And presto, she did, just like Dudley Court Press publisher Gail Woodard soundly predicted.
What has been most rewarding about publishing your work?
It has been very rewarding to realize that the stories and anecdotes I’d related to people or written over a number of years were now in a widely available, permanent form. That’s what they’d been asking for: a book! The comments I receive from readers or see on Amazon are delicious icing on the cake.
I’ve told twins Alyson and Nick, two of the youngest relatives I have, that I’m giving them gift-wrapped presents with a note attached, “Do not open until your birthday in 2060.” In that coming year, they’ll discover my two books that they’ll already have read decades earlier. I hope they’ll loan these pristine-condition books to others, gift them to a grandchild, or maybe donate them to a library. Knowing about this happening long after I’m gone is a reward for me today!
What are three tips for aspiring travel writers?
As a curious traveler, you can discover surprises galore and experience thrills others may not even dream about!
Record these magic moments in the manner of your choosing. I may get out of bed at 3 a.m. to scribble down an idea that has just burst into my semi-consciousness – and again at 3:15 a.m.!
Let stories come to you as you travel and start working them up right away. Many of my stories originated when they floated gently into my head as I walked the streets or byways of the world.
Prize and develop your curiosity everywhere.
And remember, when you walk out any door in the world, even if it’s the door to your own home, you’re traveling! Take the seconds, maybe minutes, to draw in the air, the sky, and the experiences. I greatly appreciate what one reader from West Virginia wrote, “It sounds like Tom lives in a magical place—Minnesota. Certainly, he is one who can see the magic around him, everywhere.” I can’t wait ‘til I walk out the next door.
Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a contemporary publishing company, we help thoughtful people write and publish books for all sorts of reasons. For more information about our Developmental Editing, Coaching, Consulting and Professional Self-Publishing options, please reach us at +1-520-329-2729 or Info@DudleyCourtPress.com.
We’ve recently launched our latest program, Memoir Writing for Non-Writers. This comprehensive ten-week course helps you turn your memories into a compelling memoir.
– Gail Woodard