Wednesday, 16 December 2009

24 Hours London by Marsha Moore

I like to do my fair bit of travelling so travel guides produced by Rough Guides and Lonely Planet come in very handy. While Lonely Planet is geared towards the solo traveller, Rough Guides is the book for quirky characters who just love to do their travels off the beaten path. While I was hot footing it around Atlanta, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto oh yeah and New York (I am such a show off aren't I?) last summer I had roughly a few days to get to know each city. A momentous task when you consider how wide spread Atlanta is and how cramped NYC is. I kept thinking how useful it would have been to have a structured guide to the cities. Enter 24 Hours London which is a round-the-clock guide to what to do in the Capital. All the gems of London are revealed hour by hour, plenty of best kept secrets and a wide range of activities that will suit anyone from a speed junkie to someone who likes the easier pace in life. As a Londoner born and bred I started this book thinking that there would was very little that anyone can tell me about my beloved city but I was left feeling very surprised. So I decided to catch up with author, Marsha Moore to talk about this dynamic new guide to London. 

Tell me about the concept of 24 Hours London.
There’s so much to do in London, it’s hard to know where to start!  24 Hours London breaks down the day and night, hour by hour, and lets readers choose from the best London has to offer. From running up walls to hunting down ghosts or just kicking back and relaxing at an underground loo-turned-pub; readers can see the top picks for what's happening city-wide at any moment in time. It’s a bit like having a ready-made itinerary for 24 hours. 

How long did it take you to research the book?
I’ve lived in London for almost six years (I’m Canadian), and I consider each one of those six years as research. I love the diversity of London and I really enjoy exploring, so when it came time to sit down and write the book, I already had a good sense of what I’d like to include – activities for both tourists and locals, a different take on the usual tourists-track sights. The actual writing took about six weeks, and then the lengthy process of editing and fact-checking was a few months. The listings are fairly short and snappy, with just enough information to give people a sense of what there is to do without going into information overload. The hardest part was making sure all the factual information was correct – you wouldn’t believe how difficult it can be to pin down some businesses on their actual opening hours.

How did you land your book deal?
The book deal happened in a rather roundabout way. I’d met a publisher (Prospera Publishing) who was seeking non-fiction projects. Since I love London, most my ideas were London-related. There’s already a lot of London material out there, so we needed something different; something that didn’t already exist.  Most London guides list a mind-boggling number of activities and sights to see, but there didn’t seem to be a guide to help people decide what to do, when. A few more brainstorming sessions later, and the 24 Hours London idea was born. I wrote up some sample hours to give my publisher a sense of how it would look and the project developed from there. The book was released in November 2009 and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from many people, including the Mayor of London. We’ve just partnered with London Interesting to develop an iPhone application of 24 Hours London, which I think is pretty cool. 

What authors do you admire and why?
I love Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence) for the wonderful way he captures the atmosphere and spirit of a place, as well as Sarah Turnbull (Almost French) who writes with wit and humour of the challenge of understanding and integrating into another culture. On the fiction side, I really enjoy the fast-paced Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. The wonderful story-telling of the Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger leaves me in tears every time I read it. 

Describe a day in the life of Marsha Moore
It’s not exactly what you’d call exciting, but I love my work day! I work from home, so I have to be really strict with myself or I find that it’s night and I’m still in my pyjamas. I’m up at 7:30 a.m, have a very strong cup of coffee and browse the Internet for 30 minutes while waking up. Then it’s into my office at 8 a.m, where I work on my fiction writing until lunch. I usually go for a run to clear my head and get out of the flat; otherwise, I might never leave. I’m back at my desk until four, working on a mixture of non-fiction and promotion. Evenings are spent eating (usually chocolate), reading and obsessively checking my email (what can I say, I’m an Internet addict!).

24 Hours Paris is out in March, is this the start of a new brand? Will we see 24 hour guides to other cities?
It is the start of a new brand! We’ve had such a good response to the London guide that we’re really excited to get 24 Hours Paris into bookstores. It was great fun to write and research 24 Hours Paris and I’m already starting on New York, with plans to extend the series to include other cities. Watch this space. 

You can buy 24 Hours London on amazon here

Check out the 24 Hours London blog 

You can check out Marsha's website and read her blog. 

You can follow Marsha on Twitter here.

Check out the book trailer to 24 Hours London below.

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