While enveloped in the mystical beauty surrounding her while hiking the wild Patagonian landscape, Katharine found herself transported to joyous, and often humorous memories of childhood. She shares these touching reminiscences with us in her emotionally descriptive style. Chronicling her two week hike through the majestic landscape of El Chalten southern Argentina and Torres del Paine, Chile in February of 2015, Katharine shares her journey as glaciers calve from surrounding granite mountain faces, Andean condor soar on the thermals of the steppe land and the Patagonian lakes sparkling turquoise in the sunlight.
Today I’m joined by Katharine Elliot, author of the very personal journey ‘Patagonia: the Camino Home’. Katharine, what moved you to put pen to paper and document your trekking in Patagonia?
After completing the Camino Frances, 500 miles across northern Spain from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Galician Spain, I knew I was to continue walking…and writing. The question was – where? Following a childhood dream to see Patagonia, I scheduled two weeks of walking in Patagonian Argentina and Chile…Patagonia: the Camino Home, was the result.
I never heard of a childhood dream to trek Patagonia before. And I’m glad that you got the opportunity to achieve that dream of yours. Can you tell me more about how you melded these dreams, your childhood memories and the trek together?
As I mentioned earlier, this book encompasses stories from my childhood years primarily. Some joyous, some ridiculously silly, they were memories that came as I walked this paths in Patagonia. And, along with those memories, the closure of a marriage I was dealing with at the time. Just as extremely clear messages were given to me by my sister Jeannie while on the Camino, my deceased Aunt MJ was by my side in Patagonia.
I really love the incorporation of the ‘stars of your life’ in this book. As you were writing about real people, did you take the window of opportunity to embellish anyone?
Everyone in my books is a part of my life. My stories are ‘me’ and those around me.
And did you find that you connected with one more than others of those around you?
In this book, the story of my Aunt MJ is the one I would spend more time with.
What would you two do together if you had the chance?
Sitting down with my Aunty MJ again for a red beer would be amazing!
Do you ever dream about them?
That makes me smile — well, I dream about the people in my life at times..and those are my characters.
Did you also feel the need to draw out any particular motifs of your thoughts and make them explicit throughout the events in the book?
Each walk brings its stories along the way. After writing A Camino of the Soul: Learning to Listen When the Universe Whispers, I knew that if I simply did the walking, and paid attention to signals from the Universe, especially the remarkable messages I receive from my angels Sis, Jeannie and MJ, the tale would unfold and I would know what it was I was to write.
Was it important to you to include research to sustain the messages you received?
Actually, the only research happened in choosing when and where to do this February 2015 walk. Choices in ‘how’ I would book the accommodations needed ( February is high season on the W Trek in Torres del Paine) was really the only research. I worked with a tremendous travel company out of Buenos Aires, Say Hueque, and they helped with the transport and accommodation details. The rest was just walking!
And did you document the story as you were trekking, or did you do it when you got home. And how long did the process of assembling the narrative take you?
Patagonia came together within four weeks. I had the notes from my walk ( I write emails to myself along the way) and the stories from my youth just flowed. The whole process surprised me! I just typed — iMac Airbook propped on my lap while sitting on my bed. My place!
That is impressive. Did you use any strategies to aid the flow of words?
I tend to be a morning writer, and yes, once I am underway I do try to write everyday. BUT, on those days when I am just not ‘feeling’ the words, I allow myself to step away. For me this works best.
Do you step away from the editing process?
I do about four self-edits then turn it over to an awesome editor I found for A Camino of the Soul, Wendy Hall. She has been great and has become a friend through the process.
Do you also have a friend designing your cover? That cover which is pretty awesome might I add.
Heidi Sutherlin is my designer. I give her an idea of what I am thinking, send photos and she pulls it all together. Her work has been amazing – I am thrilled with both covers she has created for me.
I think you should be thrilled. They are brilliant. Do you have any hints for other authors wanting to make their own brilliant works?
Self Publishing School, a program I found on line, has been a incredible. These people know HOW to get the job done and the ins and outs of Amazon publishing. My tip: USE their program — it is worth every penny and, it does not cost all that much. A smart investment!
Thank you for the recommendation. I will definitely look into it. And I guess your work with the Self Publishing School helped you reach that ever crucial first review. How did that feel?
It was surreal! Surreal to see A Camino of the Soul for sale on Amazon, and overwhelming to read the first reviews.
Was the reviews you’ve received for this book the best recompense?
Telling stories of childhood, especially as they relate to my Mom and the incredible way she created amazing traditions and memories, brought me immense joy. Offering a tribute to her has been deeply rewarding.
A personal tribute like that would be hard to beat. Have you started working on your next chronicle?
As I chat with you I am headed to Portugal in just a couple days and will begin the Camino Portuguese from Coimbra, Portugal September 6th. At this moment I have no idea what the book will look like…but I know it will be there.
Good luck with your trip and I hope it falls together as smoothly as this book has. With a few successful books under your belt do you feel positive about the changes happening in the publishing world?
It’s my future – I am solid in it because I know it is what I am intended to be doing. People from around the world have shared how much they enjoy my writing and, more importantly, how what I had to say helped them to learn to start listening to the whispers of the Universe we all have available to us if we simply open ourselves to the incredible energy surrounding us.
Is the ability to open yourself up a philosophy that you live by?
I now trust that ‘nothing in my life is out of order’. And, once I became aware of that, then dealing with whatever comes my way became much easier. I may not understand why certain things are happening, but I know in my soul that all is well… and I will understand when I am meant to understand.
That is very poignant. Do you bring those understandings to your full-time employment?
I lived my work life in the hotel arena; managed boutique hotels for most of my career. For the past ten years or so I have been retired ( except for managing a small holiday rental I once owned). I am blessed to have had time to focus on my writing.
Being a full time writer is a dream of many, and you’ve been lucky enough to get there. As you are a full time author you must be an avid reader. Who is your pick for best author?
Dr. Wayne Dyer is an all-time favorite. His work opened doors to my thinking and current beliefs. Paulo Coehlo is another– I think I have read every one of his books and some more than once. I am also a fan of Anita Moorjani, Gregg Braden and, for something different, Leon Uris and James Michener.
What are you currently reading?
Energy Healing Made Simple Om Kitty’s 8 Day Chakra Activation Journey by bestselling author Susan Saint-Laurent is one I just completed. WONDERFUL info and presented in such a lighthearted manner– this is one I would highly recommend!
Om Kitty has just been featured on ItsWriteNow.com earlier this week. From the interview I had with Susan, I’ve added this book to my personal reading list. I’m glad to have another recommendation to read this.
Do you have any books from childhood that you would also recommend?
The OZ series. The Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz….Mom read them to us, a chapter at a time ( sometimes two if we were really lucky) and I loved them! The one I read myself, over and over- probably six times- was the story of Florence Nightingale.
This isn’t looking good – I haven’t read those either, but I will put them on my list now. We’re at the final section of the interview, my personal favourite the quick fire round. Answer the next set of questions as quickly as possible.
Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
No, everyone has their own story to tell.
What is your favourite quote?
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” ~~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
What is your zodiac sign?
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
Hmmm, good one. If I could steal one thing without consequences I would probably nab a boat for a day– or a week–or a month! I LOVE being on the water.
Can you curl your tongue?
What is your favourite line, quote or statement from your book?
I am aware… I am receptive…I am accepting.
What is your best tip for authors?
Listen to your heart- write from there, and have faith.
What is your favourite word?
And on that note, we will have to surrender our chat for today. Have a wonderful time on the Camino Portuguese and I hope that we can catch up again when you have completed documenting your next adventure.
Want to connect with Katharine? You can find her here: