This interview with Thomas Palfy, author of Australian adventures, Australia Illustrated: The Eastern States, The West of the West, Definitely Digital!, Challenge and Adversity: [ Six letters to my Daughter], The Hub of Australia and Beyond, and Captured with the Camera, was first published in May 2009.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Hungary. Following the unsuccessful uprising in 1956, I escaped to the West and settled in Melbourne, Australia.
What was it that first got you into writing and when did you start writing?
I have always been an avid reader, ever since my grandfather received the stock of a bookstore as payment for his (legal) services. My grandmother would have preferred payment in lard, flour or eggs - this was the time right after the Second World War. My grandfather and uncle were amateur writers, their output remained strictly within the family. When I turned sixty, I jotted down the many exciting, happy, sad, funny and downright dangerous events that happened to me. I gave it the title Letters to my Daughter as it was in the form of six letters, each covering about ten years in my life. Eventually this work was revised and published as Challenge and Adversity (Six letters to my Daughter). The bulk of my output, however dates from 2002, the time I retired from active work as an industrial chemist. Most of my books are travel-photo essays.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
It is difficult to say who influenced me as a writer. My favourite fiction writers are Stephen Vizinczey and Michael Crichton. I have also been influenced by photographers of the classic Hungarian school, I go and see their exhibitions whenever I have a chance.
What kind of things do you write?
Most of my books are photo collections, Australian travel pictures with comments or travel journals featuring the attractions of this country.
What are you working on now?
I have just completed "Across Australia from East to West" and about to start promoting this new work. It is about trips during the past three and half years to many of the best parts of Australia.
What is your writing day like?
My day is a series of activities, like everyone else's day, I guess. When I write a book, I spend a few hours writing but still find time to teach (photography), do some gardening, read books, meet people and get involved in family life. The days when I used to go to work are over.
What’s the most exciting thing about writing for you?
The most exciting thing is the preparation itself: going to places - towns, mountains, lakes, beaches etc. and taking photos. Photos of landscapes, people, plants and animals. Following such trips everything falls into place, the writing, selection of the best images and the design and layout of the book. The next exciting thing is seeing it in print, the first proof. What is in between, is hard work but also fun!
What’s the most frustrating thing about writing for you?
Sometimes the co-ordination between publisher and Internet bookstore is poor and the description of the book is missing from the display at the store's website. Postage costs are high when the book is sent overseas. This is a real concern because the publisher is in the U.S. and I live in Australia or want to send copies to Europe.
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience?
I get wonderful feedback on some blog sites. There are links to some of them on my website. Some reviewers have the talent to describe my photographs in a very vivid manner. I look at the same photographs differently after receiving such comments.
Do you write for a particular audience, or is your first priority to satisfy your own creativity?
I would like to inspire people to visit Australia. Those who live here should move around, and see many of its attractions.
Do you have a homepage? Do you have any short stories or poems published online? (If so, please provide the URLs):
My homepage is www.australiantravelstories.com
I have no short stories or poems or work of fiction, but information on travel and numerous images. I also have a guidebook on digital photography, titled Definitely Digital!