Today’s Life Inspired Fitness guest is author Amy Waeschle. She is a perfect example of a woman who stays healthy and fit by doing what she loves. I first met Amy at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference when she was working on her memoir Chasing Waves: A Surfer’s Tale Of Obsessive Wandering. I was struck by her love of surfing, as it echoed my feelings about basketball. Chasing Waves is a collection of stories based on Amy’s surfing adventures. After traveling from Morocco to Fiji to Canada, Amy’s exposure to diverse cultures and experiences expanded her love of surfing as well as her view of life. Amy published the memoir in 2009 and since then, has written seven more books. She is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestselling mystery series featuring Dr. Cassidy Kincaid and the novels Going Over the Falls and Feeding the Fire. The final book of her Cassidy Kincaid Mystery series, Cassidy’s Crusade, was just released and can be purchased at AMYWAESCHLE.COM, where you can also get a free copy of her novel Rescuing Reeve.
Amy, who inspires you?
As an athlete? Probably my high school rowing coach, Eleanor McElvaine. She was the one who sparked the fire inside me to work hard and have big dreams. Before rowing, I was kind of a couch potato, but rowing with her as my mentor changed all of that. As a writer I’ve been inspired by a lot of influences, from teachers to authors, and it’s changing all the time. My husband was my inspiration to try surfing, and that experience really motivated me to become a writer. He’s been my number one fan from the start.
When did you first learn to surf and what was it like?
My first experience was in Mexico. My husband (at the time we were just dating) tried to teach me. I’m sure you can imagine how that went! It was frustrating for both of us, but something about the combination of skill, strength, and harnessing Mother Nature’s energy stuck with me. I spent the next two years committed to learning how to ride waves, and the experience was so complex and rich that I wrote a book about it called Chasing Waves.
Can you share how surfing makes you feel?
Surfing is actually a lot of sitting, watching, and waiting. Those still moments can be very peaceful, or they can be nerve-racking. If the waves are really big it’s easy to feel intimidated. So sometimes I have to go through a pretty intense self-talk session so I can get over that and enjoy the challenge. The moments I’m actually riding a wave are hard to describe. The ride usually only lasts seconds, but I am completely in the moment, and nothing else matters. I’m one with the ocean. The gliding of my board on the silky water is like flying.
Why do you like to surf and are there things that you don’t like about surfing?
I like to surf because I love water and the beautiful scenery I get to enjoy from my board. I love using my body that way too, the paddling – that probably comes from my time as a rower. And of course the payoff of riding a wave after paddling out and waiting your turn is truly magnificent. What I don’t like about surfing is wearing a wetsuit (if I’m in the PNW or cold water), and the territorialism. Just about everywhere we surf, there’s some local crew who try to dominate the lineup.
I understand that you run trails. Besides surfing and running, what other activities do you enjoy?
I love to mountain bike and hike in the mountains when I can. I also love to swim and something I love but don’t do enough of is restorative yoga. That’s been hard to do during covid so I’m looking forward to studios being open again.
How to do you keep surfing a part of your life, with writing and family?
Well…these days I don’t get to surf as often as I like. But now that my kids are old enough, we all surf together. In the summer we’ll take camping trips to the beach in Oregon and Washington, and everybody plays in the water. Each year, my husband I take a trip just the two of us to surf and play in Mexico. It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with the waves and my love of the sport. But the balance thing with family and writing is tricky. It’s all about making a commitment to myself. I hear the phrase “self care” a lot these days, and that’s probably what it’s like. Prioritizing my mental health.
Did your love of surfing change when you had children? If so how?
My love for surfing didn’t change, but because I didn’t have the ability to do it the way I used to created a pretty big hole in my heart. I was ready to be a mom, but I still had to go through an adjustment. That feeling actually inspired my first novel, Going Over the Falls.
My daughter went surfing recently for the first time. Twice actually. The very first time the surfing was terrible but the instructor encouraged her to come back when the waves were good. She did, and she loved it. Any suggestions for newbies hitting the surf that will help them to have a better experience?
Yes! The first thing is to be patient. Surfing is so much more than actually catching waves. You have to learn all the pieces – how to paddle, how to sit on your board, how to wait for a wave, and timing. The second thing is to find a good teacher. Someone patient and stoked too. And then you have to practice. Over and over and over. If that’s still fun, then you’re likely a lifer.
Do all of your books have surfers in them?
Going Over the Falls is a family saga that’s set deep inside a surfing community, so yeah, everyone surfs. In Feeding the Fire, my hero, Zach, surfs but it’s only a very tiny part of the book. My main character in my bestselling mystery series, Cassidy Kincaid, is a surfer but only some books have actual surfing scenes. Surfing is a great way to show action and build tension.
What was your favorite surfing scene to write?
The climax of Going Over the Falls. It still gives me chills.
What has been your favorite book to write, and why?
Jeez, no way I can answer that. That would be like trying to choose a favorite child. My first book, Chasing Waves, the memoir about my surfing experience, was probably the most FUN book I’ve written. It felt like storytelling at it’s most pure. I didn’t worry about being judged, because it was my own experience, right? But the most REWARDING book I’ve written is my most recent, the finale in the Cassidy Kincaid mystery series, Cassidy’s Crusade. So many incredible pieces of the series came together, plus I added my FBI agent’s point of view to the story, meaning I was able to write from his and Cassidy’s perspective. The result was pretty magical.
How do you encourage your kids to stay fit? Do they like to surf?
My kids like to be outside just like I do, but to them, things like hiking is work. When they were little, I’d bribe them with gummy worms. They are getting more interested in things like skiing now, and we take long walks at our local trails. My youngest is getting really into dance, and my oldest is a swimmer. I think it’s important to recognize their interests and not try to force mine on them. If they don’t become surfers, I’m fine with that. They have to pave their own way.
When did you start writing and what inspired you to write?
See question 1! Surfing made me a writer. When I learned to surf, the experience of going through so much frustration and desire…I just couldn’t keep all of that inside. I had to share. So I started with little short stories and journal entries. Then an editor contacted me about my blog and asked if I would write a book. The rest is history!
Learn more about Amy and find her books at AMYWAESCHLE.COM. And if you haven’t already done it, get out there and give surfing a try!