Let’s celebrate authors and the gorgeous books they create!
I’ve decided to add a new feature to my website, and hopefully, it will make a regular appearance. As a big-time lover of books, I want to share my favourites with fellow readers and whenever possible, showcase an interview with the authors. First up is a novel perfect for us gals who suffer from serious wanderlust…Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas.
Nicole’s novel was a must-read for me because much of the story takes place in London, but once I dove into its pages, I discovered that Girls Who Travel offers much more beyond British borders!
JM: Hi Nicole! Care to give us a taste of Girls Who Travel?
NT: Girls Who Travel is a witty debut novel about women, wanderlust, and how far you have to travel to become the person you want to be . . .
Ever since she returned from her year-long backpacking tour, Kika Shores has been steeped in misery, battling rush hour with all the other suits. Getting back on the road is all she wants. So when she’s offered a nannying job in London, she’s thrilled at the prospect of going back overseas and getting paid for it. But as Kika’s about to discover, the most exhilarating adventures often happen when you stay in one place . . .
Heartfelt and hilarious, Girls Who Travel is a novel about finding your way to yourself – and the unexpected detours that make the trip truly unforgettable.
JM: If anyone was qualified to write a novel called Girls Who Travel, it’s you, Nicole! You’ve been to over thirty countries on six continents. What is it about travel that makes for a compelling novel?
NT: I’m up to nearly forty countries now!
I always loved the idea of travel as a means of reinvention, and I’ve always been interested in the way that travel can change a person or be a formative experience in life. Travel—especially long-term or solo travel—forces character development, so that made it an easy choice for the sort of coming-of-age story that I was attracted to write. Also, I could talk about the topic of travel forever, and I think that’s really important when you’re writing 80,000 words about something—you cannot let yourself get bored, so travel was a natural backdrop for me.
JM: Kika, the heroine of Girls Who Travel, has some amazing (and sexy!) adventures while backpacking around the globe—including a relationship with Lochlon, a hot guy (with a big secret!) from Northern Ireland. Do you have a favourite story from your journeys abroad?
NT: I don’t have one particular favorite story, but I have these flashes, these brightly colored snippets of dazzling memory that I carry with me always: Things like making eye-contact with a great white shark while cage diving off the coast of South Africa; “dancing” to capoeira on a small Brazilian island; sitting in the shade of a café in the shadow of the acropolis in Athens and drinking an icy frappe (a shaken ice coffee). These are just a few of my favorite moments.
JM: Did any of your firsthand travel experiences end up becoming Kika’s experiences on the page?
NT: Kika’s love- and work-life is way more interesting than mine, but most of places she travels to are places I too have been. I found it far easier to write about places that I knew and loved, so I sent her to some of my favorite destinations.
JM: The world can be a scary place, especially when you’re alone in an unfamiliar country. What tips do you have for women who, like Kika, want to experience different cultures on their own?
NT: This isn’t an original tip but one thing I do if I’m in an unfamiliar place and concerned is look for other women. If there are other women around, it’s usually a good indication that wherever you are is safe. In general, trust your gut and don’t be worried about being polite. Do what makes you feel safe.
JM: Girls Who Travel has so many memorable scenes in drool-worthy locales such as Spain, Rome, and India. Why did you decide to centre much of Kika’s story in London (not that I’m complaining!)?
NT: At the time of writing Girls Who Travel, I was back in my hometown of New York, but I was planning on returning to London. After studying abroad in London, I always wanted to return, and so I was waiting for my visa to come through. I set Girls Who Travel in West London as a sort of homage to one of my favourite cities while waiting—it was a way of keeping London with me even though I was no longer living there at the time.
JM: And now you call London, home! What are your favourite places, attractions, or things to do in the city?
NT: I love living in London, and I love having people visit me! My go-to list of favourite things to do (baring the obvious must-sees like Big Ben) are stuffing my face at Borough Market, the gourmet artisan food market near Tower Bridge; indulging in a swanky and quintessentially British afternoon tea at the Wolseley in Saint James; picnicking in Holland Park (don’t miss the peacocks in the Japanese Garden); visiting the National Portrait Gallery and checking out all the awesome old and new portraits (if you go during the Late Shifts there’s even a bar and DJ!). Really, I could go on and on!
JM: Do you have favourite travel stories/books (either fiction, or non-fiction), or movies?
NT: Eat Pray Love will always be a favourite travel book of mine. I am in obsessive love with the movie Before Sunrise, and as a ritual, I used to watch it the night before a big backpacking trip. I try to mimic the magical synergy and chemistry of its characters in my own writing, and it was the first piece of art that showed me the importance of dialogue and how that alone can carry a story. If you haven’t seen it (or the other two movies in the trilogy), I’d recommend you check it out. It’s not for everyone, but I think anyone who has an interest in travel will find it resonates.
JM: As a seasoned traveller, you must have plenty of tips on how to do it right! What would you never travel without? What would you recommend women leave at home?
NT: In my carry-on bag, I’ve started packing antibacterial wipes and that’s been a game-changer. As soon as I enter a plane, I wipe down my whole area like a crazy person, and it makes me feel so much better (and hopefully stops me from getting sick). I also never fly without an eye-mask since it really makes a difference in my sleep quantity and quality. Lastly, I started doing hydrating face sheet masks on flights, which makes me and my skin feel super fancy (though the down-side is that you may scare the crap out of children while wearing one).
Once you think you’re done packing, I would recommend doing a vicious edit on your clothing because chances are, you’re over-packing. I almost always cut out half the clothes I’m thinking of packing, and I’ve never once regretted it.
JM: Let’s talk about writing. When you’re creating your stories, do you start with a character first, a setting, or a situation?
NT: I start with a situation. For Girls Who Travel it was an American au pair in Europe. I had no idea who Kika was or where she’d end up, but I was intrigued by that thread so I kept pulling it to see where it lead me. As far as the “plotter v. pantser” debate (sketching out your plot first or just flying by the seat of your pants), I’m a plotter, but not compulsively so. I just like to have an idea of where the story is going, but like any good traveler—I’m cool with the detours.
JM: As a first-time author, do you have any advice to other writers hoping to have their work appear in print?
NT: I once heard that the writers who become successful aren’t necessarily the best ones; instead, they’re the ones who got the work done, who met deadlines, who finished what they started and then put it out into the world. Hearing that was a revelation to me because I knew I wasn’t necessarily the best at the craft of writing, but I knew that I was hard worker. So my advice would be: Just do it. Just get it done.
JM: Nicole, what are you working on now?
NT: I just sent off my next novel to my agent! Like Girls Who Travel, it’s another travel-themed romantic comedy, but this one takes place in Lake Como, Venice, and Marrakesh—among other amazing spots. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it all goes well!
I will, Nicole! Can’t wait to read it. Thanks so much!
**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED**
Want to win your own copy of Girls Who Travel? You’re in luck! This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL, so all are welcome to enter. Here’s the scoop:
Leave a comment below answering this question: My top wanderlust destination is? And if you want to say why, go for it! Special note: comments on my blog have to be approved, so if you don’t see your answer showing up in the comments right away, don’t panic! It’s just awaiting moderation and once that’s done, it will appear.
For an extra entry, head over to my Instagram @JaxMiddleton_Author, and do the following:
Like the giveaway photo (the one you see above) for Girls Who Travel,
Follow me (JaxMiddleton_Author), and NicoleTrilivas,
Tag three friends who might be interested in this wonderful giveaway!
Entries will be accepted here until Thursday, July 27/17 at 5pm ET. This giveaway is not associated or sponsored by Instagram.
**THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED…congratulations to Annissa from Malaysia! Looks like Girls Who Travel is off on another plane ride! Thanks to everyone who entered! Stay tuned for future giveaways.**
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