Excess Baggage: One Family's Around-the-World Search for Balance by Tracey Carisch
1- Your book is described as the spiritual journey of Eat Pray Love – and the comical mishaps of National Lampoon’s Vacation. Can you give us an example of what happened on the trip to relate those two extremely different titles?
Nomadic world travel is an inherently soul-searching experience, and yet when you do it with children it can get a little ludicrous at times. For instance, Southeast Asia was one of the most spiritually enlightening parts of our trip for me. I established a yoga practice, started meditating regularly, tried veganism, and began finding answers to some of the questions I’d been pondering for most of my adult life. Yet, I still had to teach a 5-year-old how to use the bathroom without flushing toilet paper, tuck my kids into bed under mosquito nets, and keep my kids from being bounced out of the high speed, open-air tuk tuks that served as our primary form of transportation. Every day brought this surreal, sometimes comical combination of self development and mild insanity.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Experience #nanowrimo this year. It will jumpstart your writing habit and get you writing every single day.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
Time. Having the time to put toward the writing process introduced me to a creative side I didn’t know I had. I left my career so our family could go on this journey, so with this extra time on my hands I started a travel blog. My husband took most of the photography on it, and I shared our experiences. Then, it just started growing from there. Our following grew and our travels created things to write. , which left me focused on homeschooling our girls, planning our travel, and finding ways for us to volunteer in the towns we visited. I set up a travel blog to keep our family and friends back home updated, and it took off.
4- There are 7 continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia/Oceania. You went to 6 continents. Which one didn't you visit?
We didn’t make it to Antarctica. With three kids in tow, it was a little too remote and way to expensive. Maybe someday.
5- Have other cultures been integratedinto your life after your journey?
We definitely still feel the impact of the cultures we visited throughout our travel. One of the most noticeable, daily differences is the way we approach food. For so much of the trip we got used to the ritual of a daily trip to open-air markets to buy food.
6- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
My handle is @traceycarisch
Other authors: Vicki Lesage @vickilesage
Brooke Warner @brooke_warner
7- Would you share a picture with us of your book in an iconic location?
8- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?
Right now I’m waiting for the next inspiration to take ahold of me. I’d like to write another book, possibly one expanding on how the lessons of international travel and how they integrated back into modern American life. I also have ideas for a novel someday down the road.
9- Did any of the places you went know you were writing about your travel, and did anyone have any memorable feelings about it?
Yes, in fact, in some places we became locally known as “the American family”. Friends we made followed our blog and sometimes shared posts on local web site and Facebook pages. We were even featured in the local newspapers several times.
10- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
Author name: @AnitaDiamant
Title:The Red Tent
I loved the author’s concept that the lives of the women noted in our civilization’s early history could have been misrepresented to fit the masculine influence and perspective of the day.
11- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
Leslie Lindsay is a reviewer who has expressed her love for my memoir. In her review she said, “I laughed (a lot), I got tearful, I felt excited and terrified...seriously, Excess Baggage hit on every emotion.”
12- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?
Editing my memoir helped me really learn the mechanics of the writing craft as I worked to create an easy, conversational flow to the book. I would put it aside for a couple weeks and then come back and read with fresh set of eyes. This helped me find the spots that didn’t flow or stories that needed some rewording to be as funny or meaningful as possible.
13- What was the best and worst cuisine you had while abroad?
We had a lot of great food and most of it was very basic and simple in its preparation. Whole grilled Hake fish in Croatia, Kokoda ceviche in Fiji, and granadilla fruit in Peru were our favorites. The fried crickets of Thailand were probably the least favorite of the trip, especially for our daughters.
14- Did you plan all of your trip, or did you just "wing" parts of it?
We did not plan out our trip prior to leaving the United States. In the beginning, we were usually scheduled about a month out. We’d know where we were going to be and had housing lined up. However, by the time we got to the last 6 months of the journey, we’d gotten very comfortable with winging it. Some days we didn’t know exactly where we were staying that night until we were checking into a hotel with a vacancy.
15- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?
A simple, affordable process for developing audio books would make many great books more accessible to the population that needs (or simply prefers) a listening option.
16- Did you stay only in well-known chain hotels, stay with friends, or something else?
We stayed primarily in vacation rental homes, and a few hotels here and there. While in Ethiopia we stayed in the volunteer guest house of the organization we were working with. We stayed with family for a month in Andorra, and lived with good friends while we were in Fiji. Primarily, we would find a place on Homeaway, contact the owner, and work out an arrangement for a month-long stay.
17- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?
I want fun, easy reads that will also be thought-provoking and inspiring. I love books that give me a fun escape, while also leaving me feel like I’ve learned something new about myself or the world.
18- Were there any strong feelings from extended family members about you and your family being gone for so long?
Yes. This decision we made to take our daughters around the world was a difficult thing for our parents to understand in the beginning. With the stories in the media, world travel can look like very scary and dangerous to many people, particularly my parents who hadn’t really done any international travel. It was a point of growth for me to move forward on something when I knew people I loved disapproved of it.
19- Did you learn any unusual legends or explore any mystical creatures while on your travels?
We stayed in Skibbereen, Ireland for about 6 weeks, which is the town associated with the legend of The King with Donkey Ears. It was a new story we’d never heard before. Our daughters loved it and kept asking our local friends to tell the story again and again.
20- How will you measure your publishing performance?
I’m a professional speaker, so I really enjoy connecting with audiences on topics I love. I will be measuring success of this book by the new connections I make around the world and the presentations I get to deliver to different groups.
21- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I went the small, hybrid press route. As a first-time, unknown author, this was a great way for me to get my work out there but yet still have access to the traditional distribution process bookstores use.
22- What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?
I’m really enjoying focusing on Podcasts. They provide a great connection to very specific audiences.
23- Did different size charts ever come up as an issue, such as when buying new shoes or clothing for the family?
Yes, it did, particularly with pants. We had to try on a lot of them the first time we needed a wardrobe overhaul.
24- What is one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
Where in the world would they love to visit and what’s holding them back from making it happen.
25- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
In her breakthrough book Excess Baggage, Tracey Carisch brings the reader an enlightening memoir that’s part Eat, Pray, Love and part National Lampoon's Vacation. Funny, fast-paced, and adventurous while also deep and thought-provoking, this inspiring book will be a great read for everyone trying to keep up in the modern rat race.
Excess Baggage: One Family's Around-the-World Search for Balance by Tracey Carisch