Travelling and Storytellers – interview with Alice Griffin (3 March 2010)

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Introduction

Again, I asked Debbie Jenkins for help to interview people. She suggested I contact Alice. I looked at Alice’s site and I realised that this was a warm-hearted storyteller I really wanted to interview. I contacted Alice with my request and, without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Alice Griffin …


Aneeta: Alice, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Alice: Thank you for asking me. It’s truly a privilege to be invited to your wonderful virtual home!

Aneeta: Please tell me a little about yourself – where were you born, where did you grow up, what do you do for a living and where do you live now?

Alice: I was born in the North Yorkshire countryside, England, 34 years ago, but from the age of 8 I lived in a city in the South of England, not far from London. Throughout the years I remained in the city but my love of travel saw me jetting off here and there, always coming back to this base. Eventually I settled with my husband, Scott, our daughter, Isabella, and our dog, Milla. However, two years ago we decided that we needed a longer-term lifestyle change so we gave up our main source of income, sold our family home and packed up to travel around France, Spain and Portugal with a camper and no particular place to go. Isabella was just one when we left.

We had a fabulous time travelling around with no plan, experiencing different ways of life, mixing with inspiring people and certainly for our daughter, the 16 months we were away gave her what we feel was the best start in life. To see her running around freely with dust in her hair, swimming in rivers with Milla alongside, picking olives in Spain, playing with horses in Portugal; it was truly wonderful. But late last summer we decided we needed a little stability and my fond childhood memories eventually brought us back to England, and North Yorkshire.

For 7 months we have enjoyed exploring the rugged coastline and wild moors blanketed in purple heather, but we have quickly realised that life within the four walls of a house and all that goes with it seems unsuitable after our journey, so this summer we have decided to embark on a new adventure. It has always been a dream of ours to explore the English countryside from the inland waterways so in just a few weeks we will be stepping aboard our first boat to do just this.

As a full-time mum and writer I am lucky that I can work from anywhere and I’m certainly excited about penning my second book, Travellers’ Tales, with a view over water.

Aneeta: Before we talk about your book, tell me, please, a little about freelance career – what kind of articles do you write and where are they published?

Alice: I believe that my professional career stemmed from a childhood passion for scribbling about everything I saw and felt in an array of notebooks. In my early twenties I wrote to (and was rejected by) numerous publications until finally I was asked to write a few articles for a local magazine. I jumped at the chance and then took these printed examples with me on a tour of London, posting them with a covering letter into every magazine and newspaper office I could find. I didn’t receive a single reply, but my passion for writing kept driving me until a chance meeting in 2001 led to me landing a job writing for a UK-based tourist guide. I was beside myself with excitement at the opportunity to combine my two huge loves – travel and writing – and spent 2002 travelling worldwide and having the time of my life.

After this experience ended due to personal reasons I worked as a graphic designer and copywriter during the day and continued on my struggle to find freelance work in my free time. It wasn’t until I set off on my family road trip in 2008 that I actually started to secure more regular travel commissions. I have since written for and appeared in Spain magazine, the Spanish Sun Newspaper, Real Travel, Dogs Today and Babyworld. I also write a regular travel column for Mumsense magazine and I’m very excited at my new involvement with US-based travel website, Transitions Abroad.

Sometimes I think I was born with a pen in my hand and a world map tucked under my arm, so to be able to combine these two loves has been wonderful. However, I do also write a regular column for the Women’s pages of a newspaper as well as anything from book and film reviews to articles on green living for various other publications. My interests are varied, but mostly it is writing about my travels which gives me the greatest joy.

Aneeta: I understand, from your website, www.alicegriffin.co.uk, that you’ve written/published a book called Tales from a Travelling Mum. Please describe this book for me.

Alice: Tales from a Travelling Mum is the personal story of the travels I embarked on with my family during the first two years of my daughter’s life. Within its pages I talk about trips to France, Norway, Greece and Spain by plane, train, boat and car as well as the first part of our long-term road trip. I guess you could say it is a travelogue, but running throughout I have tried to include as much practical advice as possible to give other parents not only the ideas, but also useful tips to help them on their own travels with children. I also included stories from four very different travelling mums because I wanted to highlight that travel is open to all and can be adapted to suit your dreams as well as your budget.

Aneeta: Since your book is based on your own travels, can you please share the most memorable experience you’ve had so far?

Alice: I think it would be hard to pinpoint one memorable moment from all my travels, but if I were to pick something from our time travelling as a family then it would have to be our extended stay in a small village in the Andalucian mountains. To be embraced by a community and learn from them in the ways we did, was truly an experience. I still find myself longing for Almendra, a place I talk about in the book, and people who have read my book often mention how much they felt my love for this special place bursting out from the page.

Aneeta: Of all the elements of storytelling, which one did you use the most in your work?

Alice: I would like to think that I concentrate most of my time writing words that paint a scene so that the reader really feels that they are there with me. I want them to taste the food, see the sunset and truly be with me on my journey because this is the kind of writing I personally connect with. But then, to achieve this is an ongoing process I’m sure… but hopefully I’m getting there!

Aneeta: As you know, this website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give those who would like to venture into storytelling?

Alice: I don’t know if I’m really able to give advice, but I would always say that if you have a deep passion to share what you see around you and in your mind, then you really should develop your storytelling. Writing for me is about passion; it’s about not having a choice of whether or not to write, but writing simply because you can’t help it. I think that without this raw passion for the craft you might be disappointed because it takes a lot of hard work, door-slamming and perseverance to turn that passion into the career you dream of.

As for taking your stories from notebooks to a bigger audience, I would try to gently push your words out there by way of a blog or reading to friends and family and entering competitions. It is quite scary to open up your private world, but it is so important to listen to what comes back. Yes storytelling is about writing, but mostly it is about connecting with readers and listeners.

Aneeta: Alice, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Alice: Just thank you for having me, I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions and I hope I haven’t talked too much!

Aneeta:Alice, thank you.

Alice: Thank you.


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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