Interviewed by Everett Potter
San Francisco’s Book Passage bookstore is one of the great American independent bookstores. Anyone with more than a passing interest in travel literature also knows it as the home of the Annual Travel Writers and Photographers Conference, which this year has expanded to cover food writers. At the helm of this lively festival is Don George, a travel writer and editor who is a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler. George was the travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, founded and edited the Wanderlust section of Salon.com, and most recently was Global Travel Editor at Lonely Planet Publications. He is the author of The Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of six literary travel anthologies, including The Kindness of Strangers, Tales from Nowhere, and By the Seat of My Pants. I caught up with Don to ask him about this year’s Conference, which runs from August 12-15, 2010.
Everett Potter: Don this year marks the 19th Annual Book Passage Travel, Food & Photography Conference. How did the conference originate?
Don George: The conference began when I was the Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and Elaine Petrocelli, the owner of Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, Marin County, called with “a crazy idea”: How about, she said, putting together a multi-day conference for aspiring travel writers, with workshops and panels featuring notable writers, editors, agents and publishers? I loved the idea and invited Jan Morris to be our first guest of honor. She graciously agreed and the conference was born.