Albert Podell has
been an editor at Playboy
national outdoor magazines and written over 250 articles. He wrote a new book
that sounds fascinating: AROUND THE WORLD IN 50 YEARS: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth
. Here is an interview with him:
Albert, what inspired you to write
about your around the world adventures?
My friends. When I began my quest in
earnest to visit every country in the world, I had no certainly at all that I
would succeed because there were so many difficulties and obstacles, so I never
thought of writing a book because I never knew if there would be any
achievement worth writing about. I did send lengthy emails – I called them
dispatches from the field – every couple of weeks while on the road, and after
several years, my friends started to urge me to use them as the basis for a
book because they thought they were interesting, informative, and exciting.
When I completed my final country, more and more friends urged me to write a
book so I could share my adventures and observations with the world. As I was
starting to consider the idea, one of these friends, a magazine editor, forwarded
a batch of my dispatches to a literary agent, Tony Outhwaite, a former Oxford University
Press editor, who loves both foreign affairs and adventure, and Tony contacted
me and told me he loved the dispatches and that if I wrote a book about my
journey, he would definitely sell it. So I did, and he did.
Which country did you enjoy the most or
I like Ireland the
most because it is peaceful, relaxing, and safe – unlike the last 40 countries I visited – and
beautiful and charming. The people are warm and welcoming and mostly
understandable, if they speak slowly. The women are lovely, the hiking and
climbing in superb, and the elves are enchanting. It would be Paradise if only
they would learn to cook a little better… My least favorite was the
island-nation of Naura in the Pacific. It is a vast wasteland, devastated by
years of rapacious surface mining of its once-huge deposits of guano. With
those all exhausted, it has no natural resources, no industry, and little
income. It is so small that I was able to bicycle around it in four hours, and
there is so little to see or do there that it is boring and bland.
What travel tips can you share with us
? Far too many to fit in this space.
But, if your readers are willing to spring for 99 cents, I recommend that they
buy my Survival Guide for the Adventurous
, now available as an e-book, which is loaded with
tips on planning, packing, preventing illness, avoiding the bad guys, and bargaining
for souvenirs.. Among my top tips: Never stay in a hotel room in the tropics
that has little red spots on the wall near the bed. (That room is open to
mosquitoes, and previous occupants have squashed many after being bitten.).
What were some of your more unusual
My strange visit to North Korea Eerie
encounters with the spread of militant Islam Being forced to eat the brain of a
live monkey in Hong Kong. Here are others:
about the Dogon practice of female genital mutilation.
relics of slavery and the Afro-American tourist experience
by flying crabs in Algeria
out of a minefield in Morocco
in Benin and Togo with a guide who was also a voodoo priest
the Thai massage parlors
the plight of women in most of Africa and much of Asia.
three New Zealand nurse to an Arab chief of police in Algeria
traveling to Timbuktu
customs agents found animal skull in my suitcase
the golden bamboo lemur in the Ranofamina ainforest
to the dead and turning their bones in Madagascar
floating islands in Lake Titicaca
between Cape buffalo, hippos, and crocodiles
into a wild boar and wrecking the car in Botswana
night of the egg-laying turtles in Nicaragua
with the penguins and seals in the Galapagos
by a tiger shark in the South Pacific
drowning nation (going under the ocean from climate change)
for edible mice in Malawi and fruit-bat pie in Tonga
drowning on a Costa Rican whitewater rafting foray
rats in Ghana, anteaters in Panama, elephant dung beetles in Kenya
with the guerrillas in Yemen
with the gorillas in Ruanda
with the nomads in Libya
matzos with the Arab camel drivers by the Great Pyramids
back to Vietnam, after 48 years
in the Khyber Pass by al-Queda prototypes
a robber in Algiers, escaping across the Sahara
failed hope for a longitudinal traverse of the globe
on the Peak of Death
a sure cure for jock itch
and interrogated by Cuban secret police
on the Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon
Mogadishu, the most dangerous city in the world.
encounter with the amazing penis-theft panic in Kinshasa
As a former Playboy editor when will you pen a tell-all on the exotic jungle
known as the Playboy Mansion? What a prescient question! I actually do that in chapters
1, 25, 26, and 27 of the sexual memoir I’m working on, now 80% written and tentatively
titled Pussy Galore, The Helpfully Hilarious History of One Happy Horndog
My literary agent, who is a very respectable and proper chap, considers the
manuscript too hot for him to handle, so if there are any bold agents reading
this, please contact me at email@example.com.
What challenges did you have in writing your new book?
number of words, which had to cut from 196,000 to 120,000 to reach a reasonable
to tell each tale or chapter in the present tense, as it was taking place, to
give it a sense of immediacy, or in the past tense, looking back on it. I ended
up fudging and sometimes sliding from one to the other.
to portray myself as an ultra-brave Indiana Jones or an honestly worried, and
often scared, Albert Podell. I went for the latter and called myself “a
Whether to leave out the all the lovely,
friendly, safe countries from Switzerland to Taiwan to South Korea to most of
South America so I could concentrate on the danger zones, which I did..
How to relate all the danger-filled episodes in
their full terrifying impact yet not discourage readers from taking adventurous
How to sustain the suspense in a book where
the readers know from the first page that I survived and endured and completed
Whether to begin at the beginning and explain
how I got involved in this crazy quest, or to begin with sheer adventure and
work in the bio business later, which is what I did.
Whether to tell the tale chronologically, or
to break the narrative for interesting and essential materials (which I did
with chapters on what exactly constitutes a country and what weird foods I had
to eat along the way.)
Whether to use a properly literary style or a
more conversation one. I opted for the latter and tried to write it as a story
told to my friends around a campfire
battles with my editor, who wanted to take out all the sex
sharp economic shift from earning $400 an hour for writing briefs as an
attorney to earning, after four years of labor, less than ten dollars an hour
as an author.
Finding a title that could encompass it all. I
went from Between a Croc and a Hard Place
to How I Survived to 196,
to Adventure of a Lifetime,
to the final
title, Around the World in 50 Years; My
Adventure to Every Country on Earth
6. Where do you see the future if book publishing going?
Down, but not hopeless. Publishers
need to realize that they are no longer isolated and insulated in a literacy
enclave, but they are part of, and competing against, the entire spectrum of
entertainment entities, from films and TV to video games, and the entire
information industry, from blogs and podcasts to Wikipedia and social media. To
face that competition, and get a solid market share of it, publishers need to
change their stodgy ways, Specifically, they need to
brighter, sharper people and pay them appropriately so they don’t go to work
for hedge funds and cable networks. An office full of dowdy bookworms just
isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Use market research, testing, focus groups, daily
electronic sales reports from bookstore registers, SKU analysis, and every
marketing tool used by every other business in the nation except theatrical
productions, which operates solely – and usually unprofitably -- on ego.
rigid habits, antiquated assumptions, and formats that no longer work in the digital
Stop being so foolishly frugal; learn that you
have to spend money to make money.
that every book is special and has its own special market or markets. Be
sensitive to that and position that book for maximum exposure to those markets most
likely to be most receptive to it.
not overlook the audio book market, which has doubled in revenue in each of the
last two years
Be less imperious and work more collaboratively
with their authors, who know more about their book and its likely audience than
the authors to those who will be marketing and selling their book and encourage
a free exchange of ideas soon after the author is signed.
Learn the difference between marketing,
merchandising, advertising, and public relations, and structure their organizations
DON’T MISS: ALL NEW RESOURCE OF THE YEAR
2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015