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Joanne Harris Talks Writing, Food & Travel

October 30, 2011 in American literature, Contemporary Literature, Joanne Harris, Literary Movies, Queen Mary 2, Travel, Travel Writers

Courtesy of Joanne Harris/Leonardo Cendamo Photography

“Publication was never my initial objective,” admits British author Joanne Harris. “I kept writing because I liked it, and on some level I guess I had to do it… but when my first book was published, I was absolutely delighted. And better even than just being published, I was actually read by people,” she told Literary Traveler, laughing.

In case you are unfamiliar with Harris’ work (or deceived by her humble attitude), she is one of the most popular British writers living today. Though her most famous novel may well be Chocolat, which was made even more memorable by the film with Johnny Depp, she has also penned everything from young adult novels (Runemarks) to cookbooks (The French Kitchen).

Along with Bill Bryson, Joanne Harris was invited on board Cunard’s the Queen Mary 2 as part of their Literature & Liners series, where she spoke to the passengers about her two greatest passions: writing and food. After her book signing, we were able to sit down with Harris for a private interview—which we naturally recorded.

In this latest installment of Literary Traveler TV, Joanne Harris talks to our editors about the experience of traveling on such a grand old ship, how she became a writer, and perhaps most interestingly, her thoughts on the intersections between food, travel, and literature. “I think food has always been a popular theme in literature. I’ve been wrongly–but flatteringly—attributed this task of having brought food in fiction into popularity, but it’s not at all true. I think, with it’s link to travel, it’s also one of the most accessible ways to learn about another culture.”

Learn more about Joanne Harris and her literary musings by watching our video interview here. And for more Literary Traveler TV, please check out our YouTube channel.

Literary Traveler Talks to Bill Bryson

October 27, 2011 in American literature, Behind The Article, Bill Bryson, British literature, Contemporary Literature, Uncategorized

There are few writers who can so seamlessly marry information with a strongly absurdest sense of humor. Bill Bryson is one of those rare authors. Unlike the dry, factual essayists we read in school, Bryson’s books are not only sidesplittingly funny, but also deeply authoritative and observant.

As you might be able to tell, we have been reading Bryson for years, and admiring his singular style and voice. From the first book we picked up on the Appalachian Trail, the 1998 A Walk in the Woods to his wildly popular A Short History of Nearly Everything.

In 2010, while traveling across the Atlantic on the Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, Literary Traveler got to meet the famous writer. Bill was taking the cruise as a special guest for their Liners & Literature series. During this time, he had a few duties: relax, enjoy himself, and speak to the other passengers about his impressive career, his thoughts on Britain, and his unique views on writing and reading.

“Everybody likes books that are about them,” he observed during our interview. “My book about growing up in Iowa seemed to really resonate with Americans. The other book that did very well in America was A Walk in the Woods… but the book that sold in Britain was Notes on a Small Island. I suppose it’s natural that people are most attracted to something about them.”

He also revealed the genesis of his writing career. “My dad had a great collection of hardback books from the 1930s and 40s, and he had a lot of books by PG Wodehouse. He had books by people like James Thurgood, Robert Benchley, and S.J. Perelman—four really, really funny writers. I picked up these books when I was thirteen and fell in love with the idea of being able to use language as a way of making people laugh.”

To learn more about Bill Bryson, take a few minutes to watch our full interview with the author, shot on board the Queen Mary 2. Covering everything from baseball to the Brits, it’s the perfect way to get to know one of the most beloved humor writers living today. See the clip at Literary Traveler TV here.

Queen Mary 2: A Transatlantic Literary Tour

October 26, 2011 in Queen Mary 2, transportation, Travel, travel books, Travel Writers, Uncategorized

Courtesy of Cunard

Last summer, your editors at Literary Traveler were lucky enough to cross the Atlantic on the majestic and elegant Queen Mary 2. The week-long Transatlantic cruise offered most everything we overworked writers need—excellent food, plenty of rest and relaxation, and of course, a bit of literary stimulation.

The trip we attended on the grand old liner wasn’t your average cruise. Literary Traveler was invited to attend one of their Cunard Insights enrichment programs, the 2010 Literature and Liners trip, alongside influential authors like Kate Atkinson, John Berendt, Bill Bryson, and Joanne Harris. During our stay, we were able to attend Q&As with the authors, panel discussions, and book signings.

In order to better document the journey, we also brought our camera. To learn more about the Queen Mary 2—including details about its history, the various amenities available onboard, and the surprising attractions that draws thousands of passengers each year—take a look at our video on YouTube. And stay tuned for further details about the author discussions with Bill Bryson and Joanne Harris.

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