Pamela Bitterman discusses her books, life, resilience, and more. Enjoy this interview.
Tell us a bit about Sailing to the Far Horizon: The Restless Journey and Tragic Sinking of a Tall Ship. How did you come to write this book?
The story, Sailing to the Far Horizon; The Restless Journey and Tragic Sinking of a Tall Ship, is exactly as it sounds. It is my own true adventure/travel/memoir of my nearly 4 year experience circumnavigating aboard the 123 ft. cooperatively owned and run gaff topsail schooner Sofia, during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Of course, the story culminates with a graphic blow-by-blow description of the sinking, and a heart-wrenching recollection of the days spent trying to survive in hopelessly adrift and piteously inadequate life rafts, and finally a truly miraculous rescue. But the bulk of the book follows the life of a revolving cast of international characters as they make their way through the yet wild and largely unspoiled pre-globalized world, at the cusp of the shift from the inimitable freedom seeking days of the 60’s and 70’s into the yuppy/disco/material obsessed world of the 80’s. I wrote the book because after 25 years since the sinking, no one else had. It was simply a story that needed to be told.
What do you hope readers take away from your work?
The story has been roundly enjoyed and appreciated from readers across the globe – sea-farers and armchair sailors alike. It is a tale of incomparable adventure, a rare window back into an unspoiled world of mysterious exotic cultures that may no longer exist. It is an examination of human frailties and foibles that might be revealed more clearly aboard a sailing ship at sea than anywhere. And lastly, it is a story of survival and the resilience of the human spirit.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I’d like to be able to keep having adventures, and to write about them. I would hope that my writing could make a difference in peoples lives. I particularly hope for that end with my children’s book, When This Is Over, I Will Go to School, And I Will Learn To Read; A Story of Hope and Friendship for One young Kenyan Orphan. It was illustrated by the children from the tiny village where I worked and lived. And all the proceeds from the sale of the book are promised back to those children. They trust me, and they wait. My non-fictiction book Muzungu details this recent months long adventure living and working in a hospital, mobile clinic and orphan feeding program in Kenya. Right now I am actively marketing these books, while simultaneously working on my next two projects; a collection of vignettes about the introspective passage of a girl through the various stages of her life, and a children’s book about make believe.
Writers are very often avid readers. What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
I love to read. I’ve read almost all the writers of my experience, the best from the 60’s and 70’s – Vonnegut, Kerouac, Kesey, Salinger and the like. Today I find myself happily lost in the works of Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Lamont, Ann Patchett and their ilk. I still read the classics, of course. Have read Moby Dick too many times to count, and am re-reading Jack London’s Martin Eden right now.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Everything! Travel, have adventures, meet interesting people, be with my family – my favorite people on the planet, my best friends, actually. Live!
Where can we learn more about you?
There is a pretty comprehensive picture of who I am and what I’ve done on my web site, www.pamelasismanbitterman.com. Links to purchasing all my books can be found there, as well as links to poignant book trailers for all three. I highly recommend watching these! They provide the very tactile and emotional aspect to the stories.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for this opportunity! I would greatly appreciate hearing any feedback from visitors to either your site or mine, or readers of my work! Again, thank you. This has been a pleasure.