Interview with Expat author - Baye McNeil
My name is Baye McNeil, and I'm from Brooklyn, NY. I currently live in Yokohama, Japan.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I wanted to get away from New York for a while after 9/11. A while has turned into a decade. The years just creep up on you living abroad.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
Not yet. I make ends meet also working as a teacher (how cliche) at a JHS in Yokohama, and I have a dozen or so private students that keep me busy when I'm not writing.
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
I'd been blogging for years before I wrote the book, partially to practice in preparation for publishing, and partially to keep from going nuts. (Ironically my blog, and alter-ego / nick name over here is Loco.) My books are self-published. I had a couple of offers from publishing companies but neither of them offered much more than I could do on my own, so I went ahead and did it.
4. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format? Did you blog before writing your book?
The hardest parts were the editing, the formatting itself, getting press to take you seriously, and marketing, which is an ongoing challenge. Yes, I blogged for 3+ years before I published my first book.
5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
I don't have a niche or even a genre really. Both of my books could best be described as memoirs, and initially my sole market was readers of my blog. That customer-base expanded mostly on the strength of their word-of-mouth and support and quite a bit of social media on my part. Fortunately my first book was topical and drew quite a bit of attention and accolades. Which lead to the success of the second for I had already established my bona fides with the first.
6. What is your favorite part of the book?
My favorite parts of the first book are the chapters where I talk about my experiences in the US Army and the one when I talk about my years with the Nation of Gods and Earths and how that taught me a great deal about myself but deprived me of a friendship.
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
The most difficult chapter was the one I wrote about my first love here in Japan, and the tragedy that brought that union to an end.
8. Besides your book, what book should everyone read?
The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
9. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
While you should think about marketing and your audience even before you touch a keyboard, I recommend you write what you really want to write and what you love thinking and writing about and, this should go without saying, make it the very best you're capable of.
10. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
Do you have plans to publish another book? I'm working on several projects right now. One is a romantic and comical look at love in America and how it differs, or not, from love here in Asia, through a close examination of a number of these affairs. I plan to publish a book I wrote a few years back later this year. It's still in the editing process but it's also a romance / bromance book, about friendship, domestic abuse and fatherhood (and the lack thereof).
Baye McNeil is an author, teacher, blogger, photographer, Brooklynite and Yokohamian. He has written two books about expat life in Japan: Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist (voted top 10 African American book of 2012) and Loco in Yokohama.