Interview with Expat author - Apple Gidley
Hi, I’m Apple Gidley. Of Anglo-Australian parentage born in London, England, educated in Asia, Australia and England, currently living in Houston, Texas.
1. Why did you move abroad?
To meet my father who was living in Kano, Nigeria when I was born. Mum and I joined him when I was a month old, had my shots and got my passport.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
Yes I’m a full-time writer but fortunately have a husband who subsidizes my writing, otherwise I’d be sharing kibble with Marley, my cat, whose favourite spot is on my desk.
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
I was the closing key note speaker at a Families in Global Transition conference a few years ago, and the comments of attendees encouraged me to write a memoir, along with my husband’s chivvying to just get on and do it. The actual process was relatively easy once I’d decided on the format – topical rather than chronological. Summertime Publishing agreed to take on Expat Life Slice by Slice, introduced me to a wonderful editor, Jane Dean, and hand held me through the entire process.
4. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format? Did you blog before writing your book?
The hardest part of writing a memoir is writing about one’s family honestly, but sympathetically. And then culling, culling and culling some more!
Jo Parfitt of Summertime Publishing insisted I start blogging in order to build a platform – she also helped me distance myself enough from the book to consider it a product, rather than my life for sale.
5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
I believe there is a slow acceptance by booksellers and publishers that expatriate writing is a distinct category not to be tagged onto travel writing, though of course there is an overlap. Slice by Slice is based on an itinerant life, but life happens wherever you live and much of the book deals with issues faced anywhere. So whilst the book is undoubtedly expatriate, it could also be in general memoir.
6. What is your favorite part of the book?
The best part of writing the book was recalling the interesting, though not always pleasant, people met along the way. Most, I hasten to add, were delightful and generously patient with any unintended cultural slights; and of course remembering the support of that most important sisterhood – accompanying spouses, particularly in the days before the Internet made arriving in a new country so much easier as far as information and connections are concerned.
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
The hardest part was writing about my parents decline and eventual death, followed closely by my son’s departure for boarding school. Writing about oneself is easy, but about your family is difficult in that their life is their story, not yours.
8. Besides your book, what book should everyone read?
Just one book? Can’t do that, sorry. The Global Soul by Pico Iyer, Anatomy of Restlessness by Bruce Chatwin, and anything by William Boyd. There also some excellent books being written about the challenges of expatriation – The Emotionally Resilient Expat by Linda A Janssen and An Inconvenient Posting by Laura Stephens both come instantly to mind.
9. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
I’d suggest marshalling your thoughts as to what you really want to say. Even though Expat Life Slice by Slice is a memoir, it also gives take-away slices at the end of the each chapter, or slice, which I hope offer some encouragement without sounding preachy.
10. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
Having had a number of rejections for my first novel, The Twittering of Sparrows, I am about to do a complete rewrite. It has been on the shelf for a few months and now I am ready to go back to it with fresh eyes, ditch a few characters and subplots, and streamline the central story.
Then I’ll be ready to start the next novel with a working title of Vee, which will be loosely based on my mother’s early life in Australia, and then in Malaya and Papua New Guinea during the war. The research for this book has been absolutely fascinating and I’m looking forward to getting started.
And of course I continue to blog and write for various magazines.
Apple Gidley, a freelance writer and author of Expat Life Slice by Slice, has traveled extensively and is a seasoned expatriate, having started her nomadic life at a month old in West Africa. She has lived and worked in Nigeria, England, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Scotland, Equatorial Guinea, and is currently in the USA.