Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is Stuart Gustafson My Brother?

If I didn’t know better, I would think that Stuart Gustafson and I are related. Without a doubt, we are kindred spirits, sharing the same passion for influencing and educating on the topic of preserving our stories and those of our loved ones for future generations to know and understand who we were. He has written several nonfiction books on this topic and recently produced a collection of stories and sayings from our moms and dads by a variety of writers (including me) entitled Remembering our Parents. 

The horrific loss of his father and grandfather in an automobile accident, caused by a drunk driver when Stuart was just a teenager, propelled his later interest in helping others capture the stories of their loved ones. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to ignite in us a passion to make a difference. It enables us to far more clearly identify a particular need and sparks a relentless determination and urgency to follow through.

Spending some time at makes it possible for you to peruse Stuart’s published book titles on this important subject, as well as be introduced to his upcoming Certified Legacist program that is currently in the works.

Missing in Mexico

In 2011, Stuart crossed over into the world of fiction by publishing Missing in Mexico. I know exactly how it feels to juggle different genres,  having  written 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time! and two novels, Eyelash and Never Say Perfect, with numerous nonfiction and fiction titles simultaneously suspended in mid-air in various stages of completion. It’s as though your brain never takes a break, with one new idea after another creeping in and stealing your peace.

I was impressed with Stuart’s ability to maintain suspense throughout his debut novel, Missing in Mexico, and also to make us feel the anguish in the hearts of the parents of a missing teenager. Below is a short excerpt from my Amazon review of this book:

We know only too well that the vanishing of young girls in resort areas is not uncommon. Think Natalee Holloway in Aruba and Brittanee Drexel in Myrtle Beach. Frightening and gut wrenching for the parents—with the idea of time dragging on and not knowing what has happened to their child, Sarah’s own parents turn to Stan W. to investigate and, God willing, locate their daughter.

I think it was Divine Intervention that led me to read this book at this particular time when I just recently discovered a difficult situation in our own family. You’ll know what I mean when you read this fascinating story to the very last word. It helped me gain a different perspective.

When I first began to read Missing in Mexico, I was astonished to find yet another similarity between us—we both wrote novels about someone vanishing from an airport, though that is where the story likenesses end.

If you’ve ever been to Cabo or ever thought about going there, you’ll enjoy reading this book and traveling beside Stan to investigate Sarah’s mysterious disappearance in this popular vacation destination.

Travel Junkie

And there’s more. Stuart is an ardent domestic and international traveler and blogger. He is living his retirement dream as he tours the world in his roles of expert, author, and speaker.  In fact, he is known as America’s International Travel Expert®. He lands plum assignments such as speaking to groups on cruise ships, and wife Darlene often reaps the benefits of accompanying him.  Just another similarity--I’m a travel junkie and write a travel blog, but Stuart takes it one step further. He offers his services as a Personal Travel Assistant! Learn much more at

Q & A

I recently had the privilege of asking Stuart a few questions and found his answers to be fascinating and insightful:

1-You travel the world and yet skillfully juggle numerous projects. How do you efficiently manage everything that needs to be done?

 I’m not sure that I manage them efficiently at times, but I do appreciate your confidence in me. One way I do keep track of the various items I’m working on is a white board that I’ve sectioned off into 2 large boxes and 6 medium boxes. I write in the boxes the tasks that I need to be working on, along with questions that aren’t yet resolved. The good news is that I don’t have 8 projects going on right now!

2-What is your most successful approach for convincing people that they need to preserve their stories?

 I like to let people convince themselves of the importance to “Capture Memories, Preserve the Legacy.” When it’s their own commitment, it’s easier for them to follow through and take some action. I tell them the story of how my dad and grandpa were both killed by a drunk driver when I was only 16, and they’re immediately softened. Then I tell them how I wish I’d been able to know more about him, but then we never know “how much time” we have. I finish with a question, “What is your legacy, or what would you like it to be?”

3-Can you tell us about your next novel, Sydney Murders—Solved! including release date and formats in which it will be available?

 As the title indicates, this mystery novel is set in Sydney, Australia, a place I really enjoy, and where I visited 5 times just to ensure accuracy of the details in the book. There are some murders in high-profile locations, and the police are under pressure to find the killer, or killers. They arrest the perfect suspect, but then there’s another killing, with evidence that is strikingly parallel to the first ones. Do they have the right person in custody?

 The book was scheduled to be released in December, but then some good news got in the way. There is interest from a large publishing firm, and so I’m holding off probably until mid-January to see what transpires. Regardless of what happens, it will first come out in e-book format before the print version. I’m interested in hearing from readers which e-reader (or app) they use.

Readers can access the book, four chapters each week. They sign up (for free, of course) on, and then every 7 days they get a link to the next 4 chapters. For example, sign up today and have immediate access to chapters 1-4. Then 7 days later, an automatic email goes out with the link for chapters 5-8. And it keeps going until they’ve read the entire novel, all 52 chapters.

4-What inspired you to write this second novel? Will Stan be a character in this book? I like him.

 Thanks; I also like Stan, but he’s not in the Sydney novel. I have plot ideas for two more books with him in them, both set in Baja California, close to the area of his first appearance in Missing in Mexico.

 The Sydney book came about because of my love of travel and wanting to continue writing mystery novels set in exciting locations around the world. So I thought I would take people across the International Date Line and across the Equator to a place highly recognizable with its Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Included in the novel is a little-known security flaw on the Bridge that I discovered on one of my trips. Rather than having Stan in this novel, I’m introducing Professor Alfred Dunningham, PhD, an American math professor who helps police departments around the world solved difficult crimes through the use of mathematics. He will be a recurring character in future novels.

5-As a seasoned domestic and international traveler, do you have one favorite destination? If so, what makes it so special to you?

 I guess that answer depends on the continent. I like so many places, given that I’ve been to 39 countries, but my short list (in order of number of visits) would be Los Cabos, Mexico (14); Sydney, Australia (8); New York City (Manhattan) (8); Paris, France (6); St. Petersburg, Russia (2). They’re all vibrant places (although Los Cabos is definitely the most laid-back of the five) with charming history, great places to eat, and they’re fun to walk around. I feel perfectly safe in all of them, and there is always something new to discover on each visit.

A big thank you to Stuart Gustafson for visiting with us today. I’m going to be experimenting with that white board tip in a desperate attempt to organize more proficiently! My desk currently looks like there was a paper explosion in the vicinity.

See you all again soon with more topics from the world of writing, publishing, and family history!

God bless,
Mary Anne

No comments:

Post a Comment