Thursday, January 21, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

That's my all-time favorite line from Monty Python.

My something different is a BOOK.
Yep, a book. Instead of posting to this blog, I'm going to be busy gathering material for my book. I know....I'll miss you, too.

I was sort of inspired by being invited to do a book presentation a few weeks ago at the Oaxaca Lending Library for a couple of local author friends (Jim Duggins's The Power: A Story of Voodoo; and Bruce Stores's The Isthmus). It was fun doing the research and talking with the authors about the writing process.

And I thought, "I can do this!" In fact, I already have. I've had two travel books published in my past, along with numerous articles in newspapers and magazines around the U.S. Only thing lacking was the inspiration. Now, I've got it!

The subject for the book came from one of my local expat friends who's been in town for years: "Why not do a book on the eccentricities of an American expat community?" she asked. God knows, there's a SOAP OPERA worth of material. I've fictionalized the book a little. I'm setting it in Guatemala instead of Mexico.

I suppose, however, the character of an American expat community is about the same anywhere in the world. It's like the title of one of Dan Brown's books: "ANGELS & DEMONS." In an expat community, you have the "ANGELS" who right away throw themselves selflessly into volunteer work, social justice causes, missionary work and helping the local people. And then, you have the "DEMONS" who are negative, hateful, unhappy, often alcoholic folk who've re-invented for themselves a new life in a foreign country. Instead of trying to support the local community, they tear it down. Any expat community is, by its nature, insular and small--sort of like an adult version of "Lord of Flies." Most everyone knows everyone else. And if they don't, then they gossip about what they don't know and slander old friends.

My book, which has the working title of "Expat on the Back," is well underway. Helping me with my research, I'm grateful to have a number of friends here--longtime Oaxaca expats--who know the local scene. With family support, I've hired a local person who specializes in this kind of research to help me. And we've already identified a few of the main characters.

I'll post more details on the book as we come along. Perhaps monthly or so. Until then....Remember the Alamo!