I first met Tiffany Manchester 4 years ago. We sat barefoot on separate couches, feeling the powerful wind that broke the heat of the dry season in Nicaragua. She had just gotten in from her home of Hawaii, and I had just woken up in my home of the tropical jungle. We shared a short conversation over coffee.
A couple weeks ago I received an E-mail from the sender “Tiffany Manchester”. The name sounded eerily familiar, and as I read on, this woman I met so many years ago had written a book called Surfer Girls Kick Ass — an epic story about self-love. It’s got some heartbreak, some healing, a best friend, a boy crush, and some magic in the form of an angel. Oh, and surfing, of course.
Tiffany was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and lived her career as a professional athlete in freestyle whitewater kayaking. She traveled all over the world and won several competitions. After awhile, the spark that once ignited her life began to dim, and for unexplainable reasons, she craved saltwater instead of her familiar freshwater. She now splits her time between the sand of Hawaii and the best surf beaches in Nicaragua and just released her first novel about surfer girls. I was able to speak with the new author while she was in transit to our first meeting spot – Nicaragua.
How exactly did you end up in Hawaii + Nicaragua?
I started dreaming about surfing in Hawaii. It was calling me! I went through a major transformation during my first 5 years here in Hawaii, mostly from the need to recover from heartbreak because my fiancé, and kayaking partner, had left me for another woman. It forced me to do a lot of personal healing which turned into massive self-growth. I started surfing and eventually met the man of my dreams , Ken, one night on the dance floor of an electronic music festival.
While in Hawaii, Ken and I wanted to find a new surf mecca. We jotted down our goals and desires, and when Nicaragua kept popping up on our radar we decided to take a trip. We fell in love with it, and have been going back for years.
Writing a novel is not a small aspiration – What made you decide to write one?
While I had written articles for kayaking magazines back in the day, I had never considered writing a book, but I had this strange urge that wouldn’t go away. I kept saying, “I want to write a book,” and couldn’t stop thinking about it. In fact, the longer I procrastinated, the worse I felt. Eventually the timing presented itself, and I was out of excuses. The only thing left to do was- to do it!
From my knowledge, fiction is often inspired by true experiences – Is that true about this story? Is the main character, Zoe Smith, based off any one in particular?
Creating a story out of thin air was a surreal experience, but you’re right in that I definitely infused it with my own experiences, using people I know to help develop the characters while sharing lessons I’ve learned along the way.
I do see a lot of myself in Zoe because I had to draw from my own experiences to make the book relatable. Yes, the storyline is fictional, but the underlying essence and feeling of it comes from the depth of my soul. As for the other characters, I’d say they all have bits of lots of people in them, especially Sophie and Seth…who became very dear to my heart. It’s really incredible how the characters became ‘real’ to me. It’s as if they are long lost friends…
What were some challenges you faced writing this story? What are some challenges you faced in the book-writing/publishing world?
Good question. I’d say that fear and uncertainty were the main culprits. Some of those fears were: Why am I writing this? How does it fit into my brand? Is this a good use of my time? How am I going to create a story out of thin air?
As for the writing and publishing part… Yeah, the challenges all had to do with one thing: not knowing anything about how to do either thing!
I played games with myself for the writing part, like; write one page/day, or write one chapter/day etc. I took a month off here and there as well, when I let the procrastination win. It’s a lot like yoga…the hardest part is getting to the mat, but once I found a rhythm and got into the story and the development of the characters, I was too curious as to how it would unfold so I couldn’t quit at that point. At that point I was confident I would actually complete the book, so I gave myself a legit goal: to finish it by the end of the year.
The publishing part was a completely different adventure. Self-publish or find a publisher? Who should I self-publish with? What about the cover art? How much is this going to cost? What can I afford? What about an editor?
There were so many insane decisions to make when I think about it. But that was the hardest part. Now that I have the experience and knowledge – my next books will be so much easier to create!
Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what made you press on?
I took breaks from writing, but I don’t think I ever gave up. The best way I can explain what made me press on is that the force was too strong! Honestly, if that urge to write this story hadn’t been nagging away at my mind, I never would’ve thought to write a book in the first place.
What do you want your readers to take away from the novel?
My aim is to help my readers develop their intuitive skills so that they learn to go inward for the answers to their questions and to realize that while asking for the opinions of others can be helpful, the only real way to gain confidence in your ‘self’ is by paying attention to and taking action from the truth within.
What did you learn about yourself and/or take away from this process?
I learned so many things!
The desire for accomplishing your goal has to be so strong that you won’t let anything stop you from achieving it. Meaning, even though I didn’t know what would come of the book or even its purpose, I could feel that the book wasn’t about ‘me’. It was coming from something beyond me — and that force carried me to completion.
I also learned the importance of not being attached to the outcome. I honestly haven’t worried whether or not people will like it – I’m just proud that I followed through with it. I’ve felt guided through the entire process, so even though there was a ton of research involved and decisions to make in the publishing process, once I landed on my answer, the thing that felt right, I trusted it completely- Feeling supported each step of the way.
Having experienced that, I’ve discovered that it’s the only way to work: With heart, with inner guidance, with trust and faith in the process.
Feeling peace is way better than feeling anxious and stressed, right?