The hippie trail – Q&A with Sharif Gemie

Posted by Rebecca Mortimer - Monday, 13 Nov 2017


What book in this field has inspired you the most?
Rahula, Bhikkhu Yogavacara, One Night’s Shelter (from Home to Homelessness); The Autobiography of an American Buddhist Monk (free electronic edition, 2004).
Also Rory MacLean, Magic Bus.

Did your research take you to any unexpected places?
This was the first time I’d tried face-to-face interviews. I enjoyed doing them, and I wrote up my experiences as part of the appendix of this book.

What did you enjoy the most about writing your book?
In general, I enjoy writing. I particularly enjoyed writing this book as it made me think about a topic which was new to me in academic terms, but actually very familiar in terms of the background of the people involved, their aims, their culture.

What did you find hardest about writing your book?
Balancing between the demands of an academic work (ie, literature review should go first) and the expectations of a more popular audience. Also the usual problem of weaving together diverse threads into a single narrative.

Is this your first published book, or have you had others published?
This is my eighth published book.

How did you feel when you saw your first published book?
Happy. I’d dedicated it to my girlfriend, and while she had proof-read every page, she didn’t know about the dedication.

Why did you choose to publish with MUP?
Good reputation: a small publisher, small enough to care, but still with enough resources to push a work. Also a publisher willing to look outside the standard academic remit, and to push works into the commercial market.

Did you approach writing this book differently to any of your previous work?
From the beginning, MUP were considering this as a trade work: this meant a different approach to writing: mainly trying to write more simply, holding the reader’s attention, making sure that paragraphs ‘flowed’ in a simple and comprehensible manner.

Have you had time to think about your next research project yet? What are you working on now?
Brian and I are thinking about a work on pop festivals, in the period 1965-1985. I’m currently writing an article about the Windsor Free Festival (1972-74). In some ways, it is a sequel to the hippie trail work. I’d like to complete the trilogy with a work on Hippies: A Cultural History.



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