There is a bonus when reviewing books, not just the luxury of a good read but also the possibilities of a new found fascination with the person behind the book.
Lucky for me I got to chat with Rod Wood…………………………………
So the ultimate question why mountain trekking and travels to Kenya? What compelled you to go on your travel?
It was a childhood ambition, I was so interested in East Africa and its wildlife that I promised myself to climb Kilimanjaro before I was 50, long before it became such a popular climb – I wanted to stand at the roof of Africa. That always stayed with me but life got in the way.
I did it when I was 58 and it was my cure for depression, reaching something I had always wanted to do. Friends encouraged/ pushed me to pursue my ambition when I realised the only person who could cure me was myself, and what an affect it has had on me.
Kenya was a promise to return after five years, to climb Africa’s second highest peak and to see the wildlife I had missed in 2012.
Did you make a conscious decision to note your findings whilst on your travels and when did you decide to turn your memories into books?
I did make short notes on both Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Kilimanjaro had such an affect on me that I decided to write my story “Kilimanjaro. My Story”, if only for myself. As you say, everyone has a book in them somewhere. Up till then, I had always hated writing, only writing clinical veterinary articles. It took me fifteen months to write the first two thousand words, but then a friend said if I didn’t write it now, I never would. I finished writing the book in the next three months and everything was so fresh in my mind I could have done it without my notes. I found I really enjoyed writing and was undecided which was the greater achievement, climbing or writing about it and my depression.
“Kenya: A Mountain to Climb” was far easier, enjoyable – writing had become a hobby and now, being so much more confident in myself, was able to offer my opinion on climate change, conservation and other important life issues. I did write notes but there was now more structure in what I was trying to portray.
Did you have a routine to your writing? What disciplines did you have to adhere to whilst writing and how easy / difficult was it for you to stick too? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being worse) how painful was it to write then and now
I have a full-time job as a farm vet, I work some nights and weekends so writing had to fit writing into that. But I now enjoyed it, looked forward to it so I would try and write for 1.5 to 2 hours 3-4 times a week. I am not a quick typist.
Painful to write, no, once it became a hobby, mainly a 2, but sometimes frustrating when I couldn’t find the right words I wanted, then 7.
What’s happening next both with your travels and your writing work? They always say there is a book in everyone and with you there is a need to travel – is there another book you are thinking of writing perhaps about something other than travelling?
In terms of travel I want to go back to Africa, definitely to see more wildlife, but maybe also to climb Kili again but a different route, she has had such an impact on my life. But I am getting older. I went back to Kenya in 2018 to work for a charity called “Send a Cow” and I want to revisit that area to see if we have impacted on lives, to meet the people I met last year. I want to write more about Kenyans.
My wife has a son in Australia, so that is on the list for when I retire, whether there is a story for me there or not I don’t know. I went to the Caribbean last year and found nothing to write about.
Iceland looks an experience.
Future writing, I have written two books which are as yet unpublished. “Sea, Seine and Sardinia” on experiences travelling Europe in 2016 on three excursions, and discovering cultures, history I knew nothing of.
A second book on Kenya is written, about my experiences with Send a Cow, and discovering more about Kenya, its people, their hopes, and also discussing more topics, female empowerment and female genital mutilation.
I have written a novel, “Fishing the Net”, a light hearted and saucy look at Internet Dating through the eyes of Gill Finn (fish pun), a middle-aged woman. I have started writing book 2, “Netting the Fish”, with the final part of the trilogy, “The End of the Line” to follow.
I also intend to write (have started) a light-hearted book on my profession (farm vet) and how it has changed since my qualifying forty years ago up to my retirement in 18 months time. But there I am in no hurry until I am retired.
And a story of two dogs and their adventures on their new lives abroad.
But, working full time, I find novels hard to keep my train of thought – my wife says write a novel, but it will have to wait until I retire.
I think there’s soulfulness to telling a story, either in relation to true events and a way of marking memorable moments and commit to memory the achievements and highlights and sometimes the setbacks. Creative writing, the made-up bit still tends to be from a semi truth and usually some sort of moral somewhere. What’s your opinion?
One pleasure I have had in my travel writing is when people have said that in reading my book, they felt they have become me, my next step is their next step. So yes, in writing of true and memorable events, there is a soulfulness. You are writing from the heart and expressing emotions, my emotions.
So far, my experience of creative writing, “Fishing the Net”, and I know nothing about internet dating, is relying on other peoples experiences and using that to develop a story line, so semi truths become stories, and with some morals, some of the highs, lows and risks. But as I have said, creative writing needs my full attention, not fitting it in between my main job.
I wait to see how I will get on, but I do miss it now when I am not writing.