Don George, Kim Mance & Jim Benning at TBEX '10
For anyone who attended TBEX '10 in NYC this June, the memory of the "Travel Writing: Upping Your Game" panel which kicked off our Saturday morning session wouldn't be the same without Don George.
Formerly the global editor for Lonely Planet, Don has set a standard and literally wrote the book on travel writing
He's also chair of the well-regarded 19th annual Book Passage Travel, Food & Photography Conference
this August. Travel writers and photographers will gather for two days in Corte Madera, California to learn from a stellar lineup of faculty during intensive sessions, which Don's likened to "four day summer camp".
It's not cheap. But as Jen Leo of the LA Times
recently told me, "it's the place to be if you take travel writing seriously and want to make it your career".
I emailed Don a few days ago to get his thoughts on Book Passage and here's what he had to say:KM: Who comes to Book Passage? DG:
The Book Passage conference attracts people who love travel writing and photography, who want to improve their craft and network with editors, agents and publishers as well as fellow writers and photographers – and have a good time sharing their passion! Participants range from beginners to well-published, and the conference offers different workshop subjects and tracks, from writing and blogging for the web (with Jim Benning and Jen Leo) to personal essay and memoir (with David Farley) to an advanced intensive workshop (with Tim Cahill), so that people can choose the track that best fits their experience and goals. These goals range from creating a compelling blog to writing or shooting for newspapers and magazines to producing a book. The conference runs from Thursday to Sunday, Aug. 12-15, and the schedule offers six different morning workshops, dozens of afternoon panels, evening events such as readings, photo shows and on-stage conversations and lots of time for informal socializing. KM: How can the investment made in Book Passage payoff for aspiring and developing travel writers? DG:
The conference’s track record is pretty amazing. Every year at least a few graduates start getting published in newspapers, magazines and web sites as a direct result of lessons learned and contacts made at the conference; in fact, a number of this year’s “faculty” members started out as “students” at the conference. One of my favorite conference success stories occurred a few years ago when an aspiring writer had a dinner conversation on the first day of the conference with a book publisher and by the last day of the conference they’d signed a contract. In short, over four days, travel writers get to learn from and interact with, both formally and informally, some of the best writers, editors, agents and publishers in the business; the learnings cover the spectrum from insider publishing secrets to on-the-road tips to amazing tales from far-flung places. Sitting on the Book Passage piazza under the stars, listening to Tim Cahill talk about the time he made dinner for headhunters in Papua New Guinea is one of many unforgettable moments. The conference is exhilarating for everyone, and every year many, many people tell me the conference has changed their lives. KM: What is the single most favorite memory you have from a past Book Passage event? DG:
Watching Tim Cahill, Pauline Frommer, John Flinn, Jim Benning, Amanda Jones, Jen Leo and Spud Hilton – among many others -- croon karaoke on Saturday night is a memory that will never fade. But every year produces some amazing memories: Isabel Allende talking about falling in love with the Amazon rainforest, Pico Iyer exquisitely exploring the essence of Japan, Robert Holmes narrating an amazing evening showcase of his best photos. This year we’ll be joined by writer Carl Hoffman, LA Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm, and a banquet of food writers, bloggers and photographers including Tyler Florence, Amy Sherman and Georgeanne Brennan, so I expect the conference will concoct some delicious moments again. KM: Window or aisle? DG:
On this particular flight, the view is amazing – so I’m thinking window. But you don’t want to just look: The whole point of the conference is to immerse yourself in this four-day celebration of travel and food writing and photography, so in that sense, aisle may get you closer to the action. I’d say bring a friend and swap seats in mid-flight…..
The conference begins August 12th and there are a few spots left, so don't waste any time, register now