Women on the Road: Your story ideas are so original - how do you come up with them?
Amanda Kendle: That's a good question - but I don't really have a good answer. I guess I'm always on the lookout for unique angles and interesting facts that most people haven't heard of, and I like to combine these more unusual ideas with the mainstream information that travel readers are also looking for. A lot of story ideas come from unplanned events on my own travels and especially from interesting people I've met along the way. And some ideas just seem to arrive from absolutely nowhere.
WOTR: What does travel do for you?
Amanda: It might sound overly dramatic but - travel makes me feel alive. I'm the kind of person who needs to fairly regularly get new impressions and ideas (which I then live off until the next trip). I love to see new landscapes, meet new people, be exposed to different cultures and hear other languages. I guess in a sense I'm a bit afraid of a mundane "normal life" so travel makes me feel like I'm making the most of my time here on earth.
WOTR: You sound adventurous - where wouldn't you go?
Amanda: Wow, I don't really think of myself as adventurous - I can't bungee jump or even scuba dive. But I guess I have visited countries that others wouldn't, and always in an independent, backpacking kind of way - no tours for me.
Where wouldn't I go? I honestly don't think there's any place on earth that I wouldn't want to go at some stage - my travels have taught me that people around the world are all essentially "the same" (in a good way) so I feel drawn to visit everywhere I could. The only exceptions would be when my visit would support undemocratic regimes - for example, a few years ago I started to plan a trip to North Korea but, apart from the high cost and the need to be supervised at all times, I felt like my dollars might help to prop up a "government" that I definitely dislike. Apart from that - well, I wouldn't go to the moon. I'm definitely not adventurous enough for space travel!
WOTR: Your hometown, Perth, is warm - yet you like cold destinations like Russia and Finland (in winter no less), Switzerland, Germany - what draws you to the winter?
Amanda Kendle: I love to visit places in winter - but hate to live through it. I lived in Slovakia and Germany for a few years and hated the ice and sludge that comes with winter. But to visit - I guess I'm still living out a childhood dream.
It has never in history snowed in Perth - in fact, the temperature only dipped below freezing once (by half a degree) just a few years ago - and that makes seeing snow a real fantasy for kids who grow up here.
Basically, because it's still relatively unfamiliar to me, I just find winter landscapes absolutely gorgeous. And it's fascinating to me to see how people live in those climates - I remember walking into my homestay host's flat in Vladivostok and seeing the heavy fur coats she had lined up for their harsh winters - I'd never seen such a thing and couldn't imagine having to wear one.
WOTR: What are some of your dream future destinations - and why do you want to go there?
Kendle: Well, there are many, but a few that I've talked about recently include:
Papua New Guinea - it's such a close neighbour to Australia, but we know so little about it. It's also so underdeveloped in many parts, so there are great opportunities to experience their interesting culture. And on top of that, my father worked there for an Australian bank when he was younger (before my time!) and he's often told me stories about it.
Greenland - after going to Iceland last year and loving it, I've become intrigued by its neighbour, Greenland, and keep seeing photos from people who've been there. It seems similar but different and I really want to see it for myself.
South America - not counting Antarctica, this is the only continent I've never been to. I teach students from Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru so I've learnt a lot about these countries which makes me want to visit even more. I find it a bit of an embarrassing disgrace that I haven't got there yet.
WOTR: You're also a fiction writer - how do you link fiction with travel themes?
Kendle: The vast majority of my fiction is tied up with travel themes - I can't get away from it even if I try - and the differences between various cultures. For example, I have a completed draft of a novel set in Japan, and am working on another set in Slovakia (both places I've lived in and love). Putting characters into slightly unusual settings helps keep it interesting for me, I guess - or perhaps I'm travelling vicariously through these characters while I sit at home in Perth!
WOTR: What's next for Amanda?
Amanda: Oh, I wish I knew! Well, in the short term, some more travelling around Western Australia with my son, and hopefully a return visit to Japan soon. In terms of travel writing, I've got so many ideas for Not A Ballerina that I'll still be posting on it when I'm 100.