Indie Spotlight – Mary Hollendoner

Today I am welcoming memoir author, Mary Hollendoner into the Indie Spotlight!

Mary is passionate about travel and the outdoors. Originally from England, she moved to California for its rock climbing and sunshine, worked a season on the Yosemite Search and Rescue team, but then ended up climbing the corporate ladder at Google for a decade to fund her travel obsession. 

She has bicycled across Central America, motorcycled across Mexico, driven the length of Australia, and backpacked around Europe, S.E. Asia, and Africa – all as a prelude to the epic drive through the Americas that is the subject of this book. 

She’s written for travel, climbing, and retirement magazines, and this is her first foray into a full-length book.

Welcome to the Indie Spotlight, Mary!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

I did a ton of research to compare self and trad publishing, weighing up the pros and cons of each. What I concluded was that traditional publishing takes care of all the technical work of creating the physical (and digital) book and making it available to bookstores, which is wonderful, but doesn’t help with marketing your book or with convincing a bookstore to actually stock it. I was sure I could figure out the technical side of creating the book itself, and I could hire my own editors and book cover designer, but where I wanted help was with the marketing side of things. So, for me, it didn’t seem like traditional publishing would be worth the loss of ownership and royalties. Ultimately, I committed to self-publishing after talking to a couple of traditionally published authors who confirmed they had received very little support in marketing their book from their publisher. What’s more, they had to run their own advertising and marketing plans without having access to daily sales data that we indie publishers get from Amazon. That sealed the deal for me. I love the independence and flexibility of self publishing!

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I didn’t really “choose” this genre. Rather, I had an incredible life adventure and then decided to write about it. I started by writing blog posts for my friends and family to share our more interesting stories – a heartwarming volunteering stint, an exotic animal we encountered, or a beautiful wild camp spot. My audience grew larger over the months and then years of our trip, until I was regularly receiving comments from strangers suggesting that I write a book. That was really the first time I’d even considered it, but the idea sat stubbornly in the back of my mind until I decided to make it a reality during COVID lockdown in Argentina.

Do you only read the genre that you write?

I read much more nonfiction than fiction. There’s something about knowing that a story is true that makes it so much more powerful to me! I most enjoy reading true stories about people making big life changes – leaving a traditional life behind to go sail around the world / start a farm from scratch / teach in the middle east / etc – those are so inspirational and eye-opening to read.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m actually doing a round-the-world reading challenge with my 10-year-old daughter where we read books from a specific geographic area each month for the year. We just finished January which was Antarctica and the Arctic, so I’ve most recently read two fiction books – Arctic Fury and Migrations. Brrr!

I don’t really watch TV but I’ve been enjoying the sitcom Modern Family over the past year. And I like most music, but, for writing inspiration my favorite writing inspiration is silence!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Find a time every day where you can sit at the computer and just write without any interruption. Turn off your internet connection and silence your phone and make yourself accountable to produce something each day. My husband agreed on an experiment during our COVID lockdown in Argentina: he took our daughter from 2 to 5pm every weekday for four weeks. That was really the kickstart I needed to get this book going. Partly because of the uninterrupted time, but also the feeling of responsibility that I had to be productive in those hours because he was doing me this big favor and believed in me. After that month, I still had a huge amount of work ahead of me, but it felt like an achievable goal for the first time.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m working on a children’s book series that parallels the van trip described in my memoir. While the memoir is one book that describes the adventures we had from the US to Argentina, the children’s book series will be one book per country, each focusing on one particular element. For example, in Ecuador I’m writing about our time volunteering at a monkey preserve, weaving in some fantasy elements as well as educational snippets.

I’m also working on a prequel memoir which will be about one or several of the adventures I had before the van trip – most likely backpacking across Africa or bicycling across Central America.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Mary – the children’s book series sounds amazing! I wish you every success with Monkeys on the Road and with all your future projects!


Monkeys on the Road

Thirty thousand miles driving from the USA to South America with a 6-year-old kid in a camper van. Will they make it?

After a decade in the corporate rat race, Mary was ready for a change. Too much stress and not enough time with her family left her feeling that her priorities were all wrong.

So she and her husband hatched a crazy plan to change their lives…

They quit their jobs.

They pulled their six-year-old daughter out of school.

And they moved into an old camper van to attempt a drive to the southernmost tip of the world!

What followed were three-and-a-half years of heartwarming personal encounters, breathtaking wilderness campsites, and occasionally terrifying situations…

Surrounded by an angry mob in Mexico, threatened by exploding batteries in Colombia, caught up in a political revolution in Bolivia – they grew closer as a family as they navigated through adversity. But what stuck with them the most was the endless generosity of the local people, from whom they learned invaluable lessons about happiness and priorities.

Will they survive whale sharks, police searches, and volunteering in local schools? What happens when COVID hits?

Find out in this heartwarming read about a family trying to find their place in the world.

Amazon US | Amazon International | Goodreads | My Review


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

E. L. Li

I knew ever since I was 7 that I loved writing. I wrote comics, screenplays, short stories, etc. I wrote series of screenplays designed for a video game back in high school, all taking place in the same fictional universe. In 2020, I decided to rewrite those massive projects in the form of fantasy novels. The ideas, characters, and main plot lines I came up with have existed for more than a decade. I grew very attached to my work over the years and have had ups and downs during my journey as a writer, whether it was dealing with imposter syndrome or the fear of having people see my work. I am proud to have released my debut novel on February 8th, 2022.

4 thoughts on “Indie Spotlight – Mary Hollendoner

  1. Pingback: 6 Cool Indie Book Reviewers To Follow – Sara Flower Kjeldsen Writes

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