We Are The Stories We Have: An Interview With Trans-Siberian Author Bart Schaneman

Thought Catalog eBooks
Thought Catalog eBooks

What is your new eBook “Trans-Siberian” about?

It’s about a lot more than the famous train. I spent a month in China, a week in Mongolia, and a month in Russia. I traveled to a lot of places beyond just the train route from Beijing to Moscow. I went to a place in central China that looked like Pandora from Avatar, a mesmerizing landscape. That’s in the book. Searching for the village where my great-grandfather was born in the Volga River Valley in Russia was one of the most fraught experiences of my life. That’s also in the book. This trip will be probably always be one of the great adventures of my life. There are a lot of good stories here.

Why did you write this story, and for whom?

Everything I write comes from a place of wanting to further my understanding of experiences. That this trip had a lot of personal and family significance also made me want to write it. To preserve it. So I could have this story down on paper and give it to people who aren’t as lucky as I am. I get my fair share of opportunities to travel and go on adventures. I don’t think a lot of people can or will take these kinds of trips. And of those who do, few sit down to write about them in a way that other people can read. This book is for everyone who travels, for those who want to but haven’t, and for those who want to but can’t.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in Asia?

That’s tough. Hijacking swan-shaped paddle boats while skinny dipping in a Korean lake? Getting chased around a tiny island by a 400-pound boar in the Mekong Delta? Watching a woman on a boat try to con us into a photo-for-money scam by holding up a dead snake while breastfeeding in Cambodia? Those were all fun, but I think the craziest thing happened on the Trans-Siberian trip. I don’t want to give too much away, because I write about it in this book, but let’s just say it involves getting caught up in a 10-car, Fast and the Furious-style midnight street race in a small town in western Russia. That’s probably top of the list.

Where can we purchase it?

“Trans-Siberian” is available on Amazon, in the iBookstore, and from Barnes & Noble. TC mark

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Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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