Interview With Author : Torre DeRoche

Monday, 4 May 2015

Illustration by Charley Brunskill / *Artist Not Included

Reading a truly great book is a bitter-sweet experience because, as with every story, it not only has to have a beginning and a middle, it has to have an end.  
After reading 'Love With A Chance Of Drowning', I was so inspired I wrote about it, I did an Illustration about it, but I was left wanting more. Then I found a blog by the author Torre DeRoche, and It was like breaking the spine of 'Love With A Chance Of Drowning' all over again, an online book replacement therapy if you will.
Now, I've read the book, I'm a reader of the blog, surely that's enough? 
Well, no, not really; so I message Torre DeRoche :
Me:  Hi. I really loved your book. I wrote a blog post about it. Would you mind if I interviewed you?
Torre DeRoche:  Yes, of course. 
and so the story continues....

After reading 'Love With A Chance Of Drowning' and in turn becoming an avid reader of your blog Fearful Adventurer, I realise you have some serious guts, and you’re not one for doing things by halves. Where does your taste for pushing your limits and listening to your inner adventurer come from?  

It’s a habit I’ve formed deliberately, because I know that what we believe we can do and what we actually can do are rarely a match, and the only way to know is by pushing limits. I like to experiment with limits. When you move beyond them, unimaginable possibility blossoms, and once you discover that, it’s hard to go back to not pushing limits.  

Packing your bags so many times must train your eye to what is necessary and unnecessary. How have your adventures affected your outlook on material things in everyday life?  

As we become more and more aware of humanity's negative impacts on the earth, it becomes harder to justify taking more than you need. Through adventure, I’ve realised how very little a person needs to survive. In fact, the smaller my backpack, the lighter I am—both physically and mentally—because we tend to attach tiny little worries to everything we own, and the more we carry, the greater the volume of worries. 

Have you ever noticed how the people who drive the most expensive cars are often the most impatient and angry on the road? This isn’t a coincidence. The cost of materialism is your human connections, your empathy, the richness of your understanding, your sense of belonging to something larger than a cluster of objects, and—worst of all—your happiness. By happiness, I mean a rich and lasting contentment and not the surge of adrenalin that follows a purchase. Materialism speaks of soul sickness to me. I don’t have any sense of envy for gratuitously wealthy people anymore. 

As a writer, painter, designer and illustrator you are constantly having to be creative. How do you keep the creative part of your brain in peak condition?

If I had a secret formula for keeping my creative brain in peak condition, I’d be drinking that elixir every day. Instead, my creativity is like a timid snail that has to be delicately coaxed from its shell, and one small bump will send it back inside for hours. I tend to sit down in front of my computer and whistle, “Here boy, come on, come out, I’ll feed you Hershey’s Kisses if you do.” My creative snail likes Hershey’s Kisses. It also very much enjoys naps, procrastination, reruns of 30 Rock, and going in the exact opposite direct to where I’m trying to go.

Your blog is a treasure trove of inspiration, you can literally hear peoples minds opening like popcorn all over the world as you read it. What / Who inspires you?

Popcorn! I love that. 

Most of my inspiration comes from observing people in mundane settings. Through observing, I watch for patterns to see what is working and what isn't, and then I try to articulate that if I have an insight worth sharing. I tend to gain a lot of inspiration through observing and mulling over unpleasant aspects of human behaviour. 

For example, I once watched two men playing squash at the gym, and one of them had a really bad temperament. Every time he lost a point, he’d let out a tense, angry noise, which, I noted, was quite an unattractive trait on an adult. It triggered an aha moment for me: It’s just a game, dude, chill out, stop being such a toxic douche-bag. And I realised it’s never okay to do this when you lose a point—in squash or in life, loudly or quietly. It’s ugly, childish, energy-sucking, and off-putting. It’s also very entitled: Who are you to think you deserve to win every time?

My aha moment was a commitment to myself to always be a good sport about life, to be light about how I play the game, to let go of a lost point quickly, and to never fold into a little victimised tantrum when it doesn’t go my way. Life should be a game played gracefully, with a light attitude. It’s more fun for everyone that way.  

What is your favourite book and why?

I can’t possibly choose a single book. I love too many. There are a few books that I read over and over again, like The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzman and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. They cover themes that are important to me, as though they’re written for me, and I find the voices of these writers to be as soothing as a meditation soundtrack that can lull me into rest.

It's official, you are a woman of the world - if you were given open air time, broadcasting to the world, what pearls of wisdom would you offer?

If I was given open air time to broadcast wisdom, I would probably clam up and laugh nervously into the microphone until it squealed feedback at the audience making everyone clutch their ears and yell ‘Ughhooowww!’  

But honestly? I don’t think that wisdom can be taught, because it’s a knowing that is felt, not a lesson that is imparted. I think you just have to get out there and start experimenting, and find answers through your own trial and error. Be observant. Be open. Be humble. Use your brain. Use your body while it’s still in good working order, and when it breaks down, use the bits you have left until they’re gone too. Because all of it goes in the end, and I think it’s important to keep remembering that. 

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