Debut Author Katy Colins Talks Love, Writing, and Seeing the World
For many people, the abrupt dissolution of a relationship weeks before a perfect wedding would be the end of the world. For Katy Colins, it opened up a whole new one. In the wake of extreme heartbreak she decided to quit her job, sell everything she owned, and embark upon the backpacking adventure of a lifetime.
Since then, Katy has travelled all over the world, seen her story spread across social media, and her debut novel, Destination Thailand, is now being published. We caught up with Katy to find out more.
Hi Katy! You’re probably sick and tired of recounting it all, but can I ask for a quick summary in your own words of the events that led to you packing everything in and going travelling?
I was due to get married and had everything sorted for this beautiful white wedding, but a few weeks before the big day my fiancé called it off. Since the shock of my long term relationship ending and along with it the life I thought I was going to have, I made the decision to make something good out of being heartbroken. This decision was to quit my job, sell everything I owned and head off on a solo backpacking adventure. Little did I know that this would lead to achieving a lifelong ambition of becoming a published author!
Was travelling something you had always wanted to do, or was it a spur of the moment decision?
I would always listen with interest to my friends' stories from their gap year adventures but never thought travel in that sense (other than a two week package holiday) would happen to me. I was eager to get on the career ladder and it was always something I put in the ‘one day’ folder. When my relationship ended and everyone told me that the world was my oyster, I started to give it some serious thought that maybe they might just be right.
How experienced a traveller were you before that?
The furthest I had travelled was to Uganda when I went on a short trip with a group of work colleagues who were supporting a charity called Medcare that was doing some incredible lifesaving work out there. This trip opened my eyes to the world outside of the life I lived in Manchester, but I would hardly say I was experienced in travel other than that. I certainly had never travelled anywhere on my own before.
How did you go about planning your travel itinerary?
At first I bought the Lonely Planet guide book and worked my way through that for an overall view of what route I could take. I then read a lot of travel blogs and forums to chat to others who had spent time in the places I was hoping to visit. I certainly tried to fit too much in during the early days of my trip, so I soon learnt to chill out and slow down so as to get a richer experience of a place.
What’s your favourite destination you’ve visited and why?
Probably the most influential destination was without a doubt Thailand. I landed in Bangkok wide eyed and excited about what I would be experiencing in this country famed for its smiles. My time travelling up and down Thailand is what inspired the setting for my debut novel Destination Thailand as I instantly fell in love with the place, and wanted to share this with readers who may have not experienced it themselves.
Congratulations on the book! Can you tell us a little about how that came about?
Thank you! I started writing the first book in the Lonely Hearts Travel Club, Destination Thailand, when I was backpacking round South East Asia on my own. At first I scribbled down in a travel journal the things I was seeing, doing and feeling never really knowing they would leave the pages of that journal. When I returned and went to live in France, that is when I really decided to use this as the basis of my debut novel.
What can readers expect from the book? How much of it is based specifically on your life?
Destination Thailand follows the journey of jilted bride Georgia Green as she tries to go from feeling lost to wanderlust by making her way around Thailand on her first backpacking adventure. It is a light hearted novel very loosely based on my own personal experiences, although I think that Georgia certainly gets a rougher deal that I did.
What have you learned about yourself by travelling? How has it made you reflect on everything that happened?
Travel has given me so many skills it's hard to list them all. From growing in confidence to improving my bartering skills and time management, you really do feel a sense of pride at how you have grown and changed as a person after travelling.
What advice would you give to young people torn between settling down or going travelling?
I don’t think it has to be a choice between the two things. You can still travel no matter what your age or relationship status, it may just mean shorter trips or a lot of exciting mini breaks.
Finally, what’s next for you after this first book?
My second novel in the Lonely Hearts Travel Club series, Destination India, comes out in March and I am currently busy writing the third novel, Destination Chile, which is set for release in May. After this I will certainly be taking a break and jetting off somewhere, as no doubt my feet will be extremely itchy by then!
Katy Colins debut novel Destination Thailand (book one in The Lonely Hearts Travel Club) is available now in ebook at 99p, and the paperback will be published on 11 Febraury (Carina, priced £7.99)