Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Insights from Robin Pascoe, who Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Her First Book for Expats

Hi Everyone,  Our wonderful friend Robin Pascoe, well known for her books about expat living, recently celebrated her 20th anniversary of the publication of her first book for expats (congrats Robin!). She reflected on this milestone on Facebook recently, and kindly gave us permission to republish her insights here for your easy reading...

From Robin Pascoe on 12 January 2012:

"I’m always telling people not to ignore important milestones in their lives, but did I mention I rarely take my own advice?

It’s the 20th anniversary of the publication of my first book for expats, indeed an anniversary of the first expat book that told wives it was OK to be angry and resentful of their husbands and to wonder, who the hell am I anyway?

Originally published in 1992 as “The Wife’s Guide to Successful Living Abroad”, in 1993 as “Culture Shock: A Wife’s Guide" but finally, under my own Expatriate Press, re-issued and updated in 2009 and given the title I wanted for it all along, “A Broad Abroad”, it was so much fun to put into words and print what so many women were feeling but no one was saying!

So today, in acknowledging this important milestone in my life (you always remember your first!) here are five great memories I associate with this book:

Of the many rejections I received when sending out the manuscript, my favourite that made me laugh out loud was from a Hong Kong publisher who wrote to me and said: “Expat wives have servants. Why do they need a book?”

The night the publisher in Singapore called me. We were living in Beijing and it had been months since I had sent them the manuscript. The managing editor apologized for just finding it, but she wanted it. I cheekily suggested there should be a follow up book for parents and the editor said, “start writing that now.”

My Chinese cook (yes, ok, I had a cook) came to where I was sitting at the phone, completely unravelled with joy, carrying a tray with a double shot of scotch and a cigarette for me. (No cook, no smoking and actually, no drinking anymore since I lost my fear of flying and no longer need to be fuelled by vodka).

The day the books arrived in Beijing I had a choice: I could go to the airport and be the first to open the boxes containing my new baby. Or I could attend a piano recital of my first baby (an 8-year-old Lilly). I chose my daughter and never regretted it.

My first speaking tour: Husband Rodney said, “You should go to promote the book in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore since you have friends in all three places who would be sure to help you.”

Me? “You mean: alone???”

Never mind that he pushed me out of the nest and my comfort zone, it was in Tokyo that I attended a lecture given by Dave Pollock whose Third Culture Kid bible was still years away from publication. I gave Dave a copy of my new book (since he’s quoted in it) and when he got up to speak to the school audience, the first words out of his mouth were: “I have just been given a book that I know everyone in this room will want to read.” A great friendship and mentorship was born. Like so many people, I still miss him.

Weeks after that first tour: I was sitting at the dining room table in Beijing with my then 3-year-old-son Jay reading a three week old Hong Kong paper, the South China Morning Post. Scanning the book page, I was, as the Brits say, gobsmacked.

“Mommy has the #1 bestseller in Hong Kong, Jay. Eat your carrots.” It was the beginning of leading a life I didn’t participate in (or know about) most of the time.

I realize I could probably write a hundred great stories associated with this book but won’t bore everyone to death. However, I have saved one last great memory that I cherish the most: The countless women who came up to me during my years on the road and said, “Thank you for writing this, Robin.”

Remarkably, the book (and all of the ones which followed) are still selling after all these years!

Find yourself in my books, as I used to say..."

Note: Robin retired from expat writing last year, but her books and videos are still available on her website, ExpatExpert.com.


Amanda Silver said...

the expat seems to be a special 'human being' with special feelings and usually a very vast culture and an incredible passion for traveling... and hope to find more in her books (I must recognize haven't read any of them yet)

Expat Forever said...

Thank you Andrea for posting this on your expatwomen blog. And thank you so much to Robin for sharing her expat experiences in her books. I have read three of them and they have helped me so much ! I prepare myself for a new move and I will reread at least two of them. I am sure they will help me again. Yes, I am a huge fan of Robin and every expat women or expats to be should read her books. They will understand that their feelings are normal. That is precious.

Karen McCann said...

Congratulations, Robin, on 20 years of writing about the expat experience, and about your honesty in dealing with the struggles involved. It's not easy being a foreigner! I've been living in Spain since 2004, and doing a lot of writing and blogging about the experience. It's great to hear about your successes!

Irish Nomad said...

What an interesting and lovely post about success. Congratulations to Robin on her milestone :)

Katia said...

I no longer remember how I stumbled upon Robin's name, but I remember how reading her first book totally changed my life. I was in Nigeria, miserable, and suddenly, I was no longer alone. Since then, I've had the privilege of meeting her, in India, and she's as spunky and sharp as her books, which I push into the hands of absolutely every expat I meet, when they don't already know them. To 20 more years of success for your books, Robin. Thank you, indeed, for having written them.

Share This: