Welcome to the first ever interview, which I’m doing. I’m live in the Facebook group with Brian, my Camino friend and Author. it’s great that we are on two different time zones to different ends of the world. One of us is in lockdown and we can still talk.
And I think that’s good for it’s a kind of imagery of what books are. A book transports you into a different world. So I’m Susan Jagannath, I’m a best selling author of three travel and hiking books. The first one was on the Camino.
The important thing about the important thing about that book was that it created such a community for me of authors and of friends who like the same thing. It’s important to have that because writing is a lonely job, isn’t it? What do you say, Brian?
Oh, definitely. Definitely.
OK, so that’s enough about me. Brian, tell us a bit about yourself and your books and what you do.
A writer with dyslexia
Yeah, sure. Hi, everybody. It’s so great to be here. Susan, thank you so much for having me on. I love being here in person. Well, that’s close to us in person as we can be. It’s so fun to be here. So, yeah, I’ll give you my story real quick. So I never expected to be a writer. All you like. I actually grew up with dyslexia and third grade reading and spelling level in high school.
And so it was something. Yeah, it was something I never thought I was going to do. But in twenty seventeen I took a walk on the Camino to Santiago. I did a pilgrimage and I got to this place called the Arc of San Anton, which for those of you who’ve been there, you know, you just look at it. You’re like, oh my God, this is like something that you’re being Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings or something like this.
And I was like, somebody’s got to write a story about this. And so it got even better than that. Just behind there is Casa Jeriz, which is a city with a castle on top, as you well know, and our audience will know. But I checked into the hostel there and got.a stamp on my passport, and the stamp was the cross of Jerusalem, which has four Templar crosses around and one in the middle.
And I was intrigued – the Knights Templar. What do you know about the Knights Templar? And the guy says to me, I don’t know, what do you know about the Knights Templar? We got into this great conversation. He told me about the Knights Templar and their presence on the Camino to Santiago and that the whole the whole hill underneath the city was hollowed out with tunnels.
Dance Shoes for a Story
And I was I was just hooked. The Knights Templars did that a lot of places. So they would do they would have underground tunnel systems where they do rituals or store treasure because they were kind of like the first international bankers. So anyways, I woke up in the morning and I was so just inspired. I said to the universe, I said to God I took my dance shoes from my backpack. So for those of you that don’t know, I’m actually an international dance instructor.
So usually I travel the world for six to nine months out of the year. Every week is a different country or a different city teaching dance. So I took for me what was my most valuable possession, my dance shoes And I said, I’ll trade these in for a story. And I left them at a store there. And every day after that, this book just played like a movie in my head. The things I saw, the people I met, like they just kept coming back to me.
And as I walked in the morning, I would actually dictating this little microphone here to my phone what I was seeing. So this whole fiction book wrote itself. And then when I returned back home, I committed to writing two thousand words a day no matter what. And so I sat down. It took me a long time to begin with because I didn’t know the rules of grammar. So I had to I had to learn them as I was going.
And it took me forever. But I hit my goal and I was able to write a one hundred thousand word book in about fifty working days, which was pretty awesome. Yeah. And then I showed it to my girlfriend at the time who’s now my wife, and she’s like, this actually needs some work. So we spent the next three years editing it and and or two years editing it and learning more and whatnot and then enter 2020.
Right. Pandemic strikes. And I know my gosh, I know you’re in lockdown right now. We’re here. It’s it’s crazy. And so we got to this point. And mind you, my main business is teaching dance around the world. So covid canknocked that out, so my business is gone that have been building for twenty five years and I was like, you know what? I think it’s time to do that book. And so I started to research and some of the editors I was looking at were like twenty five hundred dollars if you wanted to get them.
But they represented in New York Times best sellers and USA Today best sellers and all these other expenses. And I was like, wow, how are we going to pay for this? And so I was like, I know we’ll do a Kickstarter.
And so we ran a Kickstarter. And long story short, in 30 days, we raised over ten thousand dollars and we were able to pay for all the editing, all the formatting, all the cover. And best part of all, as we built a community around my book, which was amazing and we had pre-sales, we are we had about two hundred or three hundred presales of our book before it even went on Amazon. So when we launched on Amazon, we had people to give us reviews.
We had people to share it with friends. So we created this whole community behind it. So this is our book since launching, It’s Gone On to win an Eric Hoffer award in the spiritual fiction category. And we also were Amazon best seller in several categories when we launched and then other times throughout the throughout our campaign. So I feel very fortunate.