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Interview with Bob McKerrow

521692_3898138207335_1874564856_nRobert James “Bob” McKerrow a native of New Zealand, is a humanitarian, mountaineer, polar traveler, writer and poet. He currently works as Country Coordinator for the Swiss Red Cross in the Philippines working on the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) operation. He has had 30 plus years in senior management positions in international humanitarian work; (disaster risk reduction, management and climate change) civil defence, conservation, Antarctic research, outdoor education and publishing. Leading and motivating people to reach professional and personal goals has been a key element of his work.

Interview with Bob McKerrow-

Q: What does it mean to be a writer?

BMcK: My Mother introduced me to books at a very young age and I held authors in awe. In 1990-93 I lived at Franz Josef Glacier, close to Keri Hume who won the Booker prize for the Bone People in 1986. Keri and I spent a few nights drinking whiskey and talking books. I learned a lot from her about being yourself when you write.  The feeling of being a published writer is good, but I have the urge to do more. That is why I have a blog with over 1000 posting and I keep posting something regularly.

Q: What do you do when you are looking for inspiration, or facing a writer’s block?

BMcK: Take a walk outside. Have a good sleep then unblock it early next morning.

Q: Your regular working/writing day?

BMcK: I am only good early morning for a few hours. That is when I am the most creative.

Q: A quote you swear by.

BMcK: It is only through pain, suffering and hardship that the human heart will be unlocked to greatness. An Inuit proverb that I carried in my diary en route to the North Pole.

Q: Who is your go to person when you are harassed with your writing?

BMcK: Bill Nicol, the author of Tsunami Chronicles and many other books. Bill is a wordsmith and a great ideas man.

Q: What is the worst criticism you were given? And the best compliment ?

BMcK: One guy with a PhD in mountaineering criticised my book on ‘Cutting Across Continents’ saying my research could have been more thorough, and the best was from a series of older generation New Zealand mountaineers who said they loved my book on Ebenezer Teichelmann.

Q: What is your best marketing tip?

BMcK: Don’t write for money. There is no money in writing unless you are exceptionally good.

Q: What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process?

BMcK: Finding a publisher. Two of my three books were published in India, so I am very grateful to Anuj Bahri at India Research Press who published my books.

Q: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

BMcK: Exploitation, violence and brutal killing was something I wanted to avoid, but could not as it was often part of the landscape I worked in for many years.

Q: What book do you wish you could have written?

BMcK: When Men and Mountains Meet: The Explorers of the Western Himalayas, 1820-75 by John Keay .  Much of this takes place in the Punjab and Maharaja Ranjit Singh is prominent.

Q: Have you ever thought about writing fiction?

BMcK: I have always wanted to write children’s stories about my adventures and the lessons I learned, but Fiction, not sure.

Q: What next?

BMcK: I have been jotting down what I have done throughout my life and am thinking of doing an autobiography. But then, writing about yourself is boring so I hope I get side tracked into something more inspirational, such as Tapchans, Abs and Chaikhanas.(and possibly Caravanserais)

An āb anbār (Persian: آب انبار) is a traditional reservoir or cistern of drinking water in Persian antiquity. The Persian phrase literally translates as “water …

Punj –ab, Kuliy- ab, Fari –ab, Surk-ab. Right through out India, Pakistan, Persia, Central Asia and Turkey and beyond, so many settlement are on the Ab, river, stream, tank. Pond, lake or sea. And this is where you find Chaikhanas and Tapchans.

The tapchan is a raised platform that is used in Central Asia for relaxing and reclining outdoors.

I have found some amazing places in Central Asia, by looking at a map, and saying, I bet you there is a Chaikhana there with tapchans. 90% of the time I am right because if you turn the clock back, and think where would travellers and pilgrims want to stop? At a source of water for horses, camels and stock to drink. So maybe another book but at the cost of divorce for there is a lot of need to travel.

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This entry was posted on September 14, 2014 by in Interviews and tagged , , , .
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