Interview with Zana Hart
Author of Around the World at Nineteen: Explorations and Romances (Moved by Curiosity Memoir #1)
I write memoirs and mysteries... I wrote a trilogy of cozy mysteries about a small-town librarian based loosely on my own experiences. Now I'm doing a series of memoirs about my life. No, I'm not famous, but I've done a lot of different things. The two that are published are about going around the world and about spending a summer on a workcamp in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I'll soon be publishing one about taking LSD as a research subject.
Future memoirs will include being the daughter of science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith, falling in love with a hippie, raising llamas, living in Mexico, and more.
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How would you describe "Around the World at 19" to a new reader?
- It's a nostalgia memoir, telling stories of my travels in 1961-62. It was the sixties,
but we didn't know that yet!
Where did you go?
- Starting in my hometown of Washington, D. C, family members drove me to New York, where I took a passenger liner to Europe. I was there much of the year and then took another passenger ship trhough Asia. Met up with my family in Hong Kong, and eventually flew home from there.
What gave you the idea to write about these long-ago events?
- I had my journals from that era.
Are these locations significant for you?
- Yes, I fell in love with Paris especially. I've been back there.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Start writing and see how it goes.
How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
- I've always been a self-publisher and I like the freedom and the speed of publishing. Haven't always made a lot of money, but sometimes I have!
How important was it to you to write with pace and energy?
- Not especially important compared to say a thriller, but I worked at staying true to the rhythm of the events.
Is the book humorous?
- Yes, in places. I didn't write it with humor as a goal but let's face it, life is funny.
How have readers responded to Around the World at Nineteen?
- Some of them have told me to hurry up and write more books, because they want to know what happens next.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- I'm finishing the third book and already my mind is wandering to the next one.
Nineteen-year-old Lesley Linebarger would start conversations with anyone anywhere. When she was told "Life won't be what you expect," she took the warning to heart. But by going to France as a college sophomore in 1961, she did expect to improve her French. That happened less than she hoped, as proved by the Parisian taxi driver who drove off in a huff when her pronunciation didn't meet his standards.
When tragedy struck fellow Stanford students, she questioned her beliefs. When she traveled alone around Europe, she, confronted Italian men who pinched her and she met her own darkest fears. All year, her curiosity and her anxieties were in conflict with each other. It didn't help that she often experienced fatigue.
Lesley didn't expect to go around the world. She didn't foresee having no choice one night but to stay in a hotel of ill repute, or the all-too-public attack of traveler's diarrhea with people laughing at her, or getting stuck in the mud in a Viet Cong-held village in Vietnam.
She hoped for romance but she loved her solitary rambles in Paris so much that she didn't care about not having a boyfriend for months on end. When she fell deeply in love, and spent a night with the man, it was bittersweet.
She was already an obsessive journal writer but she also discovered a passion for photography, illustrated by the photos in this book. In the end, it was a good year.