Carol Merchasin, author of the Shebook, How It Goes in Mexico, explains how she swapped out her life as a lawyer for her new post as an expat essayist.
What prompted you to write How It Goes in Mexico?
After I moved to San Miguel de Allende, I was stunned by my own ignorance about Mexico – history, culture, honestly everything except maybe tacos and tequila (actually, including tacos and tequila). I began to write these essays to try to help my family and friends understand the magic of living here. I wanted Americans to glimpse the Mexico I experience every day – a place so rich, so different and so misunderstood.
When did you first decide you were a writer?
I heard Anne Lamott on the radio doing an interview for Bird by Bird in 1995. I was driving and I had to pull over into a parking lot to make sure I could hear every word. I was not a writer then, I was a lawyer, but I took an index card and wrote “index cards” on it. Ten years later, I read Hiruki Murikami’s story about how he decided to become a writer in What I talk about when I talk about running and I took out the carefully preserved index card and decided to become a writer.
Do you currently have a job other than writing? What’s the most interesting day job you’ve had?
I occasionally consult with companies on harassment and discrimination training.
I was a waitress when I was a teenager and that was probably my most interesting job. As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the people you’ll meet…..”
What is your favorite word right now?
“Village.“ I love the word “village” and its denotation of a small place, a cluster of houses and shops, as well as the connotation of a less frenzied, more human scale, unfiltered life. I am living in a Mexican village now and it fascinates me!
Do you have an e-reader? What book are you reading on it now?
Yes. I read on my iPad, which is an extension of my right arm. I usually like to have a lot of books going at once so I can chose according to how I feel. Right now I am reading The Life and Times of Mexico by Earl Shorris, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.
I am finishing up the remaining essays for How It Goes in Mexico to be published in early 2015.