Amy Rosen’s culinary craft isn’t just in the kitchen: it’s on the road, around the world, and throughout her native Canada. Food editor for House & Home magazine, travel columnist for the National Post, and contributing editor for enRoute magazine, Amy keeps busy by bringing the world’s culinary delights and practices to the page. Check out her website here.
Obviously I like your stuff: you’ve written for Perceptive Travel and won a few awards for your stories there. But what articles that you’ve written are you still the most proud of when you go back and read them again?
Am I allowed to call my own stories timeless, or does that sound gross? (heh heh). Because there are a couple that I still love, now a few years on, including one I wrote for enRoute magazine about eating early bird specials with old Jewish people in Florida. I like it because it gives such a sense of place, it’s funny and maybe even a little poignant. Another story I’m particularly proud of, also written for enRoute, was about cooking with Daniel Boulud in New York. That one was featured in the Best Food Writing 2008 anthology, and it lead to unsolicited calls from editors at some major U.S. magazines who gave me assignments based on “my voice”. And that, to me, is the highest compliment a writer can receive.
How did you “break in to travel writing”? What have been the keys to your success?
I was always an avid traveler, but as a freelance journalist I never thought to actually write stories and earn money from my travels. I just thought those two compartments were separate. (Not sure why.) About 10 years ago I got back from a trip to the Galapagos with a few friends, and one of my journalist friends said: “You should write about it.” And so I did. The next week, that story took up two full pages of the travel section in the Winnipeg Free Press, plus a full page photo I took on the cover of the section. And away I went. Since then, my travel writing, with a focus on food — my forte — it helps to have a forte if you can — has been like a tree, with regular gigs branching out from the trunk of the first few outlets that would have me. Good relationships with editors lead to regular work and recommendations to other editors. And there’s no real trick to it. Basically, hand in good, clean copy on time, and be pleasant to work with. Success will follow.
Where do you see your career as a travel writer being three years from now? How will your income mix change and what are you doing to adapt to the changing media landscape?
It’s getting harder for me to call myself a travel writer. Some people know me as a travel writer, others as a spa writer, but most as a food writer. But the thing is, most of the the stories I write involve some travel, and they all definitely have a sense of place. Over the past few years I’ve been focusing more on magazine features, but I’ve been lucky to do so as I realize most of those gigs are drying up; I just happen to be regular with a few still-thriving publications. I also see myself doing more books. But those aren’t travel related. (Cookbooks and novels.)
What advice would you give to someone near and dear to you who wanted to become a travel writer—assuming they had zero credits to their name. (Besides “Don’t do it”?)
Do it for the love of travel and writing, not for money.
You’ve written a lot over the years for newspapers in Canada. Do they have a brighter future than their U.S. counterparts, or is it just taking longer for the same forces to whittle their travel sections down to nothing?
The Canadian economy didn’t suffer nearly as much as that of our American neighbors — apparently we’ve got the Canadian banking system to thank for that. And while the newspapers here have had major cutbacks it’s not all doom and gloom. None of my friends who have regular travel columns in the papers lost their gigs, and I was actually asked to become the travel columnist for the National Post a few months ago. My friends and I have been lucky though, because I know a lot of other travel writers are struggling. That said, while there were some dips, the travel sections here seem to be fattening up again.
Amy Rosen is the food editor for House & Home magazine, the travel columnist for the National Post, and a contributing editor for enRoute magazine. In her spare time, she’s a regular contributor for Food & Wine, the Globe & Mail, and Maclean’s magazine, among other mags and papers. Her first novel, “Indigestion”, will be released in spring 2011. Please visit her web site at www.amyrosen.com.
Interview conducted in September, 2010 by Travel Writing 2.0 author Tim Leffel and edited by Kristin Mock.