Initially, I was inspired to tell the story of my becoming a writer, as well as the people and experiences that were the most prevalent to me. However, it quickly became clear that the book was not just about myself and the people that I knew, but about the Human Condition of which we are all a part. I was also inspired to write the book as a travel narrative rather than a straight memoir or travelogue. I wanted readers to not only experience my travels firsthand, but I really wanted to write a book that went deeper than for purely entertainment or informational value. I strove to create a book that people would feel inspired by.
Summarize your book in three sentences or less.
That’s tough: The Indigo Butterfly is an inspirational travel narrative about a young writer [me] who embarks on a fifteen-year odyssey across North America. As she strives to find her place in the world, the young woman discovers that her inner and outer journeys are interwoven with each experience she has and every person that she encounters.
What is the overall theme of your book?
There are several universal themes throughout the book. However, the main theme is Transcendence, meaning to rise above ordinary limits. This is the impetus for the beginning of the protagonist’s journey, although she doesn’t know it yet. Transcendence usually encompasses existentialism, which is why there is spiritual-type writing throughout the book. Over time, her life becomes transcended by the wealth of experiences that she encounters while on the journey.
Where does this book take place?
The book is set in North America with the exception of the chapter on Ireland. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific city and region of the country where I lived. The cities themselves are also characters in the book. As a travel writer, I also wanted to expose people who may not have travelled that much to a sampling of each area. It was important that each city have a well-developed profile. I wanted readers to experience the cities where I lived through my eyes.
Who are the main characters and why are they important to the story?
The main character is a younger version of myself. I retell the story through present-day vignettes created from my travel journals. The other characters in the book are the people I met while I was travelling. They are just as important to the story as my character because they are on parallel journeys. The book wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Why do you think this book will appeal to readers?
I wrote this book without a specific target audience in mind because I wanted it to appeal to a variety of readers. The book reaches across the genre divide and appeals to several universal themes that anyone can relate to. One reader told me she thinks the book is ‘everyone’s story’ and I like that. I also think that even if a person hasn’t travelled that much, the book will be an enjoyable read. I made sure to include info and cultural anomalies about each region of the country.
How is your book relevant in today’s society?
The book is timeless in its message. The themes that are explored and the challenges that the main character faces are common with people of every culture on the planet. Certainly, individual circumstances will be different, but the book serves to remind people to remember our commonalities and allow various beliefs. Existential thinking is sprinkled throughout the book because I think that’s a common practice when people begin to explore the truth of who they are.
What makes your book different from other books like it?
My personal mantra with the book was ‘go deeper’. I wanted this book to explore the mystical essence of personal travel. Though the book is about travel, it also includes the sociology of a region as well as the cultural relevance of the people who inhabit the area. I also introduced a lot of factual, non-mainstream material as told to me by the people who were born into those lineages. There are many interesting characters in the book that I think readers will enjoy.
What do you want readers to take away from your writing?
I hope they enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it. I also hope that readers are able to take away some positive messages or information from having read it. I designed the book to be a learning tool. It is my desire that people read the book not only to learn, but to also look at one’s life from a grander perspective. Are old beliefs holding us back? Are we truly living the life we desire? How do we co-exist with others? These are Lie's real questions.
How did you learn about your book’s topic?
As stated previously, the book’s topic(s) was taken directly from my personal experiences from that particular time.
Do you have a favorite quote from the book?
There are so many... but this quote appears in the last section when I am talking to the Teacher. This quote encompasses the book’s entire essence:
This is the key to self-discovery: Experiences of our true nature come and go like every other experience, but… to know that everything you could ever want or need is already here, frees you from needing to have a particular experience in order to be happy.
I think that says it all.
Lisa L. Schoonover is a professional writer, curriculum developer, literacy advocate, author, and independent travel writer. Lisa has worked for Houghton-Mifflin, Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing, Conde Nast Traveller, Transitions Abroad and more. She is currently involved in several educational publishing and literacy projects including cultural and literacy studies in Nepal.