In the Spotlight – Rob Goss

Rob GossWhen and why did you join the Guild?

I joined in October this year. I live in Japan most of the year and in a professional sense I feel a bit isolated here from other people who make a living writing in English. Joining the Guild will hopefully help me get to know some other writers and might also be good for finding new work opportunities.

What’s your earliest memory of travel?

Family trips from Devon, where I’m from, to Cornwall, which meant fighting with my big sisters in the back of a Ford Escort for a couple of hours while the dog drooled over us from the boot.

How did you get involved in travel writing?

By happy chance. I came to Japan after university to teach for a year, but then fell in love and all that and realized I might be here for longer than planned. To stay here and remain sane I needed to have a job I liked and so I focused on becoming a writer. It then turned out that the majority of publications I got work with outside of Japan wanted pieces about travel and culture here.

What are you working on at the moment? Any future plans?

I’ve got a photobook on Tokyo just about to go to the printers for an early 2015 release and a new guide book to Kyoto that I need to finish in the next month or two. I have a fiction itch I’m trying to scratch, too, with a collection of short stories that hopefully I’ll find a publisher for in 2015.

Which is the place you haven’t been to yet but would most like to visit?

In Japan, one thing I really want to do is take my son (a bit of a train geek) on the night train from Tokyo to Hokkaido. Elsewhere, there are so many places I want to go to I’m struggling to pick just one.

If you could take a day trip back in time to any point in history, when and where would you visit?

It would have to be to see Jimi Hendrix play. Something like Monterey Pop or Woodstock would be the iconic concert performances, but music-wise they aren’t his best gigs. So (nerd alert!), I’d either go for New York Pop in 1970 for an absolutely searing version of Red House, or I’d be at the Record Plant in 1968 for the recording of Voodoo Chile.

Everyone gets it wrong sometimes, so what’s the biggest travel blunder you’ve ever made?

As a student I missed a flight from Oslo after spending an hour queuing in the wrong check-in line. After a stern talking to from a lady at SAS, she very kindly got me on the next flight without charging me a penny.

A favourite travel book to pass the journey?

The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl. I read it a few times as a kid and again this summer on a flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo. It’s still such a rollicking adventure.

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