One of the most fun parts of this work is meeting with writers. I can’t think of anything more important than finding, cultivating, and continuing to motivate the best writers in New England. The writer and editor relationship, when it works, is not unlike a friendship — you count on each other to bring out the best of each of you. Let me give you an example.
One recent Friday I had lunch in Peterborough with one of my favorite writers. Her name is Christina Tree, and if you are a wise New England traveler you probably have her books tucked away in your shelves, ready to be read before your next sojourn. Her Explorer’s Guides to the New England states are the standard by which I judge all New England guide books. She’s been crisscrossing our region (and many regions of the world) for nearly 40 years. Think of that. Think of the tens of thousands of miles, the tens of thousands of meals, of nights spent in B&Bs, country inns, swanky hotels, rustic cottages — all in the pursuit of learning all she can so her readers can follow confidently in her footsteps. And this is what amazes me each time I talk with Chris: Her enthusiasm has never wavered.
She drove the 80 miles from Boston to talk with me about a few projects we have percolating. She has been a stalwart contributor to Yankee over my many years here, and somehow her ideas are always fresh. I think I know the region like the back of my hand, and then Chris tells me about places I never knew about. When travel writing seems to have no purpose except to point you to a restaurant and then to a bed, it may be useful, but it is not inspired. What Chris does foremost is inspire her readers about a place, the below-the-surface nature of the place and its people — and then she takes you by the hand and introduces you to the best food, lodgings, and attractions. She understands better than most that we travel first to a place; a place is always at the heart of travel. If you had seen us at the restaurant, you would have seen two people both writing furiously and smiling as we tossed ideas back and forth, all the while Chris’s seafood pie cooling because she was just too excited telling me about yet another wonder I should have known about but did not.
You’ll see the results of Chris’s cold lunch in this upcoming July/August issue, and then once again a few months later. I guarantee you’ll want to pack the car and follow her.
Mel Allen is editor of Yankee Magazine and author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son.