Why subscribe?

The online world can be overwhelming, filled with a cacophony of voices shouting opinions over each other. Hi Zan, Hi Pa, aims to offer some respite in the form of an ongoing contemplative conversation between father and daughter, focused on exploring questions like these about the miraculous realities of ordinary life:

What are the benefits and drawbacks of social media?

What are recent changes in American culture and what might they mean?

What is the essence of charitable giving?

How might one define ‘spirituality?’

How can we nurture mental health in the fast-paced modern world?

Our newsletter offers unique food for thought, combining the perspectives of two different generations as we navigate modern life.

Along with 1500-2000 word conversations twice a month, subscribers will also have access to extras:

-Discussion/contemplation questions and reader commentary.

-Monthly guest appearances and interviews with artists of all mediums.

-Hand-drawn and hand-painted artwork.

-Audio footnotes and podcasts on a variety of pertinent issues.

-Photos and drawings linked to the subject matter (and some just for fun).

About Us

PA: I’m Roland Merullo, the “Pa” of this Substack. I published my first novel, Leaving

Losapas, with Houghton Mifflin in 1991, and have made a living only from

writing—novels, works of non-fiction, essays, articles, reviews, conferences—for

the past twenty-four years. Before that, I worked as a carpenter in northwestern

Massachusetts and southern Vermont for the better part of a decade, drove a cab

in Boston, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia, worked on United

States Information Agency exhibitions in the former U.S.S.R. for 28 months

between 1977 and 1990, and taught at various places, including Bennington and

Amherst colleges. You can find more details on my Wikipedia page, or my

website, RolandMerullo.com. I’ve been married to Amanda Stearns Merullo for

44 years, and our greatest joy in life has been raising our two daughters,

Alexandra (Zanny), and Juliana, here in the hills of Western Massachusetts. We all

share a love of travel, food, storytelling, and laughter. I once spoke fluent

Russian, but I’m rusty in that area now and concentrating on learning Italian.

Over to you, Zan.

ZAN: I’m Zanny Merullo Steffgen, the “Zan” of this Substack. Inspired by my pa, I’ve

kept up a writing hobby since childhood, and had my first pieces published when I

was in my teens. After moving to Cambodia at age 20, I landed a contributor

position with a publication to write about my experiences living abroad, and soon

started my first full-time freelance copywriting job. I kept up with both

copywriting and article writing while building a restaurant career (first in

Massachusetts where I grew up, then in Cambodia, and eventually in the ski

resort town of Telluride, Colorado), and finally returned to full-time freelance

writing in 2021. As a kid, I never thought I’d follow in my father’s footsteps, but as

an adult I’m sure glad I did. In addition to marketing copywriting, I now focus on

teaching freelance writing (through my course site feelgoodfreelancewriting.com)

and writing travel and food & beverage articles, and my work has appeared in

Business Insider, Adventure.com, Going, Shondaland, Fodor’s, and Scuba Diving Magazine, among numerous other publications. You can view my portfolio at

zannymerullosteffgen.com. I live with my husband on the Colorado Front Range,

where I fight cystic fibrosis and write full-time to afford our various adventures in

the US and beyond!

Subscribe to Hi Zan, Hi Pa

A contemplative father-daughter conversation about ordinary life, from two well-traveled writers.


Father and Daughter writers, both widely traveled, offer their thoughts on American culture, open-minded spirituality, and the miracle of ordinary events.