Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Five

[Ellen]: What primarily occupies your time now?

[Eve]: You mean, besides nearly non-stop promotion and marketing of First Comes Love? Well, I’ve got two children I’m trying to usher safely (and without too much trauma) through middle school and high school.  I’m trying to write a second (third and fourth…) book.  I do lots of volunteer work: I’m on the Board of Directors and Development Committee of the National Priorities Project; I do fundraising for our local domestic violence agency; I serve on a crisis response team; and I volunteer one day a week and am helping to create a fundraising arm for our local food pantry.  I also do freelance proofreading and copy editing when it comes my way.  Oh and I’m an ordained minister and occasionally preside over weddings and funerals.

[Ellen]: Which authors do you most admire?  Whose works served as models for you as you were writing?

 [Eve]:I admire writers like Amy Tan and Barbara Kingsolver, who can draw me completely into the worlds they are creating with words.  My models though, were memoir writers-specifically those who could be honest and funny-even while writing about things that (on the face of it) might not seem funny.  I put Anne Lamott and Augusten Burroughs in that category.  And then there’s Bill Bryson-a travel writer I’ve long loved. Reading his books always felt like I was taking a trip with a friend-it almost didn’t matter where we were going or what went wrong. I knew it would be fun. I hope there will be people who will feel that way about my book.

[Ellen]: Are there any Peace Corps authors you’re particularly fond of?

 [Eve]:Well, what Peace Corps volunteer/travel writer doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Theroux for showing us that we could spin our experiences into great stories and even great careers?  I’m also fond of all the RPCVs who’ve dared to bare their souls in their books and tell the stories that they felt needed to be told and are honest enough to say it wasn’t all hand-holding and singing Kumbaya, but that sometimes, honestly, it sucked!  I’m also very fond of Kris Holloway-Bidwell because she’s using her Peace Corps memoir, Monique and the Mango Rains, as a springboard for raising money for health clinics in Mali.

[Ellen]:  Can you share an anecdote or two that didn’t make it into the book, but which might resonate with RPCVs in particular?

 [Eve]: It took me nine months from application until staging and during this time I was so incredibly torn over whether or not to go, because I was totally in love with my recruiter-turned-boyfriend and also convinced that he would never stick with me if I didn’t go.  So twenty years, seventeen years of happy marriage and two beautiful kids later, as I was writing the book, I mentioned to my husband how silly I was being back then thinking that all of this might not have been had I NOT gone to Ecuador.  “Obviously, this was meant to be!”  I told my husband.  “It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d gone or not.”  To which my husband said, “Oh, no! You DID have to go!”  (Did I say he was the Peace Corps poster boy, or what???)

 [Eve]:I also think other RPCVs would appreciate that my book is in a way, my attempt to live up to Peace Corps’ third goal of bringing the world back home for Americans. And they also might like to know that my promotional philosophy is “How much good can a do-gooder do with one good book?”  We are using every opportunity we can to serve a greater good with First Comes Love.  Right off the bat, 10% of my royalties will be going to CARE for malaria prevention work in Africa.  But we’re also doing stuff like making fundraisers around book promotion events (for instance, we are giving $1 to our local food pantry for every book sold at our first book signing).  I’ll be doing events in conjunction with BeadforLife, a wonderful non-profit that works with women in Uganda. And I’m looking forward to seeing how much more good we can do while promoting the book.

[Ellen]:  What’s next for you, literary-wise?

 I’m working on a sequel to First Comes Love about the two and a half years we lived in Uzbekistan (where my hubby was the APCD for Peace Corps) after we left Uganda. I’m also playing around with several other genres-a really funny novel and a YA novel and a collection of short stories.  But we’ll see where that goes…

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