Interview with Karen Gilden

What's the story behind your latest book?
Camping with the Communists was finished this year. It's a memoir of a six-week camping trip through the Soviet Union in 1977.

It was a fascinating experience and one that very few Americans experienced. We drove 3,800 miles (6,100 kilometers) through four republics - Russia, Estonia, Ukraine and Georgia - on our own and without a guide or a tour group," Gilden says. "It was an adventure, a slog, an eye-opening experience. I also write about how we came to make that trip, which is a story in itself.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Looking back over my life I realize that the times I was happiest were the times I was writing a lot, whether on a big project or freelancing short articles. I just makes me happy to walk into my office every day and sit down and put words on a figurative piece of paper. So I keep doing it.
What is your writing process?
When I'm working on a project I write every afternoon, after lunch. I try to work through a full first draft before doing a lot of editing or reconstructing, but I usually start each day reading what I wrote the day before, and that often means editing. Actually, editing is what I like best. It's much easier than pulling ideas out of your head.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I walk about three miles most days. We're lucky to live in a beautiful area with great walking trails. We both like to camp and hike and we love long driving trips. Of course I read a lot. And I knit and sew a little.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm a big admirer of E. B. White's essays, I love reading all kinds of history, and I love Patrick O'Brian's series about the British navy in the early 1800s. When I read fiction it's mostly mysteries—I'm very impressed with Elizabeth George's novels and the way she allows her characters to grow and change. That's something O'Brian does as well. I guess I'd have to say I prefer classics to modern novels. I know Pride and Prejudice almost by heart.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It's a way of reaching readers quickly and directly. I'm basically very impatient, and it takes a long time to get through an agent or a publisher. I've come close to a traditional publishing deal, but it always fell through at the last minute. Self-publishing eliminates those frustrations and means you control not only the content but the design and marketing as well.

Camping with the Communists is our fourth self-published book (my husband, Ray, is a big part of the publishing team). The first one was done in 1995, before print-on-demand or ebooks. It's so much easier now! And really, it's just fun. I enjoy the entire process.
Published 2013-12-17.
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Books by This Author

Camping with the Communists: The Adventures of an American Family in the Soviet Union
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 45,550. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region
(5.00 from 1 review)
The ultimate road trip! This inspiring memoir follows the Gildens as they camp their way across 3,800 miles of the Soviet Union in the adventure of a lifetime. Join them as they struggle with the Soviet bureaucracy, go face to face with the KGB, steal toilet paper, smuggle a diamond, and say "Nyet!" to the border guards. "Camping" is a page-turning narrative that will amaze and delight you.
Tea & Bee's Milk: Our Year in a Turkish Village
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 57,130. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues
(4.00 from 1 review)
Do you ever feel like running away, escaping the rat race, finding yourself—or the meaning of life? If your answer is "yes" you'll find inspiration in this charming series of essays by a couple who did just that. They quit their jobs, sold their house and car, and went to live in a tiny Turkish village beside the Mediterranean Sea. This is a delightful memoir of a memorable year