A: Misunderstood is about growing up between places and cultures and how this affects young people. More importantly, Misunderstood articulates how these young people feel about their lives and experiences (in their own words) and gives those who care about them tools to support them more effectively.
Q: What made you did you decide to write it?
A: I was driven by a lot of significant conversations, both with expat parents and with young people growing up abroad. Many parents wanted help to better support their children, but were often unaware of how international life affects children differently than adults. Many young people expressed pain at feeling misunderstood by their parents – often the same parents I knew cared deeply and were trying their best. I spent a lot of time between the two groups, helping them understand each other. Misunderstood was a natural extension of these efforts.
Q: Why do you think your book needed to be written?
A: Misunderstood fills a gap in the current literature. While there are already great resources I direct people to – books about TCKs and books by TCKs – I couldn’t find anything that does what I do. I sit inbetween, explaining the perspective of TCKs to those who care about them. In Misunderstood I speak on behalf of TCKs, sharing insights from years of listening and hundreds of interviews, giving voice to things they have trouble articulating.
Q: Who do you think will read your book? Who would you like to read it? Did you have a target audience in mind before you wrote it?
A: I would love Misunderstood to be read by anyone who knows a family that is living, or has lived, outside the country in which they hold citizenship. This will include families living abroad, plus their friends, coworkers, and extended family (even if they live far away). Misunderstood is also for TCKs themselves – for people (especially those under 35) who spent time abroad during childhood.
When I began writing Misunderstood my target audience was primarily parents, but also others who know or work with TCKs (extended family, teachers, youth workers, etc.) so I could explain to them what TCKs were telling me about their feelings and experiences. Once I started hearing back from test-readers, however, I realised I needed to re-work Misunderstood to target a second audience: young people who grew up abroad and were processing their experiences. Many of my TCK test-readers had powerfully emotional responses to the excerpts and drafts they read, whether the comfort and release of feeling understood, seeing the impact of their upbringing in ways they hadn’t previously connected, or gaining more insight into their lives and feelings. Seeing their reactions led to a re-imagining of what the book was and could be.
Q: What steps have you taken or are planning to take to promote your book? Which methods do you think will work best to meet your target audience?
A: My target audience is spread all over the world, so the Internet is the place we gather. Social media is a wonderful tool – a way to share information, discuss ideas and connect with each other. Misunderstood has accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, plus a website. I plan to start a blog on the Misunderstood website discussing issues that affect expats and TCKs. I will also be writing guest posts for some expat blog communities and sending review copies of Misunderstood to other expat communities.
Q: How did you choose your publisher and method of publishing? Did you do much research did you do before you made your choice? And what made you chose this route?
A: I originally planned to self-publish a very simple e-book, but a friend (who is raising kids abroad herself) questioned my decision. She encouraged me to go through the process of having Misunderstood published properly so it could reach more parents like her and her friends. She became my manager, researching publication avenues and getting me (and the book) through the process. I was already aware of Summertime, and some Summertime books, when she suggested it to me. Summertime’s focus on expatriates is a good fit for my book – coming with knowledge of my field, my audience, and related experts.
Q: What was your biggest challenge once you decided to write your book and how did you overcome it?
A: When I first started writing I was very familiar with TCKs – their feelings and concerns. I was less familiar with my target audience. Summertime’s experience was invaluable to me here. Jo knew exactly what my book needed to make it speak clearly. I found the long process of editing and re-writing painful at times. It required humility, perseverance, and a broad vision, but the hard work was so worthwhile. Misunderstood is a much better book because of Jo’s expertise.
Q: Now you have written your book how has writing it impacted you, your family, your self-esteem or your business?
A: Writing Misunderstood required me to connect emotionally in an authentic way. As TCKs shared their stories with me they opened up a wide range of powerful emotions – pain and joy and everything in between. To write well I had to listen well. Having heard their stories I felt a deep sense of responsibility to treat those stories, and feelings, with respect – to ensure they were heard and understood. Writing Misunderstood has helped me grow into a better and more compassionate listener.
Q: What were the highlights of the writing and publishing process from starting to write your book to it being sent to print?
A: The highlights for me were the responses of readers. Throughout the writing process I had test-readers – TCKs who read drafts of short sections and told me what they thought. By the time I finished the first draft, most said they saw their own thoughts and feelings reflected and were amazed to discover that others felt the same way. There were quite a few tears, too! Similarly, receiving reviews from a number of excellent authors was a great highlight. It was very exciting to see my aims for the book reflected in their responses. The point of writing Misunderstood was to help people, so there’s nothing better than knowing people are finding it helpful.
Q: If you were to give advice to someone thinking about writing a book, what would be your number one tip?
A: Seek out and listen to good advice. None of us knows everything, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who are experts in different areas and can give you wise advice. Then be flexible – rather than holding tight to your initial vision let your project can be shaped by the advice you receive.
Tanya Crossman grew up in Sydney and Canberra, Australia, and lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA for two years of high school. She had TCK friends as a child, before her own experience of life overseas, and long before hearing the phrase ‘Third Culture Kid’.
She received a degree in Asian Studies from the Australian National University, and a diploma in Mandarin from Beijing Language and Culture University. She worked several bilingual jobs in China, including interning at a publishing company and Office/HR Manager for a small textile trading company.
After years of volunteering her time to mentor TCKs, Tanya left her job to work with TCKs full time. She coordinated over 35 camps and conferences for teenage TCKs in China and Cambodia, and was invited to speak to groups in China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore.
After 11 years in Asia, Tanya is currently studying in Sydney. She is still passionate about advocating for TCKs, even in her passport country. She plans to return overseas in time to continue working with, and on behalf of, TCKs.