On Travel Writing

The Story Behind the Cover


I’ve always gotten a lot of comments about the book cover of Vagabond Dreams. It really jumps off the shelf, and I loved it the first time I saw it. I thought you might like to know some of the symbolism behind it. The first element that jumps out at you is of course the boat. There’s a riverboat journey by dugout canoe near the beginning of the book, but that was really just the first act...

And the Winners Are…


I read something like 100 books a year. All sorts of stuff, from travel literature, history, fiction, classics, philosophy and memoir. And I like to end each year with a quick wrap up of what I liked best. These are the books that stood out for me in 2013. Have a look through the list, and pick up a few. You won’t be disappointed. Weeding out the best from the borderline — so you don’t have to...

This Simple Trick Will Set Your Writing Free


It might surprise you to learn that I changed my name when I wrote Vagabond Dreams. No, I didn’t trudge down to the courthouse and get myself a new legal alias. I changed my name in the manuscript. I was reading a lot of Henry Miller back then, and I was intrigued by the idea of “fictional autobiography” — a book that held true to the events of my life, but with a little creative license and a...

Time Like A Running Grave


  I found a quote in my notebook that I want to share with you: “Studies are pointed to indicating that of all the professions medicine is the one most likely to attract people with high personal anxieties about dying.” How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland I wonder if writing attracts a disproportionate number of people with high personal anxieties about...

The 10 Best Books I Read Last Year


I typically read about 100 books each year (… and yes, I count them). Everything from travel literature to poetry, history, psychology, fiction and memoir. I’d like to take a moment to share my top reads of the past year—ten great books that earned my Road Wisdom Stamp of Approval, from one book lover to another. Chasing by Kathryn Woodall I picked up this excellent first novel on my...

Writing Celluloid Dreams


Writing well is a lot like photography. It involves staying in a place and opening your aperture wide for a long exposure, so that you can gather the most light. The longer you sit at that cafe table or mosque or mountain peak, the more grain and detail will begin to come clear. Focused time allows deeper impressions and images to form on the surface of your mind — but like a camera lens, you can...

Cool Interview With Your Favourite Travel Scribe


The Australian adventure lifestyle magazine Bare Essentials ran an 8-page interview with me back in November/December 2010. Their questions were fun and original, and I thought you might enjoy reading the full spread. Here’s the text in it’s entirety. Click the banner at the bottom of the page to grab yourself a copy. They did an excellent job on the layout, and it featured photos by...

The Tools of My Trade


As a professional travel writer, people often ask me about the tools of my trade. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about my notebook. “Your notebook?” you might ask. “What the hell for? Isn’t one piece of paper as good as the next?” Au contraire, mon ami. Ask a craftsman who works with wood if one hammer or chisel is as good as another. Ask an...

Words That Piss Me Off


  As a writer it’s easy to rant about the decline of the English language, the erosion of literature, and the dumbing down of pop culture. Some embrace what they see as the “changing, dynamic nature” of the language. They adopt it and try to harness its supposed vibrancy, but this usually comes off as overly topical and is completely dated by the time next season’s TV...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


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