Lisa Ferland, the story of a multi-talented writer and mother to a ninja warrior and a dancing firefly

[ 0 ] 16/04/2019 |

Lisa Ferland, a mother of two young children, is a dual US-Swedish Citizen. She moved to Sweden in 2012 and raises her two kids among horses, moose, and noisy sheep in sub-rural Sweden. She’s a multi-talented woman, who was heading for an academic career before life took the reins and she left her home country. Let me tell you a bit about her story before we get on with the interview.

Lisa has academic training in public health epidemiology. Over 10 years of experience in project management, data analysis (SAS), and global public health capacity building, meant that she was already globally minded, detail-oriented, and open to new challenges before she took the plunge and moved abroad with her husband. 

She had always been brave and bold, not one to shy away from challenges. For instance, she is a real enthusiast for travel and adventure and investigated a Dengue Fever outbreak in Brunei and traveled solo through rural China at the age of 23.

Moving from the US to Sweden meant that she would have to give up her career; she couldn’t keep on working in her specialty field from Sweden, and in Sweden, she couldn’t compete with the native speakers. She decided to some time off, became a mum and focused on caring for her two babies. However, her overactive brain meant that she wouldn’t sit still for too long.
With a positive mindset, creativity and flexibility, once she got settled into her new life and the kids started attending pre-school, she set off to build a new career for herself and be her own boss.

Today, as an indie writer, publisher, and business consultant, she wears a lot of hats as an entrepreneur, and she acts as the CEO of ALL of her business’ departments: copywriting, marketing, sales, operations, web design, social media engagement, accounting, SEO, and retail distribution.
She’s the author and publisher of the popular books among new and expectant expat mums ‘Knocked Up Abroad: Stories of pregnancy, birth, and raising a family in a foreign country.’, ‘Knocked Up Abroad Again: Baby bumps, twists, and turns around the globe‘ and an editor of a public health textbook ‘Transforming Public Health Surveillance – E-Book: Proactive Measures for Prevention, Detection, and Response‘.

Lisa is now running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for her debut children’s book ‘When the Clock Strikes on Halloween‘ with exclusive rewards available only to the backers. One not to be missed <3

1) How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
I would say, confident, logical, curious, laid back, humble, adventurous, resourceful, sensible, considerate, and ambitious.

2) Lisa before the kids, and after. In what ways did parenthood change you?
Before kids, I watched a ton of TV, went out to eat dinner on weekends, danced with my girlfriends, and stayed up past 11 pm. After kids, I don’t do any of those things, I drink a lot more coffee, and I’m much less judgemental of other families out in public. 

3) What’s the craziest thing you have ever done? 
I’ve done a lot of crazy things, but the one that scared me the most was trekking through the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. There were poisonous insects all around us, and I was trying to maintain my composure without walking face first into a giant spider web or step on a tarantula.

We went on a day-long hike in a torrential downpour on, and we were walking on the sloping bank of a raging river, and I was terrified that my boots would slip and I’d get zipped off into the currents never to be seen again. I’d say that entire experience – a week in the Amazon – was my least favorite traveling experience.

Also, while in Brunei, we responded to a white powder incident at the post office. The Ministry of Health treated it as a potential act of terrorism and showered everyone from head to toe who had been in contact with the package. It turns out that the box was nothing more than calcium carbonate – a common chemical for treating swimming pools – but the entire team went into emergency mode, and it was fascinating to witness.

Traveling down the Li River in Yangshuo, China was my favorite activity that I’ve ever done during my solo travel. I rode down a bamboo raft, about as wide as a bed mattress and twice as long, with a conductor/driver at the back who had a long pole. We rode over waterfalls, and the front of the raft would dip under the water a bit each time. The mountains were breathtaking, and the scenery was something out of a movie. 

4) How did you get started with writing your first book, Knocked Up Abroad, and how did this result in a complete change of career?
I can credit my kids for inspiring me to write the books. My two pregnancies – one in the US and one in Sweden – were so completely different and I couldn’t help but compare the prenatal services I received in both health care systems. But beyond the health care differences, I noticed that culturally, I experienced different pressures and expectations.
Dining out with babies felt much more welcoming and forgiving in Sweden than I ever felt in the US. In the US, I always felt like our behavior was under a microscope of judgment and felt none of that same pressure in Sweden. In Stockholm, there are baskets of baby toys and books in cafes and strollers lined up outside of restaurants. 

Perhaps, the language barrier insulates me from some judgemental stares or comment, but in general, I think the Swedish infrastructure is more centered around including families than in the US. 

Due to the enormous differences in cultures that I experienced, I knew that other women felt the same way. I posted some questions in discussion groups and reached out to women who had given birth abroad and asked them to share their stories. That’s how the anthologies were born.

5) You have now written a children’s book with a Halloween theme currently funding on Kickstarter. Tell us a bit more about this project and why should people pre-order it at this stage.
When the Clock Strikes on Halloween was a ton of fun to write and it came together fairly easily. However, finding the right rhymes that move the story forward AND make sense was a real challenge. Luckily, I had the good fortune to find a talented illustrator who is also a fabulous collaborator. Seeing my words come to life as my illustrator, Pei Jen, envisioned, was such a treat and so different from my experience with the anthologies.

The book is available to order on Kickstarter until 16/05/2019 with extra rewards for the readers. I enjoy launching pre-orders for books on Kickstarter because it gives me a chance to add those extras with each order that I couldn’t do if I were launching the book on Amazon.

Kickstarter also adds an extra layer of transparency and trust – readers can see exactly how many other people are supporting the book and how many books are pre-ordered. It also gives me a chance to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at how a book comes together. I love the energy and excitement of launching a book.

6) Please describe to us your most memorable Halloween holiday.
I’ll never forget emptying our pillowcase full of candy and sorting and trading candies with my brother and friends. That was always my favorite part, and I made sure to include that illustration in the book.

Most recently, we held a Halloween party and had all of the neighborhood kids bob for apples, which was hilarious. They had a hard time figuring out how to get the apples, and they soaked their heads and shirts in the water.

7) On a scale of 1-10, how lucky do you think you are, and why?
There’s a saying, “Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.” I’d say that I am usually about a 7-8 out of 10 on the luck factor.

8) If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’d want to know how the first human was born.

9) What is one thing you hope to teach your children?
To accept themselves as they are without any questions or doubt. 

10) Please share with us your best piece of advice for new mums raising their kids in a foreign country.
Enjoy such a unique and beautiful opportunity to raise your child outside of your home culture’s expectations and pressures. It’s not easy to do, but it’s incredibly fulfilling.

11) Who do you admire most and why?
At the moment, I admire 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who is taking such a strong stance for the future generations. I wish I had that determination at her age.

12) What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Nothing recently but probably the most embarrassing was when a woman stopped me in the grocery store because she thought I worked there. There was a bit of a language miscommunication, and I tried to assist her and answer her questions about why one liter of cream was more expensive than another. We went back and forth for a few minutes until I shrugged my shoulders and pushed my cart away. I saw the realization dawn on her face that I wasn’t a store employee after all and we were both a bit embarrassed.

13) You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
What color do you need me to be? I’m pretty adaptable. 

14) If you could travel back in time and give advice to your teenage self what would that be?
If you’re not going to get out of bed and do something about it, stop worrying and go to sleep.

15) What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
In five years, I see myself running a mid-sized business with a few employees, an extensive library of both children’s books and non-fiction books under my belt, and happy pre-teenage kids.

I’d really love to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to help authors reach their goals on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo or whatever platform exists at that time. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that my career path is a winding path and I rarely know what unexpected fun is coming around the corner.

Social Media and Contact Information
#whentheclockstrikes – Kickstarter campaign link
Author’s Instagram:

Category: Interviews

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