I am happy to introduce you to Richard Clark, an English journalist and writer specializing in travelogues about Greece. As Richard says, writing travelogues is “less stressful than interviewing actors, celebrities, sportspeople and politicians.” And it provides him with a great excuse to take more research trips to Greece! I can imagine, though those interviews also sounds pretty interesting.
I hope you enjoy learning about Richard, Greece, and his books, as I did.
Spotlight On Richard Clark
I am an English writer and journalist who specializes in writing travelogues about Greece, in particular Crete. I live in a village in Kent with my wife Denise and our dog and three cats and have a grown up family and grandchildren who live nearby. I am lucky enough to spend some of the year at our house in a village in Crete, which is great for research purposes; well that’s my excuse anyway.
I make my living from writing, and have done so one way or another, with the notable exception of one year, since I graduated with a degree in English Literature in 1979. That one year was 1982-1983, which I spent living in Heraklion, the capital of Crete, where I worked as an English teacher. I fell in love with Crete almost at first sight and, despite relocating to the UK, have returned to Greece regularly ever since. In the UK I picked up my career as a journalist working variously as a writer and editor for the BBC, newspapers and magazines. I was fortunate to work on Fleet Street for Telegraph newspapers and many of the biggest selling magazine titles including Radio Times and TV Times. I have written features for titles as diverse as The Listener (now sadly gone), Pick Me Up, Saga Magazine as well as many national newspapers. Before giving up the daily grind of commuting to London to write books full time I edited ITV online, WebUser magazine, TVeasy and Soaplife before being Group Deputy Editor for Time Inc UK working on TV & Satellite Week and TV Times magazines.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
In this day and age this might seem a bit unadventurous, but I would say Greece. For one thing writing about the country is how I make my living so as well as wanting to go there, I also need to. When I first visited Crete, it was nothing like as developed as it now is, and I suppose visiting there was more of an ‘adventure’ then, but in the intervening years I have grown up alongside the changes that have happened there for good and bad and in some ways my writing chronicles these changes. The one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the hospitality of the people, even under severe duress, and the pleasure I get from the landscape there is inexhaustible.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with background music? Why?
When I am writing in my study at home, I work in silence through choice. I don’t know why as I love music, and listen to it while I read. I can’t even claim to be distracted by noise as working as a journalist you need to write under any conditions and to tight deadlines. When I used to commute by train to London I would write on an iPad, sometimes standing up in the crowd. I also write on planes, in pubs, cafes, airports – anywhere when I have a bit of time. In Greece I write outside on the terrace which is distracting enough as I have the most wonderful view of a bay below.
Why do you write the kinds of books you do?
As I said, I have always written in some form or another but when I decided to write a book I followed the old adage about writing about something you know about and like. That happened to be Greece. At first I wasn’t sure I would have enough anecdotal material to draw on, but the opposite proved to be the case. Finding I could actually write a whole book was my first target achieved. Its success was a welcome bonus, so having much more material I followed it up with another book about Greece, then another. Since then things have just snowballed and the possibilities are endless, I have in all published 10 books to date and my book about Crete has even been translated into Greek. At one time or another most have hit the No. 1 slot on Amazon in both the UK and the States. I have found a niche which I love researching and writing about, so what could be better. It is also less stressful than interviewing actors, celebrities, sportspeople and politicians.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I love just being with my family either at home or in Greece or meeting up with friends. I also enjoy walking the dogs, cooking, sailing, sketching, watching rugby, playing the guitar (badly) and I fight an ongoing battle trying to improve my Greek, I’m sure it is getting harder as I get older! Oh, and it goes without saying reading and listening to music…
What is your usual writing routine?
When I am at home in the UK, I am in my study with a cup of coffee and some fruit and sat at my desk by 8.00am. I will then work until midday, then stop to take out the dogs. I do a five day working week, and give myself Christmas and other bank holidays off. When I am away I am more flexible, writing as and when the mood takes me. I always carry a notebook and am scribbling down bits and bobs which may or may not prove useful. At home I use a PC laptop for writing and a Mac for research (it’s too old and unreliable for anything else), on the move or in Greece I use an iPad. I am fairly disciplined, I think being a journalist has helped me with that, and even on a bad day when I am struggling I try to get something down, even if it only acts as a prompt for the next day’s work. I try not to edit as I am going along as it slows down the whole process, I will do a complete draft before making any changes, then I do a substantial edit and rewrite myself before passing it over to my editor.
What motivates you to write?
I think it is something that I need to do. My father was a successful novelist and scriptwriter so I have always lived in that environment. I started to write stories at a precociously young age and when I got to school English was the only thing I was really any good at. After gaining my degree I was determined to follow a career which actually made use of what I had studied and enjoyed, journalism fitted the bill nicely. Motivation I think changes. As a young journalist it is to get your words in print, then to write bylined stories to a large readership. As an author my first ambition was just physically to write a book, it is difficult and takes a lot of discipline. Then the ambition was for people to buy it, and then to earn enough money to make a living. Now my ambition is just to keep enjoying my writing, if and when that stops, I will give up.
What are you working on now?
I have finished the text for a full-colour illustrated sketchbook about Crete which is with the wonderful illustrator I am working with but there are so many pictures required that it will take some time before it hits the shelves. I am half way through writing a new book about Eastern Crete which, if things continue to go well, I hope will be out later in the year.
Thank you so much Jennifer for spending the time to talk to me and let me wish you the best of luck with all your endeavours too.
Thank you, Richard! It is my pleasure to feature you today!
You can connect with Richard Clark on Facebook, Amazon, or his website. You can buy his ‘A Notebook series’ (Crete, Hidden Crete, More Hidden Crete, Rhodes and Corfu) on Amazon UK and other fine retailers.
Richard is also a member of Travel By Book, a Facebook group dedicated to travel fiction and non-fiction. If you love to read or write books strong in setting, consider joining us!