John Shors, a bestselling author, takes readers on tours to the settings of his books. Here he is in Cambodia, the setting for his novel Temple of a Thousand Faces. (photo courtesy John Shors)

These tours are off the beaten path and for smaller groups

Ever loved a book so much you wished you could talk to the author and dive into its pages? You’re in luck: Boulder author John Shors is taking literary lovers to the settings of his bestselling books, which include Beneath a Marble Sky.

“I don’t even know if I can take credit for the idea,” he says, noting that many of his readers wrote to him and said they so loved his books—sweeping historical novels set in far-flung East Asian locales—that they wanted to travel there, but didn’t have the confidence to go alone.

photo by rawpixel

Shors organized his first tour trip to Cambodia and Vietnam in 2014 and has since taken loyal readers to Japan, India, Thailand, Cuba and other locales. As far as he knows, he’s the only author doing these types of tours. The cost of one of his trips, which includes everything for about 14 days except airfare and incidentals, ranges from about $6,000 to $10,000. Having a roommate instead of a single room helps keep expenses down. The average group size is 10, not including guides.

His most recent book, Unbound, which takes place in 17th-century China, explores a love legend that is little-known to Westerners, as well as the country’s historic women’s movement. He’s already sold the movie rights and has a literary trip planned for fans in 2019.

“My literary tours are off the beaten path and are unique in that they are for smaller groups. We do things that they wouldn’t experience in most places,” he says. “We’ll go to some of the same places that my characters do and we’ll sit on the same bench and experience the same things my characters did. I send everybody a copy of my book ahead of time and, once we are on the trip, there are plenty of opportunities to talk to about it, as little or as much as they want.”

—Lori DeBoer

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