All posts by Linda

Book Review: Finding Katya

Happy New Year!

I always think about travelling at the start of a New Year – real and armchair travelling! So, I’m so pleased to kick off 2024 with a book review for a book that ticked off both two of my loves – wanderlust armchair travelling and a good read to boot. “Finding Katya” by Katie R Aune is part memoir and part travelogue .


Finding Katya is the inspiring and compelling story of one woman who ditches everything to embark on an unconventional adventure through the former Soviet Union.

On her 35th birthday, Katie Aune was at a crossroads. Still reeling from a difficult breakup and longing to find more meaning in her life, she hopped on a one-way flight to start a year-long journey of discovery. Once a Russian and East European Studies major in college, Aune plotted a course that would take her through all 15 states of the former Soviet Union.

In a book that is part memoir, part travelogue, Aune takes readers along as she discovers places that are far off the typical tourist track, from riding the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia and taking a cargo ferry from Ukraine to Georgia, to volunteering in Tajikistan and camping in the desert of Turkmenistan. Faced with the vulnerability of traveling solo through unfamiliar lands, she shakes off her insecurities, embraces the unknown and realizes that each journey is worthwhile, even if it doesn’t go as planned.

ISBN-13: 979-8988365907


Print length: 286 Pages


Obviously Katie’s journey took place before the Ukraine/Russia conflict – embarking on such a journey over the last year or so would be unwise. There’s some sort of mystique still about the former USSR and I have read books about similar journeys – such as The Amur River by Colin Thubron. Katie’s book takes travelling in the former states of USSR to a different angle – this is a female solo trip. She teaches English in Russian households, she faces hostility from macho Russian men on the cargo ferry, she finds love, and her experiences most definitely have not been sugarcoated. As I read her book, my emotions were like a yo-yo… I enjoyed her ups, envied the sights she saw, laughed at some situations and was concerned at others. A great, refreshing read.


Katie R. Aune is a recovering tax attorney who has worked in nonprofit and higher ed fundraising for more than a decade while also dabbling in travel blogging and writing. Despite not traveling overseas for the first time until she was 25, she has been to nearly 70 countries and all seven continents. Born and raised in Minnesota, Katie is currently based in Washington, D.C. and has a habit of rooting for sports teams that find ways to lose in devastating fashion.

You can find her online at:







All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Katie R Aune.

Share This!
Pin It

Author Interview: Mitesh G Desai

I’m finishing off the year with an interview with author Mitesh G Desai and his novel “ The Big Shot Trader”. This entertaining and funny novel is based on the world of market trading where everything is driven by money and status. And Mitesh should know because he was a former trader!


Does Kerpal have what it takes to get ahead in the high-pressure world of finance? Young, naive and drawn in by the excitement and the money, can he keep up without losing who he really is?

Kerpal has just landed a job working as a trader at an investment bank. He’s about to crash land into a seat where the pressure and expectations are sky high and the tolerance for naivety and mistakes is close to zero. Follow his journey as he fumbles through work, love and family all whilst trying to discover what it takes to be a big dog.

The Big Shot Trader is a fast-paced comedy with real insight into the world of finance and the sacrifices, risks and moral choices that those in the industry make in order to survive, thrive and get paid.


Hi and welcome to the blog! Please introduce yourself…

Hi! I am Mitesh. I’m an author and have just published my debut novel, “The Big Shot Trader”.  I grew up in North London (the green suburb bit, fortunately, rather than the slightly destitute inner city bit) and then following an Economics Degree I found myself living in New York working for one of the biggest banks in the world. It was 2008, the financial crisis was unfolding and it was a crazy time. Every morning there were protestors outside the offices and nobody seemed to have any idea what the next day would hold in store, let alone the next week or month. Things were so volatile at the time that nobody had the capacity to think about years. 

I found my way back to London and continued working in finance for five years. Following that I did lots of stuff; I taught Economics for A-Level students at a school in Hertfordshire, wrote a textbook about how to pass an exam to study social sciences at Oxford and eventually ended up running an E-Commerce business which I still work in to date. I also got married in the midst of everything and am now blessed with a two year son and a mother in law who could win awards for her cooking. 

What inspired you to write “The Big Shot Trader” ? 

It actually started off as a blog. I was working in the City and was increasingly disillusioned with my existence. It was a cathartic experience to write about this fictional character and the way he felt as things just happened to him. It probably helped me to exercise some of the demons that were troubling me day to day as I started to plot a life outside of finance. 

I spent a long time ignoring the book and constantly thinking I should really get it finished but not making a great deal of effort to do so. When I discovered my wife was pregnant I decided it was now or never so worked on it consistently until it finally got into a place where I could feel happy with it. 

© Linda Hobden

As you were a former trader, are your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced ? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

On the one hand  the characters are fictional and yet it’s amusing that all of my friends who work in finance can identify so readily with each and every character that appears in the book. I’ve fielded at least five phone calls where I’ve been asked if it was their specific boss or colleague that I was depicting. I think the truth is that so many people who work in finance fit a certain character mould and so there’s a lot of reality in the behaviour of the people in the story. 

My protagonist, Kerpal, was really tough to bring to life. He arrives at the start of the book as this smart guy and it was hard to craft a story in which he remains relatively passive throughout. This felt true of the finance experience; it’s quite rare that a junior banker can do much beyond doing what their told and hoping they get asked politely. I think there are places in which it will frustrate the reader as they think, ‘but I would treat this so differently’ but in the context of a high pressured environment it’s not realistic to think you would stand up to someone who is far more experienced and towering over you as they shout and push you to comply with some method of working, regardless of legality or any other moral consideration. 

I also loved writing about Kerpal’s family. The moments where you take him out of the work environment and make him a child again at a dinner table is a chance to show he’s immature side. This kid is only 22 years old and gambling millions of dollars by day and I felt like it was important to show readers he was so much more than just this City Boy.

Were there any aspects of writing your novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

Having the idea to write was easy, the rest was really challenging! Planning a story and then trying to put it together is so difficult. I have always loved reading but have a newfound and epic amount of respect for writers who have churned out a lot of novels in their careers. Like lots of first time authors, I was working a full time job in the background and trying to balance family, friends and all my other committments and then when you throw in a new baby too it was a real challenge to find the motivation to sit down and write in the gaps. I settled into this groove of putting my son to sleep and then writing for an hour before then giving myself an hour to unwind before bed. It was slow and inefficient, probably, but eventually I got there.

Hypothetically speaking, if “ The Big Shot Trader ” was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters, especially Kerpal? 

This is such a tricky question! I loved Kunal Nayyar (Raj in the Big Bang Theory) but not sure if they could make him look young enough to get away with playing a young trader. I think Aziz Ansari also has the right kind of face and stature to play the role. 

Have you always wanted to have a career in the financial field or writing or did you have other aspirations? 

I think when I was young I was guilty of falling into the trap of thinking that finance was the only career worth aspiring towards. I was sold by the perceived glamour, status and wealth it could provide. It’s a reflection of my own stupidity that after completing internship after internship and not enjoying the experience I still took a graduate job with a bank. That really should’ve been a wake up call to go and find something to do that I was passionate about but that thought never occured to me at the time. 

I love writing so much but I think I have always seen it as a hobby. I have a note pad with about eight book ideas and I don’t lose much sleep wondering if I’ll ever write any of those novels to be honest. I contribute to a football website (my other passion) regularly and love writing to entertain. I am always pleased when I write something and, this is particularly true of football, people can take off their tribal hats and just be amused or tickled by something for what it is. 

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I am a huge reader! I love fantasy but try to stop myself falling into the trap of only reading fantasy novels. That said I recently read the first two books in the “Six of Crows” series by Leigh Bardugo and just loved everything about them. I can’t wait for the third to be released. 

I always think the way to judge a favourite book is based on how many times you’ve gifted it and on that basis my favourite book is definitely, “A Fraction of the Whole” by Steve Toltz. It is hilarious, awkward and a wonderful story. He is such a talented writer. 

For a long time I loved printed books but made the switch over to Kindle a few years ago and will never go back. First of all it’s much easier to travel with a kindle than with three books in your hand luggage, it’s more environmentally conscious (I hope) and I sometimes read late at night and if I am dropping off whilst reading it’s less painful when a kindle falls on your face compared to a 500 page book! 

Is The Big Shot Trader available to purchase worldwide?

Yes! It’s on Amazon now and I think a few independent book stores are starting to pick it up too. If you’re in London then Daunt Books in Marylebone is my favourite book shop on earth and I believe it’s available. I think it’s an old monastery and the bank has the original stained glass windows in place; it’s an utterly wonderful place to get lost in a story. 

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

Something comfy! I am lucky enough to run my own business so I don’t feel the need to conform to any particularly dress code. I’ll be in a pair of jeans, a jumper and a comfy pair of trainers most days. My marketing team sent me a “Mitesh toolkit” picture which showed my staple clothes items and it was incredibly (and alarmingly) accurate.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I live in Marylebone so Daunt Books is amazing. I’m guilty of reading a book in there for an hour and nobody has ever kicked me out. The staff are so friendly and helpful and love books themselves. 

I don’t do a lot of shopping in truth but I like Reddit. Any website that can show me global current affairs, sports, a  good joke and a picture of a cat wearing a hat on a single page is going to get my vote. 

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

I am actually in the market for a pair of smart brown or navy shoes. The pair I own have seen better days and those better days were probably about a decade ago (like I said, I don’t shop much). I actually looked at getting them restored as a lazy option but the cost of restoration is not vastly dissimilar to buying a brand new pair! 

Boots or Shoes?

Generally I favour shoes. Boots are a bit too heavy and I feel like my feet get tired wearing them all day. I own a couple of really cool pairs of hightop trainers and I will avoid wearing them if I think I’m going to do more than 5000 steps in a day. 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

You can find my novel here:

I am on twitter as @mdesaiauthor but in the most sporadic and inefficient way that it almost renders the whole venture pointless. I should really get involved a bit more I suspect. 

Thanks for the chat, Mitesh ! I will definitely check out Daunt bookshop! 😊 Thanks to Mitesh for the review copy of The Big Shot Trader ( & Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing). All photographs were published with kind permission of Mitesh Desai, apart from where marked.

Linda x

Share This!
Pin It

Spotlight On The Watchers Night Of Light

It’s getting close to Christmas and if you haven’t yet got your shopping done by now then I wish you good luck this weekend… it has been mayhem in the shops and roads where I live!

If you’re looking for something a bit different to read this holiday season, then check out the fantasy series The Watchers by Deirdra Eden. Her book number 7 in this series, “Night Of Light”, has recently been published.) I interviewed Deirdra way back in 2020 so for more information, check out the post HERE

The Watchers is an epic fairytale about finding hope and light during dark times. The story introduces you to a cast of engaging, down-to-earth, yet supernatural characters. There is someone for everyone to identify with and come to love, hate, and recognize in our own modern-day life. The story line leads the audience through epic adventures, young love, challenges, heartache, and very human experiences by otherworldly and apocryphal beings of legend. The mythology of the story is deep, yet easy to understand as it incorporates real historical events, places you can find on Google maps, and documented paranormal encounters from cultures and religions from all over the world.


The Watchers have returned and just in time for Armageddon.
Biblical plagues, wars, famine, and corruption in all forms cover the earth as the Watchers prepare for the final battle against Erebus and his army, and they are not alone. Auriella and Azrael attempt to acclimate and learn all they can about modern day before the behemoth and leviathan awaken.


Amazon affiliate link:
Deirdra’s Blog:
Deirdra’s Website:

The Watchers is Published by Rogue Matter. Pst. You can get the first book for free on the publishers website.


Deirdra Eden is an award winning artist and international bestselling author of The Watchers Series. Captivating audiences of all ages with her novels and fairy tales, her specialty is inspirational epic fantasy. Including documented historical phenomena, natural disasters of biblical proportions, and eyewitness accounts of the supernatural, she creates a relatable world for the modern reader with inspiring messages of hope. 

Deirdra enjoys horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, cuddling her kitties, and going on adventures with her family and friends.

She is passionate about empowering people and helping them to reach their goals and overcome trials. 

She believes that we are all meant to be the hero of our own stories.

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Deirdra Eden.

Share This!
Pin It

Party Like It’s 2044 Book Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of Joni B Cole’s brilliant “Party Like It’s 2044” Book Tour. According to one review I recently read : “Finding the Funny is Ms Cole’s superpower”; and I agree wholeheartedly. Joni’s collection of essays in this book are really relatable and it was great to have a giggle or two. I am honoured to have not only read her awesome essay collection, to have not only be part of her book tour but to have interviewed the lady herself.😊. But first, here’s a summary of “Party Like It’s 2044” ….


Author Joni B. Cole worries that Vlad the Impaler may be a distant cousin. She feuds with a dead medium. She thinks (or overthinks) about insulting birthday cards, power trips, and the real reasons writers hate Amazon. And she wishes, really wishes, all those well-meaning people would stop talking about Guatemala. At once irreverent and thought provoking, Cole offers a joy ride through this collection of eclectic essays that lands smack on the sweet spot between soul searching and social commentary, between humor and heft. Writes author and national book reviewer Joan Frank, “Here is a voice giving us a welcome break: vibrant, provocative, funny and flavorful…Cole’s deep and generous thinking makes room and fresh air: worth breathing deeply.”

Publisher: University of New Mexico Press

ISBN-10: 0826365566

ISBN-13: 978-0826365569

Print length: 240 pages


Hi Joni , please introduce yourself.

I could introduce myself with factual info. I’m an author, a writing teacher, a mom… But I’ve always loved those six-word memoirs, where you’re asked to distill who you are (at least in that moment) to just six-words. So I’ll introduce myself by saying that right now the title of my memoir would be, “Leave all self-doubt at the door.” At this point, I’m really trying to be someone who doesn’t let insecurity or embarrassment discourage her.

Party Like It’s 2044 is your latest essay collection. What made you decide to write the this book?

I love reading personal essays because they offer up real stories about real people. So the genre appeals to me as a reader, but I also like writing personal essays because they let me explore the meaningful moments and relationships in my own life. The process of writing this collection was full of surprises and insights about how I see the world; how my mind works, what I find funny; and aspects of my personality that could definitely use a little work. 

Your book was an utter delight to read and the topics were instantly relatable.  One review I read about your book said: “ reading the book was like you were their best friend, spilling the daily antics that had happened that week” . I know I certainly had a giggle! Especially the essay on Guatemala!  So, you’re in a coffee shop do you tend to people watch / eavesdrop? 

I love hanging out in coffee shops as much for the eavesdropping as the coffee. (And I’m a coffee addict!) For writers, paying attention to how people act and interact is a great source of entertainment, inspiration, and understanding. You mentioned the humor in the book and I think much of that was inspired simply by people-watching. After all, “humor” and “humanity” share the same root word so the more you pay attention to humanity, the more you find the funny, whether it’s funny peculiar or funny ha ha. 

As well as being an author, you have your own Writer’s Center in White River Junction, Vermont where you teach online and in person creative writing to adults;& you also lead a variety of writing workshops.  If a person wanted to attend one of your workshops, what would they generally expect?

Participants in my workshops can expect sincere appreciation for their desire to write and their courage to show up and share their work. They can also expect instruction on narrative craft and supportive, useful feedback. I’m all about helping every aspiring author write more, write better, and be happier. That’s the subhead of one of my books for writers and it isn’t just a catchy phrase. It really is my goal as a teacher and workshop facilitator.

AI is much talked about at the moment in the news.  What is your view about using AI to enhance the written word?

Don’t do it. In creative writing, the only truly unique quality you can bring to your work is your voice, your authenticity. My only experience with AI in my workshops was the time a sci-fi writer admitted after our discussion of his pages that he’d used AI to generate one particular section. No surprise, that was the section the other participants found the flattest. 

 Is Party Like It’s 2044 available to purchase worldwide?

The English version is available wherever books are sold. 

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

I live in Vermont so I normally hang out in jeans, a super soft sweater or cute flannel, and chunky-heeled shoes. I love shoes! In fact, I have way more shoes than sweaters.

Do you have any favorite shops or online sites?

Ms. Mooz is one of my favorite e-tailers. But I’m open to all, as long as it’s in my price range. 

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

If you’d asked me this question a couple months ago, I’d have an easy answer. Tall, lace-up boots with 3-inch block heels, preferably in a fun color. But I just bought a pair of boots just like this in navy, so that itch (for now) is scratched. I also recently bought these cool black loafers with chunky heels and big silver buckles. I call them my hip Pilgrim shoes and wear them all the time. I do need a better pair of hiking shoes—the soles on mine are way are too slippy on the trail. I’ve picked out a pair from Scarpa but it’s harder for me to invest that kind of money in practical shoes. Ha.  

Boots or Shoes?

This is an impossible question! 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook, etc.

FB Joni B. Cole

Insta: joni.b.colewriter


Thanks to Joni B Cole for a preview copy of her book, Party Like It’s 2044.

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Joni B Cole.

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Rewound Clothing

”Sustainable first, quality always” is the aim of this week’s guest, Ellie Jaffa, Owner of Rewound Clothing. Rewound Clothing is a men’s sustainable fashion brand that launched in May 2023 and all products are made from either 100% premium recycled fabric or bespoke 100% natural fibre blends. Sounds pretty impressive to me 😊. Hi Ellie and welcome to the blog….

Hi, I’m Ellie, I’m 32 years old and the owner of Rewound Clothing alongside being a freelance marketing consultant living in South West London.

What inspired you to launch Rewound Clothing, your men’s sustainable fashion brand? 

I launched the brand with my dad who has been in the fashion industry for over 50 years. We started discussing the business during covid, when at the time I was working full time for an ecommerce start up. We felt that we could combine dad’s knowledge of the fashion industry and passion for creating incredible unique fabrics and textures with my knowledge of online marketing and passion for sustainability. Initially we started with the idea of a recycled range. We used dad’s years of experience to create a product that not only has 100% recycled fabric, but also uses recycled labels, linings, and packaging as well as biodegradable buttons.

    Have you always had an interest in fashion  designing or did you have other career plans whilst growing up? 

    I’ve always had a passion for craft and making things, and part of that stemmed from using the fabrics dad bought home for sewing projects. From handmade Barbie dresses to hand sewing individually designed beanbags for my entire school class for Christmas at the age of 10! I took up sewing more seriously after university and began making my own clothes, although these days my time sewing is mostly dedicated to my fancy dress costumes for Halloween! My dream job growing up was to be a kids TV Presenter, Blue Peter in particular, and I even sent off an audition tape once. Unfortunately, my TV career never took off and I found myself in the world of online marketing, specialising in CRM and Customer Retention. I’ve been working in marketing for 10 years now and still consult as a freelancer alongside growing Rewound.m

    I love that your products are transeasonal, timeless and ooze of quality as well as being sustainable! What products/designs are most popular at the moment? 

    Our overshirt, The James, is definitely a customer favourite and best seller at the moment. It’s an incredibly versatile shirt that can be worn smart or casually, and as a jacket or a shirt. Due to the recycled fabric it’s also incredibly soft and comfortable to wear, whilst also looking and feeling premium.

    My favourite shirt of the range is The Lukas, and I actually wear it myself! It’s quite hard to portray the quality and feel of the fabric online but it’s made from a bespoke blend of hemp and lyocell. It’s silky soft and the drape is amazing whilst also having the weight and look of a medium linen.

    Why did you choose to focus on men’s fashion instead of women’s fashion?

    This was primarily due to our area of expertise. With dad’s background in men’s fashion we knew we could produce a really strong product range and do it really well. We used the knowledge to produce timeless and transeasonal products that won’t go out of style and are the basis of a capsule wardrobe.

    When designing items to go into your collections, do you go for popular trendy styles and colours, customer requests, personal favourites or do you take all 3 into account?

    Leading on from the above, as a sustainable brand we are not looking to keep up with fast fashion trends. The style of our shirts are fashionable but are also part of an always on trend, fortunately with 50 years in the industry dad’s seen what styles stick around! We took this same approach with our colour pallet, looking at what is currently on trend and ensuring we tied that in with colours that are always on trend so they wouldn’t go out of style. You’ll notice we’ve generally used a neutral pallet for the range which also enables transeasonality.

    As you are based in the UK, are your items available to purchase overseas?

    At present we primarily sell in the UK, however, we are looking to become more available overseas – watch this space!

    Your brand tagline is “Sustainable first, quality always”  – just how sustainable is Rewound Clothing? 😊

    All of our products are made from either 100% recycled fabric or 100% natural fibres, they are all detailed with biodegradable corozo buttons, recycled garment labels, sustainable linings and threads, as well as being packaged in recycled, recyclable packaging. On top of that we are partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects and plant a mangrove tree in Madagascar for every order.

      We recently partnered with Bearth Solutions to run environmental lifecycle assessments on our products and were really proud of the results. They showed that The James has 19% less carbon emissions, and a 40% lower environmental footprint than the average overshirt! The assessment enabled us to deep dive into the full lifecycle of our products and gain deeper knowledge as to why textiles such as our 100% recycled fabric are so much better for the environment.

      We’re also fortunate that we can work with incredibly small mills which have allowed us to produce a small volume of each product rather than mass production which often leads to waste. However, we are still making progress on our sustainable journey and we’re certainly not perfect, but these lifecycle assessments have highlighted where we can have the biggest impact and improve as we continue to grow!

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

      I’m a big dress, boots and tights girl in the winter. I do have a lot of shoes which I tend to plan my outfits around!

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

      Most of the time I shop on Vinted or in charity shops these days! I love a bargain and being able to give clothes some second hand love. I’ve been selling and shopping on ebay for as long as I can remember, I think what used to be called thrifty is now known as sustainable!

      Boots or Shoes?

      I do love both… but I’d have to say boots! They are probably my favourite thing about dressing for Winter! I’ve had some of my favourite boots for going on 15 years, they are a wardrobe staple for me and quite often I plan my outfit around my shoes!

      For pinning later

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

      It’s been lovely to chat with you, Ellie and I also share your passion for boots! 😊

      Linda x

      All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Ellie Jaffa/Rewound Clothing

      Share This!
      Pin It

      An Interview With Stephen Jackley

      In October 2023, former prisoner Stephen Jackley published his book “Just Time” , a revealing memoir and account of the reality of life behind bars in UK prisons. He was sentenced to 13 years for armed robbery and associated crimes, spending time in multiple prisons. Whilst in prison, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as completed an Open University degree. I caught up with Stephen to find out more about his book, his experiences and his life after his release. Hi Stephen and welcome! Please introduce yourself..

      I’m Stephen. A former prisoner and current editor, I continue to support initiatives that endeavour to have a social or environmental impact, including mentoring people in custody, helping publish books by those from disadvantaged backgrounds, tree planting and permaculture.

      Who or what inspired you to write your memoir “Just Time”, a revealing account of the reality of life behind bars in UK prisons?

      It arose from a vow when in custody to shed a light on certain aspects of life inside. I saw first-hand how the general public are often misled about prisons and prisoners, which has knock-on impacts on the effectiveness of the justice system. There is a need to showcase how it can be improved, for in doing so we can ultimately ensure that less people when released go on to reoffend.

      Your book highlighted the problems facing UK prisons and the inconsistencies in our justice system.  Having spent over 6 years as a prisoner in multiple prisons, what do you feel are the biggest problems being encountered and how do you think they could be alleviated?

      Prisons are part of the justice system, and even an aspect of the civil service, yet politics plays a very heavy part in how they are managed. Changes in policies have sweeping impact to tens of thousands of people’s lives, in a manner far deeper than other areas of society, yet these changes often arise from political ambition. The need to look ‘tough’ on the ‘reprobates of society’, and so forth. So removing politics from prison, making it adopt an impartial and scientifically proven criminological model, is the way forward. And likewise realising that even in the most perfect of scenarios, these are places where abuses of power are most likely to happen, so those inside need an accessible route of access to the courts – to hold the actions and decisions of prison authorities to fair account – as a last resort.

      As you have been to different types of prisons in the UK, were there any major differences to prison life between them?  

      The differences sometimes seemed as great as moving to an entirely different country, or even a previous century. In one prison you could have plentiful access to jobs, with regular unlock; in another you were in a Victorian-era cell for 23 hours a day or more. In one you could have access to a library and physical activity sessions; in another the closest parallel was hearing rat feet scutter along the concrete. 

      Stephen also did a bricklaying course.

      You were an university student when you went to prison and you managed to complete an open university degree whilst being in prison. What was you studying/studied originally in university and what was your Open University degree in?  How difficult was it to study in prison?

      It was a Geography and Sociology degree that changed to an Open Degree with a focus on the environment when in prison. Studying in itself was fine when in custody, even easier due to the relative absence of distraction and plentiful time available, but there were certain obstacles like not being able to access the internet, or at times use computers for printing assignments.

      While in prison you were diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome.  What led to your eventual diagnosis? After being diagnosed, how was prison life for you?

      The possibility of having Aspergers was raised before my sentencing, but not brought before the court’s consideration due to fears from my solicitor about the then ‘IPP’ sentence. It was raised again when clear difficulties arose in HMP Dovegate’s so-called ‘Therapeutic Community’. Finally, as I saw how others having committed similar offences were given lower sentences, and the fact I was sentenced at the very highest level of culpability (the explicit intention to cause harm), it seemed right to begin the formal process of appeal. But even after this, and before, the prison environment was one of constant noise, turbulence, unpredictable change and constraint that required medication to deal with.

      Apart from writing your book, how has your experience in prison and your Asperger’s Syndrome helped in setting up your successful social enterprise since leaving prison? 

      I would not say it has helped. There is widespread bias – rightly or wrongly – against ex-offenders. For many it is irrelevant what someone does after being in prison (or indeed before they even committed a crime): they are their crime. That stance has been cemented by media and culture. It’s possible to realise that ex-offenders are individuals, people who have gone astray or taken a step wrong, all with different circumstances, and that there’s no reason they can’t become positive, contributing members of society. I suppose in the process of setting up/running an organisation I have hoped people grasp that through the example I’ve set. But it’s often never that straightforward. 

      Is “Just Time” available to purchase worldwide?

      Yes. It is available through various outlets including the charity, Arkbound Foundation  – profits from the book go to the charity.

       What for you, was the worst thing(s) about prison life?  

      The lack of contact with the natural world. 99.9% of the time you are surrounded by concrete, stone, metal. The few occasions on being escorted past an area of grass with sight of a tree were treasured.

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

      Call it laziness if you wish, but I put comfort first. Unless it’s for some important meeting, I favour casual clothing and even sometimes push it too far with trainers and tracksuit bottoms for office based work.

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

      Independent ones with an ethical or ecological stance. There’s one in Glasgow: Locavore.

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

      I need to get a proper raincoat. One that actually resists heavy rain. ‘Waterproof’ these days doesn’t really mean much, especially if – like me – you’re in Scotland!

      Boots or Shoes? 

      Shoes if in the city; boots if in the country. As I spend more time in the latter, it would be boots.

      Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

      Find out more about Arkbound Foundation here:  

      or follow Arkbound Publishing on social media:


      X (Twitter):


      Just Time: A Journey Through Britain’s Fractured Justice System by Stephen Jackley is published by Arkbound Publishing (paperback, £12.99) and available through booksellers and Arkbound:

      Thanks Stephen for the chat. Thank you also for the review copy of your book. All photos have been published with kind permission from Stephen Jackley.

      Linda x

      Share This!
      Pin It

      A Delicate Marriage Book Tour

      I’m so pleased to be part of “A Delicate Marriage” book tour, the excellent debut novel of Margarita Barresi.


      From glittering ballrooms to verdant mountains to poverty-stricken slums, A Delicate Marriage takes the reader on a vivid tour of Puerto Rico forty years after becoming a U.S. colony, a time of great change and political turmoil on the island.

      Isabela, a wealthy woman, sacrifices her artistic aspirations to marry Marco, a penniless man dedicated to improving conditions on the island. As the island’s insular government enacts pro-U.S. policies, Marco builds a real estate empire while struggling to maintain his populist principles. Meanwhile, Isabela feels unfulfilled in her traditional role as a wife and mother and becomes disillusioned with Marco’s shifting moral compass. She begins to identify with anti-U.S. factions, leading a dangerous double life that puts her family in peril.

      As political violence threatens their paradise, Isabela and Marco question whether their marriage, like the island’s relationship with the U.S., should continue. Margarita Barresi’s debut novel celebrates Puerto Rican culture while delving into themes of class, oppression, and the effects of colonialism through the lens of a marriage.

      Publisher: Atmosphere Press

      ISBN-10: 1639889302

      ISBN-13: 978-1639889303

      Print length: 352 pages


      Hello Margarita and welcome to the blog! Please tell us a bit about yourself…

      Hello! I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and came to the mainland to attend college at Boston University. I started out as a journalist and moved to a successful career in marketing communications and wrote for many brands, including Bausch & Lomb, Dunkin’ Donuts, Frito-Lay, and Avon. When I decided to stay home with my young daughters, I dipped my toes into writing parenting essays and memoir pieces about growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1960s and ‘70s. Once I became an empty nester, I dove full-force into fiction writing and wrote “A Delicate Marriage”. It’s been a dream come true.

      “A Delicate Marriage” is your debut novel based in Puerto Rico. Who or what inspired you to start your writing career? 

      I was an avid reader as a child and still am. Maybe because of that, writing came easily to me in school. My teachers praised my work and some were surprised to learn I aimed to study business in college. I was not adventurous enough to pursue a fiction writing career at that time, because I feared the starving artist life. Well, the business thing lasted one semester and then I found my people in the communications school. I’d never considered that writing careers existed outside of publishing.

      Photo of Margarita’s grandmother in the late 1930s. Those are real orchids pinned to her dress.

      “A Delicate Marriage” is a thoughtful romantic novel as well as combining 20th century history of Puerto Rico, relations with USA and a lot of Latino character, of course. I absolutely adored reading about Isabela – her life, her loves, her romantic notions, her family, Marco, her children, her newspaper.  I enjoyed your way of writing that I found myself immersed into her life. Did you base a lot of your characters on you and people you’ve met in life? Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

      Marco and Isa are loosely based on my grandparents. My grandmother was a debutante with acting aspirations and my grandfather was a poor, but ambitious young man. Their courtship unfolded very much like Marco’s and Isa’s, with my grandmother’s father trying his best to sabotage their love. Beyond that, the story if fiction, although little bits of my grandparents are recognizable here and there. So in a sense, they were both the easiest and hardest to write. 

      I must say, this is a great debut novel and congratulations on being voted Readers Favourite in many publications.Was writing the novel easier or harder than you had envisaged? 

      Thank you! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. I was already a writer of sorts, so I had no illusions that writing a novel would be easy. Nor did I presume to think that because I could write an annual report, I could write a novel. I started out by taking novel writing classes and kept at that for a while. Slowly, the story started taking place and I became confident enough to write it on my own. 

      Being a proud Boricua yourself, having been raised in Puerto Rico… what are the top 3 things/places you think a visitor to Puerto Rico should see or do?

      This is such a hard question, because unlike on many Caribbean islands, there’s so much to see and do in Puerto Rico. I’ll go with three classics that will give visitors a taste of everything the island has to offer.

      1. Spend a day on the beach, preferably Isla Verde beach in the San Juan area or any beach outside of the city. 

      2. Hit the mountains for a tour of El Yunque Rain Forest, the only tropical forest in the U.S. national forest system.

      3. Spend a day in colorful Old San Juan for a trip back to the 15th century, shopping, and amazing Puerto Rican food.

      Aerial view of Old San Juan

      Hypothetically speaking, if “A Delicate Marriage” was made into a film, which actors would you like to see playing the main roles of Isabela, Marco etc?

      I would love to see two unknown Puerto Rican actors cast as Isa and Marco. They’d be plucked from obscurity for these roles and continue to great success.

      Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

      I am a voracious bookworm. Insatiable, really. I finish a book and immediately begin another. There is no time gap, ever. I also like to hold a book in my hands, to feel and turn the pages. I understand the convenience and immediacy of ebooks, but they’re not for me.

      I love historical fiction, particularly stories set in the 20th century that are not war-related. Fiona Davis is a master and all her books focus on a historic New York City building. I also enjoy reading Renee Rosen, Beatriz Williams, and Marie Benedict. 

       Is “A Delicate Marriage” available to purchase worldwide?

      Yes, online at Amazon.

      Margarita at a bookstore the first time I spotted my novel in the wild.

      Growing up had you always wanted to be an author or did you have other career aspirations?

      As a child, I was fascinated with the Mayan, Incan, and Aztec civilizations, and with ancient Egypt. I wanted to be an archeologist!

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

      I really like the Kate Spade aesthetic, that sort of modern retro look. I’m curvy, so I gravitate toward fit and flare dresses in stripes or geometric prints. I love a capri pant with cute flats, too. If the outfit is somewhat neutral, I like to add a pop of color, usually with fun shoes. And always, always an appropriate matching bag. I’m not a one-bag-fits-all-outfits person. 

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

      Not really. I usually have something very specific in mind and will google that—say a green and navy striped sweater—to see what the options are. Then I’ll visit the sites of the options I like. I guess I by item, not by store.

      Margarita in a street in Old San Juan

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

      I’m currently on the hunt for a long camel coat, but with a modern flair.

      Boots or Shoes? 

      I grew up in Puerto Rico, so sandals—preferably flip-flops— are my go-to footwear, but I’m not sure they qualify as shoes. I do love a pointy kitten-heeled pump, though.

      Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc


      Insta:  (@margaritabarresi)

      FB:  (Margarita Barresi)


      Great talking to you Margarita and thanks for inviting me onto your book tour! Thank you also for the review copy of A Delicate Marriage – it was a fabulous, engrossing read!

      Linda x

      All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Margarita Barresi

      Share This!
      Pin It

      An Interview With Grams28

      The “Man Bag” is currently experiencing a revival as a practical and useful item for the man about town. Menswear brand, Grams28, has just released its Sling Bag collection proving that not only that man bags are practical but are also a fashion statement. I spoke to Benjamin Chan, of Grams28 to find out more…. Hi Benjamin and welcome …

      Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Benjamin, co-founder and principal designer at GRAMS28. I was born in Hong Kong but I travel often to the UK for work. I really enjoy my daily coffee(s), going on drives, and working on new designs. I’m definitely a night owl, but I try to make the most out of daytime too. 

      What inspired the launch of Grams28?

      GRAMS28 is a brand of creations that I myself would enjoy, and that I think others would benefit from. I was looking for bags and accessories that were both luxurious and functional at the same time, and came up with almost nothing. I wanted to bridge the gap between luxury design and quality and practicality with GRAMS28, and this philosophy continues to fuel our new designs and product development.

      Have you always had an interest in fashion designing or did you have other career plans whilst growing up? 

      Not necessarily fashion design, but I’ve always been invested in learning about and perfecting design. Growing up in an environment where I was exposed to concepts of architecture and product design at a young age, it always felt like a natural development for me. I think the final push that I had to grow into this role was discovering my own passion for creating something better than what already exists. 

      I’m interested in your brand name – Grams28 – why did you specifically pick that name? Were there any other contenders?

      GRAMS28 comes from two elements, the first one being 21 Grams, a film. The name of the film comes from the idea that a soul weighs 21 grams, which we wished to incorporate since we believe that every thoughtfully crafted and handmade product that we offer has a soul. Each creation provides something unique to its owner. We also hope that our products will be able to accompany our customers throughout their days and prove useful 7 days a week – thus the additional 7, which adds up to GRAMS28. The number itself in our name was something we thought quite a lot about, so the other contenders were all variations on a similar theme.
      GRAMS28 comes from two elements, the first one being 21 Grams, a film. The name of the film comes from the idea that a soul weighs 21 grams, which we wished to incorporate since we believe that every thoughtfully crafted and handmade product that we offer has a soul. Each creation provides something unique to its owner. We also hope that our products will be able to accompany our customers throughout their days and prove useful 7 days a week – thus the additional 7, which adds up to GRAMS28. The number itself in our name was something we thought quite a lot about, so the other contenders were all variations on a similar theme.

      Every product has a code embossed in white – is this just a trendy emblem or do the codes have some significance?

      The codes are a distinctive part of our products – but more than that, it is part of our commitment to transparency and letting our customers know exactly what they are buying. Each code is made of three sets of numbers that corresponds to information about the material and origin of the product. We hope that through this, our buyers can feel at ease purchasing, using, and getting to know our creations. 

      The man bag has had a recent revival and you have quite a collection. What designs/ products are most popular amongst your customers at the moment? Do you have a favourite item from your collection? 

      The 157 Essential Sling has been a dark horse in our collection and has been garnering a lot of attention, especially from fashion enthusiasts. As for me, I’ve been really enjoying using our 132 Essential Case Pro. I’m really proud of this product, since it’s elegant in design and effective in organisation. 

      What are the main features a customer would expect from buying one of your man bags?

      Since we deeply value the balance between aesthetics, design and function, customers can expect to find smart organisation in all of our bags. We also only choose the best quality materials available to us, which is why you’ll find that we only use full-grain leather sourced from Italy. Opposed to other types of leather like top-grain leather or even PU leather, full-grain leather is extremely durable and can last for many decades if handled with proper care. 

      Founded in Asia, are your items available to purchase worldwide?

      Absolutely – we ship internationally from our independent online storefront. We’ve also recently launched a pop-up brick-and-mortar storefront in London in the UK, so locals are very welcome to come visit.

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

      I’ve been wearing a lot of COS lately, they have a lot of great stylish yet versatile items. I also always carry my GRAMS28 backpack, which will absolutely be coming back to our lineup soon – if it hasn’t already by the time of this publication.

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

      That’s quite the difficult question – I have my eye on Club Monaco’s store at the moment. I also regularly browse the New Norm Magazine for new inspiration and ideas. 

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

      I always feel drawn to other up-and-coming brands that have a meaningful vision. I’m looking forward to getting something from GREATS, a Brooklyn-founded sneaker brand, soon. Their Royale collection is definitely on my wish list.

      Boots or Shoes?

      Why not both? Style is your unique expression. 

      For pinning later

      Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc

      Check us out at! Ships internationally, and we have a lifetime warranty on all our products.

      Thank you Benjamin! What a lovely collection!

      Linda x

      All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Benjamin Chan (Grams28).

      Share This!
      Pin It

      Author Interview: Adrian Gordaliza Vega

      This week my guest is author Adrian Gordaliza Vega who has written an extremely topical book called “ The End Of Everything: A Society In Transition” …discussions on a variety of issues, posing questions and if you are interested in social issues from climate change to gender fluidity then this may be the book for you … a debate in a book! It certainly was thought provoking and I was very intrigued to find out from Adrian about his thought processes whilst writing his book …come and join me!


      “The End of Everything : A Society In Transition” is a thought-provoking book by Adrián Gordaliza Vega that explores various important topics of our time. It covers subjects like sex, relationships, the climate crisis, veganism, politics, gender fluidity, dating apps, social media, fake news, Covid-19, and LGBTQIA+ rights. It offers insights into the complexities of our society and the challenges we face.


      A big warm welcome to the blog, Adrian….

      Hello. My name is Adrián Gordaliza Vega. I am originally from Spain but I have lived in London for nearly 20 years. I was a language lecturer for several years but now I manage Premium Languages and Spencer-Vega Languages, providing language services (tuition, translation, etc.) for corporate clients and individuals.

      Who or what inspired you to write your book The End of Everything ?

      Probably a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). I had the feeling that I was not really understanding what was going on around me. I could account for the recent and profound changes in our society(non-binary gender, veganism, post-truth, identity wars, wokism, mental health problems, etc.) but I could not find the intellectual root that supported that vision. I knew there was one, because social changes like that are not random. I wanted to make the effort of understanding the cultural shift that we are living right now. The alternative would have been to sitdown in front of the TV and complain about the new generation and how much better mine was. I didn’t  want to be that cranky and frustrated man. 

      The End of Everything is certainly very thought-provoking, extremely topical and covers just about every social issue around!  I liked that every chapter had a theme, questions posed then discussed – and then summarised. It is a book you can dip in and out of, or read cover to cover (as I did!).  What topic did you find the hardest to write about and why?  

      Mmm, I would say the chapter about climate change was the most difficult. I was worried that I might give the impression that I didn’t care or that I don’t believe there are changes affecting our current way of living. However, we have to be very cautious with what we say in the name of “saving the planet” because sometimes it can be a very politically-charged expression used to justify other things like taxes, regulation, adopting expensive technologies that very few can afford, and so on. 

      For Pinning Later

      Were there any aspects of writing the book that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

      Of course. One of the things that I loved when writing the book was the research phase. I learnt so many things that made the whole process worthwhile for me personally, even if the book were neverpublished. On a less positive note, I guess the publishing industry is a tricky one. There are so manybooks published every year that it is difficult for them to make money. In practical terms it means thatmany mainstream publishing companies prefer to play safe or to sign TV personalities and YouTube stars.

      Being a Philosophy graduate with a Master’s in Contemporary Culture, what fascinates you most and originally attracted you to studying Philosophy?

      When I was very young I didn’t even know what philosophy was but there was one volume of my student encyclopedia that was dedicated to philosophy. I was curious, but almost everyone I asked about the subject just shrugged their shoulders. Others told me that it was something very complicated and difficult to understand. Wow, my interest suddenly increased. The challenge of understanding that “secret knowledge” played a big part. I guess that if I were born in the middle-ages I would be attracted to alchemy for the same reason. Today, I am very interested in the transition that we are experiencing from modernity to post-modernity. In particular, I’m fascinated by the effects that it has on our daily lives and how technology and economics shape most of those changes. 

      Are you a bookworm? Do you read other genres? Kindle or actual book?

      I am a bit of a bookworm, yes, but I am also very physical and need to exercise. I need to be on themove. I love reading but I am not the type who can stay on the beach with a book for hours. I want to swim, build sand castles with my daughter, climb over the rocks and explore… reading is a more intimate thing I do, preferably at home. In terms of the format I prefer traditional books, and if it has a hardcover with a large print, even better. 

      Is The End of Everything available to purchase worldwide? 

      This is one of the wonderful things of our age. The printed book is available on five continents thanksto amazon and the ebook is available worldwide to download via Kindle. The End of Everything: A society in transition by Adrián Gordaliza Vega(paperback, illustrated, £12.99, 2023) is published by PL Press and availablethrough all good bookshops & internet booksellers. It is also available in Spanish.

      Growing up had you always wanted to be an author and a philosopher – or did you have other career aspirations ?

      I did not have a very clear idea of anything when I was growing up… hence I studied philosophy. When I was a teenager I was an avid reader, mostly literature from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I always wanted to be in a job surrounded by books and teaching was the most likely option. As for writing, I had to do it anyway. Since a young age I have always written, whether I was jotting down ideas in a notebook, composing poetry for some unrequited love or writing letters to friends.

      Have you got a “favourite” weird/historical fact that you have uncovered whilstresearching for your book?

      I actually really enjoyed learning more about the Norwegian black metal movement of the 90s. I am not necessarily a fan of the style but it was so intense, so seemingly out of place (Norway has a reputation for being a quiet and peaceful place) and the story of Per Ohlin (Pelle) is so violent and sad that it left an impression on me. 

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

      Covid changed everything for me in terms of outfits and shoes. I used to  go everyday to the City or Mayfair to visit my clients/students. I enjoyed wearing a suit or a blazer (no tie) because it is so comfortable and you do not need to think too much in the morning. Now I am working from home most of the time and clearly my wardrobe has changed, but my wife works for Ralph Lauren and I still have some decent items. 

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

      Ah, this is a great example of how technology shapes our tastes and ourway of life. Thanks to the Instagram algorithm I discovered some online brands that otherwise I would never have known about. I have recently bought some clothes from a brand called Tailored Athlete. It is rather minimalistic in style and the perfect balance betweensmart and casual. It is also very comfortable and that is a big plus.

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

      I would love a cashmere jumper, please. 

      Boots or Shoes? 

      Boots. Always. They are so much more rock’n’roll.

      Links you would like to share:

      Spencer-Vega Languages:

      Instagram: #premiumlanguages

      Thank you very much Adrián for the interview and for the preview copy of your book.

      Linda x

      All photographs have been published with kind permission from Adrián Gordaliza Vega.

      Share This!
      Pin It

      Alle C Hall’s Book Tour

      I’m so pleased to join author Alle C Hall’s book tour for her fabulous book “As Far As You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back”. I received a copy of her book for reviewing and I found myself riveted from start to finish. As always, all my views expressed are 100% mine . Let me start with a book summary to whet your appetite, before welcoming Alle onto the blog!


      Carlie is not merely traveling. A child sexual abuse survivor, as a teen she steals ten thousand dollars from her parents and runs away to Asia. There, the Lonely Planet path of hookups, heat, alcohol, and drugs takes on a terrifying reality. Landing in Tokyo in the late 1980s, Carlie falls in with an international crew of tai chi-practicing backpackers. With their help, Carlie has the chance at a journey she didn’t plan for: one to find the self-respect ripped from her as a child and the healthy sexuality she desires.

      Publisher: Black Rose Writing

      ISBN-10: 1685131476

      ISBN-13: 978-1685131470

      Audio Book AISN: B0C3NVGNS

      Print Length: 267 pages

      Purchase a copy of the book on Amazon,, or Barnes and Noble. Make sure you also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

      About the Author
      Nominated for The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Book Award and—tis just in—winner of The PenCraft Book Award for Fiction – Adventure, Alle C. Hall’s debut literary novel, As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back was winning prizes before its publication, including the National League of American Pen Women’s Mary Kennedy Eastham Prize. Her short stories and essays appear in journals including Dale Peck’s Evergreen Review,Tupelo Quarterly,New World Writing,Litro, Creative Nonfiction, and Another Chicago. She has written for The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and was a contributing writer at The Stranger. She is the former senior nonfiction editor at jmww journal and the former associate editor of Vestal Review. Hall lived in Asia, traveled there extensively, speaks what she calls “clunky” Japanese, and has a tai chi practice of 35 years running


      Hello Alle, and a big warm welcome onto the blog! Please introduce yourself….

      Hello. My name is Alle, and I am in recovery from Bulimia, compulsive overeating, alcoholism, and sex and love avoidance. (Sorry for the default; that’s the only way I’ve introduced myself for 33 years!) I live in Seattle with such a great husband that after 25 years together, his kindness and humor and moral core still amaze me, given the kind of partner I was set up for. I have two sons, both young adults. I think they are launching wonderfully. 

      As Far As You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back” is your debut literary novel – and what a brilliant debut! Who or What made you decide to write a novel in the first place?

      I had been freelancing as a journalist, and had started to play with short fiction, I wrote some truly awful short stories. I mean, I’ve always been able to move a sentence right along, and I have a unique was of using words. But … a novel? Never occurred to me. Then, it did. I was at work—very low-paying job that involved a great deal of filing. One afternoon, I was filing away and hating it when I was flooded with the pain of having blown it. “Why didn’t I steal money and run away? I should have …. I should have … ”

      The truth being, children who are groomed from a very young age do not run away, We adapt to trauma, and so are unable to see life beyond abuse. But a child who wasn’t assaulted until she was twelve could run away. And boom: I had the story.

      Your book highlighted for me how quickly childhood sexual abuse can lead to problems with sexuality as an adult and other vulnerabilities/addictions. Were there any aspects of writing your book that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to relate than you expected? 

      I had no idea how to write a novel, so I just sat myself down one day every weekend and wrote for about ten hours. I did that for seven years, until I had a draft that I could edit. I had no idea how hard editing would be. It took me many, many more years to come up with the novel you read. 

      It was far easier than I thought it would be to explain trauma-things like, “triggered” or “abreaction.” In the first draft, I did a lot of hopelessly earnest explaining. By the time the book was accepted by a publisher, society had changed (thank you, Me,Too!) to the point that much of the lingo that were not commonly known when I first wrote the book, in the 1990s,were the a la mode.

      I love your writing style.  I went through a range of emotions – I wanted to reach out and comfort Carlie and her siblings during the “shed”  episodes,  I was angry at the abusers, I sympathised and understood Carlie’s reactions to situations whilst travelling, I was annoyed at her parents for not realising the damage they were doing, I was glad when  Tai chi entered her life,  I was elated when she settled in Tokyo, …. phew!  A rollercoaster of a novel but one that was utterly believable. Did you base your characters and situations on people you’ve met and places you’ve encountered?

      Thank you for that great compliment. It’s a primary reason we writers do what we do—to bring up all those feelings in readers. 

      In a very, very loose way, I based characters on people that I knew: my therapist, a dear friend, two lemons of guys that I met traveling. But the moment you take a set of basic characteristics—perhaps a way of speaking or long, lovely hair or a worldview—and you put them into a character, and then put that character into a situation, that character changes from the person you know IRL. And every page on which that character appears adds to that change, until you forget the person you might have started with and you have a real character, with a backstory and a specific motivation and a reason for being in the book besides his/her/their relationship with the main character.

      It never fails to amaze me, how characters just walk into the story. When Carlie first arrives in Tokyo, she ends up living in this big, old Japanese house that is based on one living situation I was lucky enough to find in Tokyo. My landlady and I got on like a house on fire, and so I put her gentle warrior self into to novel. Then I remembered a story a friend told me, a really beautiful and sad yet uplifting story, and I gave that to the landlady. So then she’s embedded. She glided into a couple more scenes. She’s one of my favorite characters.

      For pinning later

      Congratulations on your numerous awards and literary nominations for this novel -well deserved 😊 What advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to write novels that cover controversial topics?

      Thank you again for the congrats. To writers who want to write controversial topics, I would say three things. The first: just write. Don’t let anyone dissuade you from your vision. If someone cannot be supportive, they become someone you talk about something else; the Mets or whatever. 

      Secondly: don’t worry about sales trends. It can take years to find an agent and/or publisher, and once you sign a deal, it can take up to two years for your book to publish.

      Lastly: let go of trying to control the readers’ experience with your book. Write the book you wish had been around when you were going through whatever circumstances lead you to want to write about the topic. 

      Growing up, have you always hoped to have a career as a writer or did you have other aspirations?

      I thought I was passionate about several careers, but I didn’t have it within me to pursue them because of the trauma effect on my sense of self. I was frozen in a way that made me come across as spoiled and unpleasant, as an employee. I got fired quite a bit, or not hired back when my contract ended. 

      Are you a bookworm yourself? If so, what genres do you tend to go for? Book or kindle (ebook)?

      Oh, my gosh. Book! I am particularly drawn to stories by women of color. I resonate most with fiction, but as long as the story (rather than data or research) is predominate, I’ll happily read nonfiction. I wish I were better about reading poetry. Seems to me the poets have the most to say.

      Growing up, I was a bookworm. And I did a literature degree. But once I started writing, I had no time to luxuriate in books. It seems to me that of all the categories—family, friends, work, and fun with discretionary time—we get maybe two out of threeat any given time. I think it is possible to have everything; just not all at once. 

      Is “As Far as You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back” available to purchase worldwide?

      It’s in all the countries that Amazon sells in. If you want a store to stock it, or just order it for you, all you have to do is ask. I’d love that!

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

      I work at home, so I wake up, get out of my sleeping pajama, get into my sweats, and old t-shirt, and call it an outfit. When I’m putting on the dog, I go for Asian jackets with the button down the front over black slacks. I do like a sequined top. I have a dress cut like your classic little black with cap sleeves that is completely covered with sequins. It must weight twenty pounds. 

      Do not show me a pantsuit. I love Hilary, but she did us no favors in that respect..

      Do you have any favorite shops or online sites?

      I can’t buy clothes online. I have broad shoulders and—we’re all adults, here—big boobs, so things can hang weirdly. IRL, I like 

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

      So funny that you ask that. I have been eating Keto since June and I’ve lost 30 pounds that I very much needed to lose! Twenty more to go! But I am at the point where I desperately need to buy two- to three sizes smaller. I really want some stylin’ pants that hide a tummy but fit nicely across the tushie. Even when I was very heavy, I had nice buns, hun. 

      Boots or Shoes? 

      Sadly, shoes. I love a good boot, but the way boots are made, they prevent the ankle from moving freely. The constriction causes my legs to move awkwardly where they insert into my pelvis, and my lower back or neck risks going out of alignment. If I simply must wear boots, or any shoe a millimeter higher than a flat, I schedule a chiropractor appointment for the following morning.

      Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

      Sure! Thanks!

      Substack newsletter ​​



      My site:​​​


      Thanks so much for joining me on the blog Alle, for the preview copy of your book and for inviting me onto your book tour! It’s been a blast.

      Linda x

      The photos of the books, and the shoes were published with kind permission of Alle C Hall. The header and Pinterest photos are by Linda Hobden.

      Share This!
      Pin It