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Melissa Burch was a filmmaker, producer and former war journalist for the BBC, CBS, and other networks. Her team was one of the first documentary crews in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, and a story about her in Afghanistan was featured in The New York Times. She was in her twenties when she traveled with the mujahedeen, filmed an attack on a Soviet convoy, slept with an Afghan commander, and climbed 14,000 foot mountains in the Hindu Kush.
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
I was born in a city (Oakland, CA), grew up in a major city (Washington, D.C.), and lived my adult life in big cities (London, England, New York City and Cambridge/Boston). I’m a city girl and couldn’t imagine living in the country. But I discovered I feel better in nature and staying near small towns. My husband and I are living in an RV and travelling across the United States. I’m much happier when we park where there are trees, a lake, and earth beneath my feet when I step out of our motor home, which we named “Gaia.” I’m discovering this new aspect of myself and not missing the coffee shops, bookstores and movie theaters.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
“Burch’s account is vivid and heartfelt – she was in the field with the mujahideen, she traveled through Afghanistan as the Russian army was getting deeper and deeper in the quicksand of the Afghan guerrilla. But the author is not simply interested in describing the events of the war.
The book shows us the ambiguity of journalism – that can be turned into entertainment, or propaganda. The ease with which the information can be manipulated by all involved parties has a sinister, and sometimes surreal feel. Burch is very frank in her depiction of the events – sometimes almost painfully so.
She’s also quite capable of describing the personality of the people she met with a few, precise and well-placed brush-strokes.
The events of the war are mixed with the events from the author’s life before and after the events – because the final purpose of the book, its actual exploration, is not an exploration of the Afghan territory, or of the Russian/Afghan conflict. Burch is exploring the development of her own personality, of her outlook and her spiritual awakening, together with the events that shaped these aspects of her life.
The spiritual side is very pragmatic, personal and almost dry at times, and it is devoid of any new-agey psychobabble or other artifice. It feels authentic, and once again, at times almost painfully so.” Davide Mana from Karavansara Blog
What did the worst review you ever had say about you and your work?
“Me me all about me and how I feel about me and how everyone relates to me. Me me me.” Jkf, Amazon Reviewer
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
I started writing “My Journey Through War and Peace” when I was on a self-motivated sabbatical (after feeling burnt-out from running a homeopathy school and clinic). I never intended to write a memoir. My best friend and I supported each other by calling at 6 a.m. each morning to just write with no goal in mind. All these memories poured out of me and onto the page about my twenties when I was a war journalist in Afghanistan. Then I realized I’m writing a memoir and need to see if this material is in fact going to be a publishable book. My biggest fear was to share my draft with other writers. I took the risk and signed up for a writing class where I would read from my work-in-progress. The group was excited about my stories, but the teacher asked me (after I paid her to read the whole manuscript) if I had been smoking pot in the hallway during English class. I had a lot of work ahead of me to turn that first draft into a book I’m now proud of.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Write what you have to write. We need stories and new myths for our times. Both women and men are taking on new roles and have more choices than ever before (beyond mothers and lovers for women and beyond careers for men). We need you to share what it feels like, what it looks like, and what is going on deep inside you. This is a service and a necessity to birth these books that others can read, learn from, be inspired by, and enjoy.
What is the strangest thing you have ever had to do to promote a book?
My husband and I bought an RV and put a wrap on it with a full colour advertisement of my book.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT melissa AND HER BOOK?
You can find in My Journey through War and Peace in paperback format here:
You can also catch up with Melissa on her website here: http://melissa-burch.com/
WHY ‘THE THURSDAY THRONG’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.