Writer Wednesdays – Frankie Thompson
From the moment I first stumbled upon Frances Thompson’s blog As the Bird Flies I was immediately drawn in by her beautiful, poetic and rich writing and I need to learn more about this new favourite writer. Frances, or Frankie or Bird as she is called, is from London, England but now travels as a nomad with a gift for writing.
Writer Wednesdays would like to introduce you to Frankie AKA Bird!
My name is Frankie, I’m originally from London though I’m currently living in Amsterdam with my Australian partner. Before we moved here last summer we were nomadic for a few years, travelling around and basing ourselves in different cities for a few weeks or months at a time. I work as a freelance writer and my partner runs his own online business so as long as we have the internet we can work anywhere; we’re very lucky! I also write a travel blog called As the Bird flies and I write fictional short stories inspired by the places I’ve been.
How many countries have you visited?
I’m not actually sure. I think it’s between 30 and 40 but I honestly don’t keep a count. I travel more for the quality of experiences than the quantity!
What’s your favourite place and why?
I have many favourite places. Amsterdam has become one of our favourite cities – we find it a very laid back place with lots going on, beautiful architecture and scenery, and of course, we love the cycling – but to visit I also keep finding myself being pulled back to Italy, Thailand and the Nordic countries. I also fell in love with Portugal and Morocco last year, completely unexpectedly, so who knows where will be my new favourite place!
If you could describe your method of travel in one word, what would it be?
Great question! I would say “open-minded”. I try to get rid of all preconceptions of a place before I get there, but this is easier said than done! I love being surprised when a destination is nothing like what I expected.
Again I have multiple favourites. Personally, one of my favourite recent travel moments was when I “survived” five days living in a tent, with no hot water and working with husky dogs in northern Norway in the middle of winter. Although it was incredibly hard work, it was the most fulfilling and satisfying travel experience to know I could live without a hot shower and a proper bed. That said, I also loved reviewing a 5 star luxury resort in Dubai less than two weeks later – such is the topsy turvy nature of travel! So many extremes!
What is your dream destination?
I would love to live on a tropical desert island for a while. I think it would be the closest to matching the two extremes I described above. Although I’d have no running water or modern comforts I would have much better weather and the most stunning surroundings. And I could swim with the fishes all day and sleep under the stars at night. I would also have plenty of time to relax and gather my thoughts. Oh, but I’d have to have a notebook and pen with me and the knowledge that someone would come pick me up eventually!
How has travel changed you?
In so many ways! And I hope it keeps on doing so. If the places you travel to don’t change you, why go? I’m not talking about drastic changes, but small stretches of your brain as you learn new things or slight adaptations to the way you think or feel because of something you experienced somewhere else. On a grander scale, two years of full-time travel have taught me I don’t need 90% of the belongings that I used to think I needed. Oh and I have learned that I can easily go three or four days without brushing my hair!
As a writer do you feel you see the world and approach travel differently than if you didn’t write?
I’m sure I do, but even before I was writing books or my blog I was using a lot of the “skills” I now rely on to write about a place or to pen a new short story. I’ve always been an avid people watcher and I love learning about the history of a place and the people who live there. I’ve long been fascinated by why people travel – for work, for love, to simply survive, to find a better life or to fulfil a life-long dream – and I’ve always been very aware that everyone has a story to tell. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve actually put this nosiness (because that’s what it is really!) to good use by writing my blog and my books.
Because it’s such a personal, precious achievement, I think every author’s first book starts when they’re born and it certainly felt like that for me with Shy Feet; it felt like it was 31 years in the making! However, I actually started writing the title story when I was sat in a bus station in Singapore waiting for a bus to Melacca in Malaysia. That was in October 2011 and the book was published in August 2013. The real turning point, however, was NaNoWriMo in November 2012 when I finally finished the first draft of all the stories and from there I worked whenever I could to get the book edited and ready for publishing. So I would say Shy Feet took around 18 months from concept to being published but I didn’t work on it full-time as I have clients to keep happy and bills to pay!
Do you have any new books on the horizon?
Yes. I’ve just released the first short story from my upcoming collection of fiction inspired by London. Night Bus is a light-hearted story about a young woman living in London and what happens to her after she meets a crazy old woman on the number 94 night bus. It’s available now on Amazon. The full collection of short stories is called A to Z and will feature some more weird and wonderful tales of the love, conflict, drama and strange things that happen when you live in London. It will be published this summer!
Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, to where?
At the moment I’m trying to keep my travel to a minimum so I can get A to Z finished but I do have trips to Croatia and Cape Town before the year is over. I’m also hoping to get away with some girlfriends soon and I’m definitely going to be doing more travel around the Netherlands a country I think is underestimated for its beauty and charm.
What is your must have travel accessory?
Another great question! I have to say my Kindle. Reading is such a huge part of my life and I do much more of it when I travel. I simply don’t understand why anyone travels with books these days; they’re so heavy!
What is your favourite travel book?
I definitely can’t choose just one. Recently I read “In Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World” by Elizabeth Bisland who was an American writer who reluctantly agreed to go head to head with another female journalist, Nellie Bly. in trying to travel around the world in under 80 days, thus beating Jules Verne’s fictional record. Going opposite ways around the globe, Bly arrived back in New York four days before Bisland who returned after 76 days away. While Nellie Bly has been written about extensively (and rightly so, she was a ground-breaking investigative journalist who exposed serious flaws in the way mental health was treated in the US at the time) very little is known about Elizabeth Bisland. Her account of the journey she embarked on (very unwillingly at first) is full of charm and idyllic detail. I read it and felt like her journey was made just a few decades ago, not 125 years ago. Now that’s good travel writing!
“A traveller without observation is a bird without wings” by the 13th century poet Saadi.
It reminds me to always keep me eyes and heart open.
I’d like to thank Frankie for her wonderful words, charming stories and the beautiful photos she’s added to this piece!
To learn more of Frankie’s books, blog and more click the links below!
Blog – As the Bird flies…