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INTERVIEW WITH WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER M.G. EDWARDS
Special thanks to artist, editor and cover designer extraordinaire Elinor Mavor for interviewing me about my book Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill. Elinor’s blog, Mavor Arts, cover the arts and pop culture as well as various artists, famous and almost famous, sometimes herself, plus talented family and friends. I’m honored that she included me as a writer/photographer. The photos posted were taken by me or my travel companions during our Kilimanjaro climb in December 2010-January 2011. I became acquainted with Mike Edwards on Twitter where I talk with many artists and writers looking for people to possibly edit, work with on cover illustrations or simply to write about on this blog. Mike asked me if I considered writers to be “artists” and if so, would I consider writing about his adventures climbing Kilimanjaro, which are chronicled in his amazing book, Kilimanjaro: ONE MAN'S QUEST TO GO OVER THE HILL, published in March of 2012. After I read the beginning pages of his book on Amazon, I was immediately intrigued. I do think writers are “artists”, but don't usually include them on this blog except when other visual artistry is involved, such as cartoons by said writer, reference my blog on writer Ernest Hogan awhile back. In this case we have Mike's pictorial record of his incredible trek to the top of what is not only the tallest mountain in Africa (5,895m) but also the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. His photographs bring to life all that is spectacular about Kilimanjaro. Then there is the personal story behind the scenes which we will discover in this interview. And it turns out to be something way more than simply an incredible travelogue. Elinor Mavor: Mike, are you a seasoned mountain climber? Truth! M.G. Edwards: Not at all! I’m a dreamer who dreamed big and did something I never thought I’d do — climb a mountain. Thank goodness Kilimanjaro (Kili) was forgiving enough that I didn’t need to be a mountaineer to attempt it. EM: You are one of those people who have pursued several careers in your 40 some years on our planet. Tell us about your main occupations until the past couple of years. -1-
© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. MG: It’s true. I’ve had several past lives. I want a career that I enjoy, and my tastes have changed through the years. I began working on commercial airplanes at Boeing but took a break to pursue my Master of Business Administration. One day, a diplomat visiting the university campus persuaded me to join the U.S. Department of State, and after I graduated, I joined the Foreign Service and moved overseas to serve in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia. In 2011, a voice in my head told me that it was time to leave the diplomatic corps and become a writer. The rest is history. EM: And what is it that you REALLY have wanted to do all along as a lifetime career? MG: Good question. My work history mirrors my lifetime career aspirations. My first calling as a kid was to be a writer, but when I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a diplomat. Although I initially went into the private sector, I ultimately achieved my dream of becoming a diplomat, a job that in reality was nothing like I imagined. Life brought me full circle to what really wanted to do all along -- be a writer. EM: Why did you decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? MG: To quote George Mallory before he perished on Mount Everest: “Because it’s there.” My wife Jing climbed Kilimanjaro the year before and inspired me to try it too. At the time I was struggling to get through a midlife crisis and needed a challenge that would help me get out of my funk. It seemed like a good idea at the time to tackle something life changing to inspire me to overcome the day-to-day issues I faced. It was a tough way to do it, but it worked. EM: Tell us about your climbing companions. MG: My climbing companions, Betty, Kay, and Tom, are a great group of people. We had our ups and downs climbing Kilimanjaro (literally!) but were fortunate to avoid the drama that affects some groups. Betty was our climbing veteran who had tried and failed to conquer the mountain several years before in honor of her home country, Zambia. Kay, the athletic, no-nonsense member of our team, had no experience mountain climbing but prepared for it by running marathons and eating right. A seasoned adventurer with a great sense of humor, Tom was a trekker at heart but had never climbed something so high as Kili. We all got on so well that I’m hoping that my companions will join me for a trek in the Himalayas in 2013. EM: Would you share with us two of the most significant parts of your adventure: the most breathtaking and the most challenging? MG: Without a doubt one of the most breathtaking parts was the picturesque view. It’s been said that you can see farther from Mount Kilimanjaro than any other place on Earth. The mountain, ever-changing cloud patterns and landscapes, Serengeti plains, and other free-standing peaks scattered across the horizon were simply spectacular. I hope that my -3-
© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. photos offer a glimpse of Kilimanjaro’s amazing beauty. The most challenging aspect was the physical ordeal of being an average guy summiting what has been called “Everyman’s Everest.” It may be one of the easier of the world’s highest mountains to climb, but not everyone can do it. The challenge of climbing was worth it, but I’m not sure I’d do it again. EM: What will your next big project be? MG: I’m writing a psychological techno-thriller novel called Hyperlink that I plan to publish next year. It’s a major departure from travel writing and will set the stage for more speculative fiction novels that I hope will leave readers asking, “Could this really happen?” Mum’s the word on the plot for now. I’m also working on another travel memoir called Eurasia that will chronicle my adventures as a college-age backpacker in Europe, China, and Russia. A short excerpt is available to read in my book Kilimanjaro. Sign up for my newsletter for updates about upcoming books and projects. EM: Your little boy seems very proud of you. What footsteps of yours do you think he might want to follow? MG: Alex is my pride and joy. He’s a great kid. I hope that he’ll catch the writing bug. We co-wrote a children’s e-book called Alexander the Salamander inspired by our trip to the Amazon River Basin in 2008. For now though, he says he wants to be a diplomat. It will be fun watching where life takes him. EM: Please tell us anything I may have overlooked that is on your mind. MG: Thank you for letting me introduce myself to your readers and share some of my travel adventures. Kilimanjaro is the first book in the World Adventurers Series, a collection of travel memoirs filled with photos. Readers who want to purchase the ebook or paperback version of my books should visit Amazon.com, my website, www.mgedwards.com, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My website has a full list of booksellers that carry my books as well as thousands of travelogues, photos, and videos from around the world. Readers can also enjoy travel adventures on my blog, World Adventurers.
About Elinor Mavor Elinor Mavor is a professional art director, editor, writer and illustrator. She is a longtime contributor of artwork for the advertising, publishing and gaming industries. Her popular blog, Mavor Arts, features articles about her own work plus other well-known and emerging artists. She has been an editor since 1978 and was Editor and Art Director for two famous magazines, Amazing Stories and Fantastic Stories. Since 1982, she has edited magazines, newsletters, brochures and more recently started editing novels and designing -4-
© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. cover art for self-published authors. With more than a decade of experience in full service graphic design and illustration, Elinor knows what is involved in designing, illustrating, writing and producing a project from conception to printed piece. Her BEHANCE Network/My Portfolio includes samples of her cover artwork. She welcomes writers who need editing services, including copy editing, proofreading, and critiquing, and/or book cover designs for their books. Click here to contact her. Click here to read the original article on my blog, World Adventurers. Click here to read the interview on Mavor Arts.
M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at email@example.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter. © 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.
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