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Q&A: TONY GEARY, CO-FOUNDER OF TRIPFICTION

Posted in NEWS By Maggie O'Sullivan

What is TripFiction?

TripFiction is a website that matches novels with the locations in which they are set. As well as just researching books by location, author, or genre, visitors to the site can sign up to be members which gives them the opportunity to add reviews or recommend new books for the site.

Why match a novel to a location?

Guidebooks do a great job in giving a traveller the facts about a location. But a work of fiction set in a specific locale can help give you the flavour of the place, and extra insight into its personality and character. I have just, for example, read The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer, set in Karachi, Pakistan. It is a great book, but what for me really worked is the way the city comes through on every page of the book – the filth, the mass of humanity, the constant traffic jams, the charm of many of its people – and the nastiness of others.

Why a website?

Eight years ago, my family and I were staying just off Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok. I was sitting by the rooftop pool reading a book called Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett. Much of the action was taking place in a nearby Soi and it captured the city’s atmosphere perfectly – somehow seedy, with street food and strange (to us) customs. We explored Bangkok with memories of the book still fresh in our minds. We discussed the idea for TripFiction then and many times over the following years, until we finally decided that the time had come to do something about it.

How do you decide which novels go in? 

For credibility we decided that when we launched the site we needed to feature at least 1,000 books. We drew up a list of prime travel destinations and looked for books that were set in them. These days, the majority of recommendations come from visitors to the site and, increasingly, from authors and publishers. We have now grown to more than 4,000 books set in 1,100 cities, regions, and countries around the world.

Where are you going next and what will you be reading?

We will shortly be off to Rome. I intend to take two books with me. The first is Any Human Face by Charles Lambert. It comes highly recommended for getting to grips with the city in a slightly ‘off the tourist beat’ manner. The second is A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome by Alberto Angela which leads one through a typical day of a Roman patrician in 115 AD.

Kindle man or paperback packer?

For me, nothing matches the feel of turning the pages of a ‘real’ book to the extent that I prefer a hardback to a paperback. But I recognise the advantages and practicality of a Kindle, and I do own one.

Further information, TripFiction

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