Porto to Salamanca on a Douro River cruise
September 20, 2019 § 3 Comments
Excited to return to one of my favorite corners of the planet to embark on this new National Geographic program, my first in nearly a year.
In my capacity as featured expert I’ll be delivering a series of lectures on the long, colorful history of the Iberian peninsula, from the earliest clues about human life to the Romans and the Moors and the rise and fall of the Hapsburg dynasty—and possibly beyond that, if we have time, to Francisco de Goya and the Peninsular War.
If there’s enough interest, I’ll also be offering an ad hoc field-based creative writing workshop, and hopefully getting some of my own scribbling done too.
Also looking forward to visiting some of the fascinating sites we have on the itinerary, meeting everyone else on our river ship, the Scenic Azure, and of course sampling some delicious food, wine, and port!
Radio interview: The Round Schoolhouse & the legend of Thunderbolt
December 10, 2018 § 2 Comments
Very enjoyable conversation this morning with Olga Peters of the Green Mountain Mornings radio show on WKVT Radio 100.03 FM about the local landmark and the historical characters that inspired my novel-in-progress, The Confession of Michael Martin, one of fifteen works selected for the 2018 long list of the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award. HNS describes it as “A novel of adventure, friendship, and immigrant life inspired by the true story of early American outlaws that is intriguingly different from Hollywood mythologies.”
The history behind the story is also of local interest because it represents a landmark in early Vermont and Brattleboro publishing. It’s of general interest because it’s an early entry in the great American outlaw myth, and because of what it tells us about the power of narrative to grip the human imagination and about the blurred lines between what we call history and what we call fiction. I’ll be presenting the research in a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Brattleboro Words Project at 6pm this Thursday, December 13, at 118 Elliot Street in Brattleboro. If you’re in the neighborhood, please come by!
If you’re interested in the topic but can’t make the discussion, listen to the 10 minute interview here. My heartfelt thanks to Lissa Weinmann of The Brattleboro Words Project and Olga Peters (feel better soon, Olga)!
Return Engagement: Tierra del Fuego & Southern Patagonia
November 4, 2018 § 3 Comments
On this key midterm election day in the USA, I’m so thrilled to be heading back (after voting, of course) to one of my favorite corners of planet Earth, an area of vast and stunning wilderness encompassing the islands, waters, and mountain ranges of the southernmost reaches of the South American continent.
We’ll be stopping over for a few days in Buenos Aires, but the real adventure begins in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, as we board the Stella Australis, a small (150-200 passenger) Chilean-run cruise ship, and set off into the stark and storied landscapes and seascapes of Tierra del Fuego.
We’ll visit the legendary Cape Horn, making a landing if the weather allows, and then follow in the wake of Charles Darwin’s Beagle and use zodiacs to explore various fascinating features, including fjords, tidewater glaciers, a penguin colony, and pristine high latitude temperate rainforests of this spectacular convergence of land, sea and ice, we’ll be on the lookout for whales, sea lions, penguins, albatross and many other fascinating bird species.
Next, we’ll stay in the amazing Tierra Patagonia hotel at the foot of the dramatic granite spires and horns of Torres del Paine National Park. Here we’ll have several full days of hiking and/or horseback riding amidst one of the world’s most striking landscapes, in a part of Chile with some of the lowest human population densities on the planet.
This rich and diverse ecosystem is of particular interest to us because it includes an apex predator, the elusive puma, and its primary prey, the charming and highly entertaining guanaco. What a magnificent opportunity!
This will be my fifth time on this particular National Geographic itinerary, and I’m thrilled to be heading back. One of the advantages of being a writer is that it’s a multi-disciplinary pursuit—and a trip like this provides great material.
I’m a big fan of history, geography, ecology, and biography as disciplines that enrich any travel experience, and it will be my privilege to share some of those wide-ranging interests with the National Geographic group.
Talks will focus on the history and geography of the region and the lives of explorers and adventurers who went on to make important contributions to humanity and the planet—and whose early lives were shaped by their journeys to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. My final talk will be more personal in nature, about my parallel careers as a novelist and travel guide, the links between travel, writing, and environmental awareness, and what I call the “geographic imagination.”
All in all, it promises to be an unforgettable experience. This is a really fantastic part of the world and I highly recommend you get there if you can. I could be convinced, by the way, to organize a custom trip or two if anyone’s interested . . .
Podcast: The Rocky Mountain Writer
October 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
What a pleasure it was to spend part of a recent afternoon having this wide-ranging conversation with Colorado novelist Mark Stevens on The Rocky Mountain Writer podcast.
We discussed many topics of interest to writers and readers, including A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, travel and fiction, Ecuadorian volcanoes, Venezuela’s Orinoco basin, Eastern Cuba, fiction vs autobiography, the importance of place in fiction, dropping acid and pushing the bounds of objective reality, interiority and loneliness, The Grateful Dead and the Eleusinian Mysteries, fly fishing as metaphor, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Golding’s The Inheritors, Newport MFA & the Cuba Writers Program, and a recap of a talk I gave on “The Essentials of Voice” at RMFW’s Colorado Gold conference in September, 2018.
Listen to the entire podcast here. Mark also did a wonderful followup print interview here, in which we talked about life experience as a point of departure for fiction, the deep sources of story ideas, more on why I think dreams and hallucinations shouldn’t be off-limits for fiction writers, place-based writing as a response to environmental crisis, the challenge of endings, some of my favorite writers, and more. Enjoy!
Audiobook release, new Cuba dates & other news
October 2, 2018 § 2 Comments
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A quick update on books and travel, and wishing you all a happy fall!
For anyone who likes to listen as you drive, work, or relax, I’m pleased to inform you that A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing is now available as an audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
Everything you might want to know about the collection can be found here; I include a quick summary and some review highlights pasted at the bottom of this post. (It’s been wonderful to see how well the book has been received out in the world, by the way. It seems to have found some “legs” of its own, and I’m most grateful to all of you who’ve purchased, read, reviewed, and/or recommended it.)
New Cuba dates! I’m thrilled to announce an exciting new cultural trip, offered in cooperation with the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, timed to coincide with the renowned Havana Art Biennial, April 15 – 23, 2019. This will be a well planned but flexible and culturally rich program, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to go (or return) to Cuba, here it is!
For the writers and aspiring writers out there, consider coming on the fourth annual Cuba Writers Program, May 2- 10, 2019. We have a great time on this program; it’s a wonderful way to experience the vibrant culture of Cuba while honing or kick-starting your writing.
If you have 3-10 friends or family members looking to go to Cuba on your own, I can help you plan a custom, small-group trip that’s fully compliant with U.S. Treasury Department legal requirements. My Havana ground operation and I have organized quite a few of these in the last several years, and we’ve got it down to a fine art. Happy to plan creative custom programs in other parts of the world as well.
Finally, here’s my frequently updated list of upcoming talks, programs, and classes, including events offered in various locations through Grub Street, the Newport MFA in Creative Writing, National Geographic Expeditions, Vermont Humanities Council, various writing conferences, and elsewhere. I hope our paths may cross!
Wishing you all the best,
A high altitude lake is the point of departure for these stories of dark adventure, in which fishing guides, amateur sportsmen, teenage misfits, scientists, mountaineers, and expatriates embark on disquieting journeys of self-discovery in far-flung places. A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Awards Grand Prize Short List and was a finalist in the short story category for both the 2018 American Fiction Awards and the 2017 International Book Awards.
“From the mountain lakes of the Colorado Rockies to cobbled streets of Spain, this fascinating collection of short stories never disappoints. A Field Guide to Murder and Fly Fishing is a collection you’ll be happy to get lost in.” — Ploughshares.
“Provocative and memorable, this collection strikes all the right chords.” — Main Street Rag
“I found myself consuming [these] thirteen tightly wound tales with addictive delight.” — Fiction Writers Review
“Weed’s short stories draw us away from the blue light of device screens. Under the blue skies and dark waters of A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, readers can feel pain, empathy, and purpose bubbling out from the sharp-detailed mental images.” — Pleiades
“Tim Weed proves himself a skilled creator of a sense of place . . . each story deposits one definitively into a geography, of mind and map.” — The Boston Globe
“Weed’s stories . . . are colored by his long experience as a travel and adventure writer . . . His characters are fishermen, mountaineers, and teenagers all on a quest for self-discovery. From the title page to the last page, this is a book of gems.” — Big Sky Journal
“These stories bristle with energy and immediacy. The writing is spare and meticulous and packs a hefty emotional punch. I am not exaggerating when I say this collection kept me up at nights. I just couldn’t stop reading.” — Addison Independent
Order the paperback, ebook, or (new!) audiobook at your favorite independent bookstore or IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or Audible. (A limited number of first-edition hardcovers still available here.)
Back to Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia
November 2, 2017 § 2 Comments
It’s been a few years, and I’m thrilled to be returning to one of my favorite regions on the planet with National Geographic Expeditions’ Exploring Patagonia program. This season I’m slated to accompany two trips: one in November, 2017 and a second in January, 2018. We’ll be cruising through Tierra del Fuego in a small, expertly crewed, Chilean-owned ship, the M.V. Stella Australis. We’ll embark from Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, round Cape Horn, and make our way up through the Magdalena Passage and the Agostini Sound, taking advantage of daily Zodiac landings to explore Hornos Island, Wulaia Bay, glaciers, and penguin colonies. Fantastic!
The Stella Australis will then drop us off in Punta Arenas, Chile, and we’ll head up to the stunning wilderness of Torres del Paine, where we’ll have daily opportunities to wander, both on foot and horseback. We can expect to see guanaco, rhea, Andean condor, many other bird species, and possibly even a puma or two. But it’s the vastness and sublime beauty of these wilderness landscapes that is the true highlight here. This part of the world is one of the least densely populated on earth, and it’s never short of inspiring!
I’m excited to be leading the educational aspects of the program in my role as National Geographic’s “featured expert.” Other than informal group interactions the main element of this task is to give a series of illustrated talks: an intro to the history and geography of the region; Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle; American artist and adventurer Rockwell Kent; Ivon Chounard, Douglas Tomkins and “los Fun Hogs.”
I’ll also be giving a brand new talk that I’m thrilled to debut in Patagonia, in which I’ll attempt to make sense of the links between travel, fiction, place-based writing, all in the context of this strange hybrid career of mine.
If you’re signed up for either of these trips, I look forward to traveling with you. If not, stay tuned: there are likely to be similar opportunities in the future!
Illustrated Talk on the Literary and Artistic History of Nantucket Island
July 21, 2017 § Leave a comment
Very much looking forward to this talk, which I’ll be giving at 7:30PM on July 26, at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, in collaboration with talented painter Julia Jensen! If you’re in southern Vermont, come out to hear a novelist and an artist discuss the rich historic, literary, and artistic legacy of this very special island. Here’s a link to the event. Drinks and snacks too!
The talk is in anticipation for the Museum’s sponsored trip to the island coming up October 26-29, 2017, which Julia and I will be co-leading.
Back to Havana at a momentous time
November 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
This morning we have the news that Fidel Castro has passed out of this world. Whatever you think of his policies there can be no question that he was one of the most colorful and important world-historical figures of the 20th century. I’m heading to Havana in a few days, traveling with a small group put together by the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. One of the things I’ll be doing is giving an illustrated lecture about the history of the Cuban Revolution. I’m sure we’ll be talking quite a lot about Fidel, both with among my fellow travelers and with Cubans. It will be a very interesting time to be there.
Historical moment aside, I’m extremely happy to be heading back to the island of Cuba. It’s been several months, and it will be great to check in with old friends, breathe the tropical air, reconnect with the familiar sights and smells and sounds. And yes, it will be be a welcome relief to make a quick escape from social media and the constant reminders of our new electoral reality. In this context, nine packed and fascinating days away sound pretty good. We’ll be in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad, with highlights including Hemingway’s house at Finca Vigía, world-class traditional music everywhere but especially on the steps in the main square of Trinidad, a few special paladares, and visits to certain unspoiled regions on and near the southern coast.
Particularly looking forward to visiting the old sugar central of Soledad (near Cienfuegos), the site of some fascinating research I’ve been doing on Edwin Atkins, a Bostonian sugar planter who was the largest foreign property owner during the war of 1895-98 and an influential adviser to both the Cleveland and the McKinley administrations. Atkins’ old mansion still stands, and I’ve played a small role in the process of a local initiative to restore and conserve the house and to create a new museum.
If you’re looking for ways to get to Cuba yourself during what may prove to be the short-lived window of the recent relaxation of U.S.-Cuba relations, don’t hesitate to send me a note. Happy to share my experience and reach out to essential contacts, or at least point you in the right direction. ¡Viva Cuba!
Brattleboro Literary Festival
September 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
Very much looking forward to this year’s Brattleboro Literary Festival! This has evolved into one of the premier literary events of the year, anywhere in the country, and I’m so pleased to be part of it. As a member of the author committee, I’ll have the great honor and pleasure of introducing fellow writers Sunil Yapa, Nancy Marie Brown, Jonathan Lee, and Meg Little Reilly.
If you’re anywhere near southern Vermont the weekend of October 13 – 16, 2016, you’d be crazy not to stop in. All events are free and open to the public!
The Life & Times of Goya at the Brattleboro Museum
July 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
Very much looking forward to giving this illustrated talk on one of my favorite Spanish artists and the times that produced him. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries encompass a fascinating era in Spanish history, well into the decline of the great Empire, with plenty of corruption and chaos to go around, culminating in the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the dark times that followed.
Among other things, we’ll be tracing Goya’s evolution from a designer of light-hearted tapestry cartoons to First Court Painter to an artist who captured his age with a darkness and power that sent western civilization’s understanding of what creative art is and can be hurtling into the future.
We’ll also be serving tapas and summer wine. So if you’re in the area on Thursday, July 21, at 5:30 PM, stop by BMAC in downtown Brattleboro!