I heard an airplane passing overhead. I wish I was on it.” — Charles Bukowski
Matthew Hirtes moved to the Canary Islands’ Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the mid-noughties. He soon found there was a dearth of information about the island in English. This came as some surprise given its popularity as a tourist destination. The island has attracted some high-profile visitors in the form of Buzz Aldrin and fellow Moon Landers, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. Matthew resolved to find out more about Gran Canaria by travelling the length and breadth of it. He began by hiking the island’s very own Camino de Santiago, a three-day-77-km trek from south GC’s Playa del Inglés to the north-west’s Gáldar.
Matthew wrote the critically-acclaimed Going Local in Gran Canaria: How to Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home after being approached by a publishing house. Soon after, Matthew launched the award-winning Gran Canaria Local blog, which he sold after receiving more commissions for articles than he could physically deliver. Matthew is the only resident British journalist to cover the island for UK broadsheets. This led him to his current position writing hotel reviews for the likes of Telegraph Travel.
Matthew believes the attributes you need as a writer are developed from paying close attention as a voracious reader. He’s very much inspired by his favourite journalists. He landed his first writing gig following a chance encounter with legendary Face journo Gavin Hills in a Camden Town pub at the height of Britpop. More than twenty years later, Matthew still worships gurus. When it comes to food writing, he religiously clicks on Jay Rayner‘s latest restaurant review first thing on a Sunday morning as the perfect accompaniment to his lazy breakfast.
Matthew always advises aspiring writers that influence is one thing, mimicry quite another. You have to work hard to develop your own voice rather than taking the shortcut of parroting someone else’s style. Be the difference that you want to see in the world by using your platform as a writer like a soapbox. In turn, you will become a role model for the next generation of scribes.