AUTHOR INTERVIEW 72 – Tessa Sillifant


Tessa Sillifant

New Zealand

Age 38

I grew up on a farm in Cornwall (South West of England) and used to walk through fields to see my friends. Since those days, I have managed to release the adrenalin junkie in me and have heli-hiked through glaciers, sky dived over a lake, driven a tank and slept under the stars on a beach fale in Samoa. Whilst life has quietened, I still have wing walking to cross off my bucket list! As well as exploring different destinations, I have tried a variety of different careers but I can whole heartedly assure you that the one constant in my life, is and always will be, chocolate!
Let me take you on a journey. The Twists and Turns of a Traveller is a book that shares the highs and lows of travel life. From the very first trip to Wales as a teenager to a random trip to Egypt, to cultural differences and social responsibility. Each chapter provides a moral of the story offering information on the big lessons learnt in life. It is raw and real and is aimed to be light-hearted and fun; sprinkled with a dash of naivety. Armed with insightful tips and advice that can help those new to travelling. This book is also an easy arm-chair read for those seasoned travellers who may enjoy reminiscing at their own travel adventures whilst they laugh out loud at the adventures of another.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT WRITING?

Tessa Sillifant: Don’t be afraid to write from the heart; your experience may be unique to you, but you have the ability to touch the lives of so many through the message you want to share.  By sharing your emotions with others, you offer the opportunity to learn and grow from your own experiences and through doing this you provide a sense of connection that others appreciate.   

Romelia: HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU WRITE?

Tessa Sillifant: A lot!  At the moment, up to 8 hours a day – time just passes me by that I am lost in the moment.  However, a more realistic timeframe would be 2-3 hours a day.

Romelia: WHEN YOU ARE WRITING AN EMOTIONAL OR DIFFICULT SCENE, HOW DO SET THE MOOD?

Tessa Sillifant: I visualize myself being there or I remember a situation when I was there.  I imagine what is around me, what the place looks like, smells like, who is there with me, and I think about how I want my audience to view the scene and how I want them to feel about it. 

Romelia: WHOM DO YOU TRUST FOR OBJECTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF YOUR WORK?

Tessa Sillifant: Firstly myself.  I can sense when the writing isn’t working and know when I need to leave it and come back to it.  When I come back to it, I need to read it with fresh eyes and I often feel surprised that I actually wrote such a piece.  I also trust my editor and the feedback received from writing groups.

Romelia: HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE SUBJECT OR THEME OF YOUR BOOK?

Tessa Sillifant: Travelling has been a part of my life for a number of years.  A few years ago I came across a group of travellers who were new to travelling.  I could sense their emotion and angst over some of the experiences they were facing which I could relate to.  It made me realise and appreciate I had a lot of experience that may be helpful to other travellers.  So I decided to capture my stories and wrap them up into „morals of the story” so that life lessons were immersed into each chapter. 

Romelia: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WRITE IN YOUR PARTICULAR FIELD OR GENRE? IF YOU WRITE MORE THAN ONE, HOW DO YOU BALANCE THEM?

Tessa Sillifant: I chose to write about my travel experiences because it had been a big part of my life for such a long period of time.  However I am also looking to write adventure books for children so that they can explore with wonder and excitement through a different lens of the world.   

Romelia: WHAT CULTURAL VALUE DO YOU SEE IN WRITING?

Tessa Sillifant: I’d like to think I place a great deal of importance and cultural value in writing as I believe it’s an opportunity to share, celebrate and educate as well as give us, as writers, the opportunity to choose how we show up in the world and share our messages through our writing.  A large theme within my book is to be mindful of the lens we view the world from as we all have different experiences and understandings of the world which we can often take for granted.

Romelia: WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS AND INTENTIONS IN THIS BOOK, AND HOW WELL DO YOU FEEL YOU ACHIEVED THEM?

Tessa Sillifant: The goals and intentions of the Twists and Turns of a Traveller was to highlight the highs and lows of travel life and to share the raw and ugly experiences travel can open up to you, in a reflective way.  The aim was for new travellers to be given an insight into a travellers world so that they were a little more prepared for the unknown before they set off on their adventure.  Travel often builds up your resilience as you navigate and discover new places, experiences, take in new cultures and understand more about yourself, but travel is often seen as a glamorous undertaking and can be a shock for many.  I wanted to provide a helpful guide, in a fun, light-hearted way so that people could hear stories and go into travelling with their eyes wide open.  I also wanted to provide memorable stories so that experienced travellers could enjoy reminiscing over their own journey. 

Romelia: CAN YOU SHARE SOME STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE YOU MET WHILE RESEARCHING THIS BOOK?

Tessa Sillifant: Within my travels, I have volunteered in an orphanage, met people from around the world, seen beautiful sights and participated in extreme sports such as skydiving, driving a tank, paragliding and heli-hiking.  The experiences I have highlighted in the book range from the first steps it took for me to venture to the other side of the world, to getting out there and doing it.  It also highlights the self-consciousness times, the naive moments and the instances where I was targeted for scams. 

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU THINK MOST CHARACTERIZES YOUR WRITING?

Tessa Sillifant: I think my writing is characterized by my care and compassion to help other people.  I know what it is like to feel alone, to go through different moments where you question your ability, you’re away from close family and friends and you want to do the right thing or enjoy life but lots of challenges come your way.  My writing experiences are captured in a way that provides a positive spin on the situation and gives insight, advice and support in a way that helps you think about what’s right for you. 

Romelia: WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF WRITING THIS BOOK?

Tessa Sillifant: So many life experiences got in the way of writing this book.  I started it in 2018.  In between, I experienced heartache, I changed jobs several times and I completed a 2 years Masters degree in 11 months.  

Romelia: WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Tessa Sillifant: To be able to put my best foot forward, to wake up every day and say, okay, yesterday didn’t go so well, but I came from a good place, I tried, I put the effort in, I’m learning as an individual, mistakes are okay, and I’m lucky to have a place on this earth, so let’s make it count.  In order to be able to think and live like that, I surround myself with positivity and love and make time for people who I know care about me, like I do them.

Romelia: HOW DID YOU GET TO BE WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY?

Tessa Sillifant: Learning to appreciate the good things, seeing life as a series of lessons to be learnt and valuing the people who show up in the world and give things a go and seeing them as role models.

Romelia: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS THAT YOU FEEL WERE INFLUENTIAL IN YOUR WORK? WHAT IMPACT HAVE THEY HAD ON YOUR WRITING?

Tessa Sillifant: When I wrote the book, I could see similarities between the Bridget Jones’ films.  In the sense where humorous life events have taken place that try and interfere with getting by in the world.  Those films bring out a humanistic character that is real, just like my stories are, and they are lived by someone who gets up again and again to keep striving forward to live the life they want for themselves, regardless of the setbacks life throws your way.

Romelia: WHAT MAKES YOUR BOOK STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD?

Tessa Sillifant: The Twists and Turns of a Traveller stands out from the crowd because it aims to be educative in the sense of sharing my life as a traveller but also offers useful tips and advice, reflections and memorable stories which are wrapped up as „morals of the story”.  The Twists and Turns of a Traveller also provides reflective questions as a way to illicit thinking about how people can set themselves up for success, so that they think about their wellbeing and how they can support and look after themselves before they set off on their adventure.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Tessa Sillifant: A lover of life, with a thirst for knowledge and an open heart to share warmth and kindness. I aim to come from a good place and whilst I am in no way perfect, I struggle with those who purposely sabotage and spread negativity in this world; because life is hard enough as it is without adding to it in an unpleasant way.  I love to dream about my next bucket list opportunity and am guided by thrill seeking adventures that sometimes have to just wait patiently in my imagination.  However that’s okay as I can still feel the adrenalin from my previous experiences and they will always live on through me!

Contact details: tsillifant@gmail.com

http://www.tessasillifant.com

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