Interview with Author Beth Daigle on MUSING MEDITERRANEAN

Tell us the story behind the story. How did MUSING MEDITERRANEAN come to be?

When I first traveled to the Mediterranean in 2012, I had been freelance writing for regional magazines in my area for about five years. I had written many articles and columns, but began wanting something more. I tossed book ideas around in my head, but never landed on that one concept that seemed right. Fiction writing didn’t call out to me and children’s or young adult books didn’t light a spark either. My trip to the Mediterranean had been a lifetime in the making. I was excited to see my ancestral countries (Greece and Italy) for the first time and took along a travel journal to chronicle as much of what we did and saw as possible.  I began writing in it at the end of each day and about half way through the trip it was nearly full. It dawned on me that, with so much material already, this was my book.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing MUSING MEDITERRANEAN?

For me, the most challenging part of writing this book was determining what aspects of my travel experience were story-worthy and what needed to hit the cutting room floor. I wanted to give enough detail to capture the reader’s interest and keep the story moving forward, but not so much that the reader would become lost in minutiae.  It can be a fine balance between too much information and not enough.

What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?

I would like readers to come away from my book with the feeling that travel is full of possibilities. If they are planning a trip to the Mediterranean, I want them to read MUSING MEDITERRANEAN as a resource. To say, that sounds so interesting, I want to do or see that too. If a reader may never have the chance to visit Greece, Italy or Turkey, I want them to come away from MUSING MEDITERRANEANfeeling like they have. I want this book to be an escape just like a good vacation should be.

Describe your background.

I come from a marketing background having earned my undergraduate degree and MBA both with concentrations in marketing. I went on to work in the financial services and online consumer goods industries in various marketing capacities. Eventually, I left the corporate world to raise a family. I began freelance writing as a way to keep my head in the game beyond my role as mom. Writing and developing promotional content had always been my favorite part of my marketing jobs. The official decision to begin writing came when I binge-watched Sex and the Cityabout ten years after it first aired. I fixated on Carrie Bradshaw as a columnist and writer and declared, “I could do that.” So, I did. I had my first article published in Northshore Magazinein October 2008 and I’ve been writing ever since. I have written a movie and film column and had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing celebrities including Mark Wahlberg, Mike O’Malley and Scott Grimes. I also wrote a lifestyle column called Matters of Life and Beth and was the editor of a regional home publication which secured my current obsession with all things interior design and home décor.

Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?

Whether I’m writing a column, a magazine article or a book, my process is the same. I begin with a brain dump so that any and all of my thoughts, notes, interview quotes or research are together in one place. This often results in a ridiculously long version of whatever the end result is supposed to be. From here I begin my first round of edits, cutting anything that is superfluous. As I near a word count that is appropriate, I move into the next phase which is finessing each sentence – finding just the right words to express what I want to say and impart emotion through the words I choose. Next, I carefully run through what remains to fact check, spell check and proof to the very best of my ability. Finally, I read through for flow, reorganize content and ensure that my final version is as close to my version of perfect as I can get it.

I write best when I am alone without any distraction. I have a home office that I’ve turned into a little writing haven. Some of my favorite published pieces are framed and hanging on the wall and little mementos or quotes surround me for those moments when I need inspiration.

What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?

I keep some of my favorite books on my nightstand including The Language of Flowersby Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Not only did I find that story and its romance captivating, but the education of Victorian age floriography was so interesting to me. After reading the book, I wrote a short article featuring it and I began bringing flowers into my own home that expressed whatever particular emotion or feeling I wanted in my life at that time. The romance, beauty and meaning of flowers is appealing on so many levels. Other books I have read and enjoyed that sit on my nightstand are Traveling with Pomegranatesby Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Kidd Taylor, A Man Called Oveby Frederik Backman andUnder the Tuscan Sunby Frances Mayes.

My book club just finished reading Little Fires Everywhereby Celeste Ng and before that Goodnight Nobodyby Jennifer Weiner. Up next we are reading Americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Which authors inspire you?

I do enjoy the relatable and straightforward writing style of Elin Hilderbrand. She has an ease about her words that is perfect for the kind of summer reads she’s known for. When charged with reading the first book in her Winter Streetseries for book club, I ended up reading all four. They’re just interesting and effortless reads.

I am also inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love. I like to say that MUSING MEDITERRANEAN is Eat Pray Love meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I liken my transformation working through travel anxiety to Gilbert’s personal journey overcoming her own demons. Experiencing and appreciating other countries, cultures and lifestyles throughout the process allowed me to feel a connection with Gilbert and her travel experience. I also enjoy her very honest and thoughtful approach to writing. I hope that I am able to achieve a similarly authentic voice.

What have you learned from this experience?

I have learned that, like with most things in life, you can’t do it alone. Sure, you can put words to a page without help, but I believe, whenever possible, publishing a book is best done when you involve professionals who can take your work to the next level. Working with seasoned editors, publishers, and promoters has given me the satisfaction and peace of mind of knowing that I have given my book its best chance at success. The support has given me confidence.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is to commit. Commit to who you are as a writer, commit to your story, your writing style and your voice. You will have people tell you to change and you might be compelled to give them what they say “sells,” but if you have a story you believe in and can share it in an authentic voice, it is worth telling your way. Take pride in your work and do whatever it takes to make it the best it can be. If you can, work with a writing coach, hire an editor and do your research.

Above all, commit to getting it done. It’s easy to take on a big project like a book and set it aside for a time when you feel there’s more time. Life is busy, that may never happen, so make the time and tell your story now.

What are you working on now?

I continue to freelance and post regularly on my lifestyle blog, 3 Olives & A Twist. I am also planning a follow up to MUSING MEDITERRANEAN. The same cast of characters will be taking Hawaii by storm in 2019…working title, HELLO HAWAII. I would love to chronicle my time there in a similar way and update readers on how things are going with my travel anxiety.

Following a fabulous trip in 2014 to Los Angeles for the MTV Music Awards with a girlfriend, I thought my travel anxiety was a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it reared its ugly head again in 2016 when, two weeks prior to another European vacation, I put my foot down and insisted we cancel. After learning that one of our destinations, Nice, France, had been the target of a terror attack involving a cargo truck driven into a crowd killing 86 people, I simply could not muster the courage to go.

However now, with enough time passed, I am trying again with Hawaii and would love to share my experience there.

We can’t wait to hear more from Beth Daigle. Pick up a copy of MUSING MEDITERRANEAN and start planning your next trip!


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