Blog Archives

Picking the Right Dreams

Kathleen Schmitt Author Interview

Kathleen Schmitt Author Interview

The Grand Trek follows a unique journey to Arizona and the people encountered on the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought provoking memoir?

(WIth the caveat that Arizona was the original idea but the actual Trek turned out differently) The seed for what I came to call The Grand Trek was planted over the breakfast table one morning just after I graduated from high school while living at Horst and Harriet’s farm in Scales Mound, Illinois. Harriet speculated that one of their horses looked like he might not make it through another tough northern Illinois winter. As a (bad) joke, I suggested she ride him to her sister’s place in Arizona. Most folks would have taken this as a jest. Instead, Harriet went to get an atlas.

I found this story to be energetic, engaging and evocative. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this story?

The main theme is fulfilling the dreams we have for our lives, and picking the right dreams to follow. Another theme is the contrast between urban and rural life, which is something that has been part of my life story. A third is the connections with my horses and dogs and the natural environment. Perhaps increasingly relevant these days is how basic is the need for water. Not a theme as such, but frequently having only a general idea of where I was and where I was heading came up a lot! That is to say that I spent a lot of time basically lost, and learned not to worry about that as long as I kept heading west.

I enjoyed the interesting and varied characters introduced throughout your novel. What were some ideas that you wanted to explore with your characters?

I wanted to relay the way folks I encountered go about their lives, which is more interesting than may be obvious at first sight because it isn’t always dramatic or extraordinary. For example, a lot to think about arose when asking for some water from a mother hanging out laundry to dry. On the face of it, that encounter seems mundane in comparison with the time I asked for some water from a fellow who kept exotic animals like yaks. On reflection, though, the apparently more mundane encounter told worlds about how thoughtfully and innovatively that family approached their lifestyle. I didn’t have a particular plan about what to explore about my encounters. They each had their own significance.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The Best That Can Happen: The Grand Trek wraps up with my stepping off the corporate ladder to re-open a horse training operation at a once well-known facility in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. I’m deciding on how best to approach it. I’m presently leaning toward researching the lives of the people who have occupied that property over the years. The property has some historical relevance, as it was part of the Fairfax Grant of over 5 million acres in the mid-1600’s. There are no doubt a wealth of interesting characters and social development themes to explore, including how America looked pre- and post-European settlement! Lots to research, so it’ll be a while before that’s done. I’m also considering a fictional murder mystery at the farm. That could be fun!

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

The Best That Can Happen: The Grand TrekStories of a journey of discovery traveling cross-country by Kathleen, her horse, Murphy, and her Boxer dog, Country Boy. Unusual for travel memoirs, it explores preparing for the Trek (including catching Murphy and training Country Boy as a protection dog) and what follows such an adventure. It is an entertaining ramble along America’s backroads meeting a very special cast of characters; a humorous and occasionally terrifying roadmap of Americana and pursuing the dreams of one’s youth.

Available at TheGrandTrek.com

The Best That Can Happen

The Best That Can Happen: The Grand Trek

Kathleen Schmitt worked on a farm, which was a far cry from the city life she was used to. It started as a sort of joke that turned into the best thing that could happen. This story has very little to do with the joke that started the journey. It is about the actual journey and the people encountered on the way.

On a deeper level, this story is about life. Kathleen Schmitt is telling a story about a cross-country horse ride, but a lot of the situations can be metaphors for life. Her masterful narration of the story pulls the reader right into the scene with her and the horses. It is almost like you are watching every moment of the journey, which includes everything from preparation to the experiences. She includes multiple dimensions to the story, giving the reader a headier literary ride.

This story is energetic, engaging and evocative. The author has done a good job of bringing depth to the story and layering it to make it more intriguing. The author introduces every character with utmost finesse.

This is a lot of story that fits within 266 pages. I enjoyed the story, but sometimes the story pace slowed as a lot of information was shared all at once. This may not be a problem for some as the story keeps the reader very busy.

The author has done a good job of relaying the quintessence of the trip. The narration itself has it’s own character and charm. The narration moves a person to ask, ‘why not?’ but still remain realistic enough to put loads of preparation into whatever it is. The different people in this, from friends to family and even strangers along the way, really do show you how vast the world can be. It also shows you that if anyone remains open minded they can learn a whole lot from whomever regardless of their status in life.

This is a book about life, people, horses and farms. Fantastic pictures that evoke strong emotion accompany an incredible wealth of information. This is the kind of book you reread every year just to relive the experience.

Pages: 244 | ISBN: 9780998430515

Available at TheGrandTrek.com

%d bloggers like this: