JP: Tell us about your book. What is it about? Can you describe it in just a few sentences?
SS: Slurping Soup and Other Confusions is a collection of 23 real-life stories created around our own children’s experiences. Each story is followed by related activities in order to actively engage the third culture kid reading the book.
We hope the reading and interaction will allow TCKs and their parents the opportunity to begin dealing with their own issues from transitions. The book is for children aged three to 12 and the activities (e.g. brainstorming, feeling finder, ‘weirdometer’) were designed keeping the age group in mind.
JP: Why did you write it?
SS: The six of us used to meet regularly as follow up to our taking a Parent Effectiveness Training course in 2008, and we would discuss the challenges our kids faced. By the third meeting we realized that many of their challenges were stemming from their experiences as third culture kids.
We’re all book lovers and we looked for books that may help. When we couldn’t find such a book someone said: “Wouldn’t it be great if we wrote one?” And that’s how it began.
JP: Why do you think your book needed to be written?
SS: Many experiences of our 12 children revealed common themes continually faced by expatriate families. We could not find a book that addressed younger children directly.
Now a book provides solace in so many ways. By reading of others who have also faced the same problems, a TCK will feel less alone to begin with.
The stories and activities inspire discussions among parents and children. Additionally, as so many of us know, writing about our experiences is an extremely helpful exercise.
Over time, through the activities children record their memorable experiences; work out their fears or negative emotions; also hopefully figure out solutions. The book eventually becomes a journal for the child.
We’ve seen the book being used in this way by own children, who with every move are enjoying scribbling their thoughts into the pages.
Jasmine Keel, a consultant and a mother of three TCKs said: “My nine-year-old daughter kept asking me to sit with her and go through some of the stories and activities and was reassured to see her challenges had been shared by other children.”
JP: Who do you think will read your book? Or who would you like to read your book?
SS: Slurping Soup and Other Confusions is a perfect story and workbook for expat and third culture kids from three to 12 years old; and for the adults that are helping them through those transitions.
Our book has been bought and enjoyed by parents, children, teachers and schools alike.
JP: What steps have you taken or do you plan to take to promote your book? Which methods have been successful?
SS: We’ve used our networks in marketing our books. We’ve held events and talks at various schools and organisations. We plan to work on our blog and collaborate on social media to promote the book. Work is also underway on releasing an e-book version of Slurping Soup and Other confusions.
We plan to promote the second edition of Slurping Soup globally now that the six of us are all in different countries i.e. Australia, Brazil, US East and West Coast, as well as China. So many more people to share our book with!
We couldn’t have made it thus far without the generous help of a multitude of expatriates. And we look forward to meeting and collaborating with more fellow ‘nomads’ to promote our book further.
JP: How did you choose your publisher and publishing method? Why did you decide to go down this route?
SS: We initially self published and marketed the book through our own networks with a limited first edition. The amazingly encouraging feedback to the book has been an affirmation for our efforts. It has been called: “…nothing short of a miracle” by parents of children dealing with moves.
Then late in 2012, Ulrike Gemmer met Tina Quick of International Family Transitions, who put us in touch with Jo Parfitt of Summertime Publishing. We had already heard of Jo as an esteemed publisher of books for expats and we were delighted when she loved our book!
Jo is now publishing the second edition and we’re excited about finding a wider audience through Expat Bookshop.
JP: What was your biggest challenge regarding the writing of your book? How have you overcome that?
SS: Finding mutually agreeable times to suit six co-authors during our two years of working on the book. Many cups of tea and lots of delicious snacks helped make our meetings fun and delicious! We have really missed meeting face to face ever since four of our co-authors have moved from Beijing.
Another challenge is to keep momentum going. We’ve been very lucky that our team works well with each other and we all bring something to the group.
For instance, Kathryn Tonges kept us coordinated and motivated throughout, while also spearheading the promotional effort. Ulrike helped promote the book in Beijing and is working on getting the second edition off to the presses; Cherie is similarly currently taking the lead in working on the e-book.
The great thing about a team like ours is that at different stages, someone was always ready to take responsibility and run with the ball. Barbara was focal in organizing the essential graphic design of the manuscript. Lucinda brought her positive enthusiasm to the creative process and kept us believing in the book. Maryam kept contributing via Skype and is now handling our Facebook page.
Everyone’s energy kept us going.
JP: Now you have written this book, what has writing it done for you, your family, your self-esteem or your business?
SS: We worked together on all stories and activities for nearly two years and the result was cathartic for all of us – this resource brought us together, deepened our friendships, helped us work out our own challenges and above all was lots of fun.
Our children were delighted to share their personal stories and contributed with artwork, pictures, ideas for activities.
We have now been rewarded with wonderful feedback from families who have shared the benefits of Slurping Soup for their children’s and families’ transition. On our journey, we’ve connected with so many other proactive expats, who have inspired and motivated us.
Best of all, there’s still so much more to learn and connect to.
JP: If you were to give advice to someone else who is thinking about writing a book, what would be your number one tip?
SS: There are two that worked for us:
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