Eve Brown-Waite was born and bred in New York until she joined the Peace Corps, fell in love with her recruiter and then, in an effort first to win his heart (and then, because she was married to him) lived in Ecuador, Uganda and Uzbekistan. First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life, published by Broadway Books, tells the story of what ensued.
How did you get started traveling?
When I was 15, I was chosen by the NYC Board of Education to be one of 30 kids to go to Israel as an exchange student. It was the first trip anyone in my immediate family had ever made out of the country. I spent a month in Israel and came back hooked.
How did you get started writing?
I’ve been a closet writer my entire life. When I was a kid, I used to leave poems on my parents bed at night. Then I started writing for the school newspaper and went to poetry workshops where most of my teenage peers wrote lots of angst-filled poems (I always felt I lacked sufficient angst and my poetry seemed sappily happy in comparison.)
What do you consider your first “break” as a writer?
When we lived in Uzbekistan, I was asked to write a piece for the local English-language expatriate magazine. It became such a hit, I was asked to be a regular columnist and eventually took over as editor. I had already been writing bits and pieces of what would eventually become First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria. But it was this experience, writing — and being so well-received — in “Odds & Ads” that convinced me I might actually be good at it.
As a traveler and fact/story gatherer, what is your biggest challenge on the road?
I write memoir and short stories, so I don’t gather facts as much as I gather stories and characters and then tell them from my point of view. And I know that the truth is always subjective.
What is your biggest challenge in the research and writing process?
I always want to — and need to — tell the story from my perspective and with my humor and I want to be careful not to offend people I am writing about or upset my husband (who tends to see things differently than I do). It’s always a fine balancing act.
What is your biggest challenge from a business standpoint?
There’s writing a book and then there’s marketing a book, which take two totally different types of energies and skill sets. It’s hard to stay on top of both.
Have you ever done other work to make ends meet?
I didn’t quit my day job until months after First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria was sold in a six-figure deal! I worked for many years in public health — doing everything from developing HIV prevention programs to being the Health and Nutrition Manager for Head Start programs. I worked with homeless boys in Ecuador, did health training and consulting in Uganda, and was a health teacher in Uzbekistan. Even more interesting, I put myself through college taking orders for phone sex. But that’s another story!
What travel authors or books might you recommend and/or have influenced you?
Bill Bryson because he is so accessible and fun to travel with. Paul Theroux because he was the first Peace Corps writer to really make it big. Kris Holloway-Bidwell who’s made her Peace Corps memoir, Monique and the Mango Rains into something much larger than just a book.
What advice and/or warnings would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?
I am a writer who loves to travel — but not necessarily a travel writer. My brother, Joshua Samuel Brown, is a bona fide travel writer. He has a comfortable life, travels a lot, but he lives in Taiwan. I’m not sure he could afford a comfortable life on a travel writer’s earnings in the states. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. But folks should be aware of it.
What is the biggest reward of life as a travel writer?
I get to travel and then I get to write about it! Two of my favorite pastimes. What more could a person want? Well, besides love?