Boston-based writer Nathan Tavares was working at The Improper Bostonian magazine when, in April 2019, after nearly 28 years, it went out of business. He picked up freelance work, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, there wasn’t a great deal of work to be had – especially since, he said, “my beat is mostly food and hotels and travel.” Tavares, 37, decided this was his “now or never” moment and got to work writing the type of multiverse book that he said he would want to read. “Science fiction is not a hugely diverse genre. It’s historically dominated by straight white guys,” he said. “But that’s changing now and I’m happy to be part of a group of queer writers coming up and writing stories about queer characters.” His book, “A Fractured Infinity,” will be released on Dec. 6, as will the audiobook. He is doing a book signing at Brookline Booksmith at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. “I’m excited but nervous,” Tavares said of his first book signing, adding that he is “really proud” of his first published novel, inspired by what he said are his two favorite science fiction movies: “Contact” and “Arrival.” We caught up with the Somerset native, who lives in Dorchester with his husband, software engineer Eamonn Fanning and their 4-year-old husky, Ruby, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? I’ve been going to Provincetown for almost 20 years and it’s the most magical place on Earth. I love the joy and the energy of the summer there – like everyone’s at gay summer camp – and how beautiful and quiet it is during the off-season. But the last few years, my husband and I have focused more on adventure-y vacations, and my favorite spot is hiking in the middle of nowhere. We hit up all five national parks in Utah during a hiking trip in September, then had the absurd luck to visit the Galápagos in October because I was working on a story for Travel & Leisure. Being active outside is a nice reminder of, like, “Oh yeah, this is what my mind and body want me to do instead of sitting in my writing cave all day at home.”
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I try hard to eat and drink local specialties while I’m traveling. I’ve been doing that ever since I tried ceviche and guinea pig in Peru 12 years ago, and it has meant drinking a ton of port wine in Portugal and having a caipirinha with every meal in Brazil.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I had a big bucket-list trip with friends to Hawaii planned for September 2020. During those awful first months of the pandemic, my light at the end of the tunnel was, “All right, things are garbage right now, but soon you’ll be in Hawaii.” We had to cancel, of course, but one day. I’m trying to travel more within the United States lately. We all romanticize travel outside of the country, but there are so many amazing places closer to home to visit.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? I’m not a religious person, but I usually travel with a crucifix on a silver chain that my late paternal grandfather wore every day. Before I left to study abroad in England when I was in college, my grandmother gave it to me. I never went to summer camp or anything as a kid, so it was my first time traveling alone and I was really nervous. I like to travel with it now so it’s like a little piece of my family is with me when I’m far from home.
Aisle or window? Window seat all the way. I have a pretty intense fear of flying that I manage with a combo of mindfulness and breathing exercises picked up from a hypnosis session. Plus, a good old-fashioned prescription benzo [benzodiazepine], popped responsibly, to stave off the panic attacks. My ideal flight sees me asleep against the window before takeoff, and waking up when we touch down like I magically teleported somewhere else. My husband and I call this “time-traveling.”
Favorite childhood travel memory? I was really lucky to travel with my parents as a kid, and they made it a priority to bring me and my sisters to São Miguel, the island in the Azores that they grew up on. My favorite childhood memories are going to the coast there and staying in this beach shack with no running water or electricity – just running around the black volcanic sand beach all day with my sisters and friends, and swimming and playing in the tide pools.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? I have such a weakness for salty junk food that I can usually keep at bay when I’m at home. When I’m traveling, though, all bets are off. I love finding unusual flavors of potato chips in other countries. I go to England every few years because my twin sister lives there. Whenever I visit, I pig out on different kinds of crisps, especially Walkers brand. Prawn cocktail, beef and onion, ham and pickle, spicy ketchup…the flavors are so fun and bonkers compared to what I can get at the grocery store here.
Best travel tip? Pack way less than you think you need. As someone who usually over-stuffs suitcases, my goal lately has been to lay out all the clothes I’m going to travel with, and then cut the pile in half. Is that shirt smelling not so fresh after the third time you’ve worn it? Who cares. You’re on vacation. And you can always do laundry in a hotel sink.