I read Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. 2012) (my review) and fell in love, with the book, the writing, the characters, and travelling. I’ve always like going places, but Wanderlove just reinvigorated that love, as well as reminding me to open my eyes to the pleasures and wonders around me.
So, here, an interview with the author of one of my Favorite Books of 2012:
Kirsten: I wanted to write this epic backpacking book, featuring some of my favorite places. That’s really about it. I’d already written the first version of Like Mandarin, and shelved it; I’d traveled once through Central America, and was heading back again with two of my best friends. I fell for the backpacking lifestyle hard, and couldn’t believe there wasn’t much out there in the way of YA books that featured it. So I decided to write one myself.
Liz B: I know from your blog you’re a backpacker; was there a particular moment or trip when you realized you were “traveler” and no longer a “tourist”?
Kirsten: I love this question. I wish I had a great answer for it. Maybe when we decided to go to Guatemala on a whim. It was my first backpacking trip at age 20: six weeks in Central America with my then-boyfriend/now-husband. I’d planned out the whole trip in advance, with only minor flexibility.
But on the boat to Belize, we met a Swedish guy who’d been traveling from Colombia up the Central America isthmus. He told us his all-time favorite destination was Guatemala – specifically, a place called Lake Atitlan – and couldn’t believe we weren’t going there. We realized we had a few extra days, and decided, why not? It turned out to be one of our favorite places, too. I still think many of the most serendipitous travel tips come from strangers in passing.
Kirsten: Everybody needs several pairs of earplugs, because you never know when there will be roosters. A blank sketchbook or journal; because even if you don’t draw or write, there will be things you want to jot down. And a daypack, or smaller backpack, for hiking, day trips, and keeping important stuff close when your main backpack is riding on top of a chicken bus.
As for what travelers don’t need: I usually recommend travelers bring an underclothes moneybelt, and I often do, but I haven’t really used the thing in years. Nowadays, Traveler’s Checks are pretty much obsolete. Lastly, I despise those synthetic chamois travel towels. They’re just silly, as are a lot of the bells and whistles travel stores try to sell you.
Liz B: What is your favorite location in Wanderlove?
Kirsten: It’s a toss-up between Lake Atitlan and Laughingbird Caye. The latter is based on a real-life island called Caye Caulker, which is where I married my husband a few years ago.
Liz B: And was there a place you love that you wished you could have included but had to leave out?
Kirsten: To be honest, Bria’s journey didn’t really vary from my original plan for her. In the first version of Wanderlove, she hiked a Guatemalan volcano, which is where she first saw Rowan and Starling. That’s about it. However, there are so many other destinations in Central America I would love to write about. Sharing places I adore with readers – and having them fall in love too (and start Googling airfares!) – has been both magical and humbling.
Liz B: Thanks so much!
Photo of author from author. In Central America, of course!