Author Interviews

Talking with published writers about their PC service, current life, writing their books, their advice for other writers — and what is in the works.

1
Talking to Ted Wells (Ethiopia) author of POWER, CHAOS & CONSENSUS
2
Talking with Carl Murry (Pakistan) about THE G-K PROJECT
3
Talking with Robert (Bud) Abbott (Nigeria)
4
THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)
5
Talking With Paul Aertker (Mauritania)
6
Allen Mendenhall interviews Melissa Fischer (Ghana), author of THE ADVOCACY
7
Melissa Fischer (Ghana) interviewed — THE ADVOCACY
8
Talking with Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)
9
Talking with poet Bill Preston (Thailand)
10
“The Pope’s Astronomer” Guy Consolmagno (Kenya)

Talking to Ted Wells (Ethiopia) author of POWER, CHAOS & CONSENSUS

  Ted, where are you from in the States? I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in a small town called Sharon 20 miles south of the city. I started a 5 year degree in Architecture at the University of Oregon in Eugene, but finished it at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where I met my wife-to-be, Helen, who was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but had moved to Colorado just before I arrived. Why the Peace Corps? I was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War and would have emigrated to Canada with my wife of ten months had we not both been accepted into the Peace Corps immediately after I graduated from university. Thankfully, my Draft Board accepted this as an alternative to Vietnam. Why Ethiopia? We would have accepted any assignment anywhere in the Peace Corps, but Community Development work in Ethiopia was the only choice . . .

Read More

Talking with Carl Murry (Pakistan) about THE G-K PROJECT

Carl talks about his new book • Carl, where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I served in East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, from 1962 to 1964. I also served as Associate Peace Corps Director for agriculture, education and appropriate technology in Swaziland from 1978 to 1981, and served as a trainer for CAST, CREST, and pre service training in the 1980s. What was your Peace Corps project assignment? Training agriculture extension agents in the Ganges-Kobadak Irrigation project. The assignment evolved into developing farmer Clubs to support new and improved agriculture practices in their areas, starting a technical library, publishing a monthly newsletter, Recognizing “Master” farmers and being the team leader. What kind of work did you do? Initially we set up irrigation committees to distribute water from the tertiary canals to small, highly fragmented fields. This required a high level of cooperation. Each committee discussed . . .

Read More

Talking with Robert (Bud) Abbott (Nigeria)

  Robert Abbott is author of the new book  Transformation: The 60-second Mind-body Practice Integrating Tai chi and Yoga to Manage Stress and Unlock Your Potential Where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I was assigned to serve in Nigeria as a member of Nigeria-19. I did the training in the Virgin Islands in the fall of 1965 and arrived in Nigeria in January 1966. I was assigned to Federal Government College in Warri, in the Mid-West State What was your Peace Corps Assignment? My assignment was to be a teacher in the new Higher School College. I was the first teacher to arrive at the college, so I initially taught biology and chemistry, and was the school nurse and P.E. Instructor. Tell us about where you lived and worked? I lived in the oil town of Warri. The campus was about two miles from the center . . .

Read More

THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)

  An interview by Ben Walpole Senior Manager, Content Development ASCE’S NEWS AND INFORMATION HUB American Society of Civil Engineers • Melissa Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. It’s not often that civil engineering and literature show up in the same sentence. Melissa Fischer, P.E., M.ASCE, is aiming to change that. Fischer, who identifies as nonbinary, is a supervising engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, but lately they’re probably better known as a novelist. Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. Fischer discussed the book on a recent . . .

Read More

Talking With Paul Aertker (Mauritania)

  Paul Aertker (ETT Kerr) is a children’s book writer, teacher, and a frequent speaker at elementary and middle schools. He began his teaching career in West Africa with the Peace Corps where he helped establish the town’s first public library. His first series, Crime Travelers, consistently ranks in the top spot in multiple Amazon categories. His newest book, Posthumous, has won the 2018 Foreword Reviews Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award, and the 2018 SCBWI Spark Award for “excellence in independent publishing for children.” The Crime Travelers series has sold more than 25,000 copies per year for the last three years and has been optioned for TV/Film. • Paul, where are you from? I grew up in Louisiana, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of African and Cajun cultures, and went to Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps? As cliché as it might seem, I wanted . . .

Read More

Allen Mendenhall interviews Melissa Fischer (Ghana), author of THE ADVOCACY

  SOUTHERN LITERARY REVIEW A Magazine for Literature of the American South • AM:  I’m glad we have this opportunity, Melissa, to talk about your profound new book, The Advocacy, which is set in 1992 in Obuasi, Ghana, a mining town known for its gold. You lived in this town in 1992 and remained there for a few years while you worked for the Peace Corps. How did your experiences shape and inform the writing of The Advocacy? MF:  Thank you, Allen, for your kind words and for this opportunity to talk about The Advocacy. I lived in Obuasi for two years [1992–94], the normal duration of a Peace Corps tour. The experience touched me on a spiritual level. The richness of that life inspired my dedication to completing the novel over the course of 25 years. I find that a story lives in the telling, not within the premise or plot. For . . .

Read More

Melissa Fischer (Ghana) interviewed — THE ADVOCACY

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Steven Boyd Saum (Ukraine 1994–96)   Kirkus Review by Walter Rutter-Bowman      “I had a sense as a very young child,” says Melissa Fischer (Ghana 1992-94), debut author of The Advocacy, “that I would grow up and write a novel. That was just a form that I loved.” The Advocacy is set in Ghana, where the author served in the Peace Corps. While there, Fischer kept three journals. “One was my personal journal,” they say. “One was a professional journal. And then I kept a journal as if I was speaking to my family and friends—as if I was telling them the story.” That third journal became the first draft of the novel. Fischer, who now lives in Los Angeles and works for the LA County Sanitation Districts, lived in Ghana for two years. A civil engineer, they worked for a water and sanitation agency in a gold mining . . .

Read More

Talking with Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)

  Martin Ganzglass answers questions from Peace Corps Worldwide about The Price of Freedom — the 6th and closing novel of his Revolutionary War series that will make you want to read all six!     Where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? Tell us about where you lived and worked. I was a PCV in Somalia from 1966 to 1968. I lived in Mogadishu with my wife, who was also a Volunteer, in a small apartment in a two-story building above a Pakistani owned grocery shop. The street below teemed with Somalis going to the numerous markets in our neighborhood. Behind us, was Hamaar Weyn, the old area of the city where women wore burkas, goldsmiths sold intricately fashioned jewelry by weight, and weavers sat in pit looms and made Benaadir cloth. The mosque immediately behind our building lacked a live Muezzin to call people to prayer, but . . .

Read More

Talking with poet Bill Preston (Thailand)

  The poems in Strange Beauty of the World invite readers to reflect on the ways the past impinges on the present, how events long ago continue to inform who we are now; to consider acts taken and not taken, and the way actions have unintended consequences; to bear witness to cruelty and injustice; to summon the creative imagination to resist the mundane, challenge the rehearsed response. In particular, they pay homage to beauty, and its weird, wonderful diversity and expression. As with many aspects of his life, Bill Preston never started out to be a poet. Nor does he really think of himself as one: Strange Beauty of the World is his sole collection of poems, and he currently has no plan to write another. Not that planning has ever been his particular strong point. In fact, Bill never planned on joining the Peace Corps, choosing to serve in VISTA first, . . .

Read More

“The Pope’s Astronomer” Guy Consolmagno (Kenya)

    Brother Guy Consolmagno (Kenya 1983-85) was appointed Director of the Vatican Astronomical Observatory by Pope Francis in 2015. His books include Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist and Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory. He is known as “The Pope’s Astronomer.” In a radio interview on NPR recently he spoke of his Peace Corps experience and astronomy: Interviewer: And then you went into the Peace Corps and you’ve said that you couldn’t see the point of studying stars when people were dying of hunger. So I want to ask you how you saw the point of studying stars differently when you went back to astronomy after Kenya? Br. Consolmango: Well, I joined the Peace Corps with the attitude I’ll go wherever they ask me to go because they know better than me where they can use me. And after . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2019. Peace Corps Worldwide.