Richard Lim swapped Singapore's sultry climate for a life in the UK more than 25 years ago. He has worked in various editorial roles in book and magazine publishing, and was on the staff at Rough Guides for several years before turning freelance.
Richard is one of the authors of the Rough Guides to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, and also works on the(city edition) Rough Guide to Singapore.
Besides the Far East, his favourite part of the world to travel in is the Middle East and North Africa. He has a particularly soft spot for Morocco, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine.
I've never had a mentor as such, though I would say that everyone who's given me a break in terms of letting me tackle a new role in publishing has been a kind of mentor to me. As for who I might look up to, I suppose the very best travel writing for me is about cramming in the maximum of trenchant observations and personal experiences accompanied by as little of the writer's ego as possible. I particularly enjoy reading Tim Mackintosh-Smith.
I knew I loved Rough Guides - I'd travelled with quite a few of the books and loved their mix of intelligent commentary and practical information. And I've always loved, and still love, National Geographic.
If you're doing a guidebook, it can be pretty formulaic - trudging the streets in cities and towns checking out accommodation, restaurants, even bus stations, plus a few attractions when you get the chance. Doing a travel feature is a lot more fun since you get to concentrate on sightseeing.
I have a soft spot for Morocco, especially the south of the country.
The best things about the job would be getting to some pretty special, often remote, locations and meeting really interesting local people along the way. The worst thing is definitely the writing up - bringing guidebooks up to date is exhausting work if you want to do it as you should, ie without cutting corners.
There isn't a standard way to get started, of course. But as far as individual skills go it pays to have an eye for detail, an analytical mind and, of course, decent writing ability. It's a good idea to hone your writing by doing stories - they don't have to be travel, other features and news will do as well - for whichever outlet you feel is worthy. And of course if you want do some travel writing, you also need to do some travelling, to develop specialist knowledge of a certain region or activity, like trekking, that you could write about in a way that shows a distinctive, personal take on things. Learning the language of the area you want to cover is also not a bad idea. Being willing to work on a guidebook can be a good entry point to writing travel features. Is that three tips? I'm not sure, but I hope it's all useful.
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