Interview with Robyn Webb

What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho would be the first. I read it about 15 years ago and it's about following your heart, regardless of what the facts look like.

The next would be 'Last of the Amazons' by Stephen Pressfield. He is great with historical research and a fabulous storyteller. This book had me on the edge of my seat and I could easily relate to the characters.

Third are books by Alain de Botton. He has a great way of looking at life.

Then probably 'The Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. His description of Barcelona and the people were wonderful.

Last would be Harry Potter because I reserve the right to be a Big Kid.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love reading historical novels, other people's travel adventures and Alain de Botton. Ancient history gives me a way to compare our current society and issues with those from hundreds of years ago. Sometimes they're different, other times they're the same. More often than not, it's the same issues in different packaging.

Other people's adventures are fun to read, for the same reason that I travel - to find out the real story of a place. And Alain de Botton has a very interesting twist on life.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Samsung tablet. I'm a geek at heart so I have a gadget that serves many purposes. If I didn't have this, I like the eye-friendly features of the Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Getting to know people, or rather, letting them know me. Then I find people start asking more questions and want to know what it's like for a real person to travel.
Describe your desk
There are way too many distractions in my home, so my desk is in one of about 6 favourite cafes, with coffee and a cake. I take only what I can do for the day and leave all the other stuff at home. Then I stay there until I do it! Sometimes it takes a couple of coffees.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Adelaide, a small city in Australia which is known for great red wine, and has fabulous beaches and long hot summers. My family did lots of camping when I was young, and then I learned to bushwalk. In Adelaide I met lots of travellers with amazing stories, which inspired me to travel and experience different cultures. Being passionate about ancient history helped too, so my writing is about unusual places, the history and usually includes wine.
When did you first start writing?
'Talking with Strangers' is my first book. Two friends insisted I start writing when I came back from my trip through the Middle East. Then another friend, the editor of the Melbourne Camera Club magazine, appointed me his travel writer. So I had to start, and being a person who hates 'Gunnas', I had to finish. Took me about 8 years.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's about my travel through the Middle East in 2003 and 2004, at the height of the Iraq War. I reasoned that all the terrorists were in Iraq and well away from the places I was going. I started in Greece, so I could visit all the places of my history study a few years before, and travelled overland (and a bit overseas) through to Egypt. After shattering all my pre-conceptions about the area, the people and the culture, I realised what a great place it was and had some amazing experiences, which I had to tell all my friends at home about.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
This happened by default. The Middle East is such a controversial topic, and everyone has their own opinion. Then there are the pulped opinions in the newspapers which don't do the place any justice at all. Publishers just don't want to touch it. But the reason I wrote the book was to tell the real story and to let people make up their own minds. So I did what I had to to get the story out. The people over there deserve nothing less.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is a great platform for publishing. I figured most of my readers would have iPads and other devices, so it allows me to get my book out to a broad range of people, through a broad range of channels.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Showing people for who they are. I was alone in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and other countries at the mercy of a lot of people. From here, it looks like the most dangerous trip in the world, but it wasn't, it was actually an amazing experience and I still have friends from it.

Speaking with people after they've read my book, and listening to the questions they start to ask, the greatest joy is to see people's eye's open to new possibilities.
Published 2013-09-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Everest Base Camp for Normal People
Price: $4.00 USD. Words: 23,290. Language: English. Published: July 27, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks, Nonfiction » Travel » Specialties & interests
What is it with Everest Base Camp? Why do so many people, every year, train for months and then trek to the base of the world's highest mountain? What is it like anyway? Is it only for mountaineers and tour groups? This is the journal of my trek. All of the author's proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Trek Climb Ski Nepal Community Fund.
Talking with Strangers
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 92,270. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues, Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Why would a woman travel on her own through the Middle East? With an interest in alternate travel and ancient history, she ignores pulped opinion and terrorist hype and goes to find the truth. This book is a journey from Athens to Cairo on local transport; through towns, markets and ancient ruins. It confronts trusted opinions and demands a greater respect for all people.