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Nomadic Interviews is our interview series highlighting other digital nomads who are travelling while working on the road.
Torre DeRoche is a writer, designer and artist who writes about fear, love, art, and adventure on her funny and brutally honest blog the Fearful Adventurer and is the author of Love with a Chance of Drowning, her memoir about sailing around the South Pacific with a handsome Argentinean despite her fear of water and seasickness. It’s a fun and inspiring read and makes us really want to buy a boat. Even more inspiring Torre self-published her book which led to her getting worldwide publishing and movie deals.
1) How long have you been travelling and where have you been?
Thanks to my parents, my first well-stamped passport featured a picture of my bald baby head. (Anyone who claims you can’t travel with kids should take inspiration from my parents, who somehow managed to travel with six of us.) My Grandma lived in Mazatlan, so we’d go and stay in her house for long stretches of time. My memories of those trips are random snapshots: picking mangoes from Grandma’s tree, playing barefoot in the street with Spanish-speaking children, getting bitten in the face by a German Shepard and hearing the word ‘rabies’ whispered by concerned adults.
Since then, I’ve explored the US, many islands in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Asia, and several parts of Australia. I’ve yet to step foot in Europe.
2) What made you decide to leave Australia?
I love my home in Melbourne, but it’s a big world and I’ve always been curious about what else is out there. I’m an eternal seeker, addicted to soul searching, personal development, and discovery, and I find my life’s purpose in exploring new realms, both inside and out, to know the many dimensions of this world and myself.
3) When did you start working while travelling and what do you do?
Long before I was travelling consistently, I was working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. In fact, I haven’t worked in an office for nine years. It was a fortuitous accident that I had a portable job.
4) Do you find it difficult to balance travel and work? How do you manage it?
Design is easy because I’ve been doing it for about thirteen years, so it’s not difficult to manage alongside travel. When a job comes in, I stop whatever it is I’m doing and focus on the job until it’s done.
Writing or painting is different, though. Intensely creative pursuits take a lot of introspection and experimentation, and so I find it difficult to create art while traveling. Travel is a great source of inspiration for art, but I have to set roots in order to process that inspiration into a cohesive work of some kind.
5) We loved your Thai bungalow makeover on Koh Tao. Is it a destination you recommend for digital nomads?
Pretty much anywhere in Thailand is a great place for digital nomads because it’s cheap, safe, and convenient. The internet speed in Koh Tao is lacking, though, so if your work depends on big file transfers, it might not be a suitable place for you.
6) It took you years to finish Love with a Chance of Drowning. How did you cope with the self-doubt you must have felt during the writing process?
For me, one of the best ways to cope with self-doubt is to read a few badly written books! Particularly in the early stages of drafting, I tend to feel intimidated by all the literary greats, spooking myself off task by weeping over Pulitzer Prize winning books or New York Times bestsellers. (“I’ll never be this good! I should quit right now!”) But there are a lot of really terrible books out there too, and reading them can be motivating. When I’m feeling down on myself, I read bad books, identify why they’re not working, and strategize on how I would fix it.
I find this to be a huge confidence booster and perhaps one of the best ways to dissect technique and learn the craft of writing. Great literature can be so flawlessly constructed that it’s hard to pull it apart and see the nuts and bolts that make it work. They can be so beautiful that they cripple the writing process, but bad books have always given me confidence and drive (I can do better than this s&#@!)
I’m telling you: #readbadbooks. It works.
7) You initially self-published your book which led to getting a book and movie deal. How did the book deal happen?
I queried agents for six months and, after having no luck with that, I decided to self-publish. A couple of weeks after launching, I received a Twitter message from a Hollywood producer who had chanced upon my blog and an excerpt of the book. “Is the film option still available?” he asked. “If so, can you post me a copy of the book?”
Ha! I was sure he was some nutjob seeking a free book, but I sent him a copy just in case. Good thing I did, because a few weeks later the producer sent me an official offer to buy the film option.
At approximately the same time, a UK publisher scouted my book through social media and she also sent me an offer to buy the book. Armed with these two offers, it took me about four days to sign with a New York agent.
My agent immediately pitched to the US and three publishers wanted to take it to auction. Hyperion came in with a great pre-emptive offer and we decided to take it. Shortly after, it went to auction in Australia and sold to Penguin. The rights have also sold in Brazil, and Brilliance Audio bought the worldwide audiobook rights.
8) What tips would you give self-published authors for marketing their books?
Create a solid marketing plan months before you publish. Too many self-published writers launch too early out of impatience to get their book out there, and then end up hopelessly lost in the chaotic scramble of their own random marketing efforts. This is a big mistake: it leads to lost opportunities, burnout, and poor book sales.
Launch plans need to be mapped out in detail months in advance; it’s not unreasonable to give yourself six to nine months for this. Don’t fall into the fantasy of believing that an email blast to your blog subscribers and Facebook fans is going to move the needle. Books are extraordinarily hard to sell and you have to do a lot of marketing in various places to generate an income. Plan for that work well in advance.
9) You sailed across the Pacific despite a fear of the ocean. What advice would you give someone who wants to travel or embark on a new adventure but is scared to take the leap?
Remember this: We take risks every day. Driving a giant piece of steel down a freeway at 100 kilometers an hour, alongside other giant pieces of flying steel, is incredibly dangerous, but yet you probably get in your car and drive without fear because of habit. Life is dangerous. Even if you manage to avoid all dangers successfully, you can’t escape the deterioration that will come as you age. We all have a 100% chance of dying. So you may as well jump in the deep end while you’re able to, and fully experience this one precious life you’ve been given. Fear will always be there with you and that is okay. You learn to live with it.
10) Where are you heading to next?
I’ve taken a break from travel to be at home for a while. My dad is sick, so it’s nice to spend some time with family. Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of Mexico, the U.S., French Polynesia, South America, Europe, and, as always, Asia… So who knows?
If you enjoyed this interview then read about other long term nomads in our Nomadic Interviews series.