Friday, June 9, 2023

Q&A with Marianne C. Bohr



Marianne C. Bohr is the author of the new memoir The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail. She also has written the book Gap Year Girl. She lives in Park City, Utah.



Q: What inspired you to write this memoir about your trek across Corsica?


A: The French island of Corsica had been on my travel list for decades. I've been a fervent Francophile ever since I was a student in the Loire Valley in the late ‘70s and Corsica was one of the few regions of France I hadn't visited.


I love to share the places I've explored with others, especially by writing about them. When I told friends and family about our plans to do the GR20 trek, they almost all said, "What and where is Corsica?" At that time, I realized just how many people, including lots of hikers, have never heard of the French island in the Mediterranean.


Also, many of my friends thought I was crazy for even considering such a feat. I told them I would write about it in all its details and hope to inspire other middle-age women (and men) to undertake physical challenges to celebrate milestones birthdays, anniversaries, retirement, empty nesting, and more.


Q: The writer Stephanie Raffelock said of the book, "The Twenty is well-written and interesting at every turn. But what the author captures so well is the inner trek to life’s third chapter." What do you think of that description, and what do you think the book says about your attitude toward aging?


A: I love that description! I was so blessed to have another woman on the trek with me. She was my age, and we had so much to share and laugh about. Like so many things, there’s a middle ground, don't aim for way beyond your ken, it may end in disappointment but also push yourself a bit. Have a goal! You may have to slow down but do not stop. You can do it!


Q: In the book, you discuss the concept of being perceived--by yourself and others--as an athlete. Can you say more about this?


A: I've always admired female athletes. I have to say, they have the most beautiful bodies and show perseverance, drive and determination. 


Maybe being an athlete is in your head. Maybe it was because I was a chubby kid, that I wanted what I wasn't. I have always loved the outdoors, exploring in the woods with my sister. Olympic athletes are strong, brave, and confident.  


Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from your story?


A: Whenever I know I plan to write about an experience, it always makes me more observant and pay attention to details. 


Persistence, knowledge and curiosity about Corsica drove me to this adventure. Traveling to new places and taking on physical challenges has always been in my heart, but this experience was a combination of both.


I hope readers will be inspired to follow their heart and take on bigger and better challenges.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just finished a novel after many, many drafts, and am about to start working with an editor. Of course, it involves travel and takes place in France. It's a coming-of-age story for a young woman who befriends a lonely, elderly widow and they go on a road trip.


There's a lot of editing to do, but it's actually my favorite part. Pour yourself all in the first draft and then polish and tighten it up in all the subsequent drafts.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: My next significant through-hike will be across England on the coast to coast, the C2C. My husband and I will be 68, and I may just decide to write about it.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb


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