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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Avid hiker Roger Naylor pens great trail guide


    Travel writer and self proclaimed “professional bad influenceʺ Robert Naylor reads an except from his book ʺBoots and Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikersʺ to an audience at Mostly Books on Thursday. Naylor describes his book as his ʺlove letter to Arizonaʺ and claims his writing is ʺdesigned to make you want to play hookey.ʺ

    Freelance and travel writer Roger Naylor visited the Mostly Books store on Thursday evening to promote his new book, “Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers,” which was released earlier this year. the Daily Wildcat caught up with him to talk about his career and new book.

    The Daily Wildcat: What made you to want to start hiking/traveling?

    Naylor: I’ve been passionate about hiking ever since I first came to Arizona. I just fell in love with the outdoors. The type of terrain we have here throughout the state varies from region to region, so it’s always a different experience, and I think it’s the best way to see the incredible landscape — the low, slow and quiet, the wildlife, the incredible scenery. And it’s great exercise.

    How would you best describe Arizona?

    Arizona is best described as my heart. It’s my home. This is this place I always wanted to go. I fell in love with it since I was a little kid and seeing that landscape from all the black-and-white TV as a background for cowboy movies. So, I was already drawn to Arizona, and it’s full of surprises. It’s filled with magic every day … and that’s the thing I love the most. Here, I can disappear into the desert any time I want. It’s just a miracle.

    Is there a place in Arizona you call your favorite?

    I’m close to Sedona, so I spent a lot of time hiking in Red Rock country. I really love that. The Grand Canyon is a huge draw for me. I try to get there several times a year. One of my favorite places in the state is around the Tucson area, the southern desert; and Cochise County is, I think, my unsung hero of Arizona, because I love hiking in the Chiricahua Mountains, in the Dragoons.

    On your Web page, it says you’re a “travel writer who hates to travel.” How does that work?

    It works pretty well for me. I don’t just ramble around in Arizona traveling. I don’t have to get on a plane or do much packing. I just jump in my truck and take a little road trip. I consider Arizona sort of my backyard. I get to write about all these exotic places for newspapers and magazines. It’s pretty nice. I get to travel around, and most nights, I get to sleep in my own bed.

    What were some good places to hike or eat at the end of the day?

    Well, it depends on what part of the state I’m in. This is why I wanted to write the book because that’s my favorite day. If you can get [up] in the morning and hit the trails, walk for miles and miles, soak up some scenery [and] maybe see some wildlife, enjoy solitude, then on the way home stop at a diner someplace and sink into a juicy burger — that’s just my favorite day of all. I tried to mix it up with this book, a nice mix of trails around the state.

    What’s most challenging for you as a writer?

    You know, I’ve never had a problem with the self-discipline I think a lot of people do. I think that is a big key to the success, keeping your butt in the chair, day-in and day-out. You know, some days, the work comes easy, and other days, it’s shit all day long, and it feels like you can’t write your name. But you have to put up with those [difficult days] and work through it. I’ve always been pretty persistent with that.

    Is there any advice you’d care to give for a writer in general?

    You have to learn how to write a query letter and write what the editor wants, and that means following all the word [counts], being on time with the story, not missing deadlines and always putting in something a little extra. If I can make the editor’s job easier, then they’re more anxious to hire me the next time around.

    What’s been the most enjoyable part of making your third book, including the present?

    This was definitely my dream book, and this is one I had in my head before I ever started writing books. These are the kind of days I love, and, back before, when I wasn’t in such demand, I could just have more time to hike and eat and do all that kind of stuff. To actually put this together … and put it out there the way I wanted to, and work with great photographers, [and] see the finished project, is really satisfying.


    Follow Ivana Goldtooth on Twitter.

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