Interview with Kyle Gest – Storyteller and Award-Winning Podcaster

The most challenging thing about pursuing a career as an author is the lack of structured support. With no official guidelines, the only true markers of success is success itself. Whether it’s having an article published online or becoming a Best Selling author, the fulfillment of most writers ambitions relies very much on some sort of final outcome.

During my Kickstarter campaign for Five Weeks in the Amazon, I reached out to Thomas Kohnstamm, the author of  “Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics and Professional Hedonism.

This was in the early stages of my transition from the Californicated-self I had become to my true self, A liberated, and free, artist, who travels the world, practicing the art and craft of writing.

Back when I was the Team Manager for Plan B Skateboards. Taking a walk with Ryan Sheckler while on a filming road trip in Oregon, circa 2008.

Thomas Kohnstamm is from Seattle, Washington, which is close enough to my hometown that we both had views of the same snow capped mountain growing up (Mt. Baker). He still call Seattle home, which is where he live with his family and is completing the manuscript for his next book, which is very much anticipated (stay tuned for more info).

As I have traveled and continued to write, Thomas has kindly divulged great advice whenever I have asked him for it. He has been a mentor to me in ways, and from Colombia I reached out to ask him a few questions. I’m really excited to read his next book, and even though he isn’t saying much about it, I’m sure it is going to be worth reading.

Mt. Baker

You can click here to check out his awesome first book, “Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?” (which I read in one sitting). But first, check out his interview below, and if you want to connect with Thomas, you can reach him through his website, or leave a comment below. Thanks again for everything, Thomas, and may the Spring wind’s bring you nine muses worth of inspiration.

Edited LR -1-3 

Sean Hayes: What are you currently working on? 

Thomas Kohnstamm: I am just finishing up a novel I’ve been working on for a few years. Keeping it under wraps for now.

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

Worried genius. Although I’d rather come in short of being a genius and experience a mix of worry and joy. I’d pass on being a simpleton just to be more consistently happy.

Who defines good and evil?


Why did you become an author?

I’ve always been interested in stories and trying to better understand the world – especially people and how they related to each other and to a place. I thought for a while that I wanted to be a professor but it was too rule-bound and there was too much emphasis on quantitative research. Writing lets me visit some of the same subjects but allows me to do it however I want.

For a recent high school graduate; Would you recommend 4 years traveling abroad, or 4 years of college?

It depends what you want to do with your life. If you think you want to be a doctor then, obviously, you’d better go to college. It’s a harder call for those who want to pursue a creative career. I’d probably say travel for them but it depends what you do with the travel. Nowadays you could go abroad and still spend all of your time watching Netflix. Just going someplace doesn’t mean much. You’d have to dig in.

Who do you envy?

I try not to envy anyone. That said I do get jealous of those who found a clear calling at a young age and were able to take a lot of risks and make a lot of investment in their careers. I didn’t go all-in on writing until I was 27 or 28. I am also impressed by people who are proficient in a lot of different areas, like Donald Glover.

What are you bored of?

Between writing, having a family, two dogs and way too many other interests, I don’t remember the last time I had open time on my hands, let alone experienced boredom.

That said, I am not a fan of pharmaceutical ads on TV. Am also kind of burnt on social media. I like to read some things on it but am kind of over posting. I can scratch that itch through bigger writing projects.

How would you describe yourself?

I like to do things my own way. I try to be good to the people I care about. I like to push my boundaries. I like to stay up late. I can drink a lot of beers for my size.

What does writing mean to you?

I always try to contextualize my life experience, so it’s a way to get out all of the stuff swirling in my head. I also try to make myself laugh when writing.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Except for a tiny percentage of very famous people, you’re really only remembered by your own family and close friends. The rest doesn’t much matter.

Thomas, on a recent heli-skiing adventure.

Want to check out my last Interview with an Interesting Person? Click Here, and stay tuned for more updates from the road. My Colombia Visa expires soon, and I am starting a new adventure in the United States of America.

God Bless, Sean:)

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