Bradt goes Narrative
Hilary Bradt, best known for the eponymous Bradts Travel Guides, is now turning her attention to travel narratives. Read about how this happened, and get a tantalising glimpse of Hilary’s own narrative, Connemara Mollie, due for publication later this year.
This is the second time around for Bradt’s travel narratives. The first venture was in 1986 and I can vividly remember how it came about. I had been sent a typescript by a young American about his experiences in the Peace Corps in Nepal. My heart had sunk when the bulky package arrived – one of the golden rules of publishing is never to send unsolicited manuscripts – and sank further when I read the accompanying letter and saw that it was a travelogue. I only published guide books, and the author ought to know that. I addressed a postcard to Phil Deutschle and took it, plus a couple of chapters of the book, on a flight to New York where I was attending the annual Sales Conference of our American distributor. I thought it was only courteous to read a few pages before sending the card rejecting it. By the time we landed at Kennedy Airport I was hooked. The book was so gripping, and so well written, I couldn’t wait to read the rest of it. I found the two parallel stories equally engaging. The thrill and risk of solo mountain climbing appealed to the part of me that had spent months trekking in the Andes, and I was absorbed and moved by the descriptions of village life and Phil’s personal odyssey as he struggled to deal with the frustrations and loneliness of teaching science in a remote Himalayan village, and his eventual assimilation into the place that became as dear a home as his native California.
I published The Two Year Mountain and another narrative, Up the Creek, an equally well written account of an Amazon adventure. They each did reasonably well, but for a tiny company like mine it was impossible to do them justice. I just didn’t have the time and means to do the publicity, although the authors were imaginative and energetic in their efforts to help. Phil cycled from California to New York wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “Stop me and buy my book!” then flew to England, with his bicycle, to talk about his adventures to various travel clubs. John Harrison, in turn, gave a Jim’ll Fix It boy as near a taste of the Amazon as the child was likely to get.
25 years passed. The company grew much larger, and we started to wonder if we shouldn’t think again about publishing narratives. Travel is one of the most popular genres in non-fiction, and so many people have both the material and ability to write about it, that we’ll never be short of authors. But first, I wanted to give these two 1986 books a second outing. They and their authors deserve it.
Phil was initially not too keen. But when he suggested that he return to Aiselukhartka, his Nepalese village, to see if his surrogate father was still alive and find out what had happened to the pupils and the school itself, we both realised this was what was needed. Because you can’t read The Two Year Mountain without wondering what happened to everyone, and the additional 48 pages that Phil has added tells this story as vividly and movingly as the account of his youthful endeavours those many (34) years ago.
These two books are just the start. We have several others in the pipeline including my own account of a horseback trip through Ireland, undertaken in 1984. Connemara Mollie will be published in October and you’ll be hearing more about it – and the reason it was delayed for so many years – nearer the time.
To purchase a Bradt Guide and enjoy a 30% discount, visit www.bradtguides.com and use the code silvertravel30
To read Hilary Bradt’s blog which is regularly updated with her latest articles, visit www.hilarybradt.com
Read Hilary Bradt’s birthday tribute to the original Adventure Traveller Dervla Murphy
Watch a video about Bradt Guide, The Two Year Mountain by Phil Deutschle, on Silver Travel TV.