Interview with Expat author - Casey of A Cruising Couple
I’m Casey Siemasko. I’m from Apex, North Carolina. Currently I’m calling Mexico home, though only for a few months.
1. Why did you move abroad?
Before we got married, we had both traveled extensively on our own. I think that when combined, Dan and I had traveled to nearly thirty countries on six different continents. This passion for travel and seeing the world was something that we wanted to experience together, so it only made sense to start our marriage abroad! The only question was where we would go and how long we would stay. A short Google search later and Taiwan it was.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
My primary job is managing the travel blog my husband and I own, acruisingcouple.com. We’re the founders, editors, content creators, social media managers, finance department… well, you get the idea; it takes a whole lot of work to run a website, and we wear a variety of hats! However, writing is what I’m most passionate about, and why I allow the blog to take over so much of my time. In addition to the website, I’m also a freelance writer and content creator. Should we ever settle down in one place, I would love to see the writing aspect become more dominant in my life.
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
Like most of the big decisions my husband and I make, we started the process of writing our book on a whim. We noticed that despite all the wonderful things Taiwan has to offer tourists, nobody knows anything about it! Seriously, after two years living in Taiwan, I lost track of the number of times people asked me about life in Thailand. Well, my husband and I fell in love with Taiwan and wanted to make to more accessible to both tourists and expats living on the island.
And if we’re being completely honest, we got tired of answering the same questions from our blog readers on a regular basis! We saw a need for a book like 101 Tips to Living in Taiwan and we decided to fulfill it. To make it accessible to everyone—including low-budget backpackers—we decided to self-publish it as an eBook.
4. Did you blog before writing your book?
The hardest part of taking my writing to a book format was making the reading concise and easy to digest. As a professional blogger, I largely make my living by telling personal accounts of my travels. But because we were opting for a guidebook feel, I didn’t want the book to be overflowing with superfluous stories or embarrassing personal accounts. The book wasn’t meant to be a memoir of our time in Taiwan, but a practical and (hopefully) somewhat entertaining resource. Finding the perfect balance for the tone of the book took a bit of practice. Luckily I have a really great editor!
5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
I’m not sure I can answer this fairly. As we are part of the travel blogging niche, it follows that the majority of expat books I come into contact with are travel books. However, I also think there is a large amount of self-help books from expats that encourage others to escape the ‘rat race’ and live the life of their dreams. It will be interesting to see how the eBook market continues to develop as more and more people realize the power of the digital world.
6. What is your favorite part of the book?
The Weird and the Wacky. Our eBook is divided into ten chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different element of life in Taiwan. We had a lot of fun with the Weird and Wacky chapter, divulging some of the confusing parts about Taiwanese culture through the eyes of a foreigner. It was also a lot of fun getting feedback on this section from other expats living in Taiwan.
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
In retrospect it was a bit surprising, but probably writing the chapter about Taiwan’s unique festivals and religious celebrations. There is a lot of folklore and stories surrounding these events; it often seemed that every local we talked to had their own variation of each festival’s history. While this would make for a fascinating book in and of itself, we had to find a way to weave the different threads into one concise, accurate summary.
8. Besides your book, what book should everyone read?
What a difficult question! I suppose this is a bit of a cop-out, but I have to say that everyone should read something that is outside of their supposed genre. I listen to people on a regular basis say that they only read non-fiction, or young adult, or mysteries, or Nicholas Sparks. That’s all well and good, but the power of reading is in its ability to transport you to new worlds and introduce you to new ideas. Even if you think you’ll detest it, open the cover and try it anyway.
I would add that everyone should read something by Hemmingway, preferably The Sun Also Rises (should you have managed to escape it in high school).
9. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
Don’t wait for the timing to be right to start writing. Like most things in life, you’ll always find an excuse to wait until the stars align. If you have an idea you’re passionate about, go for it now. Not tomorrow, not when you have more training or a larger audience, but now. If you’re doing what you love, everything else has a magical way of working out.
10. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
That’s a bit of a secret. While I can’t elaborate on the specifics, yes to both accounts.
101 Tips to Living in Taiwan will streamline your transition to living in a new and foreign country while inspiring you to get out and explore all that it has to offer. You’ll have more confidence, less stress, and the knowledge you need to make the most out of your time in Taiwan.
Find out more about Casey & Dan and their travels on their site, acruisingcouple.com.