I became acquainted with Mike Edwards on Twitter where I am always looking for Indie Authors who may need editing or cover design services, or where I often find people to write about on Mavor Arts. Mike asked me if I considered writers to be "artists" and if so, would I consider interviewing him about his adventures climbing Kilimanjaro, which are chronicled in his amazing book, Kilimanjaro: ONE MAN'S QUEST TO GO OVER THE HILL, published in March of 2012.
After I read the beginning pages of his book on Amazon, I was immeditely intrigued. I do think writers are "artists", but I don't usually include them on this blog except when other visual artistry is involved like the sketchbook selections featured for writer Ernest Hogan awhile back. In this case we have Mike's pictorial record of his incredible trek to the top of what is not only the tallest mountain in Africa (5,895m) but also the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. His photographs bring to life all that is spectacular about Kilimanjaro.
Then there is the personal story behind the scenes which we will discover in this interview. And it turns out to be something way more than simply an incredible travelogue.
Elinor Mavor: Mike, are you a seasoned mountain climber? Truth!
M. G. Edwards: Not at all! I'm a dreamer who dreamed big and did something I never thought I'd do ... climb a mountain! Thank goodness Kilimanjaro (Kili) was forgiving enough that I didn't need to be a mountaineer to attempt it.
EM: You are one of those people who have pursued several careers in your 40 some years on our planet. Tell us about them.
MG: It's true. I've had several past lives. I want a career that I enjoy, and my tastes have changed through the years. I began working on commercial airplanes at Boing but took a break to pursue my Master's Degree in Business Administration. One day, a diplomat visiting the university campus persuaded me to join the U.S. Department of State, and after I graduated, I joined the Foreign Service and moved overseas to serve in South Korea, Paraguay and Zambia. By 2011 a voice in my head told me that it was time to leave the diplomatic corps and become a writer. The rest is history.
EM: And what is it that you REALLY have wanted to to do all along as a lifetime career?
MG: Good question. My work history mirrors my lifetime career aspirations. My first calling as a kid was to be a writer, but when I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a diplomat. Although I initially went into the private sector, I ultimately achieved my dream of becoming a diplomat, a job that in reality was nothing like I had imagined. Life has now brought me full circle to what I really wanted to do all along ... be a writer.
EM: So, why did you decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
MG: To quote George Mallory before he perished on Mount Everest: "Because it's there". My wife, Jing, climbed Kilimanjaro the year before and inspired me to try it too. At the time I was struggling to get through a midlife crisis and needed a challenge that would help me get out of my funk. It seemed like a good idea at the time to tackle something life-changing to help me to overcome what was bothering me. It was a really tough way to do it, but it worked!
EM: Tell me about your climbing companions.
MG: My climbing companions, Betty, Kay and Tom, are a great group of people. We had our ups and downs climbing Kilimanjaro (literally!) but were fortunate to avoid the drama that affects some groups. Betty was our climbing veteran who had tried and failed to conquer the mountain several years before in honor of her home country, Zambia. Kay, the athletic, no-nonsense member of our team, had no experience mountain climbing but prepared for it by running marathons and eating right. A seasoned adventurer with a great sense of humor, Tom was a trekker at heart but had bever climbed something so high as Kili. We all got on so well that I'm hoping my companions will join me again for a trek in the Himalayas in 2013.
EM: Would you share with us two of the most significant parts of your adventure: the most breathtaking and the most challenging?
MG: Without a doubt the most breathtaking would be the magnificent panoramic views. It's been said that you can see farther from Mount Kilimanjaro than any other place on Earth. The mountain with its ever-changing cloud patterns and landscapes, Serengeti plains, and other freestanding peaks scattered across the horizon were simply spectacular. I hope that my photos offer a glimpse of Kilimanjaro's amazing beauty. The most challenging aspect was the physical ordeal of being an average guy summitting what has been called "Everyman's Everest". It may be one of the easier of the world's highest mountains to climb, but not everyone can do it. The challenge of climbing it was worth it, but I'm not sure I'd do it again.
EM: What will your next project be?
MG: I'm writing a psychological techno-thriller novel called Hyperlink that I plan to publish next year. It's a major departure from travel writing and will set the stage for more speculative fiction novels that I hope will leave readers asking,"Could this really happen?" Mum's the word on the plot for now. I'm also working on another travel memoir called Eurasis that will chronicle my adventures as a college-age backpacker in Europe, China and Russia. A short excerpt is available to read in my book Kilimanjaro. Sign up for my newsletter for updates about upcoming books and projects.
EM: Your little boy seems very proud of you. What footsteps of yours do you think he might want to follow?
MG: Alex is my pride and joy. He's a great kid. I hope he'll catch the writing bug. We co-wrote a children's ebook called Alexander the Salamander inspired by our trip to the Amazon River Basin in 2008. For now though, he says he wants to be a diplomat. It will be fun watching where life takes him.
EM: Please tell us anything I may have overlooked that is on your mind.
MG: Thank you for letting me introduce myself to your readers and share some of my travel adventures. Kilimanjaro is the first book in the World Adventurers Series, a collection of travel memoirs filled with photos. Readers who want to purchase the ebook or paperback version of my books should visit Amazon.com , my website, www.mgedwards.com, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. My website has a full list of booksellers who carry my books as well as thousands of travelogues, photos and videos from around the world. Readers can also enjoy travel adventures on my blog, World Adventurers.
For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his website at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at email@example.com, on Facebook, Google+ or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.
© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.
Michael Gene (M. G.) Edwards writes fiction in the mystery, thriller and science fiction/fantasy genres as well as travel non-fiction. He first picked up his pen to write a mystery thriller far beyond the imagination of a typical ten-year-old. From mysteries to mythical tales, Edwards let his writing capture dreams spun from this imagination, until life set him on a different course.
Edwards graduated with degrees in interntional studies, political science, history and German from the University of Idaho and worked briefly in the U. S. Senate. He earned his master's degree in China Studies from the University of Washington. After working at the Boeing Company for seven years, he left to earn a Master in Business Administration from the University of Washington and worked at the Intel Corporation, Microsoft, and the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.
He served as a diplomat from 2004 until resigning from the U. S. Department of State in 2011. His overseas assignments included working as a consular officer at the U. S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea; as a political officer at the U. S. Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay where he focused on political-military affairs and human rights; and as a political-economic officer at the U. S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia focusing on democracy, governance and human rights. He is the recipient of numerous Department of State awards.
He also founded and runs Brilliance Equity LLC (BE), an investment firm specializing in emerging markets. His books are published by Brilliance Press, A BE subsidiary.
Edwards lives with his wife Jing and son Alex in Bangkok, Thailand. Father and son are actively involved in the Cub Scouts. The family enjoys traveling and exploring new cultures.