Tony Fosgate - Dangerously Funny Travel Tales
Tony Fosgate lives and works in the UK, but has travelled extensively to many different parts of the globe, in his own words, "enjoying the sights and sounds and the prospect on occasion of being moderately scared (or sometimes even terrified) by some new adventure activity." He says that he rarely returns to the same place twice and has little interest in a beach holiday. 'Satan’s Gut, Sausage boats and Ice Kisses: (The adventure travel notes of a nervous man)', is his first travel book. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what Satan's Gut, Sausage Boats & Ice Kisses is about.
'Satan's Gut ...' covers some of my early adventure travel experiences that include a trip down the Colorado, hanging around at the North Pole and flying off the Cresta Run in Switzerland, all done I have to say without any hint of competence or expertise on my part!
But then who isn't up for thrills? I wanted not only to relate how it felt to try these things out but also question in a light hearted way why people are drawn to ever more ludicrously risky activities, all done in the name of fun.
Satan's Gut refers to a famous swirling "hydraulic" feature along the Colorado that eats unwary river rafters, while ice kisses are what you might get when flying along at ninety miles an hour down an ice run with your head a few inches from the ground. Nervous man: that's me!
Readers say that it really feels like they really did the trip with you by the time they finished the book. How did you pull this off?
I'm glad to hear that. In the first instance I wanted to set down my experiences just so that I had some sort of record to remind myself, so it was very much like reliving the whole thing, almost in real time. In the course of writing I found that I was doing more and more research on the people and places I had visited together with the often colourful characters that formed their history, people like the original river runners of the grand Canyon for example and the early Polar explorers who battled to get to the North Pole. So that went into the book as well. It helped put the whole thing in context.
The book includes a lot of humor. Why did you write it this way?
As I say in its introduction, I have no particular skills or ability when it comes to adrenaline activities, I am not especially brave and frequently get lost. What could possibly go wrong?-seriously.
Who are you speaking to in the book? Who do you imagine your audience to be?
I think anyone with a sense of adventure who might be inspired to try some of these things or simply wants to read about them in the comparative safety of their own home. Careful though: statistically speaking bowling and cheerleading are more hazardous activities than whitewater rafting and about the most dangerous thing you can do is pee in the Colorado, (especially after a few beers). Luckily no one believes statistics.
What is the biggest life lesson you have taken away from your travels?
Definitely not to pee in the Colorado.
You accidentally ended up trying out for the British Bob Skeleton Olympic team. What was that experience like?
For Bob Skeleton think lying on a tea tray and negotiating an ice run at a hundred miles an hour. The British are very good at it despite having no snow at home. At one time though they were starting the team from scratch and literally invited everyone including me to audition. Suffice to say I never got in, although I did find myself in the company of the future Olympic and world champion. I don't think the Winter Games ever missed me.
What was it like to travel the North Pole and what would you do in a face-off situation with a Polar Bear?
The North Pole is a desolate place, apart from the increasing number of tourists with selfie sticks. But the Arctic does have its dangers. In Svalbard, north of the Arctic Circle, the local children are armed against Polar Bears and taught how to shoot, (not at the head which is bullet proof). No one wants to kill these magnificent animals but self defence is sometimes required. Other advice includes being passive or mixing it up, neither of which is likely to work in a fight with a Polar Bear. Fortunately, I never did have to use any of the above techniques.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I do have a go at most things, (sometimes with mixed results). I did take flying lessons a few years ago and while I didn't kill anyone, including myself, I did come to the conclusion that it might be better to keep my feet on the ground. I do enjoy walking, although with my suspect sense of direction I often find myself going round in circles. Is that a metaphor for life?
What are you working on right now?
I have other adventures to write about so maybe a second travel book is down the line. Sharks and penguins will definitely feature heavily.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I am gradually fumbling my way into social media so watch this space. I am always happy to swap travel and adventure travel stories with anyone I meet. I hope to have a few more to talk about in the future!