Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest John E. Quinlan, author of Tau Bada: The Quest and Memoir of a Vulnerable Man.
Norm: Good day, John, and thanks for participating in our interview. Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
John: I’m the founder and CEO of Growth Strategies Global. I specialize in coaching the leadership of family-founded and closely held businesses. My professional credentials include a BA degree in economics from Albion College in Michigan and a master’s degree in organizational development from the American University in Washington, DC. Personally, I’m an adventurer and motorcyclist and now an author.
Norm: What motivated you to write Tau Bada: The Quest and Memoir of a Vulnerable Man?
John: I have been keeping personal journals since I was 10. So when my life really changed and events led me to the other side of the world, when I stepped right out of my safety zone, I kept on making notes of what happened – outwardly and inwardly. The whole experience was overwhelming, but from all that came truth and wisdom worth sharing. The adventure story of the book carries a deep message.
Norm: What message is that?
John: Take the journey, have the courage to keep moving forward, realize that change is natural and – this is really important – we find our biggest strength by being vulnerable.
Norm: Before going to Papua New Guinea (PNG) did you know anything about the place, its culture and the people?
John: I knew so little about it that when I met Fiona in Colorado and she told me she was from Papua New Guinea, my response was “Papa what?” Now, after what we have been through, I grasp the inner strength of Fiona, “the woman who would not be shot,” as well as the resilience of the people in these remote communities. Their remoteness and continuous engagement in their deep tribal traditions make this a very different country from other places in the world.
Norm: How difficult was it to adapt to living in PNG, and can you describe some of those difficulties?
John: My discipline as a former CEO of a publicly traded company and my studies not only in economics but philosophy and literature helped. But in Papua New Guinea, the theory of chaos is more than alive and well, it is in overdrive. To say that the PNG business environment stretched my comprehension is an understatement. It was only the bullet that stopped our escalation of commitment to the people and the business there. We did the right thing, and someone tried to kill us.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing the memoir, and what did you enjoy most about writing it?
John: The difficulty was recognizing that, for a significant part of my life, I was closed off from my true feelings, and it was only through this writing that I finally came to recognize my own narcissism and then deal with it. The enjoyment came in reflecting back through the years. When I reread my earlier journals it felt like I was reconnecting with an old and dear friend. Ultimately I befriended myself through this process.
Norm: What makes your memoir stand out from the crowd? What is the best reason someone should read it?
John: It’s not a “how to” book nor a simple success story. It does not celebrate materialism or a “celebrity cult mindset.” It’s an authentic book written from powerful experiences lived with integrity, in a fascinating and challenging part of the world. It puts the light on having the courage to follow your bliss and design and receive your own distinction degree in life.
Norm: If there was one lesson you were to take away from your experiences in PNG what would that be and why?
John: Invincibility and hubris are dangerous mind-sets to bring to other cultures. Papua New Guinea’s own tourism slogan “Expect the Unexpected” may well be a good philosophy to incorporate into your life.
Norm: Looking back on all of your experiences in PNG, which included significant failures, would you do it again if the right opportunity presented itself?
John: Absolutely. The country and the people are so extraordinary and different from other cultures that exposure to it can only help to broaden your world viewpoint and break through a homogenized mindset. Mind you, I would be more careful in the assessment of the risks.
Norm: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
John: This is my first book and it has yet to become familiar to a large readership. I have, though, been told that the book has a cinematic quality to it, and that the chapters invite you to flow into the story. Also, what has been shared with me is an admiration that I am being so vulnerable, and a recognition of the strength that both Fiona and I acquired as we went through this adventure.
Norm: Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre, owe something to readers; if not? Why not? If so, why would that be?
John: In my own experience with some of my favorite authors, I don’t expect anything from them since it is my choice to buy and read their books. It would be narcissistic to believe they owe me something.
Norm: What are your upcoming projects?
John: Fiona is finishing up the videos that will be embedded as links in the e-book version of Tau Bada. This will give readers a chance to see and hear the sights and sounds of our everyday life in Papua New Guinea. The videos were recorded right as things happened, not staged. Meanwhile, I’m deeply into consulting with my current clients regarding their needs and possibilities.
Norm: How can readers find out more about you and Tau Bada: The Quest and Memoir of a Vulnerable Man?
John: Check the WEBSITE where people can get a look at the book trailer with videos and pre-order the book, which will be available by early November through our site, and by Amazon in mid-December.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close, what one other question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.