Hello! Today I'm interviewing Melissa Burch, author of My Journey through War and Peace, and I'm going to be asking her all about the stories behind her book as well as the years she travelled.
I was so intrigued by Melissa, because she has done so much with her life so far, and I wanted to hear all about her experiences.
If you want to learn more about her life, her book is available on Amazon.
Here's the interview!
1. Hello Melissa! First of all, how has your 2016 been?
2016 was an amazing year where my husband and I bought an RV, named her Gaia, and set off on a 12,000 mile book tour across the United States. I fell in love with the beauty and majestic parts of this country, and the people who came to hear me talk. We called the trip The Heroine's Journey: Road Trip and Quest, and it became so much more. Our son joined us and so it also became a family adventure where we found ourselves really together and enjoying each others company before sending our only child off to college.
2. Why did you decide to write this memoir?
I never intended to write a memoir. My friend and I wanted to write and so we agreed to wake each other up at 6 am and then check back at 11 am to see how it went. This deep dive into writing built up a muscle and the shitty first draft began... I thought it would be about something completely different but all these memories of my twenties poured out. I kept following the momentum until I had a manuscript that needed a lot of work in order to be interesting to anyone outside of my family and close friends.
3. What is the best memory of your time travelling?
I was surprised when I had a memory and thought this doesn't make any sense. For example I remember there were roses all over Peshawar in Pakistan. I thought this can't be true because it is so desert like there. Then I googled "Peshawar + roses," and discovered that the British had brought roses from England. They were so celebrated that they wrote about them in many songs and poetry.
4. What is the worst memory?
I had to revisit parts of my life where I wished I had done things differently. I had hurt people so close to me. When I recorded the audio version, the one section that went missing, was the one part of the memoir that I didn't not want to have to revisit again. So I had to read one more time about my breakup with my boyfriend at the time (now he's my husband). It became a way of processing that younger self and her choices.
5. How, as a woman, did you struggle compared to the men you worked with whilst travelling?
There were not many women going into war zones as a filmmaker. I had many privileges because I could meet some of the women in Afghanistan where male journalists were not allowed. I also had issues with sexual abuse that also happened because I was a woman. Overall I was well taken care of by the moujahedeen in some difficult circumstances like when I climbed a 14,000 ft mountain in the Hindu Kusch and thought I will never make it. They nearly pulled me up the last stretch of that mountain to a safe place.
6. Did you grow as a person whilst travelling? (Spiritually/mentally?)
I grew in so many ways (mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically), and I also understood the origins of parts of who I became. Before writing the memoir, I had not realized that I began to fully trust my intuition in Afghanistan. On my way out of the country I pushed the moujahedeen when they were praying to get them back in the truck. This crazy and not PC action ended up saving all of our lives. Spoiler alert: I hurried them so much that we ran into another group of moujahedeen that had mined the road so if we had arrived any later we would all been blown up.
7. What do you think your life would have been like if you hadn't have had these experiences?
I've had such an unconventional life and continue to follow what feels right that I cannot say how things would have been different. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and the adults around me were acting irrational so much so that I had to find my own way. Of course I developed a strong feedback loop because I made enough mistakes to know what not to do too.
8. Do you regret any part of your travelling?
I've been a traveler all my life and continue in this tradition. We've sold our Cambridge home and living on the road now in Gaia, our RV, for six months of the year, and in our tiny house in Tinos, Greece. We're true vagabonds right now.
9. Lastly, What are you up to these days?
I have no idea--taking it day by day! I just completed the book tour for "My Journey Through War and Peace: Explorations of a Young Filmmaker, Feminist and Spiritual Seeker." I have the second memoir ready to be launched called, "Yearning for Magic: The Spiritual Journey of a Mother, Healer and Lover," about having our child after a difficult infertility period and becoming a homeopath. I want to get back to writing and finish my third memoir currently titled "Sacred Marriage," which is about relationships and how to balance the feminine and male energies. I'm writing this interview from Wimborne, England just before I dive into a shamanic bee initiation at the Sacred Trust...
Pick up My Journey through War and Peace now!