Diving The World is a full colour guidebook packed full of must-see dive sites from 16 countries around the globe, 10 of which are in Asia. It’s already received rave reviews from numerous dive magazines and blogs. Authors Beth and Shaun Tierney explain a bit more about how Diving The World came about and what they reckon to Asian diving
Diving The World is a new kind of guidebook – not only packed full of practical info, but also with lots of pictures and personal anecdotes to capture the reader’s imagination. I asked Beth and Shaun to explain a bit more about Diving The World and the reaction to it so far. It’s pretty long, so I’m splitting it into two parts
What brought about the idea of creating Diving The World?
It all started when our publishers,Footprint, were approached by a couple of surfing journalists. Footprint had been thinking about the changes in people’s travel habits and how everyone seems to want more active, adventurous holidays these days. Not long after that, the surf idea kicked off. We’d already been working on a couple of their travel guides and came on board to produce Diving the World. Snowboarding is next.
The book’s format – combining travelogue and experiences with practical info – is much more engaging than the traditional dry guidebook style. Did it just happen that way or did you spend a while thinking how to improve on existing guidebooks?
The surfer-dudes worked with the Footprint team to develop that style and then we continued to adapt it for divers. Now the snowboard guys are adapting that, so it’s all pretty organic. We did lots of head-banging and brain-picking to get the mix of anecdotes and facts “just so”. Our friends were probably very, very sick of us by the time it went to print, but we spent long hours on the phone and email testing out what makes divers tick, what they want to know apart from “how deep, how long and what will I see?”
How long did it take you to put the book together?
From the day Alan, our editor, first emailed us to the day the initial 300 were delivered to our doorstep was 18 months, 2 weeks and 4 days. Yes, we were counting!
How many places did you visit specifically for the book?
The Galapagos, Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling, the Solomons, Palau, Yap and Truk Lagoon were all new for us. We also revisited Indonesia, Mexico and Belize. We literally put the question to everyone we knew – “if money were no object, where would you go?” The responses are the places in the book, with just one exception – Antarctica. Maybe one day!
Glossy book, big production values, so a big financial risk for the publisher as well presumably?
Sure, there were lots of financial considerations. Through our relationship with Footprint, they knew we had dived a lot of places when we took a gap-year a while back, which was to everyone’s advantage. Of course we had a budget and had to stick to it… not always easy and it would have been great to have done more, but the biggest restriction was the actual size of the book. It crept up quite a few pages as it was.
There’s been a sudden outbreak of diving books (Dive In Style, The Art Of Diving, Neutral Buoyancy) – why do you think this is?
We’re inclined to say that it’s simply that diving is becoming ever-more popular like most extreme sports. PADI say that over 60,000 people a year gain a PADI diving qualification in the UK alone.
What’s been the reaction to Diving The World so far? You’ve had rave reviews from dive blogs and magazines for sure.
Well, you know that’s been one of the best things. After 18 months of heart and soul involvement, it’s the responses from those we don’t know that really get you. When Willy published his review on Divester, we had never met him, spoken to him or even heard of him! And this total stranger just reached into our book and “got it” 100%. We were absolutely speechless. Calvin, and indeed Divehappy, have seemed to understand the concept behind it more than some of the more established sources but so far we have had great reviews. We think (and hope) that the effort we put into seeing what other divers really wanted paid off.
Do your publishers take much notice of this grassroots interest in the book?
I just rang Alan and asked him. His response was that they do, they read every review but really take notice if there is any criticism as they want to ensure they are getting it right. For example if a map was wrong they would want to correct it on a second print run. The good news is that, so far, we have only had positive feedback on DTW!
You’ve been to a lot of these destinations several times – have you seen major changes occurring in them for good or bad?
That’s a hard one. In some places changes that appear negative to us, may be really good for the local population. No matter how much we “westerners” might want to see a tiny tropical island remain just that, everyone needs change and growth. But there are some places we went to years ago, that we now know we will never go back to. And places that we have been visiting for 20 years on and off that we will always adore.
Do you think global warming and overfishing are as bad as news reports indicate? Are there other dangers divers should be aware of? What’s your feeling about how these dive sites are going to look in 10 or 20 years from now?
Now that’s controversial! And hard to answer… really, is there enough research in these fields for anyone to be definitive? Overfishing is obviously a problem worldwide, but there are also projects like commercial fish-farms and small, sustainable fishing projects that are aiming to help balance that. For divers, well, we should all be more aware of the impact that we have. We saw some truly awful things on our journeys last year, where the divemasters would say something like “…oh, and just here is a giant clam”. And when you finally saw the giant clam it was sitting in the middle a rubble field as too many divers had stopped to look. And in 20 years? Again, research projects are indicating that reefs can regenerate quite quickly if left alone, but my thinking is that if we don’t damage them in the first place we won’t need to let them regenerate. Hands off and all that stuff!