Travel Stories: An Interview with Madeleine and Tom Kando
They are brother and sister and are writing a book together on Widbook. “Amazing Story Travel” was chosen as ebook of the week, and now you have the chance to get to know the interesting history behind the authors Tom Kando and Madeleine Kando, and read the ebook free by clicking here.
Widbook – Hi Tom and Madeleine. First of all, congratulations for your ebook! Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background? When did you start to write, what is your style, and what are your goals as a writer?
Madeleine - I was born in Hungary, raised in Paris and Amsterdam and have lived in London, Madrid and finally landed here in the United States. I am a world citizen, but was a political refugee for most of my childhood, having fled a communist country. I started to write a few years ago and discovered that I really enjoyed it. My brother and I run a blog. My goals are to create something that will both satisfy my need for expression and will entertain and interest my readers. I am still exploring what I am best at, probably short essays.
Tom - I was born in Hungary at the beginning of World War Two, grew up in Budapest, Paris and Amsterdam, moved to America when I was 20, got an MA and PhD at the University of Minnesota and I have been a professor of Sociology at Penn State, Cal State and the University of California for 40 years. I have published half a dozen academic books and hundreds of academic and journalistic articles in papers and magazines ranging from the Sacramento Bee to the Wall Street Journal. Upon retirement a few years ago, I self-published by memoir - A Tale of Survival - and started the European-American blog. My goal is to continue to write and to publish books and articles. I have several unpublished manuscripts that deal with (science) fiction, adventure and socio-political issues.
How it is the publishing industry in your country?
Madeleine - The Dutch publishing industry is enormously prolific. If Dutch were more widely spoken in the world, Dutch literature would be at the top of the list.
Tom - Hungary is poor and struggling. France and the Netherlands are incredibly lavish in enabling writers, and in publishing vast amounts of phenomenal work. The cultural life in those countries is superb.
You wrote a travel book together. How is the process of writing for you both, and what is it like working together?
Madeleine - This is a collection of short stories, not a book. We wrote these stories independently of each other. We seem to complement each other as far as our writing style is concerned: Tom follows a very factual and academic process, I am more intuitive and subjective in my writing style and I often start with a very simple but significant point, around which I build my story, be it the physical beauty of a city or some other (at times negative) aspect of a place. Together, Tom and I make a good combination. We are able to cover more of the spectrum of what people want to know about. The collection that is uploaded on Widbook is a selection of a larger collection of writing. We specifically selected them for the Widbook environment.
Tom - Madeleine and I have had a blog for 6 years. We have posted over 500 short essays, many about politics (we are on the progressive side of the spectrum), and also many about travel and other experiences (e.g. the outdoors, bicycling, sports, etc.). We feel that we have exceptional expertise and knowledge of different places, cultures, languages and social systems. We combine this with rigorous education. As a Gymnasium student in the Netherlands, the standard training included six years of six languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Latin and Greek. I am fluent in 4 languages and Madeleine in 5, and we dabble in a couple more. We have managed to collaborate harmoniously for 6 years on the blog, each writing and posting our articles. Madeleine is technologically savvy.
Why did you decide to publish it on Widbook? How does Widbook fit into your overall writing career?
Madeleine - I like Widbook because I am very much in control of what I can post and how it will appear. I like the simple interface. I like being part of a community of readers/writers who give each other feedback.
Tom, you found out about Widbook after your sister published your book there, right? How are you enjoying the experience?
Tom - This is great. The response to our joint book has been overwhelming. I look forward to joining Madeleine in the other 2 or 3 books she has already started (on history, language, etc.) As soon as I get to it, I will add my articles to those anthologies.
Is there something else we should know about you or some message you’d like to leave for other Widbookers?
Madeleine - Keep writing and reading! It is food for the soul. Life without the written word is like a dish without spices.
Tom - I would characterize Madeleine and myself as pretty “straight arrow” people in the sense that we have loving families, we live healthy lives, and we like to do the things that most other people like to do – vacationing in Hawaii, watching good movies, etc. At the same time, we have an exceptionally diverse background, we have overcome exceptional hardship, we are very progressive, and we are therefore very critical of the current bigotry and rightward political drift going on in America as well as in Europe and elsewhere.
If you could change something in the world, what would that be?
Madeleine - Extreme inequality, both politically, economically and socially. We are all made of the same stuff, with the same rights, needs and desires. We are entitled to not suffer deprivation.
Tom - This is a hard question. I don’t want to be cliché man and say “world peace,” like beauty queen contestants do. But yes, violence is perhaps the worst problem. Violence in the form of war, violence against women and against minorities, violence in the name of some “God.”