Thursday, May 23
11:30 a.m–1 p.m.
"In travel writing there's the story you're sent to report and then there's the story behind the scenes — with the latter always vastly more interesting.” Andrew McCarthy, National Geographic Traveler editor at large, award-winning travel writer and actor, tells stories that are personal and revealing in an effort to create identification in the reader. With that identification also comes connection and emotional investment. Hear how Andrew shares stories that lessen the gap between the two to get his readers engaged.
Connect with Andrew on Twitter.
Book signing of "The Longest Way Home," 1–1:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase.
PRSA Travel and Tourism Section Q&A With Andrew McCarthy
Keynote speaker Andrew McCarthy shared his insight on travel.
Q: What writer(s) do you admire?
A: John Williams wrote a novel called "Stoner" in the 1960s — that is my favorite book of the past five years. I love a Canadian author named Alistair MacLeod. Paul Theroux's travel books changed my life.
Q: What destination that you covered for a story surprised you? And why?
A: I loved Alaska in the winter. The Sahara was a huge experience — a lot to write about there.
Q: What story are you most proud of?
A: I did a story for National Geographic Traveler about bargaining with my son in Marrakech that I like a lot. I wrote a story for National Geographic Adventure about returning to the site deep in the mountains where a fatal accident occurred. The "Spin the Globe" story I did for Afar on Ethiopia, I was pleased with. I chased through Ireland looking for the best soda bread for Bon Appetit, it was a lot of fun.
Q: What one destination or experience is on your bucket list?
A: I try not to have a bucket list; most places are fascinating if you look at them with the right perspective. That said, since Burma is opening up, I'd like to get there fairly quickly, before the McDonald's.
Q: What is your biggest travel pet peeve?
A: Travel snobs who won't visit "tourist" destinations.
Q: What makes or breaks a destination for you?
A: It's never the destination really, but my attitude toward it. But any place that is clearly and overtly after my money first and foremost is a quick turn-off. Or any place that tries to tell me how I should look at it. I don't like to be told what I should see or in what way I should see it — my attitude is a bit, "Get on with your life, I'll find my niche."
Q: What has been a favorite item you purchased on a trip?
A: I don’t really bring back things; usually I travel pretty light so I don't have much room for stuff.
Q: Did your acting career prepare you for travel writing in any way?
A: Yes, it helped me to look at the world from a "story first" perspective. It is never the destination I'm selling. Tt's the story I'm telling (and in the process, the destination gets illuminated in a potent way, hopefully).
Q: One travel tip you would offer?
A: Ask for help.
Q: What are you looking forward to experiencing in Memphis?
A: I want to visit the King's place again and maybe a visit to Sun Records. And I'd like to see those ducks get out of the elevator again.