Thursday, February 4, 2016

#MMBBR #Showcase MY HOLIDAY IN NORTH KOREA: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth by @wendysimmons @KellyLeonard

Most people want out of North Korea. Wendy Simmons wanted in.

In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy shares a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Even though it’s the scariest place on Earth, somehow Wendy forgot to check her sense of humor at the border.

But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turned to frustration and growing paranoia. Before long, she learned the essential conundrum of “tourism” in North Korea: Travel is truly a love affair. But, just like love, it’s a two-way street. And North Korea deprives you of all this. They want you to fall in love with the singular vision of the country they’re willing to show you and nothing more.

Through poignant, laugh-out-loud essays and 92 never-before-published color photographs of North Korea, Wendy chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way, she bares all while undergoing an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.

Wendy E. Simmons

Wendy Simmons won't stop traveling until she visits every country in the world! Despite her hatred for packing, she's managed to explore more than eighty-five so far--including territories and colonies--and chronicles her adventures on her blog, (where you can also sign up for her newsletter) and on Huffington Post.

Wendy is president of Vendeloo, a consultancy she founded in 2001, Chief Brand Officer of a NYC-based global eyewear brand, and an award-winning photographer. She's also owned a bar in Manhattan, worked for a lobbying firm on Capitol Hill, and written a Japanese-language phrase book. Though her Japanese is now terrible, Wendy's Pig Latin is flourishing. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University.

Wendy practices Muay Thai daily and lives in Brooklyn in a converted 1800s schoolhouse.

Wendy E. Simmons, author of the upcoming MY HOLIDAY IN NORTH KOREA: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth
(RosettaBooks, paperback original and e-book formats, 5/3/2016)

Q.  What inspires your writing?
A. My mind is always churning. I’m always observing, sleuthing, analyzing, imagining, daydreaming, and writing stories in my head (I’m a terrible sleeper as a result), so I feel a palpable sense of relief when I’m finally able to translate my thoughts into words on the page, or screen.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. The beauty and power of words. The satisfaction, elation and relief I feel when my thoughts translate into words, which coalesce into sentences that expand into paragraphs, which at last become finished pieces. It’s like solving a giant puzzle without any hints. And if what I write resonates with others, well…it doesn’t get much better than that.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Solving the puzzle. And, having faith in myself that I can each time I stare at a blank page, or screen.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. Bored.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Girl

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A. The Sheltering Sky. And, The True Store of Okee the Otter – I read it when I was like six and remember it nearly word for word until this day. That’s been a tough one to beat.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. It would be easier to tell you which character for ANY book I’m least like. Without any common ground, or empathy or sympathy for a book’s protagonist, or author (if non fiction) it’s a tough read for me. But that’s very rare. I can usually relate in some way, or on some level – put myself in their shoes - to the protagonist. That said I’m most like me in “Wendy Won’t Eat,” a book my mom had made for me when I was four in hopes it would discourage my picky eating habits. It hasn’t.

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. Having written one…I’m most like me in my book, “My Holiday in North Korea, The Funniest Worst Place on Earth.”

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher.

Q.  What is your favorite season?
A. Summer. Hands down.

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. The cover of my book is a photo I took of a bride and groom at their wedding reception, which I crashed while on holiday in North Korea. I spent my entire holiday in North Korea wrestling with propaganda, trying to discern what was real from what was staged, and wondering if anything I was seeing or being told was true. The look of utter disgust on the bride’s face upon seeing me at her wedding reception, camera in hand, was an unequivocal stink eye, and the first thing in North Korea I was certain was real.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. I haven’t been out yet, but given my book in about my 10-day holiday in North Korea, I imagine there will be many funny moments to come.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A. I’m just back from holiday in Chad, where I camped in the Sahara for 18 nights. It was an incredible experience. I took a lot of notes, which I’m toying with now. In the meantime, I continue writing regularly for my blog and the Huffington Post.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A.  Don’t save things for later. There may not be a later, and if there is, there will be plenty of other places to go, and things to do then. And the secret to making things happen is breaking things down into manageable steps. People start at 10 instead of 1 and end up psyching themselves out or believing it’s too hard. It’s not. Even the most gargantuan dreams and Herculean efforts boil down fundamentally to logistics.

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