Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Alli's Story

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?


  1. Fabulous post, Alli! Your novel sounds so fascinating. Travel is an important part to the novels I read. I read "Oriental Hotel" in the 80s and just re-read it and it was just as good today. Great new blog you all have here. Wishing you much success!

  2. Alli, wow, what a great post! How you thought of writing a travel book about South America or Australia?

  3. Alli, your story leaves me breathless! Just one question: What's a Pisco Sour and where can I get one? :)

  4. Swimming with sharks in Belize, huh? I only swam with dolphins in Bahamas. But, I just did an article on a jungle spa in Belize, which unfortunately didn’t involve a trip there… not yet. Now I definitely have to go!

  5. Kathy, thank you. Reading is such a great way to escape to other places and learn about other people and cultures.

    Gerhard, thank you! No, I haven't considered it but I would love to one day!

    Heidi, a Pisco Sour is awesome! Here's a bit of history and a recipe:

    Lina, yes, you should most definitely go to Belize if you get the chance. Such a fabulous place!

  6. I tried to post and it gave me an error message - darn! I'll try again.

    Alli - your book sounds incredible, I see a movie in its future! You've led an amazing life. Reading about it leaves me breathless and green with envy at the same time, you go girl.

    Wishing you the best with the new blog, ladies!

  7. Thank you so much, C.J.! I've been very fortunate to have had so many adventures - and now I get to create more through my writing! Thanks so much for stopping by and we hope you keep popping in.

  8. You make me tired reading of all your travels, Alli! I have a couple more continents on my list (not Antarctica, though), but am taking it a lot more slowly than you. I do love to travel, though, especially to someplace very different. You go, girl!

  9. Thanks, Kaye! I hope you get to strike more of those continents off your list one day soon.

  10. Swimming with crocs in Darwin just doesn't cut it does it?

    You're so right about novels and travelling being to intertwined.

    A novel becomes so much richer, personal and three dimensional when you learn something about a new place. It could be South America, Antarctica or the city you live in now seen through new eyes.

    There's a reason there is a saying that's shared by books and travel - it enriches the soul.

  11. Swimming with crocs totally cuts it! And you're right, books and travel do enrich the soul (especially when they're combined!).