Author: Torre De Roche
Published: Penguin Books Australia, 2013
Genre: Memoir (and to-die-for romance )
Torre DeRoche is one enviable success story. Her blog, The Fearful Adventurer, reads a bit like a diary. It’s a mish-mash of adventure stories, thought provoking life advice and quite a bit of anxiety. Torre is a worrier you see, (that’s with an O not an A) and she’s not ashamed to admit it, which makes her publishing story (which happens to also be her love story) all the more fascinating.
Torre admits to many fears – (in her book I found the level of her paranoia both funny and terrifying) – one of which is the ocean. What better premise for a love story then, than for her to fall in love with a man who’s in love with the sea? And whose life-long dream is to travel across the Pacific Ocean from Mexico to Australia? What a terrific capital letter choice to give a story backbone: Love or Fear?
In reading her blog it appears that Torre has made it her life mission to tackle fears - both the big scary ones like living outside the square without a `proper job’ and the more pedestrian ones like ‘will I die of food poisoning if I eat this?’ – which is why her writing is such a delight to read. She is insightful and forgiving and unashamed of her fearful short comings, while being honest and revealing about her attempts to conquer them.
Initially she took the ultimate literary plunge and self-published her book ‘Love with a chance of drowning’. It’s clear her experience and knowledge as a graphic designer stood her in good stead. She had contacts, she’d been blogging a while, she had what’s called a ‘platform’, people followed her on social media and enjoyed her work. She understood how to ‘brand’ something so it sends a clear and appealing message to an audience. These skills put her leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of us when it comes to self-publishing.
Torre’s ensuing success looks almost too easy. Within weeks of self publishing her book she had movie and publishing offers. Everyone was screaming for a piece of Torre. But sitting behind what appears to be a firework style explosion into literary success there was months of hard work heaped with hearty helpings of despair. Torre took risks, big ones, to get where she is today. That and she had an absolute corker of a love story.
Love with a chance of drowning is that story. It’s an account of her life changing decision to travel across the Pacific on a vintage sail boat with her Argentine lover and best friend, Ivan, in spite of her bone deep fear of ocean water. This book transported me. I don’t like boats. They make me sick. I once got seasick on a houseboat on Lake Eildon, which is perfectly flat all the time. But Torre’s story sparked visions of fiery orange skies reflected in glassy azure water, of relaxed Islanders teaching me how to fish and dive, of endless days away from the vagaries and pressures of modern life. I envied her (actually, if I’m brutally honest, I envied her Ivan more than the boat trip – what a doll that man is) and the freedom she’d gained in occupying a space where demands on her mind and time were natural and immediate - like is the wind blowing or not? And, can we catch a fish for dinner?
This story could have been invented by a clever romance writer who understood character arcs and loves travel. It probably exists in other forms in other books. But what made this story so
compelling was that it really happened. Torre faced her fear of water for the man she loved. She made some pretty big sacrifices and concessions in order to give the relationship a chance. For someone who worries as much as Torre, it was a monster step. Besides all the stuff to be scared of outside the boat (like 15 foot waves, things with sharp teeth and tentacles, and the terrifying brush of seaweed), there’s awful stuff to be faced inside the boat. Important mechanical stuff breaks down, boats leak, people have accidents, get sick, and discover they hate each other when living in close quarters. None of it was enough to put her off being away from her beloved Ivan. (Cue sigh).
In a Hollywood style ending, Torre took the ultimate risk. She told Ivan she wasn’t cut out for a life at sea. She tried her hardest, but it wasn’t how she wanted to live. She risked the love she felt for Ivan for the sake of her integrity. Tough call. It’s a shame not more of us do it.
I won’t tell you how it turned out for her – read the book yourself if you want to know. But I will say this - in reading this book I picked up two pieces of wisdom I wish someone had passed onto me when I was a tender 21:
It’s worth taking big risks to be with someone you love – you just never know what you might discover if you do.
No love is worth risking your integrity, you sense of self. You lose you, you lose – full stop.
And check out the very cute Love With a Chance of Drowning book trailer.
Read for Australia Women Writers Challenge 2014 #AWW2014