Clare Kleinedler is a freelance food and travel writer living in Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to Intermezzo Magazine, for which she has written destination food pieces on Mexico, New Zealand, Tahiti and Japan, among others. Her work has also been published in Virtuoso Life, Los Angeles Times and People magazine. She also publishes her own food blog, Rainy Days and Sundays.
1.What is your motivation behind wanting to become a successful travel writer?
I’ve always hated the idea of being stuck behind a desk all day and getting only two weeks’ paid vacation per year. I’ve done it, and it’s life-sucking. Being able to see the world and write about it combines two great loves for me, so it just seemed like a natural fit.
2. What is the biggest learning you have made in your journey so far? Is there any advice you would like to share with others?
That travel changes you. People say it all the time but it wasn’t until I really started getting out there that I realized how true this is. We all have the tendency to live in a bubble; you get wrapped up in your own life and soon become very ignorant to what’s going on outside your little world. When you travel and are exposed to people from other cultures, you immediately gain a sense of how big the world is and how miniscule you and your problems really are. You start seeing possibilities for yourself that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. By “possibilities” I mean ways to live your life better, differently, with more spirit and purpose. My advice would be to get a passport and fill it up. Get out there!
3. What are the greatest successes that you have achieved with your travel writing to date?
The greatest success has been the opportunity to go places and do things that I would never be able to afford or arrange on my own. Last year I spent nearly three weeks in New Zealand, and stayed at the most incredible places like a “superlodge” up in the hills of Rotorua called Treetops Resort. We went foraging for native edible plants with a Maori chef and spent all evening cooking and eating in this fantastic gourmet kitchen. There were only three of us in the resort that night and just to be able to have that time in such a beautiful place with these amazing locals was priceless. I remember looking out into the misty green forest from my cabin and thinking, It’s never going to get any better than this. But the thing with this gig is that it can, and it does!
4. Describe your current location and what has taken you there?
I live in Los Angeles. I basically grew up here, but lived in San Francisco for college and for several years afterward. I moved back because the economy in San Francisco had hit a major rough patch, and I saw more work opportunities in LA. However, I may be moving overseas next spring for a year.
5. What experiences have brought you the most joy in your life?
There are many…it’s hard to narrow it down. I get a great deal of joy from cooking for other people. Having friends and family over for a dinner party is one of favorite things to do. There’s something about sharing a meal that brings people together and I love that.
6. What was your day like and what are you most grateful for?
Not super exciting so far: Woke up, went to the gym, cooked breakfast and had a conference call with a writing client. I’ll do some work today, get my laundry done and then meet up with friends for dinner and drinks. For the past few months, I’ve made a habit of consciously acknowledging what I’m grateful for on my walk home from the gym every day. Today, I am grateful that it’s Friday, that I’ve recently gotten a big work project, that I’m having my family over for Thanksgiving and for the cooler weather we’re having in LA.
7. When did you start to feel comfortable in calling yourself a professional journalist and for how long? How did you achieve this career path through college or experience etc.?
I graduated with a degree in journalism, and wrote for a few magazines throughout college, so I suppose I felt comfortable calling myself a journalist from the onset. I spent several years in another profession – Internet Marketing – but I still wrote for magazines on the side the whole time. I think it’s kind of like being a musician. Even if you’re working a day job, you’ll always be a musician at heart. For me, being a writer is just who I am.
There were many, many years that I wrote for free, and that’s how I got my start. Some of my best career memories are from when I was a poor writer. I was doing music journalism back then and got to interview so many of my favorite bands and see hundreds of shows – I felt I was living the dream! And the contacts I made in my early days have paid off tremendously. Always nurture your contacts.
8. What is your greatest ambition?
To write a memoir or novel and to have enough success with it to be able to write a couple more. And to own a little wine bar or gastropub one day.
9.Where does your passion for travel come from?
I was born in Japan, and lived there for five years before moving to the states. We went back to Japan to visit relatives a few times when I was a child, and though I didn’t appreciate it back then (I wanted to stay in LA with my friends!) I think it somehow planted a seed of interest. It also comes from meeting people of other cultures. I’ve been lucky to have had roommates from Ireland, Germany and Columbia and I went to college with students from Kuwait, Japan, Mexico, Laos and many other places. Hearing their stories always inspired a great deal of travel lust!
10. What travel writers do you admire?
I admire a lot of journalists, though most are not travel writers per se. I love Tom Chiarella’s writing style; it’s wickedly funny and so vivid. When I read his writing I feel I know precisely what he means – it evokes the type of empathy that has you going, “Yes, exactly!!!” I’ve read all of Anthony Bourdain’s books and really have a high regard for his work. I also enjoy Steven Rinella, who writes about food and travel for various magazines and has a book out called American Buffalo. He wrote an article for Outside magazine called, “Me, Myself and Ribeye” that documented his quest to find the perfect steak in Argentina, and it had me in stitches. Janet Street-Porter’s no-holds-barred approach is really appealing to me; she’s got bigger balls than most men.
11.What is the craziest situation you have been in while travelling?
Last year I traveled with my friend to her father’s house in the tiny town of Thanstein, in northern Bavaria. The house was very old and had these really long hallways with many doors that opened to the bedrooms and sitting rooms. There were antique gas furnaces everywhere, dim lighting that flickered a lot and creaky, wooden floors. During the day, it was really charming but at night it took on this eerie feeling. It was the middle of winter, with snow fluttering down on the pitch-black night, and the vibe was something right out of “The Shining.” I couldn’t sleep because I felt like someone was in the room…it was as if a person was standing next to my bed, glaring at me. I spent the entire night with my head buried under the covers, too scared to look up and with my heart thumping out of my chest. It was the longest night of my life! The next morning I told my friend about it, and she said, “Oh yeah…I didn’t want to say anything but everyone who stays here says that. The whole town thinks this place is haunted.” Actually it was good she didn’t tell me before because I’m such a chicken that I would have refused to stay there!
12. What is your favourite drink and where would you like to have it?
I love red wine. I think the perfect place for a robust glass of Brunello would be at an outdoor café in Montalcino, Italy, where Brunello is made. You can’t beat the view or the wine.
Stay tuned next Wednesday December 2nd where I will be posting my interview with the adorable freelnace writer Abbie Mood who has just started out on her Travel Writing Career. Check out Abbie’s blog here or on twitter http://twitter.com/MilesofAbbie