Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog the totally lovely Jaylen Grace, an International life coach, relationship counsellor and author of children’s and inspirational books. She’s also a bit of a foodie, a cat lover and a shoe addict!
Hi Jaylen! Congratulations on being nominated for the Greenhouse Funny Writer Prize in 2012 for your children’s book, Omzak and Porridge, the Two Faced Parrot. Where did you get inspiration from to write your children’s adventure stories?
Thank you for congratulating me on being shortlist winner of Greenhouse Funny Writer Prize 2012. It came as a lovely surprise because I have only been writing books for children for a relatively short time (Compared to my personal development/spiritual books).
You are deeply committed to helping children’s development and your debut book, Omzak The Space Cat Warrior, was written originally as a script for children to act out the characters. I still read to my younger boys and they love to read along as the characters, in fact, all my children loved reading and stories. Did you read stories to your daughter? What books did you share? Is she an avid reader now?
I am indeed deeply committed to helping children’s development and have coached many children in my lifetime. I believe that all kids have unique talents that can be overlooked, and I strive to bring these out – whilst giving them confidence and self belief – because at the end of the day, it’s confidence and self belief that makes the difference between ordinary and ‘extra’ordinary isn’t it? I feel like you do, that reading to our kids and getting them to read is really important. My daughter wasn’t fond of reading books, however, when she was young. I did read all the most loved children’s books to her and by regularly telling her which books I was reading and what made them amazing, inspiring, touching, she slowly developed a love of books. I gave her Perfume to read when she was about 14. This was what started her off. Now, she can rattle off titles like the Kite Runner and Shadow of the Wind etc and rarely has a book out of her hands.
At the tender age of 23 you became PA to the Rolling Stones! That must have been some experience! I would’ve been totally awestruck – so, was it fun? Were the Rolling Stones your idolsat the time?
Yes, what an amazing period of my life that was when I worked for the Rolling Stones. Everything was SO different then and to be honest, landing that job was a stroke of luck (right time, right place). I wasn’t that much into the Stones at the time – preferring soul and artists like Aretha Franklyn, Cat Stevens, Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers (hopefully some of your readers will be old enough to remember them haha!). The amazing thing was that after the Stones came under the WEA umbrella (Warner, Atlantic,Electra) and set up Rolling Stones Records, all the big artists of the day, used to stop by the WEA offices (They were in New Oxford Street). I have to say the Stones were a great band to work for. They had their demands like all divas/divos but were very generous to me. A funny story your readers might find of interest is that the lyrics on the back of the Sticky Fingers album were written by me because Keith couldn’t recollect where he’d put the original lyric sheets. I’m sure some of the words I wrote down don’t exist – but hey – I also don’t think anyone would notice!
India made a great impact on my life. After the Stones I was head-hunted to help run Warner International Music but told my new boss I could only work for him for one year because I wanted to follow a spiritual path and have a business in this field. The yoga/personal development/life coach centre I opened in Athens in 1990 saw this dream come true. As far as my entrepreneurial streak, I think I’ve always had that. In my teens, I took over a food kiosk for a (little known) football team. I got my younger brother involved and was going to give their football fans the best home-made burgers and snacks that had ever passed their lips. This I managed but the team had so few people turning up for the matches, I had to give it up because I was losing money – however, few have ever trodden new ground without losing money and I have accepted that as part and parcel of life – along with the fact we can build successful businesses and lose them – as happened with my centre in Athens, when a storm destroyed the building!
Now back in London, you still teach but you spend most of your time doing your first love, writing. I find your blogposts very inspiring and uplifting. What life coaching subjects seem to be most popular amongst your followers?
Thank you for kind compliments regarding my blog posts. They are all based on rising to life’s challenges which could be what makes them popular. We all need encouragement to keep going don’t we?
What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?
I’m a ‘here, there and everywhere’ reader. I’m currently reading No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, The Dodger by Terry Pratchett and Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella. All three are excellent by the way.
I am currently working on Porridge book two. This is called Porridge Goes to Summer Camp and will be published in November 2014.
You are such a busy bee, but your love of writing shines through! I hear you are a bit of an adrenaline fan – jumping out of planes, kayaking, etc and that you like to try and learn something new each year. So, what have you learnt in 2013 and what’s the plan of action for 2014?
I have given up jumping out of aeroplanes and bungee jumping for the moment. In 2013, I learned the Argentine Tango because it’s so delicious and I wanted to bring out my inner tiger. In 2014 I am considering running a marathon – which will be another first.
My name is interesting on many counts. Firstly, I write under two names. Jaylen Grace for spiritual and children’s books and Stella Ralfini for the more adult content, ie my next book Three Faces of Sex, which will be published in January 2014, is in short a lovemaking manual. I studied Tantric lovemaking in the nineties and wanted to show lovers the benefits of integrating this ‘from the heart and soul’ lovemaking method easy , contemporary ways. And before I carry on with the question about my names, I just want to say that whilst I’m an open minded person, I feel that porn is doing a lot of harm to our children and it’s time for a major overhaul on the way we view sex. Look out for my next blog ‘Lets teach our children about real sex.’ …. So, I was born with the name Stiliani, Evripidis, Sotiris Raouna. My father was from a simple Greek Cypriot village and since my mother was fairly old when she had me (in her forties) – and did go on to have my brother, which wasn’t expected -my father wanted to ensure, I at least would carry forth my grandfather’s name and his name, so two of my names are actually boys names – Evripidis, Sotiris.
And here we are onto one of my favourite subjects. Fashion and shoes. For a woman in her sixties, I dress in an avante garde manner. I still wear high heels (but now take a pair of flats because my feet kill me after a few hours!) and my style is fairly unusual. Regarding online sites, I think yours is brilliant and offers something for every taste. My favourite shop is one you won’t know because it’s in Greece. It’s called Rococo. Similar to Armani, heaps cheaper and they’re styles are the bees knees every season.
Boots or Shoes?
I adore shoes. I look in shoe shop windows and salivate with the desire to own most. I used to have 200 pairs of shoes but half were only worn a couple of times. These days I alternate between about 20 pairs and find that more than enough. I like boots as much as I like shoes – my favourite pair look like horse riding boots. I’ve had them for 5 years and will definitely keep wearing them until they fall apart.
Links you would like to share eg website/Facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you!
Thank you for suggesting I share links with your readers. They can find out more about my work at www.jaylengrace.com and soon my new website www.stellaralfini.com will be up and running. I personally don’t have a Facebook page but Omzak The Space Cat Warrior does…he’s reached nearly 10,000 fans which is wonderful www.facebook.com/omzaks Anyone who would like to follow me on Twitter can find me here @jaylengrace @omzakcatwarrior and ( soon) @stellaralfini
Thank you for chatting with us Jaylen – it has been a real pleasure!
Photo Credits: All photos published with kind permission of Jaylen Grace. The illustrator of both Omzak and Porridge is Almuth Scheller.