Interview with Mike Sowden of Fevered Mutterings: Lucky 13 Questions

Uhhhh ooooo... trouble ahead Uhhhh ooooo... trouble ahead
Simon's opinion of Mike? Simon's opinion of Mike?
good enough for The King good enough for The King

I was late to find Mike Sowden’s stuff on the interwebs, but I am certainly glad that I finally did a few months ago.  He has had his work published on EcoSalon, WebUrbanist, Brave New Traveler and various other locations, but it is the voice that he expresses on this blog, Feverered Mutterings that I regularly appreciate the most.  He has that dry sense of British humor that I love…. and aspire to on most days.

In addition to his excellent writing, good sense of humor and all around English pasty-white niceness, he’s been an unbelievably helpful internet friend to me and many other travel bloggers.  I don’t want to somehow get him inundated with requests for tips, advice and assistance (especially if it means his answering my emails more slowly), but there are few more helpful and knowledgeable people you are going to find in the travel blogging world on everything from SEO tips, to where to try to get your work published, to how to make something go mini-viral.

Simply put, he’s one of my favorites, and no, not because he sponsored this post.  Damn cheapskate.

So, go check out his blog and follow him on Twitter here: Mike’s Twitter profile.  In the meantime, enjoy his answers to the Lucky 13:

1 —  What is your dream car?

It’s a car that makes no noise whatsoever and runs on water, that other people drive. The noise thing is the biggie. I don’t drive, and my day-job is the other side of town, so I amble my merry way across it every day, trying to make good use of my walking time by learning modern Greek through an audio course (free at And I’m getting it all wrong because the words get drowned out by noisy traffic. I’m going to be calling Greek women “sir” and spouting nonsenseto shopkeepers. If I’m ever punched by a Greek, I’m suing the car industry.

elvis Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

good enough for The King

2 — You, unfortunately, have been condemned to die, but fortunately, you get to have any meal in the world before you go. What is your menu?

My menu is a specially-tailored piece of reinforced cardboard with a hidden compartment containing a handgun and $10,000 in used notes. Nobody condemns *me* to die without a fight or a substantial bribe. Also there’s a packets of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Fighting requires calories.

3 — Your biggest pet peeve is?  (and by pet peeve, I mean something so insignificant that it is embarassing to admit it bothers you)

I hate how they shed hair everywhere. My aunt had a cat, and I was always picking fur off my…..oh. *That* kind of pet. Well….

Being an Englishmen, I hold Strong Opinions on the making of tea. Because there are two types of people in the world when it comes to making a cup of tea. There are the Soakers, and there are the Batterers. The Soakers know that you leave your tea to infuse for a good while, letting the majesty of Nature work her chemical magic on your brew, and after the required time – please see BS 6008:1980, you remove said teabag that should be pendulous and of a rich loamy hue, and you give it a little shake, and you pop it in the bin.

But there are the Batterers. These impatient beggers can’t be doing with waiting for good things – they have to hurry. In goes the spoon to slap and squash the tea-juice out against the sides of the mug, pummeling the shit out of it because hey, life’s too short to wait 3 bastard minutes for a cup of tea. Now, I understand that yes, many people *are* in this much of a hurry, and I sometimes do it myself when I’m rushed, but I’m still going to have all these people shot when the time comes. Including myself, if necessary.

4 — Most overrated country to visit?

I’ve yet to find one. In fact, places regarded as overrated are the most interesting. I reckon it’s daft to label anywhere “bad” (or “good”, for that matter). It’s also something travel-writers should be really wary of. It’s fun to rant (that Ayngelina is a master at it, for example) and it’s important to react emotionally to travel, or else why do it?

But saying, for example, “the British city of Hull has no redeeming features whatsoever” with a straight face is a complete injustice. It’s also example of sloppy thinking. Never do this. It’s unfair and wrong.

5 — Fill in the blank: the world would be a much better place without ____________.

Hull. Good god, what a dreadful city. A symphony in concrete where nobody can play their instruments. It’s almost worth visiting it for the semi-orgasmic adrenaline rush of leaving it. Never go there unless you have to, and even then don’t go there.

6 —  What is the superpower you most want?

The United States. It’s a key part of my world domination plans. Once I have that baby, I’m on a winning streak. I know this from playing “Risk”. Yes, the U.S.: that’s the big country underneath Europe, isn’t it? (I always hated Geography at school, I was too busy drawing tanks and rockets and jackbooted troops in the back of my exercise book).

7 — If you could travel with one person for one week, then never see or hear from them ever again, who would you choose?

As narcissistic as it sounds….it’d be myself, 20 years ago. I can barely understand why he made the choices he did. The mistakes he made, the sensible risks not taken. I’d like to understand why, since I’m so very much more comfortable being the me that is me today.

Failing all that, Glenn Beck. I’d give him all the heaviest gear to carry, until he did his whining, crying thing.

8 —  Best single piece of technical advice (other than “provide good content”) you can give to get eyeballs to other people’s websites?

Care. Simple as that.

I know this isn’t a technical skill as such – but it’s even more important. You can have all the Mad SEO Skillz in the world and write a website filled with exquisitely-crafted content that sucks eyeballs onto every page, and yet if there’s no life in what you’re writing, if you’re disengaged enough for it to be written on autopilot, you’re in the wrong business. Instant traffic is easy. Staying writing is the hard part. And staying writing is the way you get anywhere. The big websites are big because they’ve endured, because the writers get a real kick from writing for them. You have to care, because that truly underpins everything. Without caring, you’ll give up in a few months, because nobody is that dedicated. Write things that you need to say, that you love to explore, that thrill you during the writing and afterwards, when you read back and think “yes, *that’s* what I meant to say”. Care first, learn everything else second. It’s the only way to get anywhere.

9 — Book I should go out and buy tomorrow?

Just read Chris Guillebeau’s “The Art Of Non-Conformity” and he’s a deeply sane bloke. In terms of travel, though, Jonathan Raban’s “Passage To Juneau” is an incredible piece of work. Gorgeous, thrilling, lyrical, and heartbreakingly sad.

jack bauer verses batman 24 television show

Uhhhh ooooo... trouble ahead

10 — Fill in the blanks: I would pay good money to see _______ and ________ get into a good rough and tumble fight.

Jack Bauer vs. Batman. Or yourself vs. irritating hostellers who make loads of noise when you’re trying to sleep. Or Jack Bauer & you vs. Batman and hostellers. THAT would be awesomesauce.

11 — What is a game that you can beat almost all your friends at?

“Who Has The Least Money”. I can completely kick their pampered, moneyed asses. BAM BAM BAM.

12 — Worst current actor or actress?

I’d like the Nicholas Cage that starred in The Wicker Man to stop making films immediately. I’d also like the Nicholas Cage that stared in Kick Ass to make more movies. (Some people tell me it’s the same guy, but come on, I’m not that stupid).

simon cowell funny sticking tongue out

Simon's opinion of Mike?

13 — One last fill in the blank: I have no idea how __________ got so rich and/or famous with no appreciable talent at all.

Everyone within 50 feet of Simon Cowell, on an exponential scale where Simon Cowell is 100% unjustifiably rich and famous. Simon Cowell’s success is the core of my argument for packing up the human race and devolving back into single-celled bliss. His marketing machine is a kind of cultural doomsday device. It’s going to take us with it, and like Slim Pickens waving his hat and Yee-hawing on the back of the Bomb in “Dr Strangelove”, we’re actually cheering him on. Modern life. Eee.

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I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all. Read more by Michael Hodson and connect on Google Plus.

45 Responses to “Interview with Mike Sowden of Fevered Mutterings: Lucky 13 Questions” Subscribe

  1. Jodi January 18, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Still laughing at your literal interpretations of your Q&A. And you used awesomesauce, so that gets you a +1. Passage to Juneau looks lovely – will be picking myself up a copy shortly. Great interview!

    • Michael Hodson January 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      I looked up that book and it doesn’t appear to be on the Kindle, damn it. More publishers need to get their stuff on that platform…. for me 🙂

      • Katja January 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

        And for me too! I just keep clicking that ‘I want to see this on Kindle’ button and hoping that one day soon it’ll make a difference.

        Dare to dream …

      • Erin January 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

        Agreed! Our Kindle finally arrived and I’d love to read this. Another great interview btw.

      • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 5:50 am #

        Agreed. There’s a big back-catalogue of travel stuff I’d like to see put on the Kindle. But nice to see they’re converting more and more of Colin Thubron’s work – I couldn’t be happier about that…

        • cj October 26, 2011 at 8:37 am #

          Kindle? So, you don’t go Eee to *all* Modern life then.

    • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 5:40 am #

      Anything by Jonathan Raban gets my thumbs-up, so far.

      Of his work I’ve only read “Passage to Juneau”, I should add. But that doesn’t contradict the above statement, it just means I’m an idiot for saying it.

      I don’t know where I got awesomesauce from. I’ve probably stolen it from somewhere. Well, whoever it is, I hope they know nothing about the law, or I’m really screwed! Hahah! *chews lower lip worriedly*

  2. Adventurous Kate January 18, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Love the interview, Mike — one of the best so far!

    What you said for #8…wow, it really made me realize why I love some travel blogs and have fallen out of love with others. Many of them have become soulless — melanges of sponsored posts, guest posts, and overly SEO-driven ridiculousness.

    A travel blog needs a soul, and you get that by writing with passion and being true to yourself. Never forget that.

    • Michael Hodson January 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Mike and I have had a number of conversations about the internet and writing world and he believes this advice…. and lives it. A writing idol of mine.

      • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 11:35 am #

        Beware of false idols. 😉

        (But thank you).

    • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks, Kate!

      And…absolutely. “Soul” covers it. Or “Voice”. Some vital essence of the person who is writing it, whether it’s a curiosity that won’t quit, a wry & sardonic look at the world, or any of the other factors that make writers known for being themselves rather than the corporate voice of x and y. Blogging is so dependent on soul / voice. It’s what makes or breaks a blog, because blog audiences want personality. They want sass, subjectivity, a voice that cares, even if it’s a voice that they disagree with. Sometimes *particularly* if they disagree.

      The enduring sites are the ones written by people who are comfortable being themselves in a public forum (and a flare for communicating it), who love what they do. I can’t say if this is true historically, but it feels true, and increasingly I think it *is* true. It’s how to stick around. Care. 🙂

  3. Akila January 18, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Love, love this interview! I had never heard of his site before and am so excited to check it out now. In particular, the Glenn Beck answer was hilarious!

    • Michael Hodson January 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      I love that the Brit pulled the Glenn Beck reference. Though it is a little sad that that twit has apparently gotten his influence to the other side of the pond.

    • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      Only because Glenn Beck is himself hilarious. I claim no credit for how hilarious he is. Truly the funniest Saturday Night Live character I’ve ever seen. I don’t know who the actor is, but he really…

      *someone whispers in Mike’s ear*



      Oh dear. Well. That kinda changes everything.

  4. Keith January 18, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Just as funny as I expected it to be. Classy.

    • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Praise from the praiseworthy, sir. 🙂

  5. pam January 18, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    I love Mike Sowden. There, I said it in front of the internets and everything. LOVE him.

    • Michael Hodson January 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      thank God your hubby doesn’t read my blog 😉

      • Mikeachim January 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

        Pam, never mind what Mr Hodson is saying. (Mike, dude, give me some room here, ‘kay?)

        Oh, say it again, Pam!

        And say something about my eyes. Yes.


        (More seriously: many thanks – and the feeling’s mutual).

  6. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World January 18, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Lol, great interview and interviewee… love the Glenn Beck answer. Even though I don’ t know how much of his incessant whining I can stand :p

  7. Ayngelina January 18, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    You FOUND Mike? I believe some crazy ranting Canadian travel blogger kept telling you he was a genius.

    A travel blog needs a soul. That couldn’t be more true.

    • Michael Hodson January 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Well, you already got one explicit shout-out in this interview, but yes, you shall get another here in the comments. I did “find” him through you…. like many others, my speed reading friend. 🙂

  8. Michael Hodson January 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    And I really do want to go to Hull now….

    • Erin January 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

      Don’t do it!

  9. Katja January 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    I have issues with number 3. Call yourself an Englishman when you use teabags? Tea. BAGS.

    Sometimes I despair of you, ‘Chim.

  10. Jason January 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Very funny…as usual, your 13 questions are all irreverent, quirky and entertaining…I enjoy the questions as much as the answers.

  11. Cailin January 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    hilarious 🙂 I never realized Mike was a funny one!

  12. Amanda January 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Love love LOVE this interview. I laughed, I cried, I yelled… okay, so at least the first one.

    Mike has such a great writing style, and a snarky personality, to boot. I’m actually jealous of his interview. It’s so much better than mine was. Harrumph.

  13. Andi January 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Oh those Brits and their sense of humor, adored this interview, didn’t want it to end! 🙂

  14. Phil January 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Great interview with one of my favorite bloggers. I really enjoyed this one!!

  15. Juno January 19, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    Jack Bauer vs. Batman? Fab idea! Would love to see that. But what are they fighting for..?! lol
    Hilarious interview like always. Thumbs up!

  16. Liv January 19, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Ah, Mike, you cranky old curmudgeon. Dead awesome interview; it’ll have to tide us over until you get back to muttering on your own blog.

  17. Jessalyn January 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Really enjoyed this one, especially #8 – great answer! (And it sounded to me like that could have been Michael’s own answer to the same question. Hmm…) Also, I’m American and even I know better than to smash tea bags. Aren’t British tea bag batterers legally required to renounce their citizenship or something?

  18. Anita January 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Great read! And I LOVE Mike’s blog- caught on to it recently and it is laugh out loud funny!

    And his advice on getting readers to stick: care. Right on.

  19. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler January 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Hilarious! #2 is my favorite answer. Way to not give up without a fight. And reese’s peanut butter cups are the best!

  20. Brendan van Son January 24, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    Hahaha… Mike is far too witty for his own good. I warn you, stay away from Mike he is contagious… well his sense of humour is.

    • Michael Hodson January 24, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      his is classically British in his humor… but not his teeth.

  21. Travelogged January 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    OK, I promise to stay away from Hull 🙂

    • Michael Hodson February 1, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      don’t you love the back to back with that answer and the one before?? Great stuff.

  22. Jeremy Branham July 19, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    I have to admit this is the funniest interview I have read of yours. Sure, people say LOL all the time – but do they actually mean it? I can honestly say I did ‘LOL’ at this and am going to follow him just because this interview was awesome. Love Mike’s sense of humor and the answers to all of these questions were witty and creative. My faves were the studying Greek and car noise and his rant on Hull. Awesome stuff!

  23. Eula Dickerson December 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Thanks, Kate!And…absolutely. “Soul” covers it. I laughed, I cried, I yelled… okay, so at least the first one.Mike has such a great writing style, and a snarky personality, to boot.

  24. Louisa Gaines February 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    don’t you love the back to back with that answer and the one before?? Ah, Mike, you cranky old curmudgeon. I love that the Brit pulled the Glenn Beck reference.

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