This Monday we are marking the start of the holiday season with the first in a series of interviews with people behind leading travel magazines. First up is Liz Schaffer, who launched her magazine Lodestars Anthology in 2014. Each issue visits a single country, and the upcoming tenth edition features India. We talked to Liz about her magazine and her holiday experiences.
Where are you today?
I’m in London. It’s glorious and hot and I really think I should try and get away from my desk and at least edit in the garden. I’ve just come back from Madeira and South Tyrol for our Portugal issue and I’m about to head off to Corfu (I’m Australian, I must go where the sun is).
What was the first magazine you remember enjoying?
I don’t know if there was one in particular, I just remember always being fascinated by them. There was an amazing magazine store around the corner from my uni back in Sydney – MagNation – and I remember walking in there and desperately wanting to be part of that printed world. There were so many titles, from all around the world, and I’d never seen them en masse like that before. I adored that place.
Tell us about your first holiday.
I had parents who would throw me and my brothers in the back of the car and drive off into the sunset at any chance they had. Getting into the Aussie bush, being surrounded by all that space, that wildness, felt so freeing and exciting and came with this liberating sense of escape.
If you go to Australia, make sure you take the time to hire a car and really explore. That’s the one thing you need when travelling really – more time.
Are you a beach holiday or city break person?
Can I have both? And perhaps some mountains? And a winery?
What has been your worst holiday experience?
I really have to think about that one. Perhaps I’ve suppressed it. But that’s the thing about experiences that are imperfect or problematic (to a degree), they either fade away or evolve into funny stories after a while. After all, isn’t comedy just tragedy plus time?
What is your magazine’s approach to travel?
Gloriously rose-tinted. Lodestars Anthology is all about slow travel; it’s about being as positive as possible (because the world really does need that sometimes) and taking the time to talk to people, to explore, to share other’s stories and passions. I want my contributors to create content inspired by what they love, the things that excite them, anything they see as an adventure.
Which holiday/trip from your magazine would you most like to experience?
I’d love to travel the ice roads of the Yukon as Tom Bunning did (above), or just re-do my Northwest Territories trip with Canoe North. I’m desperate to go to Hokkaido, but may avoid a hurricane like the one Cameron Lange was caught in. Margaret River is on the wish list, as is the entire North Island of New Zealand.
And I’d go back to Scotland tomorrow if someone would have me! Our ‘Pathways’ book is actually a collection of some of the journeys our contributors and I were desperate to re-trace.
Which magazines should people be taking away with them this summer?
A massive stack of them. Buy all the indies you can – sales and subscriptions are our lifeblood – and a few guilty pleasures for good measure. Whatever is going to help you unwind. Oh, and ours, definitely take ours.
Is it difficult to fit all the quirks and charms of one country into a single volume?
It’s getting harder to keep our page numbers down for sure. The contributors we’ve worked with – and the one’s approaching us for future issues – are passionate and brilliant and talented beyond belief. I keep wanting to give them additional space, the way they see the world and capture our chosen locations is so spectacular.
I have found of late, with France and India in particular, that issues are prone to getting away from me. There are so many stories and is so much beauty and so many unexpected discoveries that I’m always a little surprised by the end product. Until I see those final layouts I’m never entirely sure what we’re creating.
Have you ever visited a country and been shocked how different it was compared to your assumptions?
That happened for me in Japan. I’d decided to dedicate an issue to it as everyone who travelled there raved about it and we were yet to explore that particular corner of the world, but I was sceptical, I didn’t want to believe the hype and was wary about culture shock.
However, I fell in love the moment I landed and have now visited six times in two years. I’m obsessed. I don’t think you can ever really understand a country until you’re on the ground and allowing yourself to react – every destination seems to find a strange and spectacular way to surprise me.
Where will you be taking a break this year?
I always run away to my family in Australia for my holidays – if I go anywhere new and I can’t quite turn my brain off, I’m constantly looking for a story. At home in Sydney everything is brilliantly familiar, and I do my best to commit to nothing but beaches! That said, I’m desperate to hike through the wilds of Wales… that might be an interesting issue…