My guest on Travel Thursday this week is Janet Gover, an award-winning author of novels and short stories. Welcome, Janet. Can you tell us a bit about where you live.

I live in London now – but I grew up in Australia. In a small bush town. The population was about 28. Yes – that’s a total of 28 people. The next nearest ‘big’ town was about 14 miles away… and that had about 2,000 people in it.  As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get away to the big city.

Do you like to travel? What is your favourite means of travel?
My work as a TV journalists and technology consultant has sent me all over the world – to far more places than I would ever have visited if I had to pay for my own air fares. Working overseas has allowed me to forge friendships, and these friends have taken me to see and do things that most tourists don’t get to see. Of course, I have to work too… which does interfere with the sightseeing.

The Taj Mahal – it was extra-ordinary

What countries have you visited or lived in?
One of my nieces once asked me how many countries I have visited – we stopped counting at about 50. Most of those were short visits of just a couple of weeks for work. Some of them were quite unusual – Kazakhstan, the Kingdom of Lesotho, Jordan, Taiwan, India, South Korea. I’ve also been to many European countries and much of Asia. I have lived in Australia, Hong Kong, the USA (New York City) and now London.

Me at Petra, one of the amazing places I’ve ever been to.

What country/place has made the most impact on you? Why?
I have to say Australia – because that’s where I grew up. I still speak with an Australian accent and most of my writing is set there. I think when you are growing up you assume the whole world is just like your home. Now that I’ve seen so many places, I realise how unique my childhood was – and what a wonderful community I lived in.

My new book is set here, in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales

What country/place has made the most impact on you? Why?
I have to say Australia – because that’s where I grew up. I still speak with an Australian accent and most of my writing is set there. I think when you are growing up you assume the whole world is just like your home. Now that I’ve seen so many places, I realise how unique my childhood was – and what a wonderful community I lived in.

 

 

Driving through the mountains in Oman

Has any country/place you’ve visited ever given you inspiration for a story?
I have made many visits to the Middle East in my day job – in particular to Iraq. I have seen what war does to a country. I was inspired to make Dan Mitchell – the hero of The Wild One – a veteran who is suffering PTSD after the terrible things that happened in the war. He gets a happy ending, of course, because I believe in uplifting endings.

An Iraqi mosque

How do you do your research? Do you use google or actually visit the place?
Google is incredibly useful – but I am always inspired by visiting a place. When you walk the streets of a new place, looking at it with outsiders eyes, you see things the locals probably don’t notice any more. Every place has something unique about it. Writing about a place is more than knowing the facts, it’s capturing the sounds and the smells and whatever is that place’s unique quality. And of course – it’s about the people too. People are so different – and yet so much the same wherever you go. Living in New York has given me so many story ideas… all I need is time to write them.

Amazing New York City – a fascinating place to live

Is there any country/place you would love to write about but haven’t visited yet?
Strangely enough for me, it’s a bit the other way around. I have written a book set in Antarctica. It was called Bring Me Sunshine. But I have never been there. It’s very very expensive – so I spent a lot of time talking to people who had been there. And then I took a cruise around the northern tip of Norway and towards Russia. I did it in winter to get a feel for shipboard life and the cold. I would still very much love to visit Antarctica.

Dog sledding in a frozen lake in Norway

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while travelling?
I was walking through the industrial area of the new territories of Hong Kong and a man with a deep Texan accent stopped me. I was wearing my Akubra hat – the type worn by Australian Stockmen. The Texan begged me to sell it to him and offered far too much money for it. When I asked why, he told me the colour perfectly matched his horse back in the USA, and he wanted it to complete his competition outfit. As I handed over the money, I suggested he might want to try it first, to see if it fitted him. To which he relied…. ‘Ma’am for a hat that colour, I’ll make it fit.’

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever seen/done while travelling?
Wow – that’s a tough one. I have been privileged to see and do so many things. I’ll say standing in the crater in the New Mexico desert formed by the explosion of the world’s first atomic bomb. The Trinity site is inside a US Missile base, which is of course closed to the public. However, twice a year the bomb site is opened to the public. Visitors form a convoy in the small hours of the morning, and military police escorted us for two hours through the desert to the site. There was a wonderful cross section of people on that convoy – and the atmosphere at the site itself was quite festive really. It was an unforgettable experience to stand at the place that changed the modern history of our world. It is still a bit radioactive – but no, I don’t glow in the dark.

The Trinity Bomb site in New Mexico

A bit about Janet

Janet Gover is the award winning author of both novels and short stories.
She grew up in a small Queensland country town, surrounded by books. After studying at Queensland University she became a television journalist, first in Australia, then in Asia and Europe. During her career Janet saw and did a lot of unusual things. She has met one Pope, a few movie stars and is on first name terms with a dolphin. She now works with television technology and travels extensively with her job. While living in Hong Kong, she met an Englishman, whom she subsequently married. She now lives in West London.
Her first fiction was published in 2002 – a short story inspired by a holiday in Wales. Her first novel was published in 2009. She now has nine published novels, with number 10 due in 2018. Her work has been translated into six languages.
If asked, she would say her stories mostly revolve around woman taking control of their lives again. And if there’s a bit of romance along the way, so much the better.
Author links
www.janetgover.com
https://www.facebook.com/janetgoverbooks/
Twitter: @janet_gover

Janet’s books