We Burned Our Boats - Interview with Karen Jones Gowen (and Join our Reader Review Event)

Monday, May 06, 2024
Today, I'm excited to interview Karen Jones Gowen about her memoir, We Burned Our Boats. Karen chats about the book, her writing space, journaling, and more. If you love adventure and wonderful surprises, this memoir is for you!
We're also inviting readers to participate in our Reader Review event. You can sign up and receive a copy of the book! You don't need to be a blogger to join in on this event; anyone who can leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon can participate and receive a copy of We Burned Our Boats. Leave a review by June 6th, and you'll also be entered in a drawing to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
About the book:
We Burned Our Boats by Karen Jones Gowen
Bruce and Karen Gowen are facing a retirement that neither one wants. Bruce can't imagine life without employment. Karen wants change, adventure, a chance to spread her wings and fly away after thirty years of raising their large family.
Their opportunity comes in a way they can both support: helping their daughter and son-in-law with a hotel project in Panajachel, Guatemala.
Never ones to do anything half way, the Gowens sell everything, including one of their businesses. What they can't sell, they give away. With their worldly possessions down to two checked bags and two carry-ons each, they fly one way to Guatemala City. Then on to Panajachel, a tourist town on scenic Lake Atitlan, in the southern highlands of Guatemala.
Here they begin their new life, a time filled with incredible experiences, tough challenges, and unexpected adventure in one of the most beautiful settings on earth. A place where the Maya culture permeates the land. A land and people that will transform anyone fortunate enough to encounter the magic of these hills in Guatemala.
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (January 2024)
Paperback length: 306 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1947966680

We Burned Our Boats is available to purchase in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Bookshop.org. Add it to your Goodreads reading list as well.

About the author, Karen Jones Gowen:

Born and raised in central Illinois, Karen Jones Gowen attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She transferred to Brigham Young University, where she met her husband Bruce, and there graduated with a degree in English and American Literature.
Karen and Bruce have lived in Utah, Illinois, California and Washington, currently residing in Panajachel, Guatemala. They are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen's writing.
Visit her website at KarenJonesGowen.com.

----- Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Thank you for writing such an inspiring book! What was the takeaway you were hoping people would have after reading We Burned Our Boats? I love asking this question because so often what we set out to share can morph into something else. So tell us more about your goals with We Burned Our Boats.
Karen: My hope was to inspire people to persevere during the trials of their lives. We all know things don't always work out the way we plan or hope for, but if we carry on and do the best we can, wonderful surprises may be at the next turn. I also wanted to inspire others to not be afraid to try something new or go somewhere unknown, because adventure is not only for the young.
WOW: What an inspiring message! Karen, you are one of the most unique (and busy) people I know. I don't envision you sitting still much, so that begs the question: Where do you write? What does your space look like?
Karen: I write most often on the bed, either mine or in the guest bedroom. I will write in the living room when composing a rough draft with pen and paper, but when I move to the laptop, it's always on the bed. Unless I'm transcribing the handwritten pages to the computer, then it's the kitchen or dining room table. You will notice the complete absence of any desk work. I can't stand a desk and never use them. I also don't have a designated writing space. I like to spread out throughout the house, using whatever room or furniture suits my purpose. But there always has to be a window and space for spreading out papers. 
WOW: Oh yes—I agree on the window! And you are definitely busy, which leads me to my next question: What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2024 and beyond?

Karen: I am working on the sequel to We Burned Our Boats. I intend for it to be a travel trilogy, continuing with the memoir genre. The second book, which I hope to complete this year, is about a summer spent in South America, traveling with my son. In the month of April, I posted daily stories from this adventure on my blog Coming Down the Mountain.

WOW: Oh Karen, I'm excited to read the next book and then the third! You always leave me wanting more (and wondering where you find the energy)! You are so young at heart, which makes me wonder, do you have advice for your younger self when it comes to making decisions, believing in yourself, and/or writing? What would your current self say to the younger you?

Karen: My current self would say to WRITE MORE, repeated a thousand times. When you're young, the tendency is to think there's always plenty of time. I'll write when the kids are older, when I move to a different location, when my work schedule improves, when I have more confidence in getting published, when I've experienced more of life. I was first published many years ago when I was a new mom in my early twenties. I sold a couple stories to a children's magazine with a wide circulation, which should have motivated and encouraged me in my talent to KEEP WRITING and WRITE MORE. I too often allowed negative thinking to dampen my efforts. One of my author heroes is Brandon Sanderson. I'm not a fantasy fan, but I find who he is as a writer incredibly inspiring. Hard-working, never gave up, wrote constantly even in the face of rejection, kept learning and improving and writing. Now he has made it yet remains connected with his fans. He also exhibits admirable humility for someone so successful. Be like Brandon Sanderson is what I wish I could say to my younger writing self.

WOW: Now that you've opened the door to keep writing it makes me wonder, what role has journaling and/or writer's groups played in your life?

Karen: Journaling is my life blood, my therapy, my hobby, my writing practice, and a way to remember events later when I decide to write a memoir about something specific. I write in a journal every morning without fail. I can't imagine starting the day without it. I'd feel lost. I do edit my journals though, since I tend to repeat myself and also vent inappropriately. One day I'll be gone and my kids will see them, so I keep that in mind. I've not had much luck with writer's groups although I have joined a few through the years. Now, online is where I connect with other writers. Not as many blog as used to but when I find them, I like to follow them and their work.

WOW: Karen, we've known each other for quite a few years, and I love following your journey as your friend—thank you for sharing life with not only me, but with the world! You are such an inspiration. Thank you for trusting me and WOW! to help share We Burned Our Boats with the world. You are amazing!

We Burned Our Boats by Karen Jones Gowen
Join the Reader Review Event

Readers, if you'd like to receive a copy of the memoir We Burned Our Boats by Karen Jones Gowen for review, please fill out this Google Form. Book reviews need to be posted by June 6th on Goodreads and Amazon. We'll be sharing all the reviews in a Reader Review Event and Giveaway post here on The Muffin on June 10th! Besides receiving the book, you'll also be entered to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great interview, Crystal and Karen! Karen, I love the message of not being afraid to adventure, and that's something I've been trying to do lately since moving to the national forest. I'm excited to hear you're working on a memoir trilogy, and I'll have to check out your blog. That's amazing you posted every day in April! Is that a group challenge? Also thanks for your advice to Write More, which is what I needed to hear today. Congratulations on your memoir! :)

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