Today, we are very lucky to have a most interesting guest with us. Savannah Grace is one of those people that you simultaneously want to be and want to interview. She has done so many things that the rest of us wish we could. Still, she is humble, sweet and the type of person you are lucky to get to know. Her book, Sihpromatum (I Grew my Boobs in China) is one of my favourites of the year. For those of you who haven’t checked it out yet, I strongly recommend it. Please welcome Savannah to talk about her work, life and adventures.
Please tell us a bit about you and what made you decide to become an author
My name is Savannah Grace, I was born and raised in both North and West Vancouver, Canada. I am the youngest member of a world travelling family and have visited 99 countries. When I was 14 my mom decided, after my dad walked out, that she would sell everything and we would go backpacking around the world starting in Hong Kong, China (brother 25, sister 17, mom 45). Though it was initially meant to be a one year trip, I was on the road from the age of 14-18 before going home and shortly thereafter moving to Holland.
The idea of writing this book, and thus becoming an author, was put in the air early on during our adventure, as evidenced in journal entries from Mongolia. Once our adventure started developing into something bigger than any of us had ever anticipated, we were constantly being told by fellow travellers that we needed to write a book. The giant task of picking up the pen and writing about our travels was almost immediately handed over to me.
When I was younger I actually hated reading (probably because I was a slow reader compared to everyone else in my class) but it was the trip that made me realize how amazing books are and how they can take you away to another world.
As a kid, writing was never my dream, though I did often find myself in the dark hours of the night writing down my thoughts and feelings. I think it was more a part of who I was, than a conscious decision to be an author. It wasn’t until the trip and keeping a journal every day that the possibility of actually aspiring to be an author blossomed. With so many stories to share, how could I pass up the opportunity? So far, it’s the most rewarding work I could imagine. I love it.
Can you choose one experience from your travel when you were younger that made a major difference in the person you see yourself as now?
There are too many to choose from. I think overall it was the lifestyle of travel and being exposed to so many different realities of the world.
There is one thing for certain, I am an entirely different person as a result of this trip. I sometimes shudder, to think what my life would have been without it. I learned so much about the world, people, cultures, history and most importantly myself and my family. I discovered my strengths, pushed myself to achieve goals I considered impossible and learned that dreams are worth following! This is a world full of possibilities.
I learned to appreciate and be grateful for the things I have, which is something I try not to lose. I realized that I don’t NEED all those things I thought I needed when I was living with millionaires’ kids in Vancouver.
People are nice everywhere in the world, and we all have the same basic wants and needs. A world considered to be wrought with hunger, despair, corruption and danger turned out to be one full of love, family values and respect. Ironically, it seems that the less people have the more willing they are to share.
Of the entire publishing experience, what has been the most difficult part?
Definitely the marketing and promoting has been the most challenging. It’s not only about writing, it’s got a whole lot to do with marketing and getting your name out there. It is a constant struggle and the one thing many authors under estimate, especially if you decide to self-publish. Building a platform in your community and genre is essential.
It’s most challenging when you feel like nobody cares and nobody is ever going to read your book and it will never happen…. That is the part where you have to be the strongest. Just ignore the negative thoughts you find yourself facing and keep pushing, keep writing, keep contacting people and expanding your networking.
It is a constant job that takes a lot of time, effort and luck and is a huge commitment. There isn’t a moment that goes by that I’m not thinking about my book and working on social media. Though this can be quite daunting and draining, it is extremely rewarding! I have gained amazing support which I hope to expand, met incredible people and best of all, I have been able to touch and inspire others.
What advice do you have for other who would like to publish?
For me personally I would say, don’t let agents or publishing companies stop you. Self-publish. Don’t wait around for somebody else to say it’s worth publishing. Everybody is worthy, and now it’s more possible than ever to do it yourself.
Never forget to thank the people around you who support and encourage you. Without them, you probably wouldn’t have made it. For those who feel like you don’t have any support, don’t listen to their criticism. This is your life and you need to do what makes you happy! “If there is a will there is a way”! Everyone always says how impossible the publishing world is, and don’t get me wrong I tend to agree with them, but if you want it bad enough you can make it happen.
Make sure to do your research, don’t jump into anything. 100% recommend editing, you need to take it seriously if you want others to take you seriously, so make sure you do everything to make it the best you can. Along the way I have learned a few things and am still learning for my next book. One thing I’ll do differently next time is market and promote the book BEFORE it is even published. It’s just one big learning process. Make sure the final product is something you love and are passionate about, that’s the freedom and greatness of self-publishing. Put that extra effort to make it look professional, be patient and never give up. If this is your biggest dream DO NOT let the doubts, discouragement or anything else stop you!
As far as writing itself, if you are feeling sluggish and don’t know where to start, just START. I know this sounds like really unhelpful advice, but that’s what I had to keep telling myself. Thinking and stressing about doing it is harder than just DOING it. Simply sit down and start writing, even if it’s about nothing and you’ll be amazed how stuff just pours out of you. There are times where you will have a complete writers block and feel like you were never meant to be a writer and you ask yourself WHY you’re doing it…. Just tell yourself to shut up and go outside and find something beautiful to look at, get fresh air, go for a bike ride. Get the heck out of the house and feel alive again. Don’t go halfway, you have to go all the way. It will be worth it. But nobody can make it happen except YOU!
Where can we find you and will there be other books we can expect in the future?
Yes, definitely you can expect to see more of me and my books in the future. It would be impossible to wrap up all the years and 80 countries in one book. “I Grew My Boobs in China” is only a tiny portion of what is left to come! The trip continues to get dirtier, tougher and each of the characters grows so much in their own ways. I plan to have a series of at least four books covering regions of Asia, Central Asia, Europe and a big portion of Africa. It’s a fun, fast, easy read that keeps people wanting more, and I will definitely be giving more! We venture off into lands few have ever heard about.
Tell us a little about your work in progress if you have one.
The focus of Sihpromatum #2 will be to describe the cultures, history, people we meet, expanding on the growth of each character and how their views of the world change. I will also be going more into the family dynamics and how poor Ammon, my brother 11 years my senior, is stuck with three girls while going through more remote countries.
The next route covers our overland journey through Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Western China, Tibet, Nepal, Maldives, and India. The characters will continue to grow and develop, with the group dynamic ever evolving and fluctuating. New characters are introduced because a few friends from home flew out to join us for a few weeks each at different times. You will experience parts of the silk road, Tibetan monasteries, the strength of Nepali sherpas in the incredible Himalayas then live in the colors and chaos of India and then contrast this with the relaxing beauty of the Maldives. And of course with all the adventure, humour and excitement that was found in the first book, “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China”.
Will you continue to travel for the rest of your life do you think?
Yes, definitely. I think I don’t have much of an option, as it is so much part of who I am. Luckily I am with a man who is also an extreme traveler so we are constantly fitting our next trip into the schedule. We recently got back from a fantastic trip to Mauritius which is an island off the East Coast of Madagascar, Africa.
Since publishing “Sihpromatum” I have been very involved with the traveling community on social media and feel I’m discovering new places every day. I don’t think that I will go on many more long-term trips and I am okay with that. It was an incredible period of my life, but it’s also nice to have a base and place to call home.
Something no one else knows about you?
Well, I can’t tell you that, or else it wouldn’t be secret anymore. I am generally really open about my life, not a big surprise for a memoir writer, and I don’t think there’s anything no one else knows about me.
I have a million stories up my sleeve, enough to fill several books but I am actually a big wimp!! I think I’m basically afraid of everything, including being locked inside bathrooms thus I’m completely paranoid about the type of lock and always have to check them. Being in an adventurous relationship and family, with the things they make me participate in I feel like I’m in a constant state of fear. Just last night my mom and boyfriend decided we’re going to go scuba diving with sharks in South Africa. WHAT?! No, thank you. But I know as well as anyone that within a few months I will be submerged under water, sucking on fake air with my heart pounding, praying not to be nipped at by a grouchy 3 metre shark. My boyfriend lately described me as “the most exciting boring girl,” I think that’s quite an accurate description!
Any final thoughts?
If you’ve put your heart and soul into a product and you want to be an author, don’t let traditional publishers stop you from achieving your goals. I tried and was rejected over 100 times by agents when I was trying to find a publisher, but because of my inexperience in the traditional sense and my young age, they didn’t want to take the risk on my work.
It is so important to reach out, take risks and follow your dreams. Whether that’s wanting to be an artist, to travel the globe or save lives as a doctor, make sure that YOU choose your dream. How else will you be complete? Don’t let others choose your path because in this day and age we have all the possibilities and enough to go around.
POSITIVE THINKING!!! Keep in mind, Sihpromatum – A blessing that initially appears to be a curse, and apply it to your own lives. That is how I keep positive through hard times.
My website is www.sihpromatum.com . Here, you can read the book while following along with photos. Just find them in photos- Asia – China and Mongolia albums. All of the interviews and media where I am featured are posted there as well as photos from the 99 countries I have visited.
There are stories from over 100 countries on our family blog which we started in 2005: including my latest trips to Guinea, West Africa and Mauritius, Africa.
Feel free to follow me @Sihpromatum : https://twitter.com/Sihpromatum
You can connect with me, Savannah Grace, on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/savannah.grace.549
I really appreciate if you LIKE my FB page : http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sihpromatum-I-Grew-my-Boobs-in-China/367565703312088?fref=ts
You can also find me on Goodreads if you are interested in reading: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6520230.Savannah_Grace
I would love readers to take the time to review my book on Amazon.com once they’ve finished reading it: http://www.amazon.com/Sihpromatum-Grew-Boobs-China-Volume/dp/1479236659/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352234800&sr=8-1&keywords=sihpromatum
*Thank you so very much Savannah for the wonderful interview and for sharing your exciting stories with us all!