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December 9, 2013

The Page-Turner that Inspired Shannon McKenna Schmidt’s Wanderlust

Posted by emily

Shannon McKenna Schmidt is the co-author (with Joni Rendon) of WRITERS BETWEEN THE COVERS: The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads and NOVEL DESTINATIONS: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West. Here, she recalls the childhood gift that helped inspire her to become a perpetual nomad. She can be found on the web at

Adventure! Daring deeds! Exotic locales! When Englishman Phileas Fogg accepted a wager to perform a seemingly impossible feat in the 1800s --- circle the globe in 80 days --- I eagerly went along for the ride. We made our way from London to Egypt, India and Japan, and then across the rugged American frontier. We sailed oceans and seas, rode elephants, trekked through forests and traveled by train along the “metal ribbon” linking San Francisco and New York.

The Christmas morning I unwrapped an illustrated children’s version of Jules Verne’s AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, I knew a journey between its covers was waiting for me. What I didn’t know at the time was that reading the thrilling story would be like striking a match and lighting a flame. Of all the books I read as a kid, this is the one I most vividly remember. When I stepped into the story, wanderlust took hold. The depictions of distant ports of call were like a siren’s song.

Eventually I grew up and began taking trips, as often as possible, including a visit to London, where AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS begins and ends. Then one day, like Phileas Fogg, I decided to up the ante. I set out to travel full-time in the United States and abroad, trading a stable life for one of excitement and uncertainty.

I have yet to venture to some of the more far-flung places Fogg traveled on his whirlwind odyssey. In contrast to the Englishman, I’m in no hurry on my round-the-world tour. With no wager to win, I’m taking my time and savoring the changing scenery. Like a good page-turner, around every corner is a new place to explore and new adventures to be had.

The wanderlust Jules Verne’s globe-trotting tale sparked that long-ago Christmas is still going strong. I’ve been on the road for 1,300 days…and counting.