Interview with memoirist Janet LoSole

My special guest writer today is Janet LoSole. We’re chatting about her travel memoir, Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America.

Janet LoSole is a freelance writer living in Ontario, Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French Linguistics from York University in Toronto and a Bachelor of Education Degree from Nipissing University. She is a certified TESOL instructor and has taught ESL internationally since 1994. She began homeschooling her daughters in 1997. She writes about traveling with children and homeschooling. Her work has been published in: Canada’s Education Magazine, Natural Parent Magazine, The Alliance for Self-Directed Education, Outdoor Families Online, Unravel, and elsewhere.

Please tell us about your current release.
Embarking on a homeschooling field trip to Central America is stressful enough, but add in perilous bridge crossings, trips to the hospital, and a lack of women’s underwear, and you have the makings of an Adventure by Chicken Bus…a tale of one family, buckling under a mountain of debt, who sells all worldly possessions and hits the road.

Adventure by Chicken Bus demonstrates how to travel sustainably, but more importantly, how to nurture the next generation of environmentalists and social justice activists by exposing them to the conditions faced by those in the developing world.

From a remote monkey sanctuary tucked into an enclave on the Panama-Costa Rica frontier to the overdeveloped beaches of the Mayan Riviera, we endure chaotic border crossings, infections and injuries, learn about the history of the civil war in Nicaragua, visit UNESCO heritage sites, and hike the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal in Guatemala.

​For the sake of safety, we plan our route down to the kilometer, navigating the region by chicken bus, an eye-opening mode of public transportation ubiquitous in the developing world. Along the way we re-connect with each other, re-kindle our commitment to the environment, recognize the privilege into which we were born, and become compassionate global citizens.

What inspired you to write this book?
My purpose in documenting the details of this trip was primarily to have our girls experience a written, detailed account of our experience. At ages five and eight, it was the adventure of a lifetime, but I also hope that much of what I write will inspire them as young adults and parents to travel.

I was also motivated by the numbers of people who harangued me to write a book about our experiences so I felt I had to do it just to get some peace. The endless questions, the queries about finances, the fears about safety – we had been explaining bits and pieces of our strategies for many months. Better to write it down and describe how the process worked for us.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m finishing up a novel that I started while we were backpacking. I’d put it away for a long time, but my daughter found it and said, “Finish it.”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I do now but it’s awkward to tell people. I was buying a new computer and the sales guy asked me what features were the most important and I said word processing. He asked me what I did, and I said, awkwardly, “I’m a writer.” He asked, “Are you an author?” I said I was. It felt very weird.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I don’t write full-time. I have too much going on. I work part time because it’s too isolating to be at home writing every day. I get up and have my tea, check social media, then I get to work writing or promoting my book. I have to take breaks very often, so I go do laundry or start dinner. At about 1:00 I need to stop so I go to the gym or ride my bike. After that I do snippets of work, just to feel productive.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I learn by copying. I learned all the grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure by reading books in my genre and observing how the work was structured.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to work in a lab!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If anyone is writing right now, they should never give up trying to get published.

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