Following your heart
Carrie Battley’s trip to Bermuda netted her a boy, a baby and a book; all she’d been looking for was a place to recharge.
Passport to Happiness, the British author and spiritual guide’s fifth novel, is due out in paperback next month.
As was her own experience, Bermuda plays a key role in helping its heroine get the best out of her life.
“In the book, the character is a schoolteacher who goes out to Bermuda and gets a contract,” said Ms Battley, who writes as Carrie Stone. “She’s earning more, but she soon finds that doesn’t matter.
“The more she volunteers, the more she realises that helping out at the aquarium, helping with beach cleanups, those are the things that make her happy.”
Although it sounds like a weighty tome, it isn’t.
Publishers HarperCollins describe it as “a feel-good escapist read” — Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones. Reads the synopsis: “Everly Carter is bored. With her job, with her single status and with the never-ending line of rubbish men on Tinder.
“Tired of going through the motions of seeming happy, Everly wants to be happy!
“Everly’s search for happiness takes her to picturesque Swiss villages and the sunsets of glamorous Bermuda.
“But with every new stamp in her passport, Everly still feels as though something is missing.”
Her question becomes whether it is possible to find true happiness without first finding herself.
Spoiler: she doesn’t find the answer here.
“It’s a relationship that goes sour so she leaves Bermuda,” said Ms Battley, who lives in Bali and travels the world as a psychic medium and spiritual coach. “Later, she has a chance to go back, but she realises it’s not necessarily about money and the lifestyle she thought she wanted.
“In the meantime she goes to Bali where there is a very different vibe.
“There she can do her [volunteering] and enjoy a more earthy way of living. I’m always very positive in terms of saying ‘just follow your heart’.
“I think that life is more about happiness and being true to yourself rather than going after a job to bring you money and buy you a nicer house.”
Writing has “always been a love”.
In 2012, Ms Battley decided to self-publish her stories and share them with the world; readers jumped on board.
“I don’t believe you should write to make money because it doesn’t pay off anyway, and you just can’t not write if it’s in you,” she said. “I would write stories, light, easy, uplifting reads, thinking that [readers] can take a message [from them]; you can have a new life if you’re willing to take a risk.
“Around that time Amazon was just starting with its platform and I did it thinking no one would necessarily buy.
“It just happened that my first book went into the Amazon charts; I wrote another one and the same thing happened.”
A representative of HarperCollins got in touch asking if she’d “ever thought about writing for a commercial publisher”.
“It was absolutely unheard of to be approached by a publisher, but it was at a time when publishers had lost their way a little bit, when e-books were becoming a much more [popular route than traditional] publishers.
“I was writing another book anyway so I decided to give the manuscript to them.
“They said, ‘Great. We’ll offer you a two-book deal and see what happens.’
“My first one was Kate & Alf, contemporary romance women’s fiction. It didn’t go down very well, to be honest. I think it was more suited to people in the UK.”
She’s hoping she finds an audience with Passport to Happiness.
She wrote the book after spending four months here on vacation in 2015.
“Ultimately, I have such fun, fond memories of my short time in Bermuda that I thought it’d be the perfect location to include in a book about ‘finding happiness’,” Ms Battley said. “My friends live there and I was planning a vacation so I was there, on and off, for a few months.
“It’s just a great place to get inspired again. Just to have some downtime led me back into a cycle of being motivated and inspired and just feeling like I was recharged.”
While here, Everly plants trees at Cooper’s Island, gets involved in a reef cleanup at Elbow Beach, visits Crystal Caves, Paradise Lakes and Horseshoe Bay and helps out at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.
“It’s a fun read, predominantly a romantic read as it’s about her relationships,” said Ms Battley, whose Bermudian friends “really enjoyed” the book.
“As for Bermuda, the book is mainly about the location itself. It’s so beautiful and the people are extremely friendly, so polite.”
It’s here the author met her husband, then a science teacher at Somersfield Academy. The two married in Bali and had a child soon after.
“He lived there for five years,” she said. “We met in Bermuda but didn’t ever date as we were involved with different people, but we became friends.
“When he left Bermuda he came to Bali on holiday and we met up there again and became a couple.”
•Carrie Battley’s Passport to Happiness is available on online bookstores worldwide. The paperback version will be published on May 30. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/2P3GT7e