For all you “globetrotters” that love to travel even when summer’s over, will find “Travel Happy Budget Low” by Susanna Zaraysky a fantastic and resourceful read. Author, Susanna Zaraysky has created a literary lane for herself by documenting her travels and adventures that take readers on fascinating expeditions near and far. Here’s what she told FBE about herself and other piece of work “Language is Music”:
FBE: How successful has your book been?
SZ: The books, Language is Music, and Travel Happy, Budget Low, will be published at the beginning of June 2009. From February to April 2009, I ran a contest where people could read my books for free online. I had over 114 people sign up to read the books for free.
FBE: Was writing always your passion?
SZ: I think writing was always something I liked. A few years ago, I was going through my boxes of childhood toys and items and found a children’s book I wrote in the 5th or 6th grade.
FBE: When did you see writing as a career?
SZ: The career chose me! I often wrote travelogues about my international adventures and would write short prose or poems and send it to my friends. I even wrote out poems as invitations to events I was planning. For years, my friends would reproach me for not publishing my work or writing a book. In 2005, I became allergic to myself and to my job in wine marketing and knew I needed to follow my passion. Yes! One can literally become allergic to one’s job. I developed allergies to wheat, citric acid (no tomatoes), dairy, chocolate, corn, and grapes. I was in the Italian wine and food business and could not eat most Italian food or drink the wine.
I was at an Italian wine tasting event for work and the speaker was talking about how Italian wine was losing its sense of terroir, its roots. I thought about what my roots were and decided to write a memoir about my life in different languages and cultures. I wrote that book, One Eyed Princess in Babel, but couldn’t find an agent or publisher to take it on. So, I decided to write two smaller books. Language is Music is about how to learn foreign languages using music and other media. Travel Happy, Budget Low is about how to travel the world on a budget. People always asked me how I was able to speak seven languages so well and travel to over 50 countries on a budget. I figured that I’d first make my presence with those books and then get the memoir on the market.
FBE: How did you come up with the concept and title of your book?
SZ: I came up with the idea and name for Language is Music after listening to the audiobook version of Dr. Oliver Sachs’ book, Musicophilia.
For Travel Happy, Budget Low, I was searching for a name for a while. I wanted to call it Budget Globetrotter, but that website was already taken. My mom said the book title needed the word “happy” in it. So, I came up with this name. It sounds like a title for a Chinese movie!
FBE: Are you self published or do your work with a publishing house?
SZ:I will self publish under my business name, Kaleidomundi.
FBE:Have you completed any other works that are published? Explain
SZ: In August 2009, my article about the research I did on the religious practices of Mexican transgender sex workers in Mexico and San Francisco will be published in the book, Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana: Politics, Identity, and Faith in New Migrant Communities by Duke University Press.
FBE: How long did it take you to complete your two books?
SZ: I wrote them both from June-September 2008. It was like giving birth to twins!
FBE: Are there any challenges that come along with being an author?
SZ:Yes! Money is a major factor. Unless one has a benefactor or advance from a publisher, the writing life has to be self financed. While it doesn’t take money to sit and write, one still has to support him or herself. This is not easy! I’ve had several part-time jobs to afford to write. I’ve worked as a substitute teacher in the Cupertino, California area for most of the past three years. I’ve also been a scribe for a meeting facilitation company. Other random jobs included: translating Brazilian soap opera synopses into English and Spanish, researching Russian yachting for a US journalist, and being a long-term election observer in Ukraine.
I am self motivated person, so I don’t have writers block or I don’t have trouble convincing myself to spend hours writing. However, I do have to say that spending the summer writing about travel tips presented some challenges. When I wrote my travel tips, I was nostalgic about all the places I’d traveled to and would often recreate my adventures in my head. I preferred to be on the road instead of writing about the past. Now, I am focused on marketing and the administrative side of publishing and I am not writing much. Once these two books go on sale next month, I will have more time to dedicate to editing my baby, the memoir.
FBE: What do you like most about being an author?
SZ: When you know your topic well and can write about it in an easy-to-understand format that people get quickly, it’s great to know that I can easily touch peoples lives. My youth is an advantage because I am living proof that you don’t need a lot of money or resources to travel and learn languages. When I was presenting my books at the Doha Book Fair in Qatar, some male high school students couldn’t believe that I was an author. I looked too young to them. They were impressed by my background and realized that they too could do what I did!
FBE: Who or what can you credit to being the ultimate motivator in your life?
SZ: My parents are immigrants from the former USSR. I came to the US when I was three years old. Despite our modest means, my parents took my sister on camping trips and international trips. They came from a country where travel was almost forbidden and contact with the outside world was outlawed. They instilled not only the love for travel in my sister and I, but also the appreciation for the privilege of having an international passport and money to see the world. It’s not just about having the means. Lots of American could travel, but they don’t even have passports or the interest in the world around them. It’s about being humble and grateful. Though I didn’t grow up in the repressive regime my parents suffered under for decades, I still come from that culture. I would say that recognizing my blessings is my biggest motivator.
FBE: Are you currently working on other projects?
SZ:Yes, I work part time doing marketing for Bookrix.com, a company that provides an online portal for writers to display their work.
FBE: Will your follow up work be geared solely towards travel or will you branch out to other genres?
SZ: My goal is to reform foreign language education worldwide so that people see that learning foreign languages is fun and that they can use music, TV, radio, movies and other media to learn languages and not just sit at home and memorize grammar charts and vocabulary. After the books are published, I am going to pursue consulting projects for educational institutions worldwide to add my methodology to their curriculum.
FBE: What advice do you have for up and coming authors and entrepreneurs?
SZ:Plan your time. Don’t overload yourself. Hire help. Get a virtual assistant to take care of the administrative stuff you don’t have time to do.
Please visit her website at www.createyourworldbooks.com for more info on my books.
For FAQ’s about Susanna: http://www.createyourworldbooks.com/FAQ.html
To see videos where I describe the books, please visit my You Tube Channel: www.youtube.com/CreateYourWorldBooks