When, in 1978, taking a bold step into the unknown, the author, accompanied by his wife and young family, swapped his boring existence in Grangemouth in central Scotland for life in Missoula, Montana, in the western United States, he could never have foreseen just how much of a life-changing experience it would turn out to be.
As an exchange teacher, he was prepared for a less formal atmosphere in the classroom, while, for their part, his students had been warned that he would be "Mr Strict". It was not long before this clash of cultures reared its ugly head and the author found life far more "exciting" than he had bargained for. Within a matter of days of taking up his post, he found himself harangued in public by an irate parent, while another reported him to the principal for "corrupting" young minds.
Outwith the classroom, he found daily life just as shocking. Lulled by a common language into a false sense of a “lack of foreigness”, he was totally unprepared for the series of culture shocks that awaited him from the moment he stepped into his home for the year – the house from Psycho.
There were times when he wished he had stayed at home in his boring but safe existence in Scotland, but mainly this is a heart-warming and humorous tale of how this Innocent abroad, reeling from one surprising event to the next, gradually begins to adapt to his new life. And thanks to a whole array of colourful personalities and kind people (hostile parents not withstanding), he finally comes to realise that this exchange was the best thing he had ever done.
This award-winning book (a prize title in the 2015 Bookbzz Prize Writer Competition for Biography and Memoir) charts the first four months of the author’s adventures and misadventures in a land which he finds surprisingly different.
About the Author
As well as a short spell teaching English as a foreign language in Poland when the Solidarity movement was at its height, he spent a year (1978-79) as an exchange teacher in Montana.
He regards his decision to apply for the exchange as one of the best things he ever did, for not only did it give him the chance to travel extensively in the US and Canada but during the course of the year he made a number of enduring friendships. His award-winning An Innocent Abroad is the first in a planned series about this extraordinary year.
Since taking early retirement (he is not as old as he looks), he has more time but less money to indulge his unquenchable thirst for travel (and his wife would say for Cabernet Sauvignon and malt whisky). He is doing his best to spend the children's inheritance by travelling as far and wide and as often as he can.
For more details about David and his work, please visit his website at www.davidmaddison.org.