Fathom Questionnaire

Meet the Novelist: Terese Svoboda

by Terese Svoboda

Photo: Steve Bull

Hometown: New York City

Occupation: Writer

Favorite destinations: Pukapuka in the Cook Islands, Venice, the weird Mongolian-like steppes of Wyoming.

Dying to visit: Madagascar

Bizarre travel rituals: Lots of pens. I put my hand in my purse and it comes out as blue as a Bedouin's third wife's but without the nice henna design.

In-flight relaxation regime: What? Relax? I have hours to myself relatively distraction-free. A whole novel could unfold between the belt ritual and the cross-check, which, by the way, must be religious.

Always in carry-on: Unpublished manuscripts. Of course the laptop. Of course the cookie.

Concierge or DIY? DIY. I wouldn't have all those great stories about getting lost in the hotel bathroom otherwise.

See it all or take it easy? Never. Miss. Anything. Layovers are a particularly heart-pounding challenge.

Drive or be driven? Here's where I draw the line. Driven. I don't care what side of the road as long as I can see out.

Travel hero: Dervla Murphy. I just read Silverlight, her account of skipping through the Russian steppes in her 70s. Muggers force her bicycle off the road but she's tucked her big bills in her vagina. Her walking trip through Madagascar put me off for years.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: A French poodle in a Sudanese zoo.

Best hotel amenity: Armed guard in front of my safari tent.

I dream about my meal in Papua New Guinea. Roasted rhinoceros beetle.

Everywhere I go, I check out the supermarkets. Vanuatu, however, didn't have any. We bought our fish and chips from a vendor who wrapped them in newspaper that matched his all-over tattoo.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by carrying around the address of the place I'm staying, and engaging in a lot of conversations with locals.

I always bring home soap. What a better madeleine than a whiff from the shower to transport you back?

If I never return to a nameless hotel in Singapore it'll be too soon because the roaches that ate the skin off my feet have probably multiplied.

I travel for the trouble, the disorientation not the orientation, the new angle if not the angel. Give me a green sunset and it's a new world!


Website: teresesvoboda.com
Books: (There are 13!) including the new Bohemian Girl
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