Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps is a memoir of a newly married couple who discover themselves in new light as they work and learn about a different culture in a third-world country. They find strength and frustration trying to make a difference. Caught up in a military coup, they seek refuge in a house with 116 other people, wondering if their lives will ever be the same.
When where you first published?
I became a professional writer in 1991 and since that time have had more than 400 articles appear in magazines and newsletters, plus have had three novels published. Non-fiction articles (destination pieces, articles of interest to homeowners) and fiction comes quite easily to me. But writing something true, a memoir, was a challenge.
How long did it take you to write your book?
The memoir takes place 1979 – 1981. Since I became a professional writer in 1991 I thought occasionally about writing about our African experience. Occasionally, I wrote little snippets of our experiences on my blog, with favorable results and encouragement to write a book. But the snippets were positive experiences, and our time in Africa was not all positive. They were often grueling, discouraging, even scary. Writing the memoir became almost an obsession and I finally gave in to it. Amazingly, when I started, the experiences flowed out–I could hardly keep up. I wrote the 325-page manuscript in five months.
Did you do any research for the book?
We had asked our families to save our letters to them. I’d kept them all these years and once I decided to tackle the memoir, I read every single letter, all either hand written or typewritten. I started a computer index file with different categories–people we knew, animals, my husband Bruce’s work, my work, etc. What a wealth of information. Thanks to those letters I relived those years, recalling the sweat, tears and the joys. Having those letters helped me remember small details that would make the story real to readers.
Describe your writing in three words.
Honest, straight-forward and realistic. Although I admire fantasy writers, I could never do it. Even in my works of fiction (Tenderfoot, McClellan’s Bluff, Rosemount–all contemporary westerns), my books are as true to life as I can make them. In Tubob it was particularly important for me to be honest, which introduced some problems. Not all our experiences were positive. In the interest of avoiding hurt feelings, I changed a couple of names. Likewise, to limit the number of characters, I combined some personalities. However, I made every effort to remain true to our experience.
Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?
A plaque hung in my father’s workshop and now resides in my office that I have always tried to live by. It was written by Dr. Samual Johnson (1709 -1784). “Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.” In other words, don’t wait for perfect conditions to live your dream. Prepare as much as you can, knowing that you’ll have to improvise along the way. Just do it.
Where can people learn more about your books?
Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps is available through local bookstores, Amazon.com or my website, http://www.MaryTrimbleBooks.com