Q: What inspired you to write this memoir, and how long did it take to complete it?
A: When I was a child, my mother encouraged me to keep a travel journal. I recently found one from when I was 7 years old.
About 20 years ago, using photographs and those journals as memory prods, I started writing stories for fun. The feedback I got encouraged me to create more of them. I didn’t seriously think of putting them together as a book until about five years ago.
Q: Of the more than 90 countries you've visited, which are your favorites? Least favorites? And why?
A: That’s always a difficult question to answer. As to my favorite place I usually answer, “the next place I’m traveling to.”
I do have a special place in my heart for the Greek island of Crete. I spent six summers in a small town there and got to know many of the people. The view from the terrace of our rented house of the sea, olive groves, bougainvillea and tiny town hugging the shoreline is what I conjure up when I need to relax.
I’m also fond of London, where I lived for three years, the American Southwest, and almost anywhere in Asia.
I can’t say I have “least” favorites. But there are some places I don’t want to return to because my image of them is so pristine I don’t want to see the effects of overbuilding and over-tourism.
Q: What impact has the pandemic had on you, given the travel restrictions, and where are you traveling next?
A: When I couldn’t get on an airplane, or even go for a road trip, I decided to explore my hometown. The New York City area has many unexpected gems.
I became fascinated with street art and visited areas known for it: Bushwick (Brooklyn), Astoria (Queens), Coney Island (Queens), and Newark (New Jersey) to name just a few. I visited Audubon Society natural areas and dozens of parks, some with views of the NYC skyline that were breathtaking. I would take backroads and get lost, often finding gorgeous scenery.
Until 2022 I plan to stay in the U.S. Next month I will be taking a road trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York. My first international destination will either be to the South Pacific or Malta.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: Each story in Travel Mania can be read and enjoyed independently, but taken together, I hope they convey the profound impact travel can have and the joy that can be found in exploring the world.
My hope is that these stories tickle readers’ travel bug and give them the courage to set off on their own adventures.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: The original manuscript for Travel Mania was way too long. I needed to cut 11 chapters. Plus, I’m always writing more travel stories, so there will probably be another travel book. I’m also working on a book about my volunteering as a mentor to entrepreneurs.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Anyone who reads Travel Mania and is interested in seeing photos of the places where the stories took place should go to my website: https://karengershowitz.com There they can find hundreds of photos. Look under the Travel Mania tab and scroll down, there are photos for every chapter.
I also write frequent travel posts with photos on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/karengershowitzauthor.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb