I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A shy and hesitant young man takes a giant leap forward to travel the world in search of himself and must contend with family, friends, and seeing someone in a new light as they struggle with their own issues in author Eduardo Rios Lasso’s “Santiago: Chronicles of a Young Traveler”.
Fresh out of college, 26-year-old Santiago has always longed to see the world, but his anxiety gets in the way. How can he possibly travel abroad if he feels sometimes heart-pounding pressure by simply riding a bus? But one day, after years of saving, Santiago courageously buys a ticket around the world. His parents think he’s crazy, but he takes a leap of faith and sets out alone. However, the world he had imagined was far from reality.
Meanwhile, Santiago finds out his best friend Laura, who could not join him on the trip, battles a recently diagnosed autoimmune disease. Will he regret his decision to leave her behind? Will their friendship survive or blossom into something more? On his journeys from New York to Lisbon, Paris to Sarajevo, and Istanbul to Bali, Santiago must overcome his shyness and open up his heart despite facing challenges, such as scams, and confronting complex issues like human trafficking. Join Santiago on a journey of self-discovery and adventure like no other.
This was such a heartwarming, cautionary, yet character-driven read. The way the author was able to capture the beauty and wonder of travel while also showcasing the dangers and struggles that come with it was so authentic and engaging to read. The themes of travel, anxiety and the journey that friendship often takes were so beautifully explored through Santiago as a protagonist, as well as Laura, and I felt myself feel connected to both characters and their struggles both apart and together.
What stood out in this narrative was definitely the settings that the narrative took. The wide range of locations that Santiago went to not only expanded the personal growth that he underwent throughout the narrative but was brought to life in such vivid detail through imagery and tone that the different cities and places became characters all on their own. Yet it was how these locations taught Santiago about the world around him that made this story feel so relevant and important, especially when delving into the harsher aspects of international travel such as trafficking.
Thought-provoking, exhilarating, and emotionally investing, author Eduardo Rios Lasso’s “Santiago: Chronicles of a Young Traveler” is a must-read coming of age and travel fiction narrative. The imagery and emotional depth of the experiences that drive Eduardo, as well as his growing relationship with Laura and all that she struggles with, felt both relatable and inspiring to read about. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Author
Eduardo Rios Lasso emerged as a writer during his career as a medical doctor. Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, his journey has taken him around the globe to dozens of countries. Along the way, he found a passion for travel writing that seeks out positive life experiences while also sharing the common interests and challenges that bring different cultures together. Eduardo currently resides in Germany, where he is completing his training in Internal Medicine. SANTIAGO – Chronicles of a Young Traveler is his first book.
Interview with Author Eduardo Rios Lasso
How did you do research for your book?
- Since this book is my first, I educate myself first on how to write a book. Every book that came to my hands about “how to write a book” was devoured by me. I also attended writers’ conferences to learn more about the different literature and writing genres. I touched on topics like prostitution and human trafficking, which was very hard to show in the book the way I wanted. I made my best effort for it. I interviewed people who work in NGOs with trafficked victims and with people who work as sex workers. Read and inform myself as much as possible about every topic I will discuss in the book.
Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
– The hardest was probably Laura. Since I wanted (I hope I made it) to show her as a strong woman who could move forward despite moments of sorrow, I hope it can lead young girl readers to stay strong.
– The easiest was Santiago. When I came up with the idea, I knew exactly how I wanted him to be.
In your book you make a reference to….how did you come up with this idea? What made you write a book about…?
- I have always enjoyed writing. I could always communicate better through writing than speaking from a very young age. After being scammed while traveling a while ago, I decided that I would make a blog about traveling. My father has written books too, but law-specific things, so the idea of writing a book was something not strange to me. But the idea of writing this book came up one day when I realized I had just written too much for a blog. I originally planned. Back then was more of a non-fiction book. But then I started to learn how to write a book and how the publishing industry works. I was fascinated with all I could do writing a fiction book but inspired by real-life stories.
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
- From my own travel. The more I travel, the more stories and ideas come to me.
There are many books out there about….What makes yours different?
- My book combines traveling with social issues affecting our cities and where a traveler can potentially make a big difference. And it is also directed to a younger audience.
What advice would you give budding writers?
- If you don’t know how to write a book and you want. Start writing your idea as if you were talking with yourself; explain and try to convince yourself of what you write. On the way, your creativity will be unleashed. And read, read books; if you know what type of book you want to write, make sure you find excellent examples. And last, get involved in writing groups and get to know fellow writers who support each other. Prepare yourself for it.
Your book is set in (name place). Have you ever been there?
- My book takes place in 14 different countries! And yes, I have been in every city mentioned in the book.
If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
- I could see myself as Adyn, the character that plays in chapters 7 through 9.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
- Yes, I am a medical doctor; I work in internal medicine and emergency medicine in Germany, where I’ve lived for the last seven years. It happens that I love both traveling and writing combined. I want to establish myself now as a writer.
How long have you been writing?
- Continuously since 2016.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
- Oh yes, I did!. Sometimes just wrote everything that came to my mind, even things that made no sense. Sometimes it did not work, and I had to stop and continue writing after 2-3 days, usually on a day that was not so stressful at work. It always works differently for every people; in my case, the less stress I had, the better I wrote.
What is your next project?
- I am already working on the second part of Santiago. I am building the story arc of a family saga – more of a local story in Panama, fiction, but as always inspired by real-life stories. But probably the most significant project is to travel west and south of Africa and write a story about my connection as Latinamerican to Africa. That would be my first non-fiction book.
What genre do you write and why?
- Fiction mostly! Because it allows me to do more, say more, and express more. I also love coming-of-age books because they can teach, inspire, or give a lesson. I am convinced that the generation of the 80s and 90s is our future. They are the ones who can make changes in our society.
What is the last great book you’ve read?
- The last great book I read was Pachinko von Min Jin Lee. I loved it!
What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
- That my writing to reach reader’s hearts!
How are you similar to or different from your lead character?
We both love traveling and have a strong desire to see the world but also to do good!
If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
Oh, excellent question! I have to think about Santiago, but Zendaya could do Laura! Hahaha, she is so talented!
If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
- Oh, I love this question, I would put high hopes by Panic at the Disco, Underdog by Alicia Keys, Love someone by Lukas Graham, Rude by Magic, Imagination by Shawn Mendes.
What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
- The most significant rewards were:
- The learning.
- Knowing that I could do it.
- All the people I got to meet and be in touch with during all these years.
The challenges? Probably was the time since I had some demanding schedules at work and sometimes a little free time where I also had to study. With a lot of work, it somehow worked.
In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
- Tough, very tough, and lonely sometimes.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
- To sit and write and believe you can do it, everybody has the potential to do it. It would help if you also have patience.
Which authors inspired you to write?
- No one in particularly I must say. But I have been reading a lot lately and like a lot Matt Haig, Min Jin Lee and Ocean Vuong.
What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?
- The scene when Santiago sold his old car to get more funds for his travel.
Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
- Usually, there is only water, coffee, and nuts on my table.
Where do you write?
– I can write in any room as long as I am in complete silence. I can write in groups and have done it. But the best of me comes when I am alone with myself.
Do you write every day?
- No, sometimes I need days in between for an idea to mature.
What is your writing schedule?
– Whenever my work schedule allows me. Usually in the evening and on the weekends. I write a lot when I am on vacation; late at night is my best time to be the most creative.
Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?
- I just try to be relaxed and make sure I will have no distractions while writing.
In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?
– I write primarily on my laptop, but sometimes an idea comes to me on the street after seeing something as if it was a revelation. Then I need to write that on my mobile quickly before I forget or write it down if I have a notebook.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
- I have been thinking lately of going back to Bali
Favorite travel spot?
– It constantly changes; right now, there is a tied between Lisbon and Paris.
- Crème brulée
If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
- My book SANTIAGO, because it represents to me many things together. A medical textbook, and the little prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest?
- So many have been funniest.
What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
- I hiked a mountain in Switzerland and hung literally from a cable over 1000 m high; the slightest mistake, and I was gone! Courageous, but now that I think, kind of scary too, since it was my first time hiking such mountains.
Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.
I enjoy going to the gym. I started recently with Crossfit, and I love it.
If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
- That my books are fun, but they also left them with a message that they could put into action at some point in their lives. Be more empathetic to other cultures, especially the ones different than them.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?
- Patience! That I need more patience!
What TV series are you currently binge watching?
- The Korean version of Money heist
What is your favorite thing to do in (current season)?
- Go for biking and swimming.
What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?
- At the moment High hopes from Panic at the Disco! Just my mood now.
What is something that made you laugh recently?
- A Patient at work.
What is your go-to breakfast item?
- Coffee and Muesli.
What is the oldest item of clothing you own?
- I tend not to keep clothes for a long time; I give them away after some time. But I still have a white shirt I bought ten years ago!
Tell us about your longest friendship.
– My older sister! She has been there like a guardian since day one! Helping me through all my challenges, dreams, wishes, and all!
What is the strangest way you’ve become friends with someone?
- On a plane!
Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
- Think I really did not have ☺, boring I know!.