Holly Morris is executive producer and writer/director of the award-winning primetime PBS documentary series Adventure Divas. She is the former editorial director of Seal Press and published two fishing anthologies, A Different Angle and Uncommon Waters. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Ms., Outside, abcnews.com and numerous anthologies. When she’s not writing, producing television documentaries, or fishing, Morris is a correspondent for television series such as Lonely Planet Treks in America, Treks in a Wild World, Globe Trekkers, and Outdoor Investigations. Her newest book is Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine (Random House/Villard 2005).
How did you get started traveling?
I travelled for a year in a blue van with my family across Eastern and Western europe and then Soviet Union in the ’70s. I suppose that imprinted travel ( thanks to the parents). There was post-collegiate travel — and then I travelled vicariously as editorial director at Seal Press where, among other titles, I edited the ‘Adventura’ imprint — a line of books about women and travel and adventure.
How did you get started writing? How did you get started in film and television?
Writing makes me happy, but, like yoga, even though I know it’s good for me I have to MAKE myself do it over and over again. I guess I started writing professionally via my publishing career. TV. Well. I wanted to take my ideas from publishing to a medium with exponential impact — TV — what I felt was an under utilized yet powerful medium.
What do you consider your first “break” as a travel writer?
I started publishing essays in anthologies. Not much money involved with that – but good exposure and a way to introduce yourself to the magazines (a first step in writing for them).
As a traveler and fact/story-gatherer, what is your biggest challenge on the road?
You’ve gotta take care of yourself physically/spiritually instead of always — 100% of the time — rolling with serendipity. I’m a big fan of courting the unexpected, but if you’re nine months out, lost track of your friends and haven’t exercised a lick — your creative well will run dry. Gotta keep those spirits up and take a break now and then. It will keep you fresh.
What is your biggest challenge in the writing/producing process?
I find having to deal with the financial end of things distracting, not much fun, and contrary to the spirit of the road.
Do you do other work to make ends meet? If so, what kind of work?
Yes. In recent years, I’ve been a television correspondent/host for several different broadcasters.
What travel authors or books might you recommend and/or have influenced you?
Actually I tend to read less travel and more fiction/nonfiction of the region I’m going to. If you can understand a place’s storytellers than you’re a long way toward telling a good, representative story yourself.
What advice and/or warnings would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing and/or television?
Have a very flexible significant other or be prepared to go without.
What is the biggest reward of life as a travel journalist?
I am constantly renewed and spirited into action by the people I meet. And I am never bored.
11) Is there a particular challenge in capturing the essence of a place for television versus for print?
Learning to tell stories through images, rather than words, was a challenge for me. Also, the inherently chaotic nature of television production is sometimes at odds with the more thoughtful/meditative energy it takes to capture ‘the essence of place.’ I feel the print medium fosters a more lingering, stewed thought process that can capture the more abstract notions.