Category Archives: Books

An Interview With Photographer Michel Haddi

Global celebrity photographer, Michel Haddi, is on my blog this week.  Michel has photographed many high profile celebrities including David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez.  He has published a few photographic coffee table books … And his latest is “David Bowie The Legend”.  Seeing as David Bowie was my all time favourite performer,  I just couldn’t wait to ask Michel about his book, his photography, and what it is like meeting these iconic celebrities…. Welcome Michel…

What made you want to pursue a career as a photographer?

I always wanted to be an artist. My first love is movie making/films but I didn’t know anyone in the film industry, but I did in photography – I suppose it was a short cut!

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Your current “David Bowie The Legend” book of unseen David Bowie pictures has aroused a lot of interest – he was my favourite musician – what was the background to the book & the reason behind creating the book?

I have a publishing house too and I thought it was a good idea to do a book on David Bowie , like I will do one on Blondie or Liza Minelli. I decided to launch a new collection called The Legend.

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Your work has appeared in many famous magazines such as the British, French & Italian editions of Vogue America as well as I lived there for 14 years and many advertising campaigns for companies such as Saks New York, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, etc. What has been the most unusual photoshoot request you’ve had ?

Maybe a shoot I did for American Esquire in the desert in Las Vegas having a trapeze artist from the Cirque du Soleil flying in the middle of nowhere.

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What has been your favourite photoshoot to date?

All of them. I don’t have a special one, always the last one. I worked with Emmanuelle Seigne,  the wife of Roman Polanski for a magazine called The Collective (it’s a magazine from the London designer Osman). I really loved that shoot as Emmanuelle is a great actor and a great looking girl.

You have photographed many high profile celebrities, including David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie etc among others. If you were given the chance, who would you love to photograph that you haven’t already?

I did a shoot at Paisley Park – I was supposed to work with Prince and his band. I worked with the band but Prince didn’t show up. This is a regret.

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You’ve published a quite a few fashion & beauty books – have you got a preferred location for fashion shoots?

Not really, depends what I have in mind. The new one is called The Blue Hour – it was shot in Paris and it’s all about Paris.

I’ve seen & admired your fashion shots, model shots, and celebrity shots, so, what style of photography is your absolute favourite? When you are not working, do you do photography for fun?

Thank you! I only like it when images look like snips of a film. In fact when I tell a story now, if I don’t shoot I write screen plays.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I have a tailor in London,  Anthony Sinclair,  so everything comes from my tailor.  I wear a Crombie with maybe a tight fit sweate,  pin stripe trousers, black gloves and black Adidas footwear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

None  –  my only pleasure is to see my tailor and be pampered.

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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Maybe another 3 piece suit – dark blue pinstripe – very 70s! Anthony Sinclair used to make the suits for Sean Connery in the James Bond films. I like this flavour, as being tall the style does suit me perfectly.

Boots or Shoes?

I used to wear boots like bikers boots but I am much more into the Adidas black label to cut the strict look of a suit nowadays.

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 Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc for more information about you and your book “David Bowie The Legend”.

http://davidbowiethelegend.co.uk/

www.michelhaddistudio.com

www.mhspublishing.com

Oh wow Michel, Blondie is also another favourite of mine – as a teenager in the 80s I tried to style myself on Debbie Harry’s look – just wish I had her voice to go with the ensemble! 🙂 Well, dear readers,  who in your eyes was or is a “Legend”?  Who was your style icon as a teen?  As always, do tell, I love reading your comments!

Linda x

All photos have been published with the kind permission of Michel Haddi. 

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An Interview With Tony Porter

I am honoured to have on the blog this week one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week – the gallant gentleman, Tony Porter.  I caught up with Tony recently to find out more about his unique life spent at the forefront of fashion, the swinging ’60s scene in London, the high fashion Kensington store Biba, and his gripping new memoir “Whatever Next?”….. Welcome Tony …

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Hello, I’m Tony Porter. Born 12/6/35

You certainly have lived a fascinating and unique life in the forefront of fashion – but, what was the inspiration behind picking up your pen and writing your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” What’s the story behind the title?

In 1986 B and I left the world of Fashion and bought tiny Burgh Island with its tired but lovely Art Deco Hotel. After spending 16 years on its restoration, we moved on, and I immediately wrote our story in “The Great White Palace”, published in 2002. Since then, it has sold 23,700 copies, and very many readers have asked me how I spent the rest of my life. I was finally persuaded, and the book was finally published on 28 February 2016. I spoke about it at my 80th Birthday party, after which I was approached by two guests, suggesting that, following my seven careers, I should make a film about them. That was when I collapsed in an arm chair muttering ‘Whatever next?’. These are the last two words of the book, but seemed an obvious title as well.

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You started your career selling paint for ICI – spending many years with ICI in Africa – before returning to London to sell high fashion for the Kensington store, Biba, founded by your sister-in-law, Barbara Hulanicki. Did you have an interest in fashion at that time, or was it something that grew on you as you sold the outfits?

No, it grew on me. Till then a dress was a dress and a skirt a skirt, but Barbara’s were different. As I became steeped in the selling and even the manufacture of her unique and inexpensive designs, I came to love the look, especially on those ’60s “Dolly Birds”  who daily thronged the Biba shop in Kensington.

The scene in London during the swinging 60s must have been exciting – especially as many famous starlets flocked to Biba – Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Mia Farrow, Cilla Black & Yoko Ono to name just a few. I’m sure you kept a cool head when you served them – but did anyone actually make you go weak at the knees (starstruck mode)? Who would have made you go a-quiver if they had entered Biba?

That has to be Bardot, although she doesn’t exactly answer your question, because she actually walked in one day to go shopping. She was prepared to try things on in the communal changing room, but Barbara’s husband, Fitz, offered her the passageway outside his office. I did glimpse her as she made her way there with an armful of clothes. She did make me weak at the knees, but that was all. Fitz did better though, by standing on a chair, so that he could peep through the glass over his office door!

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T427 IM 4CBW 26-18

You were one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week. What was the inspiration and original aims of the Week? Are you surprised the idea is still going strong and is one of the most important dates in the Fashion calendar?

When I left Biba and started my own Fashion PR business, I did really well getting lots of coverage for the twelve accounts I came to represent. It was so frustrating though that twice a year the whole of our Press corps disappeared to Paris, then Milan, to report on their designs for the coming season. We had wonderful designers, some established and others fresh out of our marvellous colleges. I couldn’t see why there was no such event here, and resolved to do something about it. That was exactly forty years ago, and in the book I relate how I went about it with such success that it became established on the world fashion stage. Obviously I am thrilled that our Fashion Week has long since become known as one of the big three in Europe, but cannot help thinking that the numbers are now too big, and the organisation is not so special as in my day.

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After leaving Biba, you ran your own successful fashion PR business in London’s West End, helped by your wife Beatrice. What made you decide to go from sales to PR?

As I’ve said already, I came to love fashion and the way it evolved, but I knew I would never aspire to being a designer, and I tired of selling. However, I had come to meet and help a few influential journalists, and came to realise that, in return for showing them the right selection, they were able to feature photographs of certain items which fitted their fashion story of the day. Obviously I didn’t have the name of Biba with which to conjure, but I chose well and quickly gained the confidence of most of the major writers. I also found that I could make much more doing this, so the decision to move on proved right in many ways.

Can you tell us about the beautiful Burgh Island and the Art Deco hotel you lovingly restored (and have since sold)? What attracted you to buy the island & its hotel? What was your favourite feature of the island/hotel?

When we bought our second hand yacht and cruised along the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, we fell in love with their rivers and little harbours, so, when we decided on another change, it was there that we looked. After several possibilities fell through, we heard that this tiny (26 acres) island was for sale, complete with its ART DECO hotel, we went for it. The huge risk and years of scary experiences are described in detail in my first book ( it is also included more briefly in this new one. How could I leave 16 whole years out of my autobiography!) We finally sold it to a couple who claimed to love art deco as much as us, in 2001. Without doubt our favourite feature was, and still is (except we are banned !) the Palm Court, with its original stained glass ceiling, which we restored.

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You are now concentrating on your new career as a writer – your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” was published in Feb 2016. Have you got any other plans to write other works? Is there any other writing genre you would like to dabble in?

Yes. Children’s  books. I have written them before for my grandchildren who did the illustrations for me, and they loved them.

When you are not writing, what hobbies or past times do you enjoy?

Sailing (other people’s yachts), opera (Hearing, not singing!) golf (badly), walking the Devon lanes, travel (but not long haul now).

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and where to buy your memoir “Whatever Next?”

Website: tonyporter.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Whatever-Next-748983758567899/?=ts

Twitter: @TPorterAuthor

It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on my blog, Tony, and I haven’t yet stopped giggling at the picture you’ve given of Barbara’s husband Fitz trying to glimpse Bardot! Must admit, Bardot is one of my style icons from those days.  The other being Debbie Harry of Blondie in the 70s/80s.  Dear readers, have you got a favourite style icon? Do tell, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Tony Porter.

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Pot Luck

Author Jennifer Bell is under the spotlight this week, telling the tale of leaving her life in London to go west to Cornwall to set up a pottery venture.  Not just any pottery venture. Her and her husband’s pots were so successful they were sold beyond the UK to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa.  Now retired and living in a riverside cottage, I caught up with Jennifer to talk about her books, her pots and her love of Cornwall…

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Hello! I’m Jennifer.  I am well retired – to the point of not counting birthdays anymore. Living beside a river on the south coast of Cornwall and still, compulsively, it might be said, obsessively, writing stories for children.

“Pot Luck” is the tale of your move from London to the wilds of Cornwall, where you had set up an internationally successful pottery company. So what gave you the inspiration to move from the city to deepest Cornwall and to write a book about it?

From childhood, growing up in a Manchester suburb, I dreamed of a country cottage and a rural life-style – you know the idea, an orchard, chickens, rosy- cheeked children ….I was fortunate to meet a man who shared my dream and who had also studied pottery at Oxford Art School before going on to do music at the R.C.M. We both knew Cornwall slightly from childhood. It really is a different country. You feel it as soon as you cross the Tamar. It’s an ancient landscape, somehow history is nearer the surface, evident in the windswept cliffs, deep lanes, Celtic saint names, old stone crosses ….

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You originally trained as a nurse – so how come you decided to get involved in running a pottery company?

I enjoyed nursing very much – looking after people, ill and often apprehensive – and I liked being able to make a difference but the lure of taking charge of your own life, living to the full, experiencing both excitements and disasters was irresistable. No cheque at the end of the month but many adventures. I think our two sons also benefitted from seeing the self-discipline needed in running your own business and both have successful careers.

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You’ve also just written a delightful children’s story “Jem The Fowey Pirate”, set in the Cornish town of Fowey. How fun was it to write a children’s story? What was the inspiration behind this tale?

Our granddaughters love coming down to Cornwall (from London) and have a special song that they sing when crossing the Tamar bridge – this can cause a little surprise when travelling by train. We live by a river ( Kenneth Graham’s inspiration for ‘The Wind in the Willows). The girls love walking and making camps in the old, oak woods and are always asking for a story ….

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As much as you like writing children’s books, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I’ve always written and love setting myself challenges – a short story starting and finishing with the same sentence, another – a bleak railway halt and the most unlikely person to alight from a train ( it turnes out to be a London prostitute!). Most of all though, I love telling stories to children – seeing the world through their eyes.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I was lucky as a child that my grandparents lived in Snowdonia – very beautiful but wet, wet, wet! On those days I would hide in my grandfather’s study, behind his tatty, leather armchair and read to exhaustion. He didn’t have any children’s books beyond a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedias – but he had Shakespeare’s plays which I was lucky to read before anyone told me they were difficult.  He also had bound copies of Punch through the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating! Nowadays, I particularly enjoy 19th century Russians. I have just watched  the TV drama ‘War and Peace’ – lovely Sunday evening stuff – but that novel has always been my default holiday reading so now the story is spoilt! I may have to find something else. I love the quirkiness of Annie le Proux and have just enjoyed ( and always enjoy) Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’.

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Having run your own businesses – pottery, a B & B establishment and a smallholding on a wilder part of Dartmoor – you are now retired and an author – so, when you are not writing what other hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Our garden is part of The National Garden Scheme which raises money for charity, so it’s a fairly full time job keeping our acre up to a good standard for visitors. I do have an escape clause though, in a phrase that I have adopted from Prince Charles. I heard him describe Highgrove once as ‘ never weed free but exuberantly planted’. A good description of a garden. I also love dress- making both for myself and for my granddaughters. We also have a small motor boat which we pootle around in. Malcolm fishes and we sometimes, when tide and a lovely evening coincide, go down river for supper in Fowey and Golant.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would love to say that I am “au fait” with the latest designers, but I’m afraid our uniform down here is mainly Barbours and wellies. For special occasions though we have two really interesting shops – casual clothing in beautiful, natural fabrics – Bridget Foley in Tavistock and Mount’s Bay Trading in Truro. I also have a pair of black, knee-length boots, bought in Italy, which I cherish.

“Pot Luck” is published by Jennifer Bell in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD, and is produced entirely in the UK. It is available to order from most bookshops in the United Kingdom, and is also globally available via UK based Internet book retailers.

It was so lovely to have you on the blog, Jennifer. Your grandfather’s study sounds delightful – I’m a bookworm and my idea of a heavenly room is a snug room lined with books and a big comfortable armchair to curl up in.   Dear readers, what would be your ideal room? Would it be a walled garden, a verandah overlooking a river bank, an airy conservatory, or a walk in wardrobe?  Do share your views – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Jennifer Bell.

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Just Say It

“Communication always leaves me incomplete,
The grass is greener, but it’s grown beneath my feet…
Love inspiration is a message on a wing,
But I have left it in the words you’ll never sing…

Communication let me down,
And I’m left here
Communication let me down,
And I’m left here, I’m left here again!……”

As Spandau Ballet’s song “Communication” plays in my mind, it seems a great intro to my guest this week,  Dr Cheryl Bauman, whose book “Just Say It” explores the power of the spoken word. Inspired by the change in her own relationships, Cheryl encourages people to use face-to-face communication whenever possible and to  wean off of relying on social media to develop and maintain connections with others.  I caught up with Cheryl to discover more as well as to indulge in a bit of fashion passion too….

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Thank you so much Linda for inviting me as a guest on your blog site and for interviewing me in this capacity. I truly appreciate it. I am very excited to discuss my new book called, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That Will Change Your Life FOREVER! “My name is Dr. Cheryl Bauman. I am very grateful for the ways that God has faithfully blessed my life. I have been married to my husband Pino for 18 years and we have a beautiful 12 year old daughter named Sara. We reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I have worked in the education field for over 25 years. I have been very blessed to have had a number of roles within the educational system including university professor, principal, learning support consultant, special education teacher and guidance counsellor. I received my Doctor of Education from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia and I was awarded the ACEL Queensland Research in Educational Leadership and Management Award. Currently, I am teaching for the Faculty of Education Departments at several Canadian universities and I work on research projects for an International university. I also own a consulting firm where I provide workshops, seminars and consulting services to large and small private and public corporations. God has provided me with the gifting of communication and I gladly share this gifting with others through speaking, researching and writing.
As I was writing this book, I drew upon many life experiences that included those as a wife, mother, educator and consultant.

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Congratulations on publishing your book, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That will Change Your Life FOREVER” – a book that explores the power of the spoken word and focuses on the importance of self-worth, positivity, forgiveness, spirituality and purpose. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

As I mentioned above, I have been working in the education field for over 25 years. As a result of this experience, I have had the privilege of being in contact with many people of all ages and walks of life. Presently,as well through the writing and publicizing of my book, this privilege continues to grow and my passion regarding the essential message that there is power in the spoken word is forever increasing. This book was birthed out of many life lessons and I acknowledge that I have been both the sender and receiver of unkind words. In my book,  I confess that I am not perfect, however, by understanding the power that is in the spoken word, by speaking words of encouragement out loud, I found that it confirmed to others what I thought about them. I also noted that our relationships changed for the better. As I watched my relationships flourish due to being purposeful with the words that I spoke I decided to become increasingly more purposeful with my speech and to form a habit to speak genuine, positive messages to the people in my life every single day. I decided to make this a priority in my life, to be grateful for the many blessings that I have and to let people know what a blessing they are to my life and to those around them. I believe that we all hold within us the power to choose whether we will speak positive messages to others filled with hope and truth or speak negative discouraging messages. I also believe that at some level everyone has the desire to fit in, to be cared for, and to belong. I value that our attitude is a mindset, and what we believe we will achieve. If you believe and want to form a habit of speaking positive words of truth to others, then I encourage you to begin today! We all have a responsibility as parents, spouses, co-workers, supervisors, grandparents, aunts and uncles to speak words of life and encouragement into the people in both our inner and outer circles so that they can grow to the potential they were created for on this earth. Through many life lessons I know that the good news that I am writing about in this book works! I have chosen to be a person who builds others up by giving them the gift of encouragement. I believe that you can also discover firsthand that there is power in speaking positive truths aloud to people in conversations. Through the power of the spoken word you can encourage the people around you to fulfill their purpose here on earth! I encourage people not to wait until someone retires from work, or until you say the eulogy at a loved one’s funeral to let others know what you think about them. In my book I challenge readers to begin a worldwide phenomenon and Just Say It! every single day to someone in your life. Choose to be the difference! “I believe in you”. I know you can do it!

You believe that effective communication is personal, positive and purposeful; also you feel that we are relying heavily on social media to develop and maintain connections with each other. How important is face to face communication?

Unfortunately, I have been noticing a real steady decline in the way that some people are interacting with others. As a society some of us are becoming less social. As well some of us are not nurturing our usage of face-to-face communication to build and maintain our relationships in a personal way. Instead, some of us are relying solely on social media to connect with each other and to continue relationships that also require face-to-face communication and verbal connection in order to maintain a healthy balance. There is definitely an increase in the use of social media, and for some time now, I have been contemplating the question, “is social media making us less social?” I have also been noting that some people are becoming more isolated and disconnected. People are created to be connected with each other. We are designed to be in right relationship with others. We all have a need to belong and to find our purpose in life. We are not designed to be alone. As some people become more and more isolated, I have recognized that some people are more sad, and less kind towards each other, and also most notably less encouraging and kind to themselves. Statistics support an increase in depression and mental illness. People who live under a cloud of negativity do not believe that they belong and are cared for; they lose their direction in life, their sense of purpose, and their willingness to seek resolution. I believe face-to-face communication is essential to maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Most of us have the unique opportunity of communicating with many people throughout the course of our day. The people in our lives may include people who are both in our inner circle, such as our family members, and people in our outer circle such as our neighbours and co-workers. I believe that these opportunities are a gift that we can positively pass along to others. I believe face-to-face communication is essential, however, I will qualify that by stating that geographical constraints often play a role in not permitting people to have these very vital face-to-face communication opportunities. If you live far away from the important people in your life, then Skype and/or the telephone is a great way to connect and still be able to at least hear the tone of a their voice. If you work in one city and need to communicate with companies in another city, of course modern technology is the most effective and efficient form of communication. I believe that social media is definitely here to stay and I also believe that it is a very effective tool in communication, but we must not neglect the importance of face-to-face communication. We must continue to nurture relationships based on our human need to belong and to care for each other. Body language and tone of voice are essential components of verbal communication that we are missing out on if we completely rely on texts or e-mails to communicate. In my book, I talk about the fact that many misinterpretations are happening because people are relying solely on technology to communicate. I address the fact that many problems could be avoided if we had face-to-face conversations where we could look people in the eye, they could view our body language and we could view theirs as well as hear their tone of voice. I also discuss how we must be personal, positive and purposeful with our verbal communication. It is essential to our well-being and the well-being of others around us.

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Your book contains many valuable lessons that others can learn from. What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you have learned from your life experiences so far?

Linda, you ask some great questions!

I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that I always make a purposeful effort to be genuine, honest and positive with people. Due to some extremely priceless lessons in life, I believe that we all have a choice to decide as to how we are going to interact with others. Are we going to view others in terms of their strengths and encourage them with their strengths? Or are we going to focus on their weaknesses and discourage them by always pointing out their mistakes? My perception is that it is very easy for people to find fault with others and to continually be critical of them. Finding fault with others does not take a lot of talent or skill. In many facets of the current world we live in, it is being emphasized and modelled that it is OK to be critical, to say cruel and mean things to each other. Saying and doing cruel things seems to be the norm. We don’t have to look very far for this unfortunate truth, we just need to turn on the TV and listen to some of the reality TV shows that are being hailed as “reality”. What I believe to be more challenging in this day and age that we live in is to focus on the strengths and talents of people, to uplift and admonish them. In my book I am encouraging people to make saying kind, genuine, truthful words to be the new norm. I am encouraging people to begin a worldwide Just Say It! phenomenon and to use the spoken word as a powerful and positive encouragement tool.

Although you live in Canada, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Information as to how to purchase my book, “Just Say It! 4 Phrases That Will Change Your Life FOREVER” is available on my website as well as on-line through amazon.com and throughout the world as numerous on-line book distributing companies carry my book. If readers have a favourite on-line book distributing company that they normally buy from they can enter the name of my book and my name and there is a high possibility that their distributing company does carry my book.  I encourage you to start the worldwide phenomenon to Just Say It! Post your success stories on my website! Also on my website you will find a free downloadable study guide, bookmarks and postcards.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I am currently working on a Just Say It! book series. I have completed the second book in the series and I am now writing the third. I have already outlined the fourth!

I am also writing chapters in two educational books. One of the books should be released in December, 2016. It is entitled ” Cultures of Leadership: Exploring educational leadership across cultures”. The second educational book will be out in late 2016 or early 2017. It will be called, “Leading, Learning and Aligning: Keys to sustaining school improvement”. So, watch for these books as well, especially if you are in the educational field.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I enjoy reading various genres. I love books and I love reading. Our house is filled with books, and I always have two or three on the go at one time. Some of my favourite types of books are autobiographies and biographies. I love learning about people’s lives. I also enjoy reading suspense novels with an action/adventure plot; mystery books; self-help, motivational and books about business; and educational literature. Due to the fact that I am a university professor, my work involves a great deal of purposeful reading to both enhance my professional growth as well as the knowledge and skills of the students that I teach.

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You earned your doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia; although you currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. What do you love about being in Canada? What place is at the top of your “Must See” Travel bucket list?

I really love living in Canada. Canada has so much to offer in terms of varied geography and the four seasons. We are able to experience spring, summer, fall and winter. Although, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in my opinion, our winters are just a bit too long…. Canada has the rocky mountains, the flat plains of the prairie provinces and the red sand in Prince Edward Island. Where we live in Ottawa, we have beautiful beaches, bike paths, hiking/jogging trails and ski hills. I enjoy the freedom that Canada provides for both me and my family. Our daughter is provided with an excellent education through our public school system and she also has the opportunity to play sports both at school and after school. Our immediate extended families live near us. Although, some of our relatives live further away in other countries. We are fortunate and feel blessed that we can visit them from time to time. The United Kingdom is on my “Must See” Travel bucket list. I have never been there before. Ever since I was a young girl I have wanted to travel and visit the UK. I believe one day this dream will come true!

Confession time! Do you have a favourite social media platform that you enjoy using on a personal basis? Does it differ from your favourite business medium?

I enjoy using both facebook and twitter. Due to the fact that my life is extremely busy, as I am sure most of the readers’ lives are as well, I do not spend a lot of time on social media. However, my business and book series are promoted on Facebook and Twitter.

When you’re not writing, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I really enjoy sports and staying active. I have tons of energy and I believe it is important to stay fit and to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle! I run three to four times a week, often with my husband and sometimes with our daughter, Sara. Although Sara is now much faster than I am, so she will speed ahead of me! When the weather becomes colder and there is snow on the ground, we have a treadmill in the basement, so we all take turns to run on it. That is one of the downfalls of our Canadian winter weather. The up-side to having snow and ice is that I enjoy participating in winter sports such as downhill skiing and skating.  In Ottawa, where I live,there is an outdoor skating rink that runs along the Rideau Canal. The cleared length of the canal is 7.8 kilometers or 4.8 miles. This is the equivalent surface area of 90 Olympic hockey rinks. As a family, we enjoy skating on the Rideau Canal. I  also enjoy cooking. I like creating main dishes and experimenting with ingredients and recipes. I have a lot of fun doing this and my family and friends enjoy eating my food, so I take it that my experimentation with ingredients is working! Our daughter Sara plays competitive soccer in a provincial development league. Pino and I are busy running her to practices or watching her play games. This is her passion and it has become ours! As a family we are active in our local church. We also love spending time up at the lake. It is a generational family residence. As a family we like to travel and explore new places. I believe these times that we set aside to connect with each other as a family are foundational to our growth and communication. The memories that we create through these quality life experiences continue to strengthen our bonds and love for each other.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

So excited to answer fashion and shoe questions. Linda, you have really provided me with an opportunity to talk about my favourite loves which are writing, reading, fashion and footwear. This site is truly the BEST! To answer this question about what type of outfits and shoes I would normally be found wearing, it depends on the context. I play sports and I run about 3-4 times per week, so I can be found in jogging shorts and track pants to a business suit to a very formal evening gown.

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This red leather jacket is one of my favourites. I like to buy jackets that serve a dual purpose. A jacket makes a statement about a person’s fashion. I believe a jacket is a stand-a-lone outfit. I always want to ensure that when I “step out” that my clothes define who I am. Living in Canada I have many jackets to keep me warm, as that is a requirement for the cold climate. So, I am very purposeful in the jackets that I buy.

Do you have any favourite shops?

I often shop at a store called Winners. Winners stores are found throughout Canada and they are also connected to the TJ MAXX stores in the United States. Winners’ stores offer a great selection of designer clothing, shoes and boots at discount pricing. I really enjoy getting a deal on my purchases. I also believe in buying quality clothing and footwear, as I like my clothing and footwear to fit well, to last a long time and to look good. In Ottawa we also have stores called “Jones New York”. These stores are throughout Canada and the United States, as well as online. I really like to buy a lot of my work clothing at the Jones New York stores, as the style suits me and the cut of the clothing fits me well. I buy a lot of Anne Klein clothing as well. For my sports clothing and equipment I often shop at Sport Chek which is another store found throughout Canada and online.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I believe it is “better to give then to receive”. I enjoy buying presents for others, especially clothing and footwear. My mother’s birthday is coming up shortly and she has told my daughter that she wants a pair of Nike shoes exactly the same as Sara’s. I think this is great, as my mom is going to be 75 years young! She is still very active and in great shape. The Nike shoes for my mom will be the next piece of footwear on my list of purchases! I have my eye on a navy sweater dress. Any shade of blue is my favourite colour. I also love wearing dresses, especially with a great pair of leggings or tights and a pair of boots. I can often be found wearing a dress at any time and for any occasion – even when I am watching Sara play soccer. I find dresses just so comfortable!

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An Interview With Lifestyle Entrepreneur Cato Hoeben

The term “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” was first coined in 2013 by ex American footballer, Lewis Howes, to describe an individual that creates a business with the purpose of altering their personal lifestyle and not for the sole purpose of making profits – focusing more on the rewards that enhance enjoyment and passion. To find out more, I caught up with the talented composer and lifestyle entrepreneur, Cato Hoeben, who has recently co written with his mother a book entitled The Lifestyle Entrepreneur… Hi Cato!

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Hi! My name is Cato Hoeben and I am a composer who writes music for film, adverts, games and documentaries and I have also released a number albums that you can find on my website.  In addition to composing, I also do voice over work and have a varied history of working in science journalism-related work as well as working as a web developer. I live in London, but spend a number of months in Seville where my wife is from. Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve become what’s known as a ‘lifestyle entrepreneur’ which, in a nutshell, is an approach to making a living that allows you to shape a lifestyle the way you want by earning through multiple revenue streams.

Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur, you are co-author of the book “The Lifestyle Entrepreneur” – a step by step guide for people of all ages looking in depth at what is actually entailed in becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur. Having worked in London at a media production company where you created online GCSE science modules, what made you give up your belief that the key to financial security & future happiness was stable employment?

When you look at the ‘single job’ approach objectively, it’s pretty illogical. While it’s true that there is a hierarchy in place in many organisations that you can wrestle your way through, today’s work environment is much more hostile and less stable than it was a few decades ago. Once you lose that line of income, you’re back in line to find a replacement, and usually you’ll need to do it fast if you have a mortgage, family and bills. So, in my opinion, there is no ‘job for life’. You can easily be dropped by your boss, replaced by someone (locally or even remotely now) or the company just goes bust and in fact I have seen this happen a couple of times in previous jobs. When that happens, you suddenly have no income which blows the ‘financial security’ argument out of the water. Obviously, if you’re happy in your job and have the free time to do all the things you want to do, then that’s fantastic. But I’ve come across many instances with friends, colleagues and other contacts saying they are tired of the often tense employer-employee relationship in their jobs, the lack of time for family, friends and the limited salaries they receive to believe that the antiquated work model we’re told we have to follow is the path to happiness. Being more entrepreneurial seems to me a much more exciting, empowering (although I hate that word) and potential lucrative way of bringing in an income and shaping how you live your life.

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What are the differences between being a lifestyle entrepreneur and being a freelancer?

Good question and one I’m asked a lot. One of the principle aims of being a lifestyle entrepreneur is that you build a ‘buffer’ for your earnings so that you don’t fall into the typical employer-employee model. As a freelancer, you work to commission i.e. you are employed to do a specific job for a client and then it’s usually over. I call that type of income ‘active earning’ as you dedicate time to actively doing the work on a contractual basis. In contrast, ‘passive earning’ would be the equivalent of setting up an investment of some kind and is often much slower to build up but can turn into a regular income stream. In my case, my albums and the royalties I get from licensing my music for film, adverts and other productions are ‘passive’ income streams. I put the work into creating the product and then it continues to earn me an income stream in the future. Freelance work is almost always purely an ‘active’ income stream as you will usually earn no more in the future from that work. It’s essential to have both of these types of income when becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur as it will allow you some important benefits like having income streams you can fall back and shape the day as you want. I discuss both of these approaches to earning in The Lifestyle Entrepreneur and how you can approach a healthy balance between the two.

What do you love most about being a lifestyle entrepreneur? Is there a downside?

It has to be the flexibility of how, when and where I work. Those three things hold so much value when I realise the extent to which I can move work around to fit my needs or simply free time up to work on the things that require intense periods of attention (like a feature film…or my wife!). Even though it’s totally possible to earn a lot of money working this way, for me, it’s much more important to build a lifestyle that makes you happy. Once you realise you’re covering your basic costs like a mortgage, bills and supporting your family, there’s not much more that I find I want in life. In terms of the downsides, getting going as a lifestyle entrepreneur can be difficult and frustrating like in any entrepreneurial endeavour. There are ups and downs based on how your income streams / businesses fare, but a lot of the downsides can be flipped on their head by looking at the negatives or lack of interest in what you’re offering as something you can improve upon. The Americans are great at this and use something like a drop in sales as an opportunity to analyse what is ‘going wrong’ with their business. It can lead to all sorts of things to try out like advertising to a different demographic, modifying your product or service or even realising you’re offering something that has no demand so you either need to create that demand or try something different. Do I get tired sometimes with the workload? Yes, absolutely. But the energy I get from doing things I’m passionate about helps enormously as the division between work and play is thoroughly blurred for me.

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Your book goes into depth about lifestyle entrepreneurism – but what is your main piece of advice to anybody who may be unhappy with their work/life balance at the moment? What should their first steps be?

As I’ve been in the same place, I know very well what it is like to feel trapped in a job you’re unhappy in and all the doubts that go through your mind as to whether you’ll be able to make ends meet if you give that job up. And it’s unrealistic to expect someone to drop everything at once if you’re dependant on that income. So, my approach to making the transition was a gradual one and is primarily what I recommend to those who are more risk-averse. I began experimenting with things I wanted to sell online and built up some income streams related to music (my passion) all while I worked as a web editor at a mental health charity. As these passive income streams grew, I started taking on the occasional freelance commission outside of my primary job to help bolster my income. Time is always an issue when you’re in a full-time job, but these mini ‘businesses’ can take as little as a few hours a week to maintain depending on what you choose to do. Once I knew I could pay my basic living costs, I decided to take the plunge on a more permanent basis which freed up my time to find new clients and develop my income streams further. And don’t be misled by the fact some income streams bring in small amounts, $80 a month from various streams can build up fast.

Is your book available to purchase outside the UK?

Absolutely. It’s available as a physical book in stores like Waterstones and online via Amazon as a physical book and an ebook. There’s a link on our website too.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Yes, although I’m still exploring those ideas. Something I think would be useful would be looking in depth at how the Lifestyle Entrepreneur approach can be employed in specific industries as it can be daunting trying to figure out how to make money from multiple strands in certain sectors. Some initial topics I’m considering are science journalism and music as I have experience in those areas. But any area that is that competitive and difficult to work in would make good topics to investigate as if you can make a living in a tough niche, you should be able to do it in any industry.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

As the son of a journalist, I’m a poor example of a bookworm! As dry as it sounds, I tend to read more for ‘function’ than ‘fun’ as it feels like wasted time otherwise, so you’ll find lots of self-development and practical books on my shelf rather than Nietzsche and Goethe. Feel free to label me a philistine. That said, I am a fan of great stories and my childhood was full of Greek Legends, books like Moby Dick and Robin Hood. I particularly enjoyed A Portrait of Dorian Gray and science-fiction books like Brave New World. In all honesty though, I get much more out of film than I do books because of the interplay between music and picture.

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Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur and author, you are also a talented composer, composing music for films etc. Growing up, did you aspire to have a musical career or were your aspirations quite different?

Since the age of seven I’ve been playing piano, so I’ve always had an interest in music. But I was firmly en route to becoming a science journalist having studied chemistry and biology at A-level, biology at Sussex University and then doing a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial. However, as any composer will tell you, there are a lot of parallels between maths and music so in a funny way I guess all those years molecular biology calculations and breaking my brain over molar masses was actually feeding my inner musician!

When you’re not writing, web designing or composing what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love travelling abroad, exploring new places to eat in and play basketball regularly. Both Seville and London are fantastic places for food, the former being considerably cheaper of course, but some of the most amazing places I’ve eaten in have been in Japan. I’m also interested in sampling unusual sounds that I can transform into virtual instruments for use in my music, so you’ll often find me recording things like pots and pans, bowing strange objects with a violin bow, etc.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m a fan of Aldo shoes which is a chain that can be found throughout London, but also Grenson’s do some great shoes that I’m always drooling over when I pass by their shop. In terms of fashion, if you ask my brother, I’m the anthesis of stylish and he accuses me of wearing Cornish pasty-style shoes, but I like to think that hidden underneath my inner science geek there is someone incredibly stylish who is ahead of his time. My outfits are usually smart casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I spend quite a lot of time on the sites where I offer my services and products to gauge how I’m doing and seeing what other opportunities are out there, but in terms of keeping up with news, I tend to follow the BBC website, Guardian, Lifehacker and TechCrunch. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do have an unhealthy tendency to spend lots on virtual instruments to use in my music that often needs taming.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I want to replace my pseudo-leather jacket that is starting to peel and show me up in public. But that could take some time as I need to find something that has a cut I like and long enough arms (the bane of my life).

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes as I find them more comfortable and less cowboy-ish. That said, I’m starting to try the boot look since a friend of mine convinced me to get some leather boots from Valverde de Camino – a small village in the province of Huelva, Spain that is renowned for having some of the best leather products in Europe. Since I bought them, I’ve worn them twice, so the adjustment is taking its time.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

The site for The Lifestyle Entrepreneur is http://bit.ly/lifestyle-entrepreneur you can also buy the book and read more about it at http://www.lifestyle-entrepreneur.net. We also have a FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/lifestyleentrepreneurnet/ and our Twitter page to follow is https://twitter.com/TheLifestyleEnt. For music-related stuff and info about my composing work, visit http://www.catohoeben.com.

Music from my album Vulnerable Beauty, here’s a soundcloud link:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/vulnerable-beauty-montage

Or there’s my new album Flaming Flamenco:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/flaming-flamenco

Thank you Cato for enlightening me, and hopefully my readers too, as to what being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about.  I also loved knowing about your music too – the idea of recording virtual instruments sounds fun to me!  Pots & pans make great drums, and I made a virtual guitar once using a shoebox and elastic bands…. Dear readers, have you any virtual musical instrument stories to tell? Does being a lifestyle entrepreneur appeal to you?  Like always, I love to know so don’t be shy, drop me a line….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Cato Hoeben.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meetings In Moccasins

Do you feel that you are on the hamster wheel of work, spinning round and round, day in day out?  Do you get so work focused that you forego those breaks/holidays? Yes?  My guest this week is Barbara Wittmann – business owner, leadership coach, IT consultant and a passionate entrepreneur – whose latest new book “Meetings In Moccasins”, shares the positive implications of slowing down, taking a leaf out of nature’s book and  from the ancient wisdom of North American cultures.  I caught up with Barbara recently to find out more….

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Hi! I’m Barbara Wittmann, 40 years old and live in Munich, Germany. I’m an IT Consultant, leadership coach and passionate entrepreneur. My quest for healthy concepts of leadership and growth brought me into the wilderness, where I explored the ancient wisdom of Native American cultures. I integrate their values and rituals into my daily business life with great success. I frequently travel to wild places to get away from my hectic business life, recharge and feed my soul. I’m a world traveller and love to connect opposites, as I believe that is the place where true innovation really happens.

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Congratulations on publishing your book, “Meetings In Moccasins” – a book that advises how to avoid the hamster wheel of work and shares the positive implications of slowing down and getting back to the basics of nature. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I started my own business 10 years ago. The first years were rough in getting a foot on the ground, hiring my first employees and building a client base. Being an entrepreneur is quite the journey. It involves facing fears and frequently go beyond your personal comfort zone. I wanted to do it right and was hiring a business coach to speed up growth. I soon doubled and tripled my revenue and even founded two other companies. Here I wanted to escape the hamster wheel when I started my own business just to find out that I was in it again. I knew that I had to change things to stay healthy. I was at a point of questioning many things in my life and decided I needed to do some intense self reflection. I signed up for a Visionquest, which is based in the Native American tradition. I went out into nature to quiet my mind and see what is next. After sitting in solitude for three days and three nights I came back with the realization that nature is our biggest teacher when it comes to growth. I started applying the basic principles to my own organization to find out that by slowing down and getting back to basics I was happiest, had happier employees and clients. I felt my experience and journey was worth sharing, as our world needs to get back to a healthier pace.

Taking a leaf out of nature’s book, and adding elements of ancient wisdom from Native American cultures, readers will learn what it takes to achieve sustainable personal and professional fulfilment. Who is your target audience for this book?

The target audience for my book are business owners, entrepreneurs and team leaders. This book is written for all those who are curious on how to apply healthier concepts to their personal and professional lives.

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You have explored the ancient wisdom of Native American cultures. What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you learnt from them? What attracts you to the Native American cultures?

What attracts me to the Native American Culture is the wealth of wisdom and the closeness to nature. It is a very distinct way of viewing the world and understanding the natural laws. Something that modern society has completely lost. We have all become so materialistic, that we are neglecting the wealth of knowledge of those who have come before us. For me the most profound teaching in the ancient ways is about how to see beauty in our broken world. The Navajo call the core of their teachings Beauty Way. I love that concept, because if we don’t see beauty in ourself, our action and the world anymore we have lost all connection to healthy relationships, gratitude and humility.

Although you live in Germany, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, my book is available for purchase through my US publisher Balboa Press or simply through Amazon.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

This is definitely not the last book with my name on it. There are so many topics that I would be curious to explore deeper. I’m working with a lot of individuals and businesses. I’m always really touched by their stories. The next book might be one of stories on how implementing some of the practices in my book changed their way of doing things. This is just an example. Many more ideas cooking.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

My all time favorite author is Terry Tempest Williams. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice is one of the most powerful books I have read. I love poetry. When I go backpacking I always bring my personal collection of poems with me. That includes a broad variety from Rainer Maria Rilke to Mary Oliver.

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You frequently travel to the wild and untouched places of North America – Where is your favourite location?

I have a little vacation home in the Four Corners Region. From my doorstep I can literally hike into the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. Other favorite playgrounds in that area include Canyonlands National Park, Mesa Verde & the Manti La Sal National Forest. Other places I really enjoy are Death Valley & the Sierras. And there is so much more to see. I just need more time to explore 😉

What place is at the top of your “Must See” Travel bucket list?

Hike the John Muir Trail
Travel to Iceland to see the Northern Lights
See wildlife in Africa
Travel the Australian Outback

When you’re not busy with your work commitments, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy to relax?

I love riding my road bike. I usually go out at the crack of dawn when I have the roads to myself. To me this is almost meditative. I love to cook and having friends over for dinner. This includes going to the local farmers market. Simply dedicating a complete day to relationships & good conversations. I go on walks or hikes whenever I can. This is my way of digesting my busy days and slowing down.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When I started my corporate carrer as a consultant the right outfit was really important. Basically it underlined your competency level. In those days I really needed professional clothing as my level of experience was still low 😉 Today I can get away with business casual, as I know my stuff. You would find me showing up for a consulting gig in jeans, leather boots & a blouse. Depending on the topic and situation I sometimes show up at clients wearing a happy face T-Shirt. A good way to break the ice. For outdoor clothing I prefer modern and colorful functional clothing. Hard to find, as most outdoor outfitters choose earth colours. My all time favorite is a german brand called Maloja. They add colour and fun to outdoor clothing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Even though there are many great online sites out there I’m still old fashioned and I love shopping in smaller stores in Munich or when I’m in the U.S. my favorite shopping spot is downtown Boulder. A must see is “Show Fly” and  “Goorin Bros Hat Shop.”

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

As I’m heading to Colorado in December on the top of my list are warm SOREL winter boots.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are my favorite. I feel they are more functional and pretty much go with anything. My favorite are boots from BED STU.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

www.barbarawittmann.de
https://www.facebook.com/ba.wittmann/?fref=ts

I love your travel bucket lists ideas, Barbara.  I have seen the Northern Lights not in Iceland but in the mountains of Northern Finland and I have been on safari in Kenya.  I share your dream to visit the Australian Outback (I’d love to see Uluru Rock) and Iceland.  I would love to photograph polar bears in Churchill, Canada, visit your wilderness area (Four Corners Region)  and do a exploration cruise to the Antarctic! So, dear readers, what’s on your travel bucket list? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Barbara  Wittmann.

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She’s A Boy

Imagine being designated at birth as being a boy but raised as a girl on the advice of doctors… And discovering at the age of 25, after the results of a chromosome test, to discover that you are in fact genetically male.  My guest this week on the blog is Louise Chapman, ghostwriter of the book “She’s A Boy” – the autobiography of Joe Holliday – Joe suffered from cloacal extrophy, a severe and rare birth defect which meant that his abdominal region was catastrophically malformed and he had no penis.  I caught up with Louise recently to find out more…. Hi Louise!

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Hi, I’m Louise Chapman. I was a reporter on newspapers in Lincolnshire and Norfolk for more than a decade until 2015 when I switched to part time communications work, freelancing and my first book “She’s A Boy” was published. I’m married with a young son and teenage stepdaughter and, like so many others, constantly feel there aren’t enough hours in the day!

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“She’s A Boy” is your first ghostwriting project and it has already been named in Amazon’s top ten non fiction bestseller list. What inspired you to become a ghostwriter?

The thing I loved most about being a local news reporter was the
people I met and the stories they had to tell. It’s a massive privilege to be able to talk to and write about inspiring and amazing people, what they have achieved, what motivates them – and to be paid to do it! The problem with news is it moves so fast. You scratch the surface of a story and you’re on to the next one. I wanted the chance to dig deep into a story and find out everything about what took someone from one point in their life to another, how they had reacted along the way and the feelings they’d had. When I first thought about being a ghostwriter I don’t think I’d heard the term. I just thought there must be people out there with fantastic stories to tell who might allow me to write them.

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“She’s A Boy” is the autobiography of Joe Holliday – a lad who was born male but because he was suffering from cloacal extrophy, a severe and rare birth defect which meant that his abdominal region was catastrophically malformed – including the absence of a penis – doctors advised his mother to bring him up as a girl.  Thus Joel became Joella. When he was 8, he attracted media attention as his family fought the right to change his birth certificate from male to female. It was only after a chromosome test at 25 that Joella finally discovered the truth  that she was genetically male.  I found the book very moving, sad in places, shocking and yet hope also radiated too.  It must have been quite an emotional rollercoaster to write. What were the highlights and lowlights whilst working on the book alongside Joe and his family?

I think you just summarised Joe’s story perfectly! He lives locally to me and I had always been aware of him and his story even though I had never written about him myself. I looked him up in the phone book and asked if I could write his life story for him. At that stage he was still living as Joella and believed himself to be female. Joe had suffered with depression for years and although he had come through the worst of it he still felt little hope for the future. I found that heartbreaking and was also unconvinced having his life story thrown back into the public arena at that stage was going to be right for him. When he discovered he had male genetics and decided to live as a man it was the best moment because suddenly he seemed like a different person – hopeful and finally happy. The reaction to an extract of the book printed in the Daily Mail on the day of publication was also pretty amazing – there were more than 350 comments on the story and every one I read was so supportive of Joe.

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For decades, doctors believed that baby boys born without a penis be classified as girls; and vice versa with girls.  Did Joe at any point convince himself he was a girl or did he always have the underlying feeling he was a boy? Does Joe feel that all babies should be given the chromosome test if they are born of indiscriminate sex or at least have the “sex” part of the birth certificate postponed until a final diagnosis can be given?

I think to understand how Joe felt about himself you have to try to
imagine what it was like to be in his shoes. He had only ever known himself to be Joella – a girl. For him to think he was anything other than a girl was to him as complicated and difficult to comprehend as it would be for anyone else. He wanted to fit in, to be like everyone else, he completely convinced himself he was female but he was deeply unhappy and it is only on reflection that he can see much of that unhappiness was related to trying to be something he wasn’t. Joe is now building his own knowledge about intersex variations and working with organisations such as Intersex UK. Up to one in 1,000 babies and children do not have standard sexual characteristics. Sometimes a person can have typically male chromosomes but external sexual organs of female appearance and they may feel female. Chromosomes aren’t the only defining factor. I think most intersex campaigners want governments and doctors to recognise that sex isn’t as simple as people think. There may be male one end and female the other but there’s a lot in between and certainly babies and children should not be pushed into uninformed, non consensual surgery to ‘fix’ their bodies and make them conform to a male or female genital norm.

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Joe has had to overcome unthinkable physical and emotional challenges. How have these challenges affected his relationships and friendships?

Joe had a rough time at school and after years of being left out and bullied he was home schooled from the age of 11. Then he struggled to be able to work due, in large part, to his ongoing health struggles. As most of us make our friendships through work and school it definitely limited his social circle. However, regardless of all he has faced, he is jaw-droppingly level headed, sensible and intelligent and now he is in a much better emotional place I think the world is opening up for him.

As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I wasn’t actually a huge reader as a child but George’s Marvellous Medicine was the first book I remember reading and I went on to love all of Roald Dahl’s books.  Now, I don’t like to read or watch anything too dark. I can’t bear thrillers or anything that involves abuse or bullying of any kind. As a result for a long time I read lots of what was essentially chick lit – Louise Bagshawe was a favourite. I still admire Louise Bagshawe’s writing but I’ve tired of that genre now and am flailing to find the non-fiction genre/authors that really work for me. In recent years I have read a lot of autobiographies with a both personal and professional interest. My son is also now of an age where I am getting to read him things like Harry Potter which is great fun.

Hypothetically speaking, if you could pick to ghostwrite the life story of any historical figure, who would you pick and why?

There really isn’t one person I would desperately have wanted to write about. I really love the stories of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. All tales of triumph over adversity appeal to me. It would be fascinating to get under the skin of any extreme or controversial character. Writing the book of someone like Margaret Thatcher would, no doubt, be totally absorbing, however can you imagine what it would be like trying to produce a manuscript that pleases them? I think ghostwriting could easily be a big nightmare working with the wrong person.

What, in your opinion, are the best bits of being a ghostwriter? And, dare I say it, the downside?

Being able to discover every aspect of someone’s story, their thoughts and reactions and have the opportunity to put that into print is amazing. The challenges surround trying to capture their voice – telling the story in their words as they would and in ensuring you are aware of everything. A little detail that didn’t seem important enough to mention may later prove crucial.

When you are not writing, what hobbies do you partake in?

I have a young son, a teenage stepdaughter and a husband and the
absolute best thing in the world is being with them, preferably somewhere hot and when none of us has anything else we have to be doing. I love to read in the sun – a pile of unread books and magazines is very exciting! Having days out with my little boy where we can run around, climb trees and explore somewhere new, going to the beach and roaming new cities preferably with my husband. There’s a whole list of hobbies I would love to take up but spare time seems the most elusive of things.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m afraid practicality comes first for me. I wear trousers and jeans, flat shoes except on special nights out and am rubbish at accessorising by day. I’m always looking at other people and thinking how put together they look and promising myself I will make more effort. I’ve always been fortunate in being slim and tend to wear nicely fitting clothes which hopefully makes up for some of my fashion failings!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’m always amazed at people who can shop for clothes online. I try
everything on and discard 80 per cent of what I thought I was going to
like, often because it doesn’t fit even if I try two different sizes. Surely that’s the same for everyone?! I used to buy a lot of things from Jane Norman because their sizing did seem spot on for me.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I’ve never been a follower of fashion and am more drawn to simple classic styles that last but I seem to always be replacing the basics and never get around to adding in the one or two seasonal items that would no doubt lift my wardrobe. I would love to get to a point where I had the ultimate capsule wardrobe – black, white and brown summer sandals for summer; black and brown boots and beautifully cut coats in a couple of colours for winter etc.

Boots or Shoes?

Both! How can you pick? I adore a towering, slim line heeled sandal despite wearing them very, very rarely and only on a night out. They give you instant elegance and confidence. In winter I never tire of my black, flat, lace up calf length bikerish boots. Boots with a heel can make you feel great but again, I have a couple of pairs at the back of the wardrobe but just can’t be bothered with daytime heels any more.

Links you would like to share so that readers of the blog can learn more about “She’s A Boy”, Joe Holliday and yourself.

You can buy She’s A Boy on Amazon in all territories including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
You can find out more about me, my writing, She’s A Boy and Joe
at: www.bylouisechapman.com I’m also on Twitter (@bylouisechapman) and Facebook : ByLouiseChapman.com

Thank you for chatting to us today. Joe is one amazing person and I hope that his story helps others to understand the physical and emotional rollercoaster of being one of those 1000 babies whose gender isn’t completely clear cut.   Any thoughts, dear readers? Do share!

Linda x

Photography by Tony Jones.  All photos published with kind permission of Louise Chapman.

 

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An Interview With Author Robert Trautman

Meet Bob – author, accomplished gymnast, competitive figure skater, licensed helicopter pilot, professional photographer, electronics engineer, parent, identical twin AND this week’s guest on my blog!  Bob’s philosophy is that “the meaning of life is to live a life with meaning” and that is truly apparent as you read his memoir-infused self-help book, “Life’s Essential Primer: Adventures, Choices, and The Success They Can Bring”.  I caught up with Bob recently to find out more as well as finding out what lurks in his closet….

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Hi! I’m Bob Trautman. Sure, the book says “Robert”, and that is my formal name, but not only is that what my mother used to call me when I’d get into trouble, it’s also so very formal, and I’m far from a formal person.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Life’s Essential Primer: Adventures, Choices And The Success They Can Bring” – a memoir-infused self-help book outlining the principles and life philosophies you have derived from  your own amusing, real life adventures. What inspired you to put pen to paper and write your self-help memoir?

Thank you very much! I’ve enjoyed writing short stories throughout much of my life, but it was really my friends and coworkers who finally provided the impetus needed to pen this book. Everybody shares their little adventures when conversing with friends, or when engaging in idle chitchat with coworkers at the office. My very best friend Michelle, who is also the editor of this book, has gone so far as to tell acquaintances, “Bob is the REAL ‘most interesting man in the world’”. This is a reference to the popular character in the Dos Equis beer ads. Ironically, I don’t like beer at all. People I knew eventually started telling me that I should write down the various stories that I’d frequently relate…so I did.

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Your book shares your life experiences – apart from being an author, you are also an accomplished gymnast, competitive figure skater, licensed helicopter pilot, professional photographer, electronics engineer and a parent – and hopes to provide children and young adults a framework to efficiently prepare their educational paths to become successful adults.  What do you feel are the main “roadblocks” stopping a person from having a successful life?

There are a number of roadblocks or detours keeping, or delaying many young people from achieving success.
a. They haven’t established practical goals. This could be because their parents haven’t exposed them to a wide variety of activities, or they’ve been over-protective, thereby not allowing them to engage their natural curiosity that would normally happen with free play.
b. They either engage in activities that adversely affect their focus, such as watching television or playing  addictive video games , or becoming addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, or they don’t engage in activities that help keep them focused on their goals.
c. They lack discipline to reach their ultimate goals. Young people today appear to want everything NOW, but they don’t want to put any effort into getting it.
If they can set practical goals, stay focused on those goals, establish a plan to achieve the goals, and have the discipline to work towards them, then they can succeed in reaching them. It won’t be NOW, but, with this technique, it’ll be MUCH sooner than any of their peers who don’t use it.

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Your book contains many valuable lessons that others can learn from, for example, your mantra that the “Meaning of Life is to live a Life with Meaning”.  What, in your own mind, was the most valuable lesson you learnt from your life experiences so far?

Aside from the “setting goals, remaining focused, and having the discipline to finish” technique I’ve described above, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is this: Be kind to others, and be an optimist.

Although you live in the USA, is your book available to purchase overseas?

My book is available all around the world via online book stores.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future?  What topics would you like to cover?

I am currently working on a fiction series. They’ll be action-adventure centered around the small town in which I currently reside. The main character is a young woman whose capabilities and talents substantially reflect my own.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

My favorite genre of books to read is action-adventure. My most favorite author is Clive Cussler (Raise the Titanic, Sahara, etc.). I enjoy all of his books. Next, would be Dan Brown’s writings (DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons, etc.). Following those, it would be murder mysteries by authors such as Margaret Truman (Murder at the Pentagon, Murder in the Smithsonian, etc.)

You have travelled widely, including spending time in Hawaii and California, among other places. Where was your favourite place to visit and why?  What place is at the top of your “Must See” travel bucket list?

Although I may have traveled more than many, I wouldn’t say that I’ve “traveled widely”. Of those places to which I have traveled, I’m particularly enamored by the Hawaiian island of Kauai – the “Garden Island”. For peoples’ bucket-lists, I highly recommend that they hike the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Beach – what I call “the perfect beach”, at least once.

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Being a professional photographer, what genre of photography excites you the most?  Any photography genre you would like to try that you have little or no experience of, as yet?

My favorite genres of photography would be landscape/scenic photography, and model photography with emphasis on pinup and boudoir. These offer incredible levels of creativity, and often produce some of the most stunning images. There is no type of photography that I want to do that I haven’t already done.

When you’re not writing, what hobbies/ past times do you enjoy nowadays?

I especially enjoy reading to relax, but for a creative outlet I love doing photography on personal projects, and tinkering with fun electronic circuits of my own design.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

 I’m not exactly what you’d call a “fashionista”. At my studio, you’ll most often find me in jeans, a polo shirt, and sneakers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

 As my wardrobe is pretty basic, I’ll just get my clothes wherever they’re the cheapest. Also, I have never purchased clothing for myself online, so, no; I don’t have any favorite online sites for that.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

At this time, clothing and shoes are purely utilitarian to me. As such, until it becomes permanently stained, torn, or otherwise unwearable, I have no list from which to wish.

Boots or Shoes?

Except for a brief period in my early teens when I’d worn Wellington boots because their heels gave me added height that I didn’t otherwise have, the only boots I’ll wear these days are for snow in the winter. Therefore, boots or shoes? I’ll go with shoes.

Links you would like to share:

I’ve listed several links of interest related to my book, below:

Book Website: http://www.essentialprimerbook.com
Book Trailer Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_93J86AcEfc
Book Author Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYOjEf7kYA
Book Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EssentialFanPage

Thanks Bob for joining me on the blog today – you’ve given us much food for thought. I’m a great believer in free play – as a youngster growing up in the 1970s, it was what we did even though I was brought up in East London.  Today, living in a rural area, it gives me great delight to see my sons outdoors playing whatever the weather and they do balance their love of the outdoors with a love for computers too – as 21st century kids seem to do effortlessly!  Biking, den building and being an intrepid explorer were my favourite games (Sindy dolls went it rained!) as a young girl –  Dear readers, what activities did you enjoy as a youngster?  Did you enjoy free play? Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Bob Trautman.

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Notes From A Very Small Island

Have you ever visited and fallen in love with a place whilst on holiday so far removed from your life at home? Would you upsticks and move to that idyllic place on a permanent basis?  Well, my guest and his wife did just that over 20 years ago! Please welcome onto the blog my guest, author Anthony Stancomb – Anthony & his wife discovered the beautiful Croatian island of Vis over 20 years ago, and decided to move there from the UK.  Following his best seller novel “Under A Croatian Sun”, Anthony has written a sequel “Notes From A Very Small Island”.  These novels mirror his own life on Vis …. And  after  reading the hilarious yet thought provoking stories, I couldn’t wait to catch up with Anthony to find out more ….

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Hi! I’m Anthony Stancomb.   I’m a retired art dealer who now writes books about life on the Croatian island I live on.

“Notes From A Very Small Island” is the sequel to your best seller, “Under A Croatian Sun”…. a continuation of the story of a British couple who are attempting to integrate into a rustic Croatian community, whilst the local population are attempting to handle its newfound EU membership. So what gave you the inspiration to write these novels?

I never thought of writing until after the first year when I realised that island life was so bizarre and so full of extraordinary goings on, that it was material for a book.

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The book is fun, humorous and yet it does provide a sobering food for thought for those looking at upping sticks and moving to a rustic community abroad that is vastly different from their homeland. The tale itself is full of the joys of living – the feasts, wine making & budding romances – but does feature sorrow, hardships, local politics & government red tape. What 3 main pieces of advice would you give to somebody looking at making such a move?

It’s important that : 

  1. You mix well with people.
  2. You don’t expect life to go on as it did at home.
  3. You need to find a place that inspires you.

As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I loved GA Henty and books of derring do! Now I read a lot of memoirs and travel writing such as William Dalrymple, but I still read many of the great new novels. It’s a wonder that we never seem to stop producing the most amazing pieces of literature that astound the world.

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You discovered the Croatian Island of Vis over 20 years ago and moved there permanently with your wife. What attracted you to Croatia, and specifically the island of Vis?

My wife, although born and brought up in South America, is Croatian by blood, but most of all, the island is one of the most unspoiled and beautiful places in the Mediterranean.

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As much as you like writing  travel books, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I am working on the bones of a novel that traces the life of an island family over four generations.

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You have worked in film & TV for many years as well as running your own business promoting British artists to galleries abroad and now you are a successful author – so, when you’re not writing what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love DIY, boating, swimming, reading, and talking a lot!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

All year round I wear shirts with collars and trousers that have pockets. My shoes are always lace-ups unless I’m wearing sandals on boats or beaches.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Amazon for books! I don’t really buy anything else except food and drink.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I will need one more pair of black shoes this coming year, as my one pair is disintegrating, and maybe in the following year I will have worn through my pair of blue corduroys and will have to replace them. (I will probably spill paint on my brown pair of chino’s at some point, so I’ll most likely be replacing those with another)!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots aren’t really me. I’m more like Alec Guinness playing the British Consul in crumpled linen and a panama hat.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your books.

www.anthonystancomb.com

Thank you so much for joining me on the blog, Anthony – your little Croatian Island looks breathtakingly stunning and I look forward to visiting Croatia in the future!  So dear readers,  have you visited anywhere that was your little piece of paradise?  Would you leave your homeland and start elsewhere anew?  Where would you go? Or have you done the same as Anthony?  Please do tell – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Anthony Stancomb.

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The Life Negroni

Few cocktails have achieved cult status – but Negroni is one of them – probably due to its stylish Italian association, seductive taste and its fascinating history.  This week on the blog, I’m honoured to welcome Leigh and Nargess Banks, authors of the fabulous book “The Life Negroni”.  This book uniquely delves not only into the history of the Negroni, but also gives tips on composing the classic Negroni and the culture that surrounds the Negroni cocktail.  So grab yourself a Negroni and read on….

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Hi! We are Leigh and Nargess Banks and The Life Negroni is our first husband and wife team work! Leigh is a design and branding expert, working alongside companies around the world through Spinach (Spinachdesign.com) forming unique brand identities. He specialises in food & drink culture, luxury lifestyle and has worked with a wide range of companies from financiers, to boutique bars and restaurants, and fashion labels. I’m a writer of design, a cultural critic and founder of Design Talks (d-talks.com) making a living as a journalist, author and luxury brand specialist for publications including Wallpaper* and Esquire. I’m passionate about all things creative – be it art & design, cars & car culture, food and increasingly, cocktails!

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Your excellent book, The Life Negroni, published by Spinach Publishing offers an unique perspective on the cult cocktail Negroni. What inspired you to write your book on this iconic cocktail?

It all happened one hot summer’s night in Formentera. Intrigued by the sight of a deep red cocktail in a cool bar on this paradise Spanish island, we asked the bartender for the name. ‘The Negroni,’ he smiled as we watched him expertly combined sweet vermouth, bitters and gin over ice cubes, adding a juicy wedge of orange. The colour was intoxicating, as was that first taste. We immediately fell in love with the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, the challenging first note, the botanical aromas that followed… On our return to London, we began researching this drink, its history, its composition, the world that it inhabits. Each bar we visited and every aficionado we encountered – and there were many – unravelled further intrigue. We saw that the Negroni represents far more than a drink. The cocktail expresses a time in history… call it liquid history. It tells the story of architecture and design, of art and aesthetics, of fashion, of passion and free spirits.… And so The Life Negroni journey begun…

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Your book is very thorough and leaves no stone unturned – delving into the cocktail’s history, its ingredients, tips on how to compose the classic Negroni, interviews from aficionados and hotels/bars from around the world that champion the cocktail – accompanied by stunning photography. Was it hard to compile a book of this nature? Have you got a favourite part or chapter that you really enjoyed writing/researching?

Our mission from the start was for it to be completely unique to us, to be authentic, meaning we had to meet, visit and photograph, where possible, all the people and places mentioned in the book. We wanted to sample all the drinks, taste all the food we document. This was at the very heart of our project and something we are passionate about. So yes it did take just over a year to research, write and edit the book as we had to fit it into our other work commitments. It was, however, a hugely rewarding and enjoyable journey that took us to distilleries and bars around Italy, France, the US and in London where we met with some incredibly passionate and talented people. We hope the sense of adventure and discovery comes through the pages.

Do I have a favourite chapter? I love art and design and to be taken behind the scenes at the Campari headquarters in Milan to see the most incredible collection of Italian Futurist art work was behind thrilling… That said we are both crazy about road trips and our research for the ‘Negroni Grand Tour’ was pretty special especially behind the wheels of the stunning Bentley Continental GT convertible.

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How many cocktails did you have to sample as part of the research for the book?!

Ha! Too many to disclose 🙂

Spoilsport! 😛 OK then, so out of all the bars/hotels which was your favourite spot to enjoy a Negroni and why?

It is difficult to say as each and every bar we mention in the book offers a unique experience. For instance the bar at the St Regis Hotel in Florence, formally the Grand Hotel, is where, allegedly, the Negroni was first made popular in the 1920s so the experience is unique to the location. But then Bulgari Hotel Milano cocktails are perfection, Agostino Perrone makes a delicious Negroni at the Connaught in London, as does Aaron von Rock at the Lincoln Centre in New York (where our reporter got so excited she did a head stand!), and Frank Boxer creates fantastically simple ones at Frank’s Cafe & Campari Bar, the hip summer pop up in Peckham Rye car park. We suggest trying them all!

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Are you planning to write any more coffee table style books in the future?

Oh yes! We have a whole series planned…

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love human interaction! And as we live centrally in London, in Notting Hill, there are so many unique boutiques to browse through it leaves little time to shop online. I do, however, check out fashion blogs for inspiration, and in terms of following design trends worldwide, I am always online.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The Life Negroni

Our book is on sale from Spinach at Thelifenegroni.com, and we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Thelifenegroni where we post daily updates. Please #Thelifenegroni.

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Thank you Leigh & Nargess for the interesting chat.  I think this has to be the ultimate Valentines Day gift for your stylish sweetheart and a must have coffee table book for Negroni fans.  Who knew that a cocktail could be so interesting?! So dear readers, now that I’ve got your tastebuds going, tell me … What’s your all-time favourite cocktail? Have you got any cocktail based stories to tell? Where is your favourite cocktail bar? I’d love to know, so comment below!

Until next time, ciao! 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Leigh & Nargress Banks.

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