I was born in England, but I didn’t like the weather so I immigrated to Australia when I was six and moved into a lovely hacienda in the tropical paradise of Bonbeach. Okay, it was a normal suburban house in Melbourne’s suburban sprawl, but to a family of sickly white Poms the quiet bay beach was heaven and every free day was spent frying in the sun like all good Poms do.
Up until my early twenties the only travel experience I had was our annual camping holiday a few hours from Melbourne, but not long after finishing an advertising course at university I took the big travel leap overseas and hitch-hiked 10,000 kilometres around Europe. I then spent two years working as an art director for a London advertising agency before the cold mornings finally sent me scurrying home to warmer climes.
The travel bug soon bit again and two years later I was off back to Europe to work as a tour leader for Top Deck, an 18 to 35 tour company where I escorted busloads of drunk Aussies and Kiwis from Paris to St. Petersburg to Budapest and beyond. In the winter months I worked (well, some might not call it work) as a ski guide in Switzerland, where I got paid to get up every morning and go skiing. Before my liver collapsed from all the partying I returned home three years later.
I jumped back into advertising, but two years later I got retrenched and while I was looking for work (well, while I was sitting at home watching Judge Judy) I started to write down some stories from my days on the road with Top Deck. After I’d written a couple of stories I thought: ‘Hey, this could make a really funny book’. I decided then to take four months off and told everyone I knew that I was writing a book (so that they’d keep asking how my book was going). Five months – and fourteen drafts – later I had a 78,000 word manuscript. I sent the manuscript to ten literary agents and the first four responses were rejection letters, including one agent who claimed: ‘No one wants to read that shit.’ Well, apparently they do because in the space of a week I had three agents write to me offering to take me on as a client.
I choose the literary agent with the posh English accent, because I thought he sounded, well… literary. He sent the manuscript off to a couple of publishers who promptly rejected it. The next publisher he tried was where I had my rather large stroke of luck. My agent had sent the manuscript to the ‘publishing editor’ who liked it, but the publisher didn’t. The publishing editor, however, was about to move jobs to another publisher, so she asked if she could take it with her. She was moving into children’s books (and Rule No.5: No Sex on the Bus was perhaps a little risqué for seven year olds), so she handed it to another publishing editor. That publishing editor didn’t really like it that much either, and wasn’t going to recommend it to the publisher. And this is where my good luck came in. The publisher (Sophie Cunningham – who is now a successful author herself) walked past the publishing editor’s desk and saw my manuscript on the top of a
pile and thought the title sounded interesting and picked it up. She had a read and not long
after I signed a deal with Allen & Unwin.
When Rule No.5 went on to be a bestseller with nine reprints my publisher asked me to write another one. And then another one…
Because of my books I started getting requests from magazines to write travel articles. Since then I have written for Voyeur Magazine, Tiger Tales, Jetstar Magazine, Vacations & Travel magazine, Ski & Snowboard with Kids, Traveller, Get Lost Magazine, The Times (UK) The Sunday Times (UK), Nat Geo Traveller (UK), Herald Sun, The West Australian, The Australian and the Nepali Times!
I have appeared at writer's festivals around the world (and also run travel writing workshops) in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Ubud and Singapore. I have also spoken at a whole range of events from a slide show at the largest book shop in Stuttgart and a women’s knitting club in Townsville to a train manufacturer’s annual dinner in Brisbane and a library in the outer suburbs of Singapore.
I have been an obsessed skier for almost 40 years now and have skied at over 60 different
resorts in 10 countries. I love writing about skiing and après skiing (if I can remember
During the research for my book ‘Tell Them to Get Lost’ I met a cute, bubbly Minnesotan girl in Ubud, Bali. We did the whole long distance for a while then Beth moved to Australia. Less than two years later we were married. After nine years of Beth living Downunder it was my turn to move, so I currently reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And yes, the winters are bloody cold.
So far I have visited 81 countries (82 if you count Tasmania).