Saturday, 3 January 2015

Author Sarah Jane Butfield chats to travel memoir author Robert Fear at Rukia Publishing #RPBP

Welcome to my first blog post of 2015. Happy New Year!!!
I hope you have all had a happy and healthy holiday period. As myself and the authors and readers at Rukia Publishing get set for a great year in the book world, I thought I would share my recent interview with travel memoir author Robert Fear who is a valued Rukia supporter. 

Welcome Robert,

For those readers who are not familiar with you or your work can you tell us a little about yourself?

Born in Leicester, UK in 1955. My family moved south to a village in Surrey called South Nutfield when I was 11 years old. We moved into Dawn Cottage and this was where I spent my formative teenage years. Attended Reigate Grammar School, which was a five mile journey (mostly by train and bus). It was here that I picked up the nickname of Fred.In 1974, after gaining 3 A Levels (English Literature, British Government & Politics and History) I started work at a private bank in the city, with every intention of working for a year and then going to university. In the end, I worked there for nearly 3 years.During the summer of 1976, I went on a two-week holiday with three mates to the Spanish island of Ibiza. We had a fantastic time and all of us vowed to go back for the summer in the following year. Come the next April I went out there on my own, although two of my mates joined me later on. I ended up working in a bar called ‘Grannies’ and loved the whole vibe, met plenty of young ladies and had a great time, but didn’t sleep a lot!Returned to the UK for the winter and worked 12-hour night shifts at a plastics factory to get some more money together for the following summer. In the spring of 1977, I set off again, this time to hitch-hike around Europe. For 4 months I made my way through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece and several islands, Italy, France, Spain and back to Ibiza again for the last couple of months of the summer. It was during this return visit that Fred met Rita and this time when I left the Balearic Islands it was to head for Frankfurt in Germany. I moved in with Rita, who lived with her parents in a house in Ruppertshain, a small village in the Taunus hills. Initially, I got some work on a building site and then in a Coca-Cola factory. By the spring of 1979, there was enough money in the coffers to fund a trip to the States and Canada. I started in New York where I spent a week or so before travelling on a 3 month Greyhound bus pass up the east coast, across Canada, and down the west coast where I stayed in LA for a couple of weeks. Then headed back across the States to Florida and back up the east coast to end my journeys in New York, An incredible round trip.Back in Germany I got a job as a messenger at the First National Bank of Chicago. Within 6 months, I had been promoted to the accounts department as I picked up the language and proved my worth. The travel bug didn’t go away though, I stayed at the bank for 15 months before heading off again, this time to Asia. This period is covered by my travel memoirs, the only time in my life that I recorded almost everything I did, in sometimes excruciating detail. The trip lasted 158 days and I travelled through Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Nepal, 
The first part of my diary was released in 2009 and its title, ‘Time in Thailand’, probably indicates to you that things didn’t go as planned. ‘£99 to Hong Kong’ was published in 2011 and covers the first part of my trip where I did some work as an extra for Chinese television. The full diary, ‘Fred’s Diary 1981’, was made available on Kindle and paperback in December 2013. Returning to Frankfurt in the late summer of 1981 was a shock to the system, a real case of reverse culture shock. Things soon get back to some normality though as I went back to the bank and worked there for another 5 years, becoming group leader of the accounts department. By the time I left my German was fluent.During this period I lived in Sachsenhausen, the bar and restaurant area of Frankfurt near the Main, often staying out late and enjoying life. Holiday allowance was generous in Germany and I was able to take 4-5 weeks travelling time off each year. I enjoyed trips to the Canary Islands, Scandanavia and Turkey. After returning from Turkey in November 1985, my life changed as I got together with the love of my life and in July 1986 I moved back to Eastbourne in the UK to be with her. We are still together nearly 30 years later and have lived in the same house since 1988 (the mortgage is almost paid off!). We got married in Kenya in 1994 and are cat lovers, having had a succession of rescues. The travel bug has never completely gone away. We’ve had great holidays in Portugal, Crete, Germany of course, Australia and the Seychelles.I had to start from scratch with my career in the UK, but found my niche in accountancy and computer software. I have had the opportunity in the last few years to travel with work and have been all over Europe as well as Singapore, Australia (for a week!), Ghana (at a Guinness brewery) and Suriname (in the middle of the rain forest).

If you could share one thing about yourself that currently your readers don’t know what would it be?
I was born into a religious sect called the Exclusive Brethren (also known as the Plymouth Brethren). They allow no social contact with people outside of the cult and at that time we were not allowed to read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch television. My father took us out when I was around 9 years old and we were excluded from seeing relations who stayed within the cult. I never saw my grandparents again.

To read the remainder of this interview and for the links to Robert's books visit his Rukia page