Peace Corps experience inspires Brooklyn resident’s novel

October 16, 2012 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Part of proceeds to go to Guatemalan school

When the Brooklyn Daily Eagle last wrote about Ditmas Park resident Alexander Nixon in 2010, he was in the Peace Corps, helping to organize a cooperative of coffee growers in Guatemala near the Mexican border and using his knowledge of media to attract buyers for their coffee.

Now, he’s back in Brooklyn, but he’s still committed to the farming community in Guatemala that he left, and he’s finding a novel way to raise money for them.

Nixon grew up with the idea of service overseas – his mother was one of the original Peace Corps volunteers of the early 1960s, and he has a photo of her shaking hands with then-President John F. Kennedy (that must have inspired some  jokes in 1963—“Kennedy and Nixon together!”).

After graduating from Stanford University in Latin American Studies, he spent several years working for the Green Markets at Brooklyn Borough Hall and at Union Square, as well as working for Gotham Magazine as a writer/photographer. Then, he decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps and join the Peace Corps.

By that time he was 29 years old, but he said, “I brought a lot of experience to the Peace Corps that I would have as a 22-year-old. I’m glad I joined the Peace Corps later on.”

Nixon left the Peace Corps in 2010-11, but remains committed to helping the coffee cooperative. And he’s doing it in a unique way – he plans to donate some of the proceeds of a fantasy novel he’s writing to a school for the coffee growers, and also to help villagers make beauty products.

“When I was in Guatemala, I had a lot of time on my hands, and wrote a lot of short stories,” he says. His novel, which was inspired by the jungle and Mayan ruins of Central America, is called “Apassionaea” –a word that suggests “passion,” which he himself made up. (Nixon has also written a song by this name, which can be found on MySpace.)

To self-publish it, he’s raising money online on Kickstarter. “I’d like to publish 2,500 copies, ideally, 5,000. Twenty-five percent [of the proceeds] will go to the school.”

What’s next for Nixon? Well, he plans to get a graduate degree in art history in Brooklyn College. However, his Peace Corps experience will never be far from his mind.

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