Why did you choose Central America as the setting for Wanderlove?
Well, Central America was the first place I ever backpacked to, when I was twenty. Plus, I've been writing about Central America travel for years (6 now!) for About.com. I've been there a dozen times.
How autobiographical is Wanderlove? Were a lot of Bria’s escapades based off of your own?
The places are all real, or thinly veiled. Plus, some of the smaller moments happened to me -- hiking through Livingston in the rain, for example, and voyaging to Belize in a thunderstorm. But the characters and plot are entirely invented.
From reading your website, it sounds as though you’ve travelled *a lot*. What made you want to start travelling so extensively?
We never traveled crazy extensively when I was a kid, but enough that I fell in love with it. Then three things sort of steered me travel-ward for life: 1) a school/tour group trip to Europe when I was 16 (I paid for it working at Pet World); 2) crossing the border to Tijuana from San Diego when I was 18; and 3) meeting my now-husband at 18, and hearing about the time he'd backpacked through Thailand. Such different experiences, but all so amazingly diverse.
How have your travels affected you and your writing?
They've made me very addicted to setting -- placing my books in vibrant settings, and using setting as its own kind of character. When I plan a book, setting comes to me along with premise, even before characters.
In Wanderlove, Bria keeps track of Rowan’s travel rules in her sketchpad. What are some of your own?
A lot of mine probably mirror Rowan's :) Although, I'd call them suggestions -- or maybe personal rules. There are many, many ways to travel, and I don't like to think I can dictate it for anyone else. The only one I'm diehard about, for me and everyone, is to always be respectful of other people and the places you visit.
Rowan mentions that the best backpackers travel with the smallest backpack. What are the most important items to include when packing?
I always bring earplugs, plenty of ziploc bags in various sizes (you never know when you'll need them), a small towel, a flashlight, sunscreen and bug spray. Here's a decent list I rounded up on my Central America travel site: http://gocentralamerica.about.
Where do you think would be the best place for a novice traveler to go?
Honestly, Central America is just great, as long as you do your research and learn some basic Spanish. Costa Rica is very safe and traveler-friendly, as is Panama. Also Belize -- the official language is English.
In your bio, you mentioned that you’ve been slapped by a Thai monkey. Any chance you’ll tell us that story? (:
I wish there was a good one! I think he was just cranky. I would have been, too -- he was in a really rundown zoo on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. I was feeding him peanuts or something, and he reached through the bars and slapped my face. I remember there was a little muddy hand print afterward.
Let’s say time travel is possible. Where (or rather, when) do you go?
Thank you so much, Ms. Hubbard!