Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction / travel author Akaisha Kaderli who co-authors with her husband Billy. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Akaisha. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Akaisha: My husband, Billy, and I are world travellers and have three home bases. One in Arizona, U.S., one in Chapala, Mexico and one in Chiang Mai, Thailand. About 70 to 80 percent of the time we are on the road having adventures, living with the indigenous, photographing what we see, and writing about our travels, our perspectives and the insights that world travel creates. We left the conventional working world in 1991 at the age of 38. This was a curious choice for two young, hardworking, successful entrepreneurs, and it challenged the belief system of everyone we knew as well as those whom we met while on the road. We began writing books 15 years later in 2005 to answer the similar and continuous questions that were asked of us regarding financial independence and travel.
Morgen: You write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Akaisha: There is never a shortage of subject matter! Living alongside the indigenous all over the world, visiting villages, walking through ancient ruins of centuries past, tasting exotic foods, hearing different languages, experiencing customs, dance, music so unlike our own traditions and interacting with amazing people all the time fills the well of topics to write about. Everyday, even the most simple of things like going to the local markets is an adventure. Our lives are like living in a three dimensional National Geographic magazine.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Akaisha: Billy and I write as a team, under our real names. Currently, we have two books about financial independence and travel, and 4 books about travel to specific areas.
The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, A Common Sense Approach, and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible are our practical and inspirational how-to guides on financial independence and world travel.
In The Adventurer’s Guide to Destination Choices, we compare Mexico, Thailand and the USA as retirement destinations. In The Adventurer’s Guide to Chapala Living, we detail Chapala, Mexico as a retirement destination choice and help the reader make their first visit there go smoother. Both The Adventurer’s Guide to the Pacific Coast of Mexico and The Adventurer’s Guide to Mexico’s Highlands detail our routes to these locations, the places we stayed, the prices we paid along the way along with the history and culture of these locations. All of these books have hundreds of our colourful photos along with our first hand accounts and practical information. We share day-to-day encounters with villagers, surprising stories and current financial commentary or advice on our website, in our newsletter and on our video page.
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Akaisha: As individuals and as a couple we are the independent sort. We enjoy making our own way and are very creative by nature, so having “our story” be moderated or subject to someone else’s red-line pen didn’t really appeal to us. Although we were not connected in any way to traditional media when we first started out, we wrote our story, and shared our perspectives and advice and it attracted media worldwide. Our books have been sold in over 40 countries to date.
Morgen: Wow. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Akaisha: All of our books are sold as PDF downloads or as e-books. Our travelling lifestyle does not lend itself to carrying loads of paperbacks so the books we read and the information we receive on current events are all digital. We love it.
Morgen: Me too. 🙂 Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Akaisha: We have full control and the corresponding success or failure of our books, including the title and cover. We started with The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, and have carried the Adventurer’s Guide theme and brand forward. It is our opinion that keeping a brand related to quality and having it recognizable is more important than the book cover itself, especially in terms of an e-book. Others might disagree.
Morgen: Oh no, I agree. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Akaisha: We have several books in the queue right now, for instance, one on travel through Guatemala and another on travel for “older” individuals and couples. All of our books are based on personal encounters and experience and are meant to be practical, fun and inspirational. We always want people to walk away feeling their lives have been improved or changed in a positive manner, and inspire them to get up and go; make a positive change in their lives or take a trip.
Morgen: I watched the film ‘The Bucket List’ last night (for the second time). We should all do what they did (well, you won’t catch me skydiving anytime soon!). Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Akaisha: We pretty much write every day. On occasion there might be writer’s block, but a brisk walk outside amid ancient Buddha statues, along a volcano-surrounded pristine lake, in fresh Chinese food markets, going body surfing off a tropical island or taking a trip up a Vietnamese river at 5 a.m paddled by a local boatsman, generally inspires us once again!
Morgen: Do you plot your pieces or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Akaisha: Neither one of us are good at outlines. We have always allowed the story to be born as it would like to be told.
Morgen: Most authors do (I do) and it works for them (me). Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Akaisha: We edit each other’s work. Both of us have different styles and we often write on separate topics so we utilize each other as sounding boards. This has proven to be an excellent approach, and offers some “high volume discussions” as we like to call them. In the end it is for a better product, and we both know that.
Morgen: It’s really worth getting a second opinion and you’re lucky you have it so close to hand. Some writers don’t so I set up five online writing groups mid-January and it’s already having great feedback, with the latest contributor to the novel group saying it’s a lifeline for her! I love that. Do you have to do much research?
Akaisha: It depends on the topic. If our story is a first-person account, we rely on our experience. But if a piece is financial or historical, then yes, we verify our information.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Akaisha: That’s an interesting question!
Morgen: Thank you, it often provokes interesting answers. 🙂
Akaisha: We both take notes on possible topics and sometimes we will have titles of pieces or full paragraphs that “want a home” and have not yet been utilized. However, if a certain piece of writing falls “on the editor’s cutting floor” we move on to the next topic. Some pieces take longer to be born than others. It’s a process.
Morgen: Do you pitch for submissions and / or are you commissioned to write?
Akaisha: Fortunately, because of our unusual lifestyle, world perspectives and the fact that we are “walking the talk,” often we will be approached to write a chapter for a book, write an article for a publication or be asked for an interview. There are times when I submit to new publications or to new venues and that is always exciting. However our writing load is pretty heavy as it is. We get paid for some submissions and others are done for the exposure it gives our website.
Morgen: It’s important to do some free work and as you say it all helps getting your name(s) out there. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Akaisha: Oh sure! There are any number of reasons why a certain publication might not take what we offer and timing is very important. Our approach has always been to move on to the next project and not get hung up over a small hitch. Taking action and moving forward has proven to be a balm. Often, if a piece has been rejected we will self-publish it on our site, offering our readers the benefit of that content.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Akaisha: We don’t have an agent, and as I mentioned earlier, we are the independent types. While it might seem attractive that someone else would pitch for our work, on the other hand, it is another cost and we are successful because we keep costs low and handle most projects ourselves.
Morgen: How much marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Akaisha: We have a weekly newsletter that we send out which offers our current stories, commentary, videos and Readers’ Q&A. This has proven to be a very successful tool for us. We also use social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, LiveJournal, etc. Our willingness to be interviewed or to write for publications when asked has also gotten our name out there.
Morgen: Editors love writers who are easy to work with. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Akaisha: Sitting in a chair for lengths of time is probably the biggest negative. The rest of the process – being creative, sharing perspectives and useful information, helping people make their dreams come true, learning new things and growing as individuals and as a couple have all been fabulous and very rewarding.
Morgen: I love that too. I never imagined when I started blogging back in March 2011 (with http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com) that it would take off as much as it has – I’ve interviewed over 800 authors and have plenty more booked in. And I’ve loved getting to know them as much as the readers say they have. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Akaisha: Write, write, write. Find your voice. Find a need and fill it. Don’t be afraid. Write some more. Take a chance. Write some more.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Akaisha: We would choose the eclectic combination of Jimmy Buffett, Rush Limbaugh, and Stephen Jobs. While they might seem to be an odd group, they have all made their own success and are leaders in their fields. The conversation would be electric and challenging. No room for wimps here! We would make Lobster Pizza, Veal Avocado and Strawberries Bourbonaise, finished with a cheese plate and various wines. I guess for Stephen Jobs, we’d need to make a vegan choice.
Morgen: I love eclectic. 🙂 If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Akaisha: There are too many outstanding days and amazing paradises to choose just one. That’s a feature we enjoy about our lifestyle – we’re not bored, days bring new adventures, experiences and personal relationships, and the natural beauty of where we travel is outstanding. There wouldn’t be a reason to live a single day over again. The future holds a lot of promise.
Morgen: It certainly does, especially in the publishing industry. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Akaisha: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness – all foes to real understanding. Likewise, tolerance or broad wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in our little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” — Mark Twain
Morgen: A man of some great quotes. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Akaisha: Billy is a trained French Chef so we love to try native cuisines and prepare our own gourmet meals. He is also a photographer and follows the world financial markets closely. I am a mixed media artist and enjoy textiles from around the world. I also love languages and the study of human nature. Both of us enjoy playing tennis and being out in nature.
Morgen: Ah, you should speak to Lesley Fletcher, she’s a big textiles fan. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Akaisha: Yes, we are on Facebook and LinkedIn actively. LinkedIn is probably my favourite, as the people I have met through there have been fascinating, earnest in their projects and eager to work together.
Morgen: LinkedIn’s great if you have queries, and the conversations tend to go on a lot longer than Facebook (or Twitter). I like them all for different reasons. You said the future holds a lot of promise, what do you think it holds for a writer?
Akaisha: I think the human race will always want their storytellers. Much information can be exchanged in the form of story and the future holds many new avenues for this; Videos, interactive children’s books, digital media of sorts that we have not even thought about yet — theater, movies, television programs, dance and music, manners of therapy by telling one’s own story.
If someone is creative and wants to express a perspective or tell a tale, I believe there will always be a place for that. Telling stories can change the world by changing perspectives, and sharing stories is part of being human. I believe the future will offer exciting new ways to do that.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Akaisha: Our website is www.RetireEarlyLifestyle.com. We have a free weekly newsletter, a blog, and a video page where we instruct and tell tales.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Akaisha: It is our belief that many people could be financially independent even in this economic climate; it’s a matter of priorities and self-discipline. Sometimes retirement doesn’t come in a neat package; it can be thrust upon us in the disguise of uncomfortable circumstances. We try to help people make their way through that maze and come out on the other side with more personal freedom and a variety of possibilities. There is no one-size-fits all.
Morgen: I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have a ‘proper job’. I rent out two rooms in my house and do some work (blogging mostly) for other writers so I feel retired already (at 45). 🙂 Thank you, Akaisha.
I then invited Akaisha to include an extract of their writing…
One of our true Traveler’s Tales is about how we got stuck on a bus in the Cloud Forest of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador:
The man in the red poncho left the bus, slipping into the dark, dense fog outside. The bus driver’s helper was already out there assessing the situation, which apparently wasn’t good.
When my woolen-ponchoed friend returned, I gingerly asked “Hay una problema?”
“Si,” he replied definitively with bright eyes, and made a dramatic slice straight down with his hand. That’s what I was afraid of. The cliff!
Through our headlights we could see ghostly outlines of bushes, and sometimes the mountainside that we deliberately hugged on our soupy dirt road through the mountains. Beyond four feet, all was shrouded; we were in the Cloud Forest of the Andes. Having traveled this same road yesterday, we knew what lay beyond: a sheer drop into oblivion.
Back and forth, the man in the native poncho and the bus driver’s assistant were doing mysterious things outside behind the bus. Soon, the man across the aisle could sit no longer and stood up in his effort to show support. This was serious. When men leave their comfortable seats, you know something is up.
Gripping moments passed with the bus driver gunning the motor and the bus not moving an inch.
The single windshield wiper slapped against the front window, removing the rapidly accumulating moisture. The driver’s head was out the window shouting orders. Our 50 foot bus filled with passengers and luggage was drifting backwards. We were entrenched in muddy tracks and getting nowhere fast.
Then, beyond my wildest fear, the bus driver began backing up. We are perched on a ledge, at breathless altitudes in the mountains with literally inches of visibility, and the bus driver backs his machine up into God knows where! I smear the condensation away on the window with my hand, but can see nothing.
Over and again we went – the same few feet – but we were only spinning our rubber tires. Even though the predawn was cool, I began to sweat.
And a synopsis…
In our latest book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, we take the position that a satisfying retirement is still possible for many, even in this financial climate. We discuss options available and give the Reader practical tools. Financial issues, lifestyle choices, cost of living, housing, the emotional adjustment – before and after retirement– the healthcare question, choosing the travelling lifestyle or living overseas and topics such as becoming comfortable with uncertainty are all covered.
We provide an interactive Excel spreadsheet, offer questions to challenge the Reader to think outside the box, share information about our financial portfolio, and give various retirement plans and alternatives. Pages of useful and informative links and hundreds of our personal photos of our travels worldwide are included. PDF download.
We like to say, “We give you the map. You make it happen.”
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. They have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Clark Howard, Bankrate.com, SmartMoney, Minyanville, FOXBusiness and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. Continuing to journal and photograph their world travels, Billy and Akaisha have home bases in Thailand, Mexico and the U.S. They have been married over three decades, and enjoy the world of finance, fine cuisine, photography, and publishing, playing tennis, volunteering, travelling and learning about native peoples.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
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