By the age of 24, I had climbed Mt. Everest, sailed down the Ganges, walked across Australia, and cycled the breadth of Europe – all without raising a sweat or getting out of my armchair. It didn’t take long for me to tire of reading about other peoples’ journeys so I finally got off my butt, enrolled in a mountaineering course, and disappeared into the Himalayas to create my own real-life adventure.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many continents and places I still can’t pronounce. I’ve also swum with sharks in Belize, climbed the highest mountain in the Americas (that would be Aconcagua in Argentina), paddled in remote areas of the Amazon, and ridden a camel through the desert in northern Africa. And I’m only at chapter four.
The more I travel, the more I hear about new destinations I have to visit. My list has grown to such an extent now that I would need five lifetimes to ever see it all. But that’s okay. When I have the urge to travel but can’t, I drag out travel diaries and enjoy the moments when I questioned my sanity, experiencing the lows of traveling solo and the highs of achieving goals I could only have dreamt about.
For me, books and travel have always gone hand in hand. Books fueled my passion for travel and when I travel, I always have a book with me to use as a reference guide or to occupy me during endless hours of getting from A to B. A story-teller from the time I was born, becoming a writer was a natural progression and it made sense to base my stories in the destination of my heart -- South America.
My novel, VESTIGE, is set in Peru and features Tess Garibaldi, a flight attendant turned Indiana Jones in heels. Tess’ past collides with the present when she discovers she’s a Vestige – a reincarnated soul sent to protect civilizations. To stop the deadly powers of an Incan relic, Tess must discover which of the men in her life -- a handsome anthropologist she met in dire circumstances or her dodgy ex-husband with whom she has unfinished business -- is the Incan lover she lost from a past life. Unfortunately, she’s in love with both men, making her choice nearly impossible. But if she doesn’t get it right, she’ll not only lose her soul mate forever, but mankind could perish.
My books always contain elements of history and culture. Perhaps it’s a result of wiling away countless hours talking with archaeologists over beers and Pisco Sours, or from studying South American history when I worked as a tour guide.
When writing, it’s not unusual for me to close my eyes and type a scene, immersing myself in memories of a place. For example, when I remember Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, I can smell the onion cooking on the makeshift carts, hear the babbling tourists and see the astounding architecture that blends the Incan style with that of the Spanish Conquistadors.
Without travel, my heart would be closed. Without writing, I would be a lost soul. The combination of the two things I love the most – travel and writing – are a very big part of who I am.
How about you? What are you passionate about and has it changed you as a person?