• NZ Booklovers

Interview: Lynley Smith talks about Globetrotting on a Shoestring



Lynley Smith is a trained primary school teacher, ESOL teacher, journalist, author and international speaker. As mother of four daughters and grandmother of 13 spread throughout the world, Lynley certainly has had every motive to travel. She has made numerous trips to Europe and other continents on speaking tours about her first book, From Matron to Martyr. You can read more about Lynley’s books online at lynleysmith.com


Lynley Smith talks to NZ Booklovers.


Tell us a little about Globetrotting on a Shoestring.

Globetrotting on a Shoestring is a collection of short stories written in diary format over a number of years, which aims to bring a smile to the face of travellers or

‘would-be’ travellers, as they read the rather whimsical, sometimes serious, sometimes downright foolish anecdotes of my travels on six continents. Threaded through the narrative is a sense that surely someone must have been there looking out for me, as I face the unsolved mystery of a break-in in my apartment, the challenges of travelling with unusual fellow airline passengers and tracking through the desert following a colour blind psychoanalyst..... Then there is experiencing the great delicacies of Chinese cuisine, including cicadas, trying out the local three wheeled bungbungs and discovering another way to spend Christmas Day down under.

So what is important about this book? I discovered something on my travels. Every time we reach out to another culture – either travelling to another country or welcoming others to our own – we stand to benefit in ways we would not have imagined. Many set out to travel and change the world, only to discover on their return that the world has actually changed them!

What inspired you to write this book?

I am a journalist so writing is second nature to me. I started recording specific events that appealed to me as quaint or odd or downright funny, while living in China, and it flowed on from there. The more stories I wrote, the more popped up in front of me, waiting to be written.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

There was absolutely no routine. This book is serendipity, just as are the adventures I recount. No-one could have planned those! Once inspiration comes I write very fast and efficiently as one must when working as a journalist, so I can produce a short story, with the obligatory ‘twist’ at the end in not much more than an hour. It is an intense process during which I find myself totally absorbed in the story. Someone could explode a bomb beside me and I probably wouldn’t notice!


Can you tell us a little about the illustrations in the book?

They are drawn by New Zealand artist Dana Johnson and add a charming touch to the book.

What is your favourite travel story from Globetrotting on a Shoestring?

It is very hard to pick a favourite as each story is indelibly impressed into my memory as an unique event, unlikely to be repeated. But perhaps the exciting, nerve-racking 36 hours spent getting to and from Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland stands out as the most unlikely set of events imaginable – lucky for me that I didn’t have to imagine them, as they actually happened as recounted!

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Possibly King of the Road by Roger Miller captures the feeling of freedom and adventure when one travels light and alone.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?

We are all unique. I think I enjoyed being able to share my unique view of the world laced with a hearty dose of humour and more than a smidgen of awe and compassion for the 99% of the world which are so different from me and my world.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I am not sure this book was ever ‘finished’. It certainly didn’t have a start point. It kind of evolved. There may be more to come.... who knows?

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

I think my favourite book read this year is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. What attracted me to this book was that the author was doing exactly what I was doing in Globetrotting on a Shoestring – showing how another culture will mould us and change us, either for better or for worse, but always it will change us. But only if we engage with it.





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