Kev St John is away with the fairies
I caught up with writer Kev St John to chat about his travel blog, Away With the Fairies.
What was your inspiration for your blog Away With the Fairies?
The idea for the blog came about towards the end of my time in Australia, when I realised my private travel journal was recalling an almost entirely different story than the account I was telling my family at home. The idea that who we are and who we present ourselves as being are different, despite the same events shaping us, was exciting to explore and develop. I thought it would be interesting to combine them into a single narrative.
When did you first start writing it?
My time in Australia was a few years ago now. I’ve written travel journals all my life, a habit learnt from my Dad. He used it as a way to remember all the things we did together on our family holidays. Looking back on them now, I find myself more interested in what we felt or thought at the time, rather than the itinerary, so have learnt to fully invest in using the diary as a cheap form of counselling. It makes for a more interesting read in years to come.
Did you fictionalise any of the details in the journal?
The blog is not fiction at all. I have been known to elaborate a particular event for dramatic effect, but otherwise, it’s pretty accurate. The juiciest stuff isn’t even online yet, I’m gauging interest before I expose myself too much.
The only real change included swapping a couple of events around to give clearer ‘character growth’ by the end of the tale – in real life, I clearly don’t learn my lessons.
How do you publish and promote the blog?
For a couple of years, I had an Away With The Fairies radio series. It was a travel show, looking at where to go and what to do from a LGBTQ slant, looking at safety and anti-gay laws as much as the landmarks. The blog was referenced, and enough interest meant it got nominated for a Blog award. Alas, life gets in the way, and it can be hard fitting in publication and promotion around a proper ‘grown-up’ job. The site was kind of bubbling away on its own for a while there.
Recently, I’ve gone back to websites such as YouWriteOn and Scribophile to speak to other authors, network, and to help improve my blogs and writing to make it more marketable.
What do you hope that people feel when reading the blog?
Hopefully, they’ll recognise themselves a little. Not necessarily as a gay man – the blog also seems to be very popular with straight females – but in the insecurities and self-doubts that I’m quite honest about. I hope that they’ll watch the growth of the main character, and get behind him. Just maybe, the journey will also help them find more confidence in themselves.
What sort of feedback do you get from readers?
It’s been pretty much universally positive. A couple thought the humour was lacking towards the start, and one person told me some of the early self-depreciation made him cringe. But these people had only read the earliest entries, and these were exactly the emotions they were supposed to feel at that point.
Is there life for the story beyond the blog format?
I had to cancel the radio show after a couple of years due to lack of available time, but you can probably still listen to the episodes on a site like Mixcloud. It’s been mentioned that the blog format would lend itself very well to television, as it is so episodic. This is something I’m keen to investigate.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have more travels since Australia. Away With The Fairies could easily develop further – plus, I recently got married and wrote a diary throughout the wedding planning and engagement. That is a whole different kind of story!
What are some of your priorities for the months ahead?
To try and invest more time and effort into getting my writing noticed. The TV thing would be awesome, so I’m hitting up potential contacts. The blog has been left on a bit of a cliff hanger and I could take that a little further if interest continues to build. I’m lucky, as my new husband could get a little pissed off reading about my earlier exploits, but he’s pretty cool with it.