Alex Schnee is an author who has made a living out of doing what the majority of authors only dream of: travelling. She documents these adventures in her blog titled The Wayfaring Voyager, which has over 2,200 subscribers to her Facebook page. She is also the author of Shakespeare’s Lady, a novel that explores the identity of the Dark Lady in Shakespeare’s sonnets. It’s received reviews from The Romantic Times, Five Minutes for Books.com, Fiction Addict.com. Those reviews are accompanied by several 5-star reviews. Here I was able to get a quick interview while she travels Bali.
Last Best Press: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time for this interview. It would defiantly seem that you are a busy person! You run two blogs, travel, last we talked you had some projects, I believe? In your bio on the blog you write for and manage, The Wayfaring Voyager, you say you went to Venice to study abroad at only 19. What opportunity did you have to be able to do that?
Alex Schnee: Hi there! Thanks again for reaching out! You’re right—travel is a big part of my life and it has really been a focus of my career lately. While I still work on fiction projects and short stories, I’ve also taken on travel journalism and writing for magazines, as well. Of course, the catalyst for this interest was studying abroad years ago. At the time, I was attending FVCC in Montana, and the opportunity came up to study and live in Venice for three months. It was a challenge as a small-time girl from Kalispell to adjust to a new culture, but I fell in love with Italy. It was only later that I realized how unique it was to have a study abroad program attached to a community college.
LBP: Somehow you have turned a passion of travel into a career. You travel the world and write about it. I’m fairly confident this is just about every writer’s dream. I remember you were a freelance writer, published a novel (we’ll get to that), and then it seemed like all of a sudden I was seeing your travel photos on social media and then The Wayfaring Voyager came around. So, this might be more than one question, but how did it all come about? How did you become The Wayfaring Voyager?
AS: Well, it definitely was not an overnight thing. After living in Italy after graduating Sarah Lawrence College, I began looking into new ways I could travel the world and write. At the time, there was an opening as a millennial travel blogger at Wanderlust and Lipstick. I was ecstatic when I got the job and it began to lead to more things: writing for USA Today, Matador, Bustle, Elite Daily. After writing for Wanderlust and Lipstick for a few years, I decided to transition to writing my own blog so I could really delve into my interest of sustainable travel. It’s been a great project that has managed to gain quite a bit of attention over the past few years as millennials chose to travel responsibly.
LBP: Very recently I’ve met some people who have harbored the desire to travel, and I think many of the Millennial Generation shares this desire. What would be three things-the most important three things you can think of-that you would want to tell someone who’s looking at a map of the world and hears that voice that says, “Come.”
AS: I think you are spot-on when you mention that we are a generation that likes to move. I know our age group has been compared to the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s, and I think there’s some truth to that on a basic level. For someone who is a bit hesitant about making the leap to travel, I would recommend:
- Think of whatever is holding you back, and toss it away. Maybe it’s friends, family, a job. The truth is that a lot of that will be there (or you can take it with you) once you get back. There will always be a reason to stay—there might not always be one to book that flight.
- You don’t need a lot of stuff. In fact, I would recommend paring down the majority of your things. You’d be surprised at how little you need when you’re traveling and how much stuff can just get in the way.
- Choose a place you connect with. For me, it was Italy, but for a lot of people, it’s somewhere else. When you’re fascinated by the culture you’re in, the differences you’re experiencing won’t matter as much or you’ll find intriguing.
LBP: In a post you wrote for Last Best Press, you had mentioned you went to North Africa to procrastinate working on a project, and you took your boyfriend, Daniel, along. I’m not sure if your followers have asked this or wondered, but how did you find someone who shares your passion for travel and how do you work out the stress of travel in the relationship. Many couples find it difficult to be in the same car with each other for an extended period of time, how do you and Daniel survive airports and the rigor of international travel?
AS: This is such a great question. I think pretending that we totally get along 100% of the time while traveling is just not realistic. I’m really lucky that I found a partner-in-crime and best friend with my same interests (he’s a writer too), so that definitely makes it easier. I think the biggest thing is allowing ourselves to be peeved with each other when things are stressful—when we’re late for a flight and telling the other person to hurry or someone has forgotten the directions to our hotel. And then, you drop it. Overall, whatever we’re probably mad about is not a big deal and is always fixable. Also, I try not to drool on him when I fall asleep on his shoulder on long flights—he’s been known to take some unflattering pictures of me doing so.
LBP: Your novel Shakespeare’s Lady (2012), sounds like an intriguing novel. The blurb on Amazon pulls you in. One of the ladies of Queen Elizabeth’s court falls in love with a playwright known as Bill Shakespeare, which then turns into a fight for their love. This must have been researched extensively, since so much goes into the identity of the man we know as William Shakespeare and the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and such. How long did the process take? As a historical fiction writer, I know how frustrating (and enjoyable) the research and writing process can take; how did you tackle it?
AS: Thanks for your interest! It was a challenge trying to meet the expectation of readers who know Shakespeare well. I was also really young and much more gung-ho about a project like that—now I think I would have doubted myself a lot more taking on a story with such a famous figure. It took me about six months to research, all of my free time, and another six months of writing 5,000 words or more a day for it to come to fruition. I was much more ambitious than I am now!
LBP: You are currently trying to republish Shakespeare’s Lady, which must be exciting for you. So many questions can be asked about this, since it’s an exciting time. Let’s cut straight to the point, though: how far are we from seeing it on bookshelves and/or online?
AS: It could be almost a year, give or take. I had no idea that so much work could go into republishing a book. I’ll need to have the book reformatted, find a new cover design, and take time to market it again. Fortunately, it’s been nice to see so many people interested in having this book available again, so that definitely motivates me to getting things done sooner.
LBP: At one time you had mentioned you had written under a pseudonym or two. I am certain that you don’t want to divulge what pseudonyms you write under, but are the genres you write in with those pen names different than your usual genres to warrant a pen name?
AS: Shakespeare’s Lady is a romance, but it doesn’t necessarily follow the typical romantic tropes. I was invited to write a short novella called The Rancher’s Daughter (it’s actually on Amazon). It’s based on some cowboy romances I’ve read for fun, and stories my grandmother told me about growing up on our family ranch in the 1940s. I was always averse to the idea of using a pen name, but found it was perfect for this story. It allowed me to write from another voice, one that was much more suited to the genre and what I wanted to accomplish with the story. It’s almost like being an actor—you can see things from a completely different perspective.
LBP: With your busy schedule, where do you fit time into your schedule to write? With so much to see in the different countries, when do you set down and write a post for Wayfaring Voyager or your other projects? Scheduling writing can be very tricky, and any writer who has tried to finish a project knows the struggle, especially if they lead a hectic life.
AS: You’re right, finding time to write isn’t always easy. When you’re traveling, it can also be tempting to ditch the laptop and go play. I try to write 500 words creatively a day. This could mean the blog, a short story, novel, guidebook—whatever. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but after a week, you have several pages. For me, writing is a lot like exercise, a little bit at a time adds up. It’s a lot easier to take thirty minutes and write then an entire chunk of time.
LBP: When you sit and write your characters, how do you come up with them? What makes a great character to you and how do you develop them?
AS: I think getting to really know your characters is so essential to writing ones that feel real. I have created “profiles” in the past and sat down and interviewed them (a lot like this!) so I can start to hear their voices and know the motivations of each character. For me, a great character has doubts and fears like anyone else you would meet. I think weaknesses make a character relatable, even if he or she isn’t necessarily the more likeable character. The more he or she questions the world he or she occupies, the more we understand that we would do a similar thing.
LBP: Finally, when Alex Schnee returns stateside, where do you call home and what are you doing?
AS: Just like when I’m traveling, when I come back to the States, I hop around a lot. I visit my family in Montana for a few months (my parents’ cooking is worth the trip alone) or stay with Daniel’s family on Long Island. The older I get, the more home becomes a place where I can reconnect with family and friends. Daniel and I are lucky that we have such an amazing support system. One day, we might settle somewhere, but we’re not quite sure when that will be. It’s always an adventure!