Jan/Feb 2011  •   Reviews & Interviews

An Interview with Lyn Fuchs

Review by Catherine Treadgold

Bedding down in the rainforest was an act of sheer brav—er—stupidity. Spider monkeys and fruit bats dangled above. Creepy-crawlies established supply lines over and under me. Passing cats left me to wonder: margay, ocelot, or jaguar? Don't even ask about the mosquitoes. By morning, I was as refreshed and relaxed as a heroin addict in detox. Just when I thought my hell was over, I made a discovery that may still send me into therapy: a crunchy, striped beetle in my navel. Save the rainforest? Save me from the rainforest! Try it yourself before you judge.

Lyn Fuchs is is the author of Sacred Ground & Holy Water: Travel Tales of Enlightenment. His travel writing has appeared in Outdoor Canada, Monday Magazine, Canadian Ethnic Studies, The Dalhousie Review, Eclectica Magazine, Rose and Thorn, Gam Magazine, Paperplates Literary Journal, Travel Rag, 3:AM Magazine, artist-at-large, Long Trip Home, Crank Literary Journal, The Kinte Space, Travelmag, Hack Writers, Trip 101, Raging Face, Traveling Stories, The Best of Bluefoot Publishing, and others.


CT     How would you introduce yourself to readers?

LF     My name is Lyn, but I should be called Lyndiana Jones. I've survived enraged grizzlies, erupting volcanoes, Japanese sword fights, and giant squid tentacles. I've been entrapped by FBI agents and held at gunpoint by renegade soldiers. I've sung with Bulgaria's bluesmaster Vasko the Patch and met with Mexico's Zapatista Army commander Marcos. I've been thrown out of forbidden temples in southern India and passed out in sweat lodges off the Alaskan coast. My navel has been inhabited by beetles and my genitals have been cursed by eunuchs. I've shared coffee with presidents, beer with pirates, and goat guts with polygamists. I've contracted malaria, typhoid, salmonella, and lovesickness around the world. I've written about all these adventures in my new book, and I'm excited to share it.

CT     How did you get started as an author?

LF     My writing habit began when heavy snow sealed me for weeks into a log cabin, amidst the thick timber of Canada's craggy mountains. Life was forever changed. With nothing to do but observe minute details and reflect upon them, I spent silent solitary hours grasping for exact words to convey my experience to others, for when that connection would be restored. Meditations transformed into magazine articles. From eye to mind to pen, the journeys of my life were distilled into the stories that now make up my first book, to the very last one written on an isolated Mexican ranch under a fiery sunset and the influence of tequila. My spirit is within the pages, too. If you aren't currently holed up at a snowy cabin or a sunny ranch but wish you were, I hope you'll let this work take you there.

CT     Had you written before your experience in Canada's craggy mountains? Did you take any writing courses?

LF     No, that's pretty much where it started. I've never had a writing course, and I've barely had an English class. While my teachers were diagramming sentences in school, I was hiding in the back reading the best literature I could get my hands on. Perhaps, in some cases, language is more caught than taught.

CT     Why were you in this isolated cabin?

LF     Like many people, I once reached a point of emotional heartbreak, financial devastation, and physical lethargy. I desperately needed a half-time locker-room huddle with myself before taking on the rest of my life.

CT     What do you do when you're not writing?

LF     The phrase "philosophical adventure" describes both my writing and my life as an avid world-trekker with a master's degree in philosophy and communication. You can often find me in the Canadian rainforest or the Mexican desert. Right now, I'm wandering around doing some research for my second book: Fresh Wind & Strange Fire. Otherwise, I'm professor of communication at the University of Papaloapan in the jungle lowlands of Southern Mexico. I don't have a phone, but I do have an iguana. I enjoy hiking, coffee, meditation, and getting feedback from readers.

CT     How did you decide to be a professor of communication at the University of Papaloapan?

LF     I love living in Mesoamerica, and my university generously gives me a lot of time to research and write my stuff.

CT     Where do your students come from?

LF     My students come from impoverished families in a culturally-removed indigenous area. I try to give them tools to access the global economy. I hope to steal as many jobs as possible from God's discontented white kids and give them to His hungry brown kids.

CT     How would you describe your new book?

LF     Sacred Ground & Holy Water: travel tales of enlightenment is a collection of seventeen stories filled with humor, tragedy, adventure, sexual innuendo, and spiritual insight. One editor called this work "the guy-friendly Eat, Pray, Love." (Would that be Drink, Pray, Spank?) A New York Times best selling author wrote, "Lyn's rambunctious dispatches from the far corners of our strange globe arrive with the full force of whitewater plunging from mountains, lava burning the very soles from our hiking boots. So delicious are the bountiful meals he eats, so beautiful the foreign lasses he dallies with, nothing is left for the reader but a searing jealousy, an aching desire to be out there ourselves." I've posted more reviewer descriptions on my blog, but ultimately readers will decide the work's value.

CT     Where were you born?

LF     Sacramento, California

CT     Any history of world trekkers in your family?

LF     Only my German and Irish ancestors who came to the new world a few generations back.

CT     Tell us briefly about your background. Did you show any signs of being an adventurer as a child?

LF     My father was a history teacher who took us on long summer driving vacations. I've tried to forget the station wagon and the funny-smell-motels-from-hell, but I'll never forget the grandeur of the landscape or my dad's stories that made local history better than fiction. I was also fearless of new experiences, which made me a regular at the hospital emergency room.

CT     What are you seeking in all your travels? You use the word enlightenment. What does that mean to you?

LF     Travel opens the eyes. For me, the needed enlightenment was to see how absolutely beautiful the world is in its natural state, so that I would also be able to accept the harsh primal realities that operate in much of this world. Many sweet people have good intentions but don't have the guts to face, much less address, some global realities. Even glowing reviews of my book have recoiled at my use of politically-incorrect language. While we claim to value other cultural perspectives, we rarely acknowledge the fact that, in many places, people are justifiably given desensitivity training so they stand a chance of surviving a brutal existence. I sometimes write from places where Rosa Parks couldn't even buy a ticket to sit on the back of the bus, yet when you sound the alarm that black children are being enslaved or retarded children are being raped, some people, safely ensconced in their breakfast nooks, are more bothered by your vocabulary than such injustice. This travel book ain't no summer in Tuscany. It invites readers to think outside the cultural box. For me, that's enlightenment.

CT     Tell us more about your experiences with "Japanese sword fights and giant squid tentacles."

LF     These events can be found in two of the book's tales called "Memoirs of a Samurai" and "My Deepest Fear." These are true stories about a boy becoming a man.

CT     In all your experiences, have you learned anything about a universal cross-cultural aspect of human nature?

LF     Great question, and absolutely! First, in the entire world, acting dumb and friendly is safer than acting know-it-all and aloof. Second, men and women desperately need each other, despite our intelligent-sounding denials. Third, most people in the world either believe in God, believe they are God, or spend a lot of money on therapy.

CT     If you had to pick the one place on earth you would live forever, where would that be?

LF     In the hearts of my readers or in the place where this one chica bonita had a tattoo.

CT     Where can readers get a copy of your book?

LF     Sacred Ground & Holy Water is available in Kindle and print editions on Amazon.com. Hardcover and paperback editions are available through Baker and Taylor or the Ingram catalog. Plus, books can be ordered thru coffeetownpress.com and other ebook versions will be sold on Smashwords.


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