by E. Oberio / January 25, 2017
I’m very excited to be interviewing today Heather Hackett, author of “Restless: Memoir of an Incurable Traveller”. Heather is not only an Amazon bestselling author and a Reader’s Favourite awardee; but is also a poet, a musician, and has trekked the Himalayas with a baby on her back. Wow! What an amazing woman she is! So, without further ado, please welcome, Heather Hackett.
Hi Heather! Thank you so much for granting us this interview. I enjoyed reading your travel memoir. I got goosebumps from reading the first chapter. Would you kindly tell our readers about yourself and how you got started writing this book?
Thanks for having me here, Eleanor. I recently moved from Sydney to Newcastle, the city in Australia, not the UK. I’ve been writing since I was very young. It was just something I had to do. But I have other interests, including cycling, music, piano, reading (of course), and generally having fun.
Travel has been a huge part of my life, spending almost ten years living and working in Japan, and backpacking around Asia. I actually started writing Restless when I first started travelling in 1983, but it’s gone through a lot of changes since then. Originally, it was intended to be just a collection of random, funny incidents that happened to me while I was travelling. But it took on a life of its own and became a deeply personal memoir of those ten years.
Among the countries you’ve travelled to & mentioned in this book, which particular country would you like to return to & why?
Nepal is definitely my favourite place in the world, though others like Burma and Japan come very close behind it. Collectively, I’ve probably spent over 12 months in Nepal and still keep in contact with very good friends that I made while I was there. I love the mountains, the Himalaya, but the culture and the kindness and generosity of the people of Nepal are definitely responsible for a lot of my attachment to their beautiful country.
How was it like travelling with young children and is there any particular tip you’d like to share?
Travelling with young children is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. You have to be prepared to adapt to difficult circumstances without becoming too stressed. Learning to live with less is key. I have two children, all grown up now, and they both travelled with us from a very young age. In fact, I was about 6 weeks pregnant with my son during my first trek in Nepal, only returning to Australia 3 months before his birth.
Neither of my kids had any of the trappings that usually go hand in hand with having them – things like bottles, prams, cots, nurseries, change tables, pacifiers – my kids had none of those. I didn’t even use disposable diapers. I carried cloth ones that were easy to wash and quick to dry. I did resemble a walking laundry when we were trekking. And they were both breastfed for much longer than is considered normal or usual. Who wants to try sterilising bottles on the road in India?
But the rewards of travelling with children are priceless, and having them with us made it easy for us to interact more closely with the local people. As I say in my book, ‘Travelling with children opens doors in the world that adults on their own might not necessarily find.’
Where do you think is the best country to go to if you have to travel with children?
Again, Nepal, but all Asian people seem to adore children and quickly become willing participants in your journey. You just have to be prepared for anything. Murphy’s Law often applies on the road.
Which country would you like to visit next?
There are lots of them on my bucket list. I would love to see more of Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, but Asia still has my heart, and Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam are high on my list. So are Italy, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I think I might just be incurable when it comes to travel.
What were the challenges you encountered while writing this book?
Oh, the challenges! There were plenty. About a third of the way through writing the book, and this was back in the days before personal computers even existed, the entire manuscript was destroyed and had to be rewritten from scratch. Looking back, that probably helped. So did the fact that I kept copious journals during our travels. Actually, the more I wrote, the more I had to write, and the whole thing started to get bigger than Ben Hur. That’s why I decided to split the story into two books. And the next one will be all about our time in Japan – 8 years in all.
I also struggled to find the time to write. I was working a full-time day job as an executive assistant, as well as trying to build an online freelance writing career after hours. That didn’t leave me much time. Once I gave up the day job, about a year ago now, everything fell into place a little better. I’m still a big procrastinator, but I force myself to put my bum in the chair and then I usually get lost for several hours. I really do love to write.
Having a partner who supported me completely was a massive God-send.
What was the best part about writing this book?
Finishing! And the sense of accomplishment. I was a little nervous about putting myself out there on such a public level, but seeing people I don’t even know reading and commenting on my book is very fulfilling. I am totally grateful and hope that the book inspires others, not necessarily to do what I have done; but to see that all sorts of things are possible when you just go do it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
- Write more
- Travel more
- Keep more journals
- Take more pictures and videos
- Fear nothing – just do it
- Be kind
- Tread gently on the Earth
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Hackett/e/B01MSTTWLX/
Please be sure to download a copy of Heather’s book “Restless: Memoir of an Incurable Traveller”. Thanks again Heather and best of luck in your next writing project and travel adventures.