Welcome to the seven hundred and twenty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with memoirist and travel writer Jill Dobbe. 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, Jill. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jill: Hi Morgen and thanks for having me. I am also an overseas educator, as well as, an author of a travel memoir. My husband, two children, and I, lived and worked in seven different countries during 18 years (Guam, Singapore, Mexico, Ghana, Egypt, India, Honduras). Our two children are now grown and are out of college, but my husband and I continue to live the overseas life and presently live and work in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where I am an Assistant Elementary Principal at the American School. During our years overseas our family had numerous adventures-sometimes scary, sometimes humorous, but mostly, amazing. After we found ourselves living in our 6th country (India), my husband said to me one day, “You really should write a book about our experiences,” and I did just that. I wrote a travel memoir about the interesting and somewhat crazy life we led while living and working overseas with two small children.
Morgen: It sounds like you’ve had an interesting life. You write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Jill: My memoir is based on our adventures and life in four countries (Guam, Singapore, Ghana, and Mexico). I felt that our family had experienced, accomplished, and grown so much during those years that I wanted to tell others about what our lives were like and what we had accomplished together. It was always difficult to explain to people exactly what we had seen or done, but writing about it was simpler and I could more easily tell the whole story. Living and working overseas is what I know and it is what I can write about.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Jill: My travel memoir is entitled, HERE WE ARE & THERE WE GO: Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow. It was published on May 28, 2012 with Orange Hat Publishing in the U.S.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Jill: My book is available in paperback and as an ebook. As I live in a country that is Spanish speaking and there are very few English bookstores, I have come to rely a great deal on my Nook Book. I enjoy holding on to and getting cozy with a good paperback, but when I run out of English paperbacks I am now so happy to be able to get ebooks. However, at the start of every school year, I still fly to wherever my job is with at least one suitcase filled with paperback books. I can’t give them up!
Morgen: Most people can’t although they tend to travel light when they go away. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Jill: The title of my book just came to me one day. It also really describes our life, always moving and living in new places around the world. As I was finishing my writing, I couldn’t help dreaming about what I wanted my cover to look like. I knew that I wanted a globe-like impression of the world and each member of my family walking across the globe. I also love bright colors and really wanted the cover to be brilliant and stand out. It just so happened that my publisher had an artist on staff and through email I told him how I wanted the cover and what I wanted each of us to look like. He pulled it off expertly, too. I was very impressed with how it turned out and am enjoying the compliments I get from readers who tell me how much the character on the cover looks like all of us, especially my husband, the beard, big feet, and all!
Morgen: 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jill: I am now working on my next travel memoir, which will have more information about the different overseas schools that we worked in. Our last couple of schools were so very different-we worked in one that was almost 100% Muslim. Overseas schools can be very different from one another and I want to take a more humorous look at what we got ourselves into each time we worked at a different school in a different part of the world.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Jill: I haven’t suffered from any kind of writer’s block, yet, and I don’t always write every day. I am always thinking about my next book however, and keep a notebook handy to jot down things that I will just remember out of the blue. I am giving myself more time to write the next book, as I finished writing my first one in one and a half years.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jill: I believe that I learned a few things after publishing my first book, but for me editing is continuous and it always helps to leave it alone for a while and then come back to it later when it sounds fresher to me.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Jill: My memory and the memories of my husband and children were the bulk of my research. I Googled a few things about each country though, just to make sure that my memory was still intact.
Morgen: I’d say it’s worth doing that anyway because things change quickly. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jill: Marketing my travel memoir is a whole new experience for me. I have been tapping into a lot of travel memoir websites, as well as, overseas teaching sites, and other educator sites.
Morgen: What’s your favourite favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jill: I always did like to write and enjoy telling our stories. It was fun for me as I reminisced about our early days living abroad. When I needed help remembering I would ask my kids or my husband, which led to even more stories that I wanted to write about. Writing my travel memoir was a labor of love for me.
Morgen: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Jill: I would tell aspiring writers that if you think you have a story to tell then tell it. Get it down on paper and don’t be afraid to say it. What you write will be your own legacy.
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)?
Jill: Interesting question
Morgen: Thank you, it’s a fairly recent one. 🙂
Jill: I guess I would invite Hillary Clinton, Mother Theresa, and Madonna. Just thinking about cooking for these people makes me nervous so, I guess we would order sushi to be delivered.
Morgen: It would free up your time to talk to them. If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Jill: I believe it would be the day that my book launch was held. It went by so quickly and was so frenzied that I couldn’t take it all in. I think I was in a daze during the entire time. It was surreal seeing all those people there to celebrate me and my book.
Morgen: A great day, I’m sure. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Jill: The quote in my book, “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt. This quote sums up the ten years in my book where we experienced and lived every overseas adventure with our two children as they grew from toddlers into teenagers. We saw and did things that we probably wouldn’t have thought of if we didn’t have our kids there with us. Their excitement and enthusiasm opened our eyes to the world.
Morgen: How lovely. Do you write fiction?
Jill: I could never write fiction, but I give those authors lots of credit. I marvel at how they come up with plots, dialogue, and stories. I just don’t have that kind of imagination.
Morgen: I feel the same about non-fiction writers. The only non-fiction I write (so far, anyway) is about writing. I’m sure I can write about other topics but it’s my passion. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Jill: My husband would only love Will Farrell to play him.
Morgen: He’s in my favourite movie; Stranger Than Fiction. Will, that is, not your husband. 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?
Jill: I am an avid reader, especially of women’s travel essays and books. I also scrapbook our travels during summer holidays when we are back in the U.S.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jill: I believe that there will always be a need for writers. Just look at all the different genres that are out there to read.
Morgen: Absolutely, and I write quite a few of them. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Jill: My author page is www.facebook.com/JillDobbeAuthor.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jill: I believe that even if you are not a traveller, HERE WE ARE & THERE WE GO, anyone can find something within the book that they will be able to relate to. It is also a book about living your dreams, family, and togetherness.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Jill: I would just like to give you a big thank you for developing this site and taking the time to highlight authors, especially new authors like me.
Morgen: You’re so welcome, thank you for joining me today, Jill.
I then invited Jill to include a synopsis of her book…
A heartwarming travel memoir filled with temper tantrums, disorienting jetlag, and zany, once-in-a-lifetime family adventures.
Who says you can’t travel with kids? Dan and I find out we can do just that as we set off with our two very young kids, first to live and work on an island far out in the Pacific, then on to the continent of Africa with a few stops in between. Armed with strollers, diapers, and too much luggage, we travel to over 25 countries throughout a 10-year span, while working together as international overseas educators.
After surviving typhoon Yuri, almost being mauled by lions, and, nearly shot by a presidential guard, we happily endure all of the good times and bad, while living life to the fullest. A decade’s worth of experiences and lifelong memories remain with us, as we return to the U.S., now with two teenagers in tow, and begin to experience our very own version of reverse culture shock.
Since writing HERE WE ARE & THERE WE GO, her first memoir about her travels, Jill has lived in Cairo, Egypt, Gurgaon, India, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A Wisconsin, USA, native, Jill continues to work as an elementary administrator and writes on the side. Her two children are now adults and continue to travel on their own. Jill’s daughter, Ali, is now an overseas teacher also in Honduras and her son, Ian, is away at medical school. Every June, they get together and all meet up at their home on a lake in Wisconsin.
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