Essential Travel chatted to Torre DeRoche, author of our latest featured holiday book - Swept, Love With A Chance Of Drowning. Down-to-earth, friendly and exuberant in true Aussie fashion, Torre shows travellers what it takes to leave a comfortable life behind in favour of living the adventure and sea sickness. Get to know this talented writer, graphic designer, fearful sailor and reluctant romantic by reading on.
Looking Fear in the Eyes with Torre DeRoche
Essential Travel: I think you're very brave, despite admitting to be afraid of everything associated with the ocean. Is conquering fear one of the central messages of your book?
Torre DeRoche: Thank you! I don't feel my book is a hero's story about slaying the beast called Fear. It's about looking Fear in the eyes. People always throw around the word 'fearless' as though it's the ultimate state of being, but I don't believe in fearlessness - I think everyone is scared of something. What I try to capture in my book and my blog is that experiencing fear is perfectly normal, but it doesn't need to stop you from living your life.
Essential Travel: When and how did you make the change from graphic designer to blogger and from blogger to writer?
Torre DeRoche: When the economic downturn hit Australia and my freelance design work slowed to a crawl, I decided to use it as an opportunity to get the book done. It took a lot longer than I thought it would! When the book was complete, I knew I needed a platform to tell the world about my story, so I created my blog. I didn't anticipate that the blog would develop a life of its own and become so much more than a vehicle for selling books. It's connected me to an incredible community of people.
Essential Travel: Where do you most enjoy writing, for example on a beach-facing patio?
Torre DeRoche: I'm most productive when I'm sitting at my desk in the office, but I like writing in my backyard in the sunshine with a cold beer. I live in the city, so when I say 'backyard' I mean tiny brick courtyard with the sound of the neighbour's mulcher penetrating my brain. I'm a long way from my beach-facing patio, but I like your thinking!
"I don't feel my book is a hero's story about slaying the beast called Fear. It's about looking Fear in the eyes".
Essential Travel: Falling in love practically at first sight and sailing away into the sunset sounds unbelievably romantic. Do you consider yourself a romantic?
Torre DeRoche: I'm a sucker for romantic stories, but I was never a romantic - I was a realist. I'd shake my head and roll my eyes at people who talked about love at first sight and other fairy dust nonsense. But then I found myself living out this real-life romance story.
Sometimes I think back on what happened with shock: Huh? That really happened to me? It seems like a fiction story concocted by Nicholas Sparks. So, I'd say I've become a romantic since living the adventure and writing the book.
Essential Travel: Ivan is very much central to your story. When did he first discover his passion for the ocean and sailing?
Torre DeRoche: When he moved to the US from Argentina, he lived in Santa Monica. After work, he'd go rollerblading from Santa Monica to Malibu and he'd stare out at the sailboats off the beach. He'd look at the horizon and think to himself: If I just pointed a boat out to sea and sailed for awhile, I'd get to Japan. It was never about the sport of sailing for him, it was about having a vehicle with which to explore the world. To him, the ocean represented absolute freedom.
Essential Travel: I like how in your book you also reveal the less glamorous side of sailing and how much hard work it is. Is it the type of hard work that is intensely satisfying, or the type that makes you wish you were on a cruise liner instead?
Torre DeRoche: When we first started sailing, we'd pass these huge cruise liners off the coast of Mexico and I'd feel jealous of their comforts. I imagined the passengers wearing high heels and fancy dresses as they dined on three-course meals. Meanwhile, we were vulnerable to every rolling wave and [small] wind, and I spent most of the first month at sea either throwing up, or thinking about throwing up. During those times, our reality looked vastly different to a steamy Dicaprio / Winslet hook-up.
Later, I got to see how islands transformed when cruise ships arrived: they turned into Disneyland to capitalise on the influx of tourists. Our tiny boat allowed us to reach isolated places where we were welcomed like family. I believe that hard work yields incredible rewards.
"I'd shake my head and roll my eyes at people who talked about love at first sight and other fairy dust nonsense. But then I found myself living out this real-life romance story".
Essential Travel: If someone asked you today if you enjoy sailing, what would you say?
Torre DeRoche: The nomadic lifestyle really grew on me and I enjoyed living on a boat, but I don't enjoy sailing on the ocean. Seasickness is a real mood killer! But, much like a plane, a sailboat opens up a world of possibilities. I regard sailboat travel as something I have to endure in order to reach paradise. I truly believe there's no better way to see the world.
Essential Travel: You certainly met some interesting characters on your travels who you very wittily portrayed in your book. You also stress your need for human interaction in your book. Do you believe it's the people who make the place?
Torre DeRoche: Yes, people can certainly shape your experience of a place. In isolated South Pacific destinations, you don't have a lot of friends to choose from so you end up befriending people you wouldn't necessarily connect with in normal life. Many of our best friends were over 60, but because we were all living out the same experience, age was irrelevant.
Essential Travel: Out of curiosity, what was it like growing up with five sisters?
Torre DeRoche: We often fought over the shower, which produced about 15 minutes of hot water before it turned cold. It was chaotic and crowded and bitchy, but I also had a lot of guidance from my older sisters. They've all taught me different things, from applying make-up to applying for jobs. I feel extremely lucky. We're a tight community and it's like having five really close best friends.
"A sailboat opens up a world of possibilities. I truly believe there's no better way to see the world".
Essential Travel: Were you involved in any of the graphic design work for the book trailer or book cover?
Torre DeRoche: Yes! I designed them both.
Essential Travel: Is there likely to be another book in the pipeline?
Torre DeRoche: I'm still healing from the process of finishing this one, but writing is something that feeds my soul so there will most likely be another book.
Essential Travel: Thank you, Torre, you are a true inspiration.
Last Updated: October 2011