Hi Scott, thanks for agreeing to this interview. When I learned your memoir, A Soul’s Calling, was just out, I wanted to share your work with my readers, because I love the Memoir, as well as the spiritual aspect of finding one’s self. I’ll let you tell the readers about your journey. But, first a brief author insight…
Who is Scott Bishop?
Just a normal guy. I’m just a normal guy. Pretty average, I’d say.
What led you on a trek to The Himalayas? My soul. The Prologue and Chapter One explain this in more detail. But to pare it down, it was my soul and the call of the mountains that beckoned me to go on this trek.
Many of us can identify with Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Is A Soul’s Calling somewhere in the vicinity of seeking meaning after suffering disappointment and pain?
No. The book is nothing like that at all.
It’s funny you should bring up Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. In researching A Soul’s Calling, I read her book. I knew it was a travelogue and wanted to see how an established writer went about her craft. But no, A Soul’s Calling is not about a man seeking meaning after suffering disappointment and pain. It’s a very different book than Eat, Pray, Love. For that matter, it’s different from Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. But for anyone who liked Wild, I’m sure they’ll like A Soul’s Calling. My book has plenty of hiking scenes to enjoy. Plus, I make the Himalaya a big part of the narrative. When writing A Soul’s Calling, I wanted to bring the Himalaya into the comfort of people’s living rooms, to make them as vivid as possible. I hope I accomplished that.
I find people are coming to the assumption that my book is about the author’s soul’s calling just by the title and cover alone. On one level, they’re correct. But to quote from the book, “there’s more to it than that.” A Soul’s Calling is about something much larger than just one man’s soul’s calling.
But I understand the knee jerk reaction and pegging it a spiritual book, that it must be about the author’s soul’s calling. I wrote the book, though, to entertain, to be pure escapism for the reader. It’s a travelogue, a hiking adventure, that’s sprinkled with shamanism and magic throughout.
I also worry what people are going to think about the first chapter. I worry whether they’ll say this is just too crazy and give up before they give the book a chance. I’m confident though, that if they make it Namche, they’ll be hooked.
I can tell you this. The book’s ending took me completely by surprise. I never saw the end coming until I wrote the chapter in which the book reveals itself. When it happened, when the book revealed itself to me, I felt like it landed in a beautiful and sweet place. That was the moment when I fell in love with the book. But that was my experience. I think A Soul’s Calling will speak differently to readers in different ways.
I promise this. Whatever readers think the book is about, it’s not what the book is about. If I could say anything to a curious reader thinking about reading my book, A Soul’s Calling will reveal itself in the end. Until then, be open, don’t presume to know how it will end, and just enjoy the trail. I hope the ending is as magical for them as it was for me when writing it.
What came first, the idea for the book or seeking answers to meaning in life? Give us the process.
You might be surprised to hear me say that when I went on this adventure, I wasn’t seeking answers to the meaning of life, and I certainly never imagined writing a book about the trek while I was on the trail.
My need to reach Mount Everest Base Camp came upon me all of a sudden. It was an epiphany really. A light bulb moment. One moment I was thinking about the dream that I describe in the Prologue, and then the next, I knew I had to reach the foot of Mount Everest, to thank her. That was the initial catalyst. That’s what got me up off my caboose and to purchase a plane ticket to Nepal. I began training myself into shape earnestly after that. In the end, my reason for needing to reach Mount Everest was not the reason I needed to reach her. In the end, the reason why I needed to reach her turned out to be quite different. I won’t say anymore because that would be giving away the book’s biggest spoiler.
As for the book, I never imagined I’d write a book about my experience trekking to Everest Base Camp. That was the furthest thing from my mind. Had I any inkling that I was going to write a book afterwards, I would have taken much better notes along the trail. I would have written more in my journal. I would have taken more photographs, too.
The book grew organically. When I returned from Nepal, it took me a good two weeks before I wanted anything to do with the trip. What I mean by this is that my duffle bag and daypack sat in the middle of the living room floor, and that includes my dirty laundry stuffed inside. When I did recover and began to re-engage life, I started looking at my photos. It didn’t take long before I started posting some of the photos to a WordPress blog. The posts soon grew to include excerpts from my journal. The journal excerpts grew to having narratives. The first narratives were short, less than 1000 words long. But then they began to grow, until I think it was installment ten or twelve, which wound to be about 5000 words. That was when I asked myself, “Hm. I’m not writing a book am I?” But that was too crazy an idea for me to accept. So I didn’t.
Several more weeks went by. All this time I remained reluctant to say I was writing a book, but after setting down another 20,000 words, I finally threw my hands up and surrendered to the process. By this time, it was early January 2012, something very powerful had taken hold over me. Something burning inside me insisted that I write every day. It was only then that I allowed myself to acknowledge I was writing a book. Surrendering to the process was all I could do. There seemed little choice in the matter for me. There was a story that needed to come out. So, I wrote.
In conversation, you told me what you wanted readers to take away from A Soul’s Calling. Can you expound a bit?
Sure. I don’t want readers to take anything away from A Soul’s Calling. That’s not for me to dictate to anyone. The book will speak differently to different readers.
What I hope, though, is that in the end, readers will realize that what they’ve been reading, is not a story about the author’s soul’s calling, but about something much, much larger. In doing so, I hope they hear their soul “calling” out to them. I hope they are encouraged to get in “tune” with their soul. I hope they stop to consider whether they’ve been leading the life that their soul came to live or a different one.
I believe that everyone will take something different away from A Soul’s Calling. There are people who will read my book and will think it some fantastical adventure that could never have possibly happened. And that’s alright. I’m not asking anyone to believe anything. In fact, I make this clear in one of the final chapters.
Then, there are others who will take more away from my book. What they take away from A Soul’s Calling, though, is up to them.
One reader who reviewed my book wrote:
A Soul’s Calling is soulful, insightful and informative. This book is truly a must read for anyone who has ever questioned life, love and loss. Scott Bishop’s writing encourages and challenges all to open our hearts, minds and souls to the universal law of love. He neither endorses nor disparages any religion, yet beautifully validates that a God, by whatever name undoubtedly exists. His message inspires hope and reminds us we are truly never alone, we all have a purpose and death is definitely not an ending. This has to be one of the most thrilling and fascinating books on the subject of higher realms that I have ever encountered. There is far more going on around us than we could ever imagine.
And another reader wrote me:
Absolutely incredible story!!!! Honestly, I was polarized throughout. I almost had to stay up all night, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to face work in the morning.
Seriously Scott….I loved the book. I really felt like I was walking next to you every step. The prose is rich with visual brilliance, words so carefully blended together.
I think there’s much in A Soul’s Calling that offers opportunities for rich discussions. I hope if people discuss my book they are mindful and respectful and non-judgmental of the beliefs of others. This is a central message and theme of A Soul’s Calling. Do no harm. We’re all on our own unique spiritual paths, and we’ve been given the resources to successfully navigate them. I hope people will see this and honor the book in this way. Yes, let’s talk freely about our beliefs, but let’s not cast judgment on others when their beliefs don’t align perfectly with ours.
Let me leave you with my disclaimer. The only thing I know for certain is, I know nothing for certain.
I was convinced by your reasoning that this book is worthy of massive readership because of its message. Please tell my readers where they can purchase a copy of A Soul’s Calling and give us your Twitter handle, Facebook and LinkedIn connections.
Thank you for this opportunity Clara.
A Soul’s Calling is available at Amazon.com and through BN.com. It’s available in Kindle format and in April it will be available for the Nook. It’s available at your local independent book store. They should be able to order it for you. The ISBN number is 9780615695358.
My author website is http://www.scott-bishop.com
My Twitter handle is @SBishopAuthor.
My Facebook is a longish link. I can’t have a fancy name until I get thirty people to like the page. (I only have six likes as of this interview). The link is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Souls-Calling/529223290430260.
Thanks so much, Scott.