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We caught up with content creator, influencer and most recently, published author Rachel Sawden to hear about the literal and figurative journey that inspired her new book "Runaways".

Have you always aspired to be an author?

Yes, it has been a dream of mind since I was a little girl to be an author. When I was about six or seven we had to write a (childrens) book in school and I thought that when my teachers laminated it, it meant that it was published and I was devastated to find out that’s not what “laminated” meant! I still have the book. It actually has a really funny and unintentionally dark ending.

What inspired you to write a book at this particular time? 

In 2010 I had just returned home after traveling around the world for nearly eight months, and I was obsessed with my trip. I was odd-jobbing trying to avoid having an office job and things got a little slow in the fall. I had been kicking around the idea to write my travel stories down, partly because everyone was sick of hearing me talk about them constantly. One morning, I woke up and saw that Snooki from Jersey Shore wrote a novel, so I said, “If she can write a novel, I can write a novel.” And that day I sat down and began writing.

Rachel Sawden at The Rosedon Bermuda

Rachel Sawden at The Rosedon Bermuda

How much of the book is based on your own experience and how much is fiction?

I didn’t know where to begin writing, so I started writing out my trip as it happened and it was quite mundane and boring. I ordered a bunch of writing books and Googled “how to write a novel”, and started jotting down ideas for characters and stories that could happen to them. The characters go to a lot of the same places I went, but the characters are all fictional, and the things that happen to them along the way are also fictional.

How much does Bermuda influence your personal aesthetic?

I’m an island girl at heart and I love the warmth and the sea. You’ll see this not only in my writing, but in my visual aesthetic that I have curated on Instagram. I love cold tones and my Bermuda blues!

How big a role has social media played in your career? 

It has turned out to be incredibly important, surprisingly. I started curating my Instagram about two years ago, which began as a creative outlet. I didn’t care about growing or having a big following so I didn’t bother with trying to grow. Then I realised the value in having the following so I put a lot of effort into growing it. It has brought me some wonderful opportunities and a stream of revenue.

What would you say are the best and worst things about social media? 

The best thing is the people you meet and the places you can see and experience (even if it’s just virtual). There are some amazing people out there with incredible creative skills and they’re so inspiring! The worst is definitely the feeling of comparison. I think I don’t experience this as much because I live this life and have been around so many other content creators and I know first-hand that this is the highlight reel and there is so much more behind the scenes that isn’t pretty. I know about skin and body retouching, I know there are fake Instagram couples out there tagging themselves as “relationship goals”, and I know that getting those beautiful shots in far-flung places can be a nightmare to get.

“Just do it. Don’t care about what people will think of you or say about you.” – On becoming a content creator.

Who do you think is creating some of the most interesting content locally?

We have some great creatives on the island. I love Avarie Graham, her colours are so bright and fun. Meredith Andrews’ work always blows me away. Earl Jones has such a cool and unique style. I always love working with my friend James Doughty, he’s got such a great eye and is always playing with new techniques. Jess Meyrick, The Wondering Dreamer, was the one who really kicked things off and was pumping out amazing content. I wish she were still here!

How do you see social media and content developing in five years from now?

It will be interesting to see. It will certainly evolve. The Instagram algorithm changes are making it harder for content creators and will force people to find a new platform that works better for their content, and it will also force others to step up their game and create more engaging content. I think everyone is waiting for that next big platform that will take over from Instagram as it keeps moving towards pay-to-play.

What would be your top three pieces of advice for someone looking to become a content creator?

1. Just do it. Don’t care about what people will think of you or say about you.

2. Be true to your self. Learn from the accounts you admire but always put out work that speaks to you and represents you.

3. Learn how the algorithms work. Posting pretty pictures and not partaking in the engagement side of things is fine if you just want to post pretty pictures. But if you want to grow, do the research and put in the work.

Where are your next travels taking you?

Not sure yet! I’ve been thinking about going back to see some more of Central and South America. Watch this space!

Do you have stories for your next book in mind?

Yes! I am working on a fantasy novel I started three years ago. I have a first draft that needs some love. I also have an idea for another novel, inspired by my recent travels but that’s all I can say about that!

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