Category Archives: Books

Reckless Grace Book Tour

I’m so pleased to be on another book tour – this time it is to highlight “Reckless Grace” by Carolyn DiPasquale – a moving memoir or as Carolyn puts it, a mother’s crash course in mental illness.

BOOK SUMMARY

Fourteen-year-old Rachel guards a collection of secrets for ten years, journaling to vent her terror and loneliness.

Following Rachel’s fatal overdose years later, her mother, Carolyn DiPasquale, stumbles upon her daughter’s diaries. Shattered, she searches for answers, retracing her steps to figure out how parents and doctors missed three major mental illnesses.

What the single, working mother recalls is a far cry from what happens, as dramatically revealed in tandem chapters gleaned from Rachel’s journals. While the mother sprints from task to task, the daughter details the baffling emergence and frightening progression of bulimia, diabulimia, and borderline personality disorder; her eventual substance abuse; and heart-wrenching reasons for not seeking help.

Despite her loss, DiPasquale hopes her story lights a path for victims of mental illness while awakening all readers.

Publisher: E.L. Marker

ISBN-10: 1947966550

ISBN-13: 978-1947966550

ASIN: ‎B09W69TT11

Print length: 440 pages
Purchase a copy of Reckless Grace on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list

MY INTERVIEW

This book is brutally honest – and although it is a sad tale, it is also one that hopefully helps other parents to spot the signs of mental illness in adolescents that can easily be missed. There is a lot of love in this book too. And a lot of heartache. I am so honoured to have Carolyn join us on the blog …. welcome Carolyn…

Hi I’m Carolyn. I’m a follower of God, a wife, mother, grandmother, and new author.

What made you decide to write down your memoir about your beautiful daughter Rachel and her struggles with mental illness, diabetes, diabulimia, bulimia and substance abuse? 

My daughter’s extraordinary journals—twenty volumes penned over ten years. When I discovered them, I felt like I’d struck gold. Rachel was guarded, and her death was abrupt. These diaries would finally let me in. They would answer my gnawing questions. However, once her secrets started to surface, I knew they had to be shared. Other people, especially parents of teenage girls, would want to know how Rachel had fallen through the medical cracks and why she’d kept quiet for fourteen years.

Your book highlighted for me how quickly your daughter’s struggles with accepting her diabetes and trying to deal with puberty and wanting to be slim quickly escalated to eating disorders and substance abuse. I have heard of anorexia and bulimia and diabetes but never heard of “diabulimia”. Before your daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, had you heard of “diabulimia”? Do you think the diabetes diagnosis and subsequent treatments were to the catalyst for her succumbing to her eating disorders and substance abuse disorder?

I had never heard of diabulimia, nor have most of my readers; indeed, this term has been unfamiliar even to RNs who have been practicing for decades.

Though other factors were involved, Rachel’s diabetes diagnosis was the catalyst. Up until then she was a happy, slender fourteen-year-old. With insulin therapy, she gained 15 pounds, her new shape clashing with the waif-like female body type pop culture was pushing in 1998. Adolescence, as you guessed, also played a part. At a time when Rachel’s autonomy should have been taking flight, diabetes, with its strict food and insulin regime, clipped her wings. Tragically, she rebelled by turning against herself.

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

Nothing about writing this book was easy, except knowing in my bones that it had to be done. I expected it to be emotionally taxing, but I never dreamed it would be so intellectually taxing or time-consuming. I had to pore through hundreds of pages of Rachel’s journals, not just to plumb the meaning of her poetry and prose, but also to choose from among the sea of riveting entries. Next, I had to research diabulimia and Borderline and their link to substance abuse, reading and rereading highly technical studies that I labored to convey in simple language. Then I had to figure out how to work all this information into the story in a way that was logical and compelling. Another challenge was trying to reach both Christian and secular readers.I did not want to minimize my or Rachel’s faith. Nor did I want to proselytise . I ended up cutting quite a bit of spiritual content to find that sweet spot. 

I loved your writing style and the honesty that shone through. I was also impressed and moved by Rachel’s journals – her thoughts so eloquent yet heartbreaking too. Do you feel that journal writing was a therapeutic way for Rachel to cope with what was going on in her life? Was reading Rachel’s journals and writing this memoir therapeutic for you too?

Rachel journaled for a few reasons. First to unburden her tortured soul. But she also loved writing. She constantly read good books, mostly by contemporary writers—Alice Sebold, Toni Morrison, Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Berg. She liked to learn new words; and often defined these in the margins of her journals, applying them in that day’s entry. Mostly, Rachel wanted to be known. While guarding her deepest secrets from her family, she meticulously recorded her struggles, hoping, I can only guess, that after she died, we, and possibly a larger audience, might finally understand her.  

This project was therapeutic for me. Healing came not just from venting my emotions but also from understanding what had happened. Learning about Rachel’s disorders helped me grasp some of her baffling thought patterns and risky behaviors. Even her grip on substances and downward spiral started to make sense. My comprehension even of this tragic path somehow brought me peace. 

One thing I did feel was how easily signs of eating disorders and substance abuse can be missed by parents and by specialists and how easily addicts can “hide” the signs too. What is the main piece of advice you would give to a parent in a similar situation?

I didn’t talk to my kids enough about substances. I would caution parents to discuss this subject early and often. By early, I mean third or fourth grade, well before kids are exposed or enticed and when they still think Mom and Dad know a few things. By often, I mean monthly or at least several times a year. Parents shouldn’t lecture. These talks should be short and light—simple statements, suggestions, and questions that plant seeds about the insidious nature of alcohol and drugs so their kids make wise decisions when they grow up.

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

Writing has always been my first love. Being a novelist would have been my ideal career, but it wasn’t feasible as a single mother. I settled for teaching writing; it seemed like the next best thing.

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

I chain read good literature. After word processing all day, I wouldn’t think of reading on a Kindle. I reach for the book on my nightstand. There’s something soothing about smelling and turning real pages. Though I enjoyed reading the classics in college, now, like Rachel, I prefer contemporary literature,memoirs and fiction about family dynamics and relationships. I’m currently reading Ann Tyler’s Saint Maybe. Before that I read a new memoir by Cathryn Vogeley, I Need to Tell You and A Yellow Raft on Blue Water by Michael Dorris.

 Is “Reckless Grace” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes.

 What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to walk and hike in any season, especially in fall when the trees are breathtaking and the cool air is perfumed with the musk of fallen leaves. I love to shop at thrift and consignment stores.It’s such a rush to find treasures for nearly nothing. I enjoy talking with female friends over coffee or wine. I LOVE reading to my granddaughters. Four-year-old Lelia and two-year-old Essie sit on either side, crunched against me on the couch, like soft,sweet-smelling bookends. Church outreach—visiting people in nursing homes and hospitals or doing Bible studies with homeless women—also gives me joy.

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

I love quality clothes in flattering colors with good lines. Comfort is also key. In summer, when I’m home writing, I dress down: sleeveless linen top or cotton tee, Levi’s Bermudas, flipflops or bare feet. When I go out, I wear a linen or cotton maxi dress.

For Pinning Later

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I like TJ Maxx and Marshalls because they carry quality yet affordable shoes and clothes.

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

I’m always looking for that elusive linen jacket in oatmeal white with silver buttons. I had one once, but I literally wore it out.I’m also on the lookout for stylish (never Uggs) fleece-lined winter boots for those frigid winter walks.

Boots or Shoes? 

Please don’t make me choose between boots and shoes! I love them both! I recall the foreign but wonderful smell of Italian leather filling my bedroom when my mom bought my first pair of burgundy buckle shoes. I displayed them on my dresser. From then on, I was hooked. My love of boots followed. To my chagrin, we couldn’t afford the stylish “shoe boots” other girls wore. Now, I indulge myself. My favorites are a gorgeous pair of knee-length, black leather Coach boots with flat heels and silver buckles that the kids bought me one year for Christmas.

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

www.recklessgracestory.com

https://www.instagram.com/dipasqualecarolyn/

BOOK TOUR DATES

Thank you so much Carolyn for letting me be part of your Reckless Grace Book Tour – I really thought the book was interesting, thought provoking and I highly recommend it. Thank you for the review copy of Reckless Grace.

Linda x

All photographs has been published with the kind permission of Carolyn DiPasquale.

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An Interview With Rosie Wilby

From music journalist to musician performing at Glastonbury; from singer-songwriter to author; my blog guest, comedian and podcaster Rosie Wilby has been wowing audiences with her podcast ”The BreakUp Monologues” and the accompanying book and has toured some major world cities with her solo shows investigating love and relationships. She recently performed at the 2022 Margate Bookie Festival to promote her Break Up Monologues book. I’m so excited to welcome Rosie onto the blog …. hi Rosie!

I’m Rosie Wilby, a comedian and author who has been obsessively investigating the psychology of love for a decade for a trilogy of live shows, two books and a podcast. I’ve conducted surveys asking ‘what counts as cheating?’, participated in a sex lab experiment and even performed comedy at a sex party – all in the name of ‘research’. 

People know you as a comedian &  the podcaster on your podcast The Break Up Monologues; so what inspired the launch of the “The Break Up Monologues” and the accompanying book that has recently been published?

My fascination with breakups all started when I was dumped by email years ago. I did joke at the time that I felt better after correcting my ex-partner’s spelling. Ha! But in reality, of course, being dumped is such a bewildering experience. You lose yourself. So I really wanted to learn more about how heartbreak actually works – and ask other comedians and friends about how they recovered from it. 

You introduced the “The Break Up Monologues” at the recent Margate Bookie Festival; and you have performed solo shows investigating love & relationships with The Science of Sex and The Unconscious Uncoupling around various venues in the UK, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Berlin. What do you enjoy most about doing live shows?  Any notable incidents or highlights?

There’s something magical about communicating an idea or joke to a live audience. Although performers were glad of online events during the pandemic, it’s really not quite the same. The Breakup Monologues will be continuing to tour to lots of festivals this Summer. So look out for me and say hi! 

In the late 1990s you were a music journalist for Time Out London, NME and you had your own column “Rosie’s Pop Diary” in the now defunct Making Music Magazine. Interviewing stars such as Beth Orton, Suzanne Vega, Stereophonics (well jel😀) and the band, Muse;  did you interview anyone that made you a bit starstruck? Is there any musician,  alive or dead, you would have loved to interview if you had had the chance?

That all feels like a lifetime ago now. I was so young and naive! I once interviewed kd Lang and that was quite scary. She really is such a legend. 

Music also plays a big part in your life. What or who inspired you to become a singer-songwriter?   

I wrote songs from a very early age and formed my own band when I arrived in London in the 1990s. I think it just seemed like a great way to express myself. Especially for a shy young woman. It was only later in life, I was able to emerge from behind the guitar and do comedy. 

You performed at the Left Field Stage at Glastonbury in 2005. What was it like performing at such a prestigious music festival? What moments have personally stood out for you in your musical career?

Performing at Ronnie Scott’s was probably a bit of a highlight. They had us headline the Sunday night there back in 2000 when my album Precious Hours came out. 

Having performed on stage musically how easy or hard was it to step on stage to do stand up comedy?  What made you take the leap from music into stand up? 

My band broke up around the time my album came out. But I didn’t really enjoy performing solo. What I had noticed, however, was people laughing at my self-deprecating comments between the songs. So I entered a few comedy competitions, including Funny Women in 2006, and found myself getting through to the finals. 

Growing up Rosie, what were your initial career aspirations?  

Initially I wanted to be a cartoonist. I was obsessed with Snoopy and would spend time creating my own characters. 

Are your books, “Is Monogamy Dead?” and “The Break Up Monologues” available to purchase worldwide?

They certainly are. You can find them on most book sites or order from most book shops. I also narrated both of the audio books which you can download worldwide on Audible. 

Are you a bookworm?  If so, do you prefer “actual” books or kindle?  What genre(s) do you enjoy reading? 

I love actual book.

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

I love to be comfortable in jeans and a shirt. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I like getting clothes from All Saints. 

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

A really warm long winter coat. Although it’s the wrong time of year to be thinking about that I suppose. Ha. 

Boots or Shoes?

Trainers, particularly Vans. Do they count as shoes?? 

For Pinning Later

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

Check out The Breakup Monologues book at https://linktr.ee/breakupmonologues

Check out the podcast at www.podfollow.com/breakupmonologues 

Check out my news and gig list at http://rosiewilbynews.blogspot.com/

I’m on Twitter @rosiewilby and on Instagram @breakupmonologues and I’d love to hear from people there.

Thanks for the chat Rosie !

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Rosie Wilby.

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An Interview With Kevin Gaskell

Adventure with a capital A this week as I chat to my guest this week, business entrepreneur and adventurer Kevin Gaskell. Kevin has led 15 companies; has been CEO for BMW, Porsche and Lamborghini (GB); written a book; was a member of the crew that set a world record for rowing across the Atlantic; has played international cricket; climbed Mount Everest; has walked both the North and South Pole; played in a rock band; is a keen skier, scuba diver and enjoys clay pigeon shooting. In 2024, he will be attempting the world record for crossing the Pacific ….. Hi Kevin & welcome….

Hello! I’m Kevin and I would say that I am a businessman who enjoys adventure! An engineer and accountant by qualification, I have led 15 companies of which 7 have been turnarounds or in need of significant re energising. I enjoy the challenge of building extraordinary companies and building world class teams. Outside the office, I maintain my enjoyment of adventure by my pursuit of extreme physical challenges. 

Being an entrepreneur and adventurer, what was the inspiration behind your book “Catching Giants” ?

The book is written with 3 elements – firstly the adventure story of how 5 novice rowers took on the world’s toughest row, won the race and set a new world record for the fastest crossing despite being hammered by storms and capsizing the boat in the middle of the ocean. Secondly, how did we use planning and preparation to defeat stronger and more experienced rowers including Olympic oarsmen. Thirdly, the lessons that we learned from the experience and how those lessons of becoming world class can be applied by anyone to their lives or their business.   

“Catching Giants” provides 80 step by step lessons/advice for business world leaders & having built 15 companies and have been CEO of BMW, Porsche & Lamborghini, what was the best business  advice you received from someone that you’ve passed on? 

The best advice that I was ever given was to focus on getting better at whatever you are setting out to do. If you do that, then bigger will follow. Do not chase numbers, rather build a great business.

It’s an understatement to say that you’re a serial adventurer – you are always on the go!  From being part of the crew that set a new world record for rowing across the Atlantic (in 2020), climbing Everest ( I haven’t climbed Everest – yet) , playing International cricket, walking both Poles and in 2024 you will be attempting the world record for crossing the Pacific.  Who or what first inspired your love of adventure? 

I grew up in North Wales and have been climbing mountains since I was about 12 years old. My love of outdoor adventure has just grown from there… Each adventure gets a bit bigger and a bit more extreme but it feels like a natural progression.

So, as we are talking adventure, I guess you don’t do tame hobbies!  What do you enjoy doing in your spare time or to relax? 

I enjoy clay pigeon shooting, playing guitar in a rock band and reading business books.

Back to business, as  you have had vast experience working with entrepreneurs, pioneers and global brands, what projects gave you a real buzz? 

The biggest buzz ever was leading the turnaround of Porsche. The business was in a very difficult position and, to my complete surprise, I was appointed MD of the UK operation. We had lost 90% of our sales and were in last place on the UK customer satisfaction survey. We had a mountain to climb but with every single member of a fantastic team pulling together for 4 years we led the business to the top of the table for customer satisfaction and thereby, profitability. It really was an incredible result. I have also enjoyed building technology businesses where we have turned good ideas into successful and valuable companies.   

In a similar vein, what type of adventures give you a real buzz?  

The Atlantic row was very special. Physically it was extreme exertion at a whole new level. We were rowing 2 hours on, 2 hours off for 24 hours every day for 36 days. With very limited opportunity to sleep, by day 12 or so we were hallucinating and each rowing shift was a trial. But we were an amazing team – we started as friends and we finished as friends despite the enormous physical hardship.

 As a child, what was your dream career? 

I always wanted to be a civil engineer and build exciting structures. So that’s what I did. My first degree was in Civil and Structural Engineering and I enjoyed every minute of it. After 4 years on construction sites though I realised that my ambition to build inspiring structures was, in reality, more likely to be digging drainage alongside a new motorway construction. At that point I decided that I needed to broaden my skillset and I went back to university to study for an MBA before moving into accountancy for 5 years.  

If you could visit any place in the world – either to pursue an adventure or to just holiday – where would you go and why?

I would love to trek through the Andes.

Is your book “Catching Giants” available to purchase worldwide? 

Yes, via Amazon.

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

Jeans, open neck shirt, sneaker type shoes – unless I’m going to a formal meeting in which case it would likely be a jacket and trousers and Chelsea boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ? 

I like SportPursuit for sports and semi-expedition gear, otherwise I tend to buy Gant shirts and Levi jeans.  

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

I have just been measured up for my first ever bespoke business suit. This was with Alexandra Wood and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. the accessories will follow in a few months when I have the suit.

Boots or Shoes?

Chelsea boots generally. I think they are more comfortable and interesting.

For pinning later photo by Linda Hobden ©

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

Website: kevingaskell.comlinkedin.com/in/kevin-gaskell, Instagram: kevin_gaskell, Twitter: @kevindgaskell

Wishing you all the best Kevin with your 2024 Pacific crossing attempt!!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kevin Gaskell (apart from the Pinterest & header photo which are by Linda Hobden)

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Author Interview: Asya Semenovich

Summertime and the weather is balmy, lay on a sunbed and while away the hours with a good book …. so say me! 😊 And I have another great book to recommend and add on to your reading list – ”Fire Of The Dark Triad” by Asya Semenovich – a psychological sci-fi page turner. It is a futuristic tale of power, lust, betrayal and obsession. I loved it! Thanks to Ben Cameron for forwarding me a copy for reviewing.

BOOK SUMMARY

The ”Dark Triads” are a group of humans born with a DNA that makes them dangerous and for centuries they have wreaked havoc on Earth. Dark Triads are a rare breed, however, and display elements of narcissism. The Earth’s rulers tried to purify the human race by removing this particular gene from future generations…. but civilisation on Earth has become…. ”boring”?! Anyway, people on Earth now lacked creative spirit, so Earth’s leaders recruited an elite group of Head Hunters to recruit Dark Triads from other planets to come back to Earth. Meet Nick, the best of the Head Hunters, whose routine mission didn’t go exactly to plan….


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

I am so pleased to welcome onto the blog author Asya Semenovich ….hello Asya!

Thank you, Linda! Hello, I am Asya. I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, lived there until the time when the iron curtain started lifting, and in 1992 I left for graduate studies in the US. I got my PhD in Mathematics in 1997 from the Penn State University. After graduation I joined a tech start up, and later I worked in financial technology on Wall Street . I started writing my novel Fire of the Dark Triad while working full time as an Executive Director in Morgan Stanley. I really liked my job, but the book was progressing too slowly, and eventually I decided to leave my full-time position to focus on writing.

I live in New York, the city I love, with my husband and a daughter.

“Fire Of The Dark Triad” is a futurist tale of power, lust, betrayal and obsession. Where did you draw the inspiration to write this futuristic novel? 

I always wanted to write about things I was passionate about – freedom, especially, freedom of creative expression, the soul crushing reality of totalitarian regimes, the dangers of genetic engineering, the nature of creativity in various areas of human activities, the power of love and the great lengths people are willing to go for it.

When I learned about the psychological concept of the Dark Triad, I found that it could serve would serve as a rich and exciting basis for a sci-fi futuristic novel, and at the same time help me weave together the themes that I wanted to explore with my readers.

The Dark Triad recognizes the interplay between three character traits: Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy. Individuals described by this syndrome have little regard for others in their desire to get what they want. Many autocratic leaders such as Vladimir Putin  are perfect examples of this kind of person. In fact, in the sequel to The Fire of the Dark Triad, I’ve based the major antagonist on him. 

Can you tell us a bit about the interesting or exciting projects you are working on or wish to create?

Currently, I’m working on an audio version of the novel and the sequel which will follow many of the original characters on a new adventure.  

I have to thank my many readers for inspiring me to pursue the sequel. I thought that I said everything I wanted to say in my first novel.  But many of my readers said that they wanted to know what happened to Nick and the other characters in their world. I also realized that there were many more ideas, I could share in a new book. 

The main theme of the sequel is the nature of manipulation:  by governments, by the media, by other people. As I thought about it, I found that the scariest part of this issue is just how easily people tend to embrace being manipulated. Perhaps it is because they feel more comfortable abandoning their free will and following someone else’s agenda. I wanted to make people think about it and search for the reason why it happens. Since the principal goal of Dark Triads is to manipulate others to do their bidding, it seemed the perfect way to continue the story.  

I also continue to deepen our understanding of the relationship between creativity and the Dark Triad syndrome. I read an article  in Harvard Business Review regarding this very issue. It states in part that “… the very thinking patterns that define the creative process and help lead to original thinking can have a maladaptive side. For example, creativity requires the inability to suppress irrelevant thoughts and inappropriate ideas.” In the sequel, I portray this connection from many different angles and pose the complex ethical problems they can cause.

 I loved the variety of characters – Who were the hardest characters to portray? Who were the easiest?  

While I tried to make all the characters multilayered and complex, the most challenging to portray was Nick, the protagonist and headhunter of Dark Triads. I wanted to write a believable male character by telling the story from his POV. It wasn’t easy, especially portraying the romantic and sexual interactions between Nick and other characters, and I am very grateful to my early readers for the feedback. 

The easiest character was the artist, Reish because I could identify with her on a deep personal level. 

I loved the main character Nick – and also the fiery flirty Lita. Do you have favourite characters? 

My favorite character is Nick, which isn’t surprising – we spent so much time together, and he was always a good company to have around thanks to his sense of humor, intensity and charm.

Lita is my other favorite character. Not only is she fiercely independent, but she is no afraid to fight for she believes in against all odds. The real life event that inspired me create her character occurred in 1968,four days after hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops poured into Czechoslovakia to crush the reforms of the Prague Spring. Eight Soviet citizens went into Moscow’s Red Square and held up banners denouncing the invasion and apologizing to the people of Czechoslovakia. These eight people knew in advance that the KGB would arrest them, but they decided they would risk their own safety to underscore their shame at their country’s behavior. Some were sentenced to lengthy terms in forced-labor camps in Siberia, some sent to psychiatric prisons, notorious for their cruelty, and some were forced into prolonged exile in remote, barren regions of the country. I wrote Lita to celebrate these heroes of freedom.

Were there any aspects of writing “Fire of The Dark Triad” that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

I was surprised that the complexities of the main story and the various subplots came as easily as they did.  When I came upon plot point that was a challenge, I focused on my characters and let them lead me to a resolution. For instance, if Nick were caught between a rock and hard place, I would ask myself “What would be his next step? How would he get out of the situation?” And, he led me to find a solution.

If “Fire Of The Dark Triad” was to become a TV film, who would you pick to represent the main characters eg Nick, Lita, Hilgor, Reish, Elizabeth? 

I would love Nick to be played by Alexander Skarsgard. I had his picture (as Eric from the series True Blood) on my wall during the time when I was writing Fire of the Dark Triad. He was the inspiration for Nick – funny, sarcastic, intense and fantastically good looking just like genetically improved people I describe in the future Earth in the book.

I can imagine Jennifer Lawrence as a perfect Lita; Daniel Craig as Hilgor; Denée Benton as Reish, and Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. 

Have you always wanted to have a career in writing or did you actually have other career aspirations? 

Ernest Hemingway, who was a major influence on my writing, once said: “In order to write about life, first you must live it.” I think I happened to do exactly as he advised, albeit unintentionally. 

Writing has always been my passion, but I didn’t have a chance to dedicate myself to it for a while. There were so many interesting things to explore in my life. I love theoretical mathematics, so I trained as a mathematician. Once I got my degree, my curiosity pushed me out of the ivory tower in the financial world. I worked on emerging technologies on Wall Street. It was an intense but fascinating experience where I met a host of interesting personalities. I used many of these life experiences in my novel.

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

Yes, I love to read, always have. Naturally, speculative fiction is one of my favorite genres. Michael Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita was a huge inspiration on me. I even used a short quote from it as an epigraphic to Fire of the Dark Triad. Bulgakov’s antagonist Voland asks: “What would your good be doing if there were no evil, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it?” It encapsulates one of the major themes of my novel: the conflict presents by Dark Triad in society. Julio Cortázar’snovel The Pursuer has been my artist manifesto since I read it as a college student. Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris is another example of a book that influenced my writing. William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Jeff Vandermeer’s Veniss Underground are two current sci fi works which I admire as well.  

I vastly prefer reading printed books over ebooks. However, it presents only one inconvenience: a reliable way to locate a title in my library. No amount of arranging and rearranging my books by themes, periods, genres has ever helped me find a book when I want it. Sometimes I spend hours looking for a particular book on my bookshelves, and them I give up and buy a replacement just to find the original copy a week later. As you can imagine, I have many duplicates.  Otherwise paper over a screen, always. 

 Is “Fire Of The Dark Triad” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, it is on every major bookselling platform online.

If you could travel to any place on Earth to get inspiration for your next novel, where would you go and why? 

I would love to visit North Korea. It is a country that is deeply affected by the manipulation of media. I would be very curious to know what everyday people in North Korean actually think, what they believe, how many know that the world outside of their country is completely different. Since the sequel is based on the premise of the power of political and psychological manipulation and the willingness of people to accept it without question, what has happened to North Korea over its many autocratic regimes is a living example of the theme.

You was born and brought up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and emigrated to the USA in 1992.  What have you found are the main differences between the two countries?  What things have you missed from Uzbekistan? What things do you enjoy about the USA? 

I enjoy the freedoms to say and write what I want in the US. It is much more restricted in my home country. I do miss the rich cultural history of Uzbekistan and its food (although you can get more of it in New York City than any other place in the US).

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

My style can be described as Cyberpunk. I fell in love with this style as a teenager before I knew what Cyberpunk was, and over the years my devotion to this style has only been growing. To understand the style and distinguish it from goth, steampunk, rave, and industrial looks, one needs to remember the formal definition of Cyberpunk: “a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a “combination of lowlife and high tech.” The cyberpunk fashion “speaks” to an urban dystopian landscape affected by highly advanced developments in science and technology. New York is a perfect example of this environment and my personal style fits right in. I love wearing black, a cyberpunk staple, zippers over buttons, snaps, loads of pockets and of course boots. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My absolutely number one place to check for new arrivals every season is Y-3 by Adidas – a Japanese Style Cyberpunk Clothing Store in the style of Yohji Yamamoto. I have more items from this brand than from any other by a wide margin: my favorite boots, shoes, jackets, sweaters, hats are from Y-3. I originally ran into this store walking my dog in Soho, several blocks from where I live. I looked into the store window, stepped in and that was it. In fact, I love this brand so much that I named one of the main planets in Fire of the Dark Triad Y-3.I imagined its inhabitants all wearing Y-3 brand outfits! I recently mentioned it in the store, and salespeople were greatly amused. 

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

While I am waiting for the new arrivals to Y-3 store, I fantasize about wearing the outfit Del from Fire of the Dark Triad wears on Y-3. The upper part of her dress is a tight bodysuit made of soft gray materialthat covers the arms, chest and waist. At the hips it explodes into a haystack skirt of fluorescent red and white ribbons. The accessories are high-wedged white leather boots and black wristband studded with large pink stones. 

This dress is number one on my theoretical wish list.

Boots or Shoes? 

The answer is obvious because of the cyberpunk theme – boots, boots and boots of course! Plus, they are perfect for New York City streets. 

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

For pinning later

My website darktriadbooks.com is dedicated to Fire of the Dark Triad, the soon to be published audio version, and its sequel. It has a page where I share reviews, updates on the progress of my projects, an option to subscribe to a newsletter to get news via email automatically.  

Thank you very much for chatting with us today Asya 😊. My thanks to you and Ben Cameron for the copy of the book for reviewing.

Photographs  of Asya only are by Michel Nafziger https://www.michelnafziger.com

Photographs featuring the book are by Linda Hobden.

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Son Of The Secret Gardener

As a child, one of my favourite books I loved to read was the great children’s classic, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The novel was published in 1911 and the story was based on her own beautiful and extensive garden at Maytham Hall in Rolvenden, Kent. The knowledgeable gardener in the novel was based on her Head Gardener, George Owen Millum, and he and his son, George Charles Millum, worked in various gardens in south England. Years later, Trevor Millum, grandson of George Owen and son of George Charles, discovered the gardening diaries from 1935 and 1949 of his father, detailing their day to day jobs and lives as gardeners in some of the grandest gardens in England. After doing some research, Trevor has now published a book based on the diaries with original snippets from the diaries, photographs, and charming illustrations by Twink Addison. ”Son Of The Secret Gardener” is just a fascinating account of life as a gardener in the 1900s and I caught up with Trevor to find out more – Hi Trevor!

Hello 😊 Trevor Millum here – writer and gardener, currently reading and weeding in North Lincolnshire.

What inspired you to tell the story of your father and grandfather? 

I’d always been interested in the family tales of Maytham Hall (Frances Burnett Hodgson’s home) and the gardens of the ‘big houses’ but I never had time – or perhaps the nudge I needed – to take my interest any further until I retired. I started sorting through my father’s papers from the loft and discovered so many intriguing things not just about my dad but also about his father that I had to something more than just put them back in store. There was a story that had to be told!

I found your father’s gardening diaries absolutely fascinating, even though I am not much of a gardener! I was amazed at just how much work went into keeping the estate gardens immaculate and how they kept going even in inclement weather.  Were there any aspects of the stories/work mentioned in the diaries that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?  

Yes, the amount of hard work was astonishing – and the repetition too. Days of pricking out plants, planting bulbs, sowing seeds…  I was also struck by the amount of time and effort given to cut flowers for the house. Another thing was the deadly pesticides and fungicides that were used; some of the things we still use today are bad but many of these were deadly!

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel “The Secret Garden” was my favourite book as a child growing up, so I was thrilled to discover that your grandfather was Head Gardener of Burnett’s estate at Maytham Hall in Rolvenden, Kent and that her book was based around her beautiful garden and your grandfather was the inspiration behind the gardener in the novel.  So, I am assuming you read the novel as a child, what characteristics did Frances give to the gardener that immediately made you think of your grandfather?  What other aspects of The Secret Garden novel resonated with you?

I didn’t make any connections when I first read the novel!  It only struck me later that my grandfather must have been the gardener at Maytham Hall while Frances was there. I then thought, well, he was a bit of a gruff fellow and so is Ben Weatherstaff (the gardener in Burnett’s book) …  But he must have been well liked by the staff because when he left they all signed a card with a fulsome dedication and ‘a purse’.  A walled garden has always had a fascination for me and here was the most famous one in literature! 

Growing up, have you always wanted to be an author or a gardener like your father & grandfather or did you have other career aspirations in mind?

There’s a poem I wrote about this which is in the preface of the book. My dad always said to me ‘Don’t be a gardener’ and that was because in his line of work the pay was so poor and he thought I could do better. So I never considered it as a career. I did, however, write stories and poems from an early age – but I always kept the day job!

The bricked up entrance to the walled garden which is presumed to be the old entrance to the Secret Garden at Maytham Hall.

 In your father’s diaries, he seems to have done a lot of weeding, mowing , pruning and potting, near enough on a daily basis?  Are you a keen gardener?Which gardening jobs do you find therapeutic and which do you find a chore? 

I don’t mind a bit of weeding and I enjoy pruning and general pottering. I’m not keen on mowing but we’ve gradually eaten into the lawn in order to have more room for interesting things, like plants so now it takes very little time.  We’re both pretty keen gardeners, my wife and I, so we share the work. It’s worth it, especially in spring when everything starts burgeoning.

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

Yes, I always have two or three books on the go – fiction and non-fiction. I don’t really have a favourite author – I tend to go for word of mouth recommendations or books my children buy me.  I have a Kindle for convenience. I like books with interesting illustrations like ‘The Lost Words’ and you have to have a real book for that. 

Example of 1935 diary

Is “Son Of The Secret Gardener” available to purchase worldwide?

It’s available on Amazon, and other internet booksellers, so yes!

 If you could visit any famous gardens in the world, where would you go and why?

I have visited some lovely gardens and I think I would like to return to some of them rather than go to new ones. I loved Monet’s garden but of course it gets very crowded. There are some gardens in France that we’ve visited more than once – Maizicourt and the Agapanthuis Garden, for instance.

Illustration by Twink Addison

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

If I’m in the garden, a pair of crocs, jeans, shirt and sleeveless body-warmer – is that a gilet? And a hat usually.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

The Hive for books and eBay for most everything else!

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

A new hat.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes unless I’m out for a proper walk. Boots take too long to fasten and unfasten. Espadrilles for holidays… 

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

For Pinning Later

www.mouseandmuse.co.uk     www.readingpictures.co.uk     
Facebook: trevor.millum

A perfect gift for all garden lovers, Son of the Secret Gardener by Trevor Millum(illustrated by Twink Addison) was published on 4th April 2022 by Quadrant Books (paperback, RRP £11.50) and is available through books shops and internet booksellers.

Thank you very much to Trevor for the preview copy of Son Of The Secret Gardener for reviewing and for agreeing to be interviewed! I did find your book very interesting!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Trevor Millum ; apart from the pinterest and header photo which are of my own garden 😊

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Until Next Sunday Book Tour

I’m so pleased to be on another book tour – this time it is to highlight an absolutely beautiful book, ”Until Next Sunday” by Audry Fryer. This historical romance is based on a true love story told via love letters.

BOOK SUMMARY

Rosina leaves Italy to build a better life, but the reality in America is nothing like the dream. She is far from the Italian countryside and the beautiful olive groves where she grew up. Here the work is endless, and the winters are cold and desolate. She never expects to find love in such a place. 
Then she met him. Gianni, the shoemaker’s apprentice, is gentle, handsome, and everything she never knew she needed in her life. 
But when Rosina falls ill and is quarantined, their future is at stake. All she can do is cling to the beautiful letters Gianni writes. Each week she tries to survive the long, lonely days until next Sunday for his brief visit. 
Will fate bring Rosina and Gianni together once more? Or are they destined to remain star-crossed forever? 
Until Next Sunday is a sweet Historical Romance inspired by a true story. It is based on actual Italian love letters which were discovered a century after they were written (some of which are contained in this book.) It is a portrait of the times, and a true immigrant experience. Feel the force with which these two lives find love, against all odds.

MY INTERVIEW

I was lost in a world of my own as soon as I started the first page and I really loathed to put the book down – a real page turner. Being based on a true story made the romance even more special so I couldn’t wait to chat with Audry about her collaboration with the family whose love this novel was based on and her delightful book. Hi Audry and welcome 😊

Hi, I’m Audry Fryer, author of Until Next Sunday. I have been writing fiction for over ten years. I have self-published two women’s fiction ebooks and one short story on Amazon prior to writing my latest historical romance novel. I live in Southeastern PA with my husband, three teen children, and two pugs, Pickles and Waffles. My oldest son is about to graduate high school. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, working in my flower and vegetable gardens, hiking the local trails near me, or reading a good book.

Who or what inspired you to research and write  “Until Next Sunday”?

When my husband’s uncle remarried, his wife, Laurie, had a collection of over a hundred love letters from her grandparents. She had worked with her two other sisters, Linda and Susan, to get the letters translated from Italian to English. When they could finally read the letters, the sisters were astonished by the story they told. They first pursued creating a screenplay but were advised to begin with a novel. Knowing I had self-published, Laurie asked me to write the story and I enthusiastically agreed!.

I found your latest book, “Until Next Sunday,” delightful yet sad too in places. I was amazed at how Rosina was treated both in hospital by the staff and by her own brother and his not-so-lovely wife-  and how she was virtually a prisoner due to her illness  – and how she and Gianni were able to maintain a relationship via letter writing and weekly visits. When you were researching, were there any aspects of the stories told that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

The letters held many surprises for me. They are love letters so I expected them to have ovations of love. And there are so many beautifully written romantic overtures. However, I wasn’t expecting how honest and emotionally charged the letters would be. Rosina and Gianni didn’t hold anything back from each other! They shared their day-to-day experiences, their fears, their frustrations, and their hopes and dreams. Their personalities shown through their words. Rosina had a flair for the dramatic and Gianni held steadfast in his love for her. Plus, I was amazed how long Rosina remained in the hospital system. And, I was fascinated by her stories of living in the sanitarium in Malvern.  

I know that  “Until Next Sunday” was inspired by a true story  –  I, of course, loved both Rosina and Gianni;  but I took an instant dislike to Nurse Edna! What characters did you find the hardest to portray?  Any favourites?

Nurse Edna was among the “villains ” in the story. These “villain” characters were fictional yet I tried to make them accurate to the type of people Rosina most likely encountered. I enjoyed creating the character of Nurse Edna and the unhinged character of Elizabetta at the sanitarium. However, Dr. Solomon was difficult to portray. I needed him to be threatening but not too overt in his advances. Also, I enjoyed writing about Rosina’s family in Italy, especially Seraphina, her “evil stepmother,” her cousin Filomena, and her Aunt Teresa.

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

Growing up, I was always being creative in different ways. Originally, I pursued a career in teaching. I have Bechelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. I spent many years substitute teaching in the elementary schools and teaching pre-school. I still work part-time with pre-school and elementary homeschool students with tutoring instruction. 

When my boy and girl twins were born and my oldest was two and a half, my days of leaving the house to teach were put on hold. That’s when I decided to pursue my interest in writing. I loved to read and felt inspired to try my hand at writing a novel. 

Audry’s adorable pugs – Pickles and Waffles

 Are there any new writing plans in the pipeline?

Right now, I don’t have a project that I’m working on. There’s been interest in adding onto Until Next Sunday with either a prequel, a sequel, or a short story. So, I’m open to that. Plus, I have other novel ideas I’d like to develop.

At the moment, I’m planning to expand my website to be resource for readers with helpful articles about book and reading-related recommendations.

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

I love to read. However, I’m a slow reader because I like to fully imagine the story (like a movie in my head) rather than skim it. My favorite genre is women’s fiction, historical fiction, and suspenseful fiction. Right now, I’m reading The Lost Apothecary and loving it. I read on an older Kindle that only displays books and no other distractions.

 Is “Until Next Sunday” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, Until Next Sunday is widely distributed. Although most of our sales have been through Amazon, the eBook is distributed through Smashwords to popular vendors including Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, and more.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why? 

Italy is on the top of my wishlists to visit. I’d like to tour the Campania area where Rosina called home, plus the surrounding regions of Tuscany and Rome. Also, I’d love to tour most of Eastern Europe and the UK. I find it so inspiring to explore new places.

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

To go out, I like to pair a pretty top or sweater with a pair of jeans. At home, I’m usually in active wear, yoga pants or joggers and a t-shirt or hoodie. For shoes, I live in sneakers in the spring and fall. In the winter, you’ll find me in cozy boots. In the summer, I adore wearing my aqua blue crocs around my house.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I got into using Stitch Fix when the pandemic limited shopping at stores. But I often frequent Target and Famous Footwear. When I go to the outlets near me, I shop American Eagle, Anne Taylor Loft, and Eddie Bauer. 

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

My daughter talked me into buying a cute pair of white Berkinstock sandals. They’re both comfy and a great look. They were on my wishlist for a while. Now I need a couple of sundresses to wear to my daughter’s upcoming dance recital and my son’s graduation ceremony. 

Boots or Shoes?

Since I own more pairs of boots, I’ll go with “boots” over “shoes.” I like the look and comfort of boots. 

For Pinning Later

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

The best place to learn more about Until Next Sunday is my website: https://www.audryfryer.com/until-next-sunday/

You’ll find purchasing links there. And I’ll list them here:

Amazon:

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1132176

Apple Books

https://books.apple.com/us/book/until-next-sunday/id1609872396

Barnes & Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/until-next-sunday-audry-fryer/1141003188?ean=2940165782619

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/until-next-sunday

For my social media, go to:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/AudryFryerWriter/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/audryfryerauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AudryFryer

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/awdry/_saved/

Thank you so much Audry for letting me be part of your Until Next Sunday Book Tour – I really enjoyed reading the book and was mesmerised by the story that unfolded. Thank you for the review copy of Until Next Sunday. I look forward to the sequel …. hint hint 😊

Linda x

All photographs were published with kind permission of Audry Fryer

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Spotlight on Margate Bookie Festival

Oh I do like to be by the seaside …. and I do like to read a good book … and when you put the two together … it’s definitely worth having a look!”

OK, my poetry skills may need polishing but I can’t think of a better place to wallow in everything books, writing and storytelling. From the first tiny audience of 80 people in 2015, the Margate Bookie Festival has grown to 5,000 a year. In 2022, The Margate Bookie Festival will be running from 2nd June to 5th June with a bumper programme of workshops, book launches, author readings, live performances, poetry recitals…. all by the sea! I caught up with CEO & Founder Andreas Loizou to find out more…Hi Andreas!

Hi! I’m Andreas, and I started the Margate Bookie in a single room in a warehouse in 2015. The Bookie’s grown in ways that I never imagined. We now host a four-day day litfest at different venues in Margate, including the iconic Turner Contemporary gallery. Audiences are bigger, more people want to get involved, and I no longer have to explain where Margate is.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of the Margate Bookie Festival?

I wanted the events that didn’t exist when I was a bookish youngster growing up in the town. It was fun from very the first moment. Everyone told me I had to continue. So I did!

Margate is heaven for writers. Big skies, lots of cafes and bars, long strolls along the huge beaches. We’re lucky that so many want to come down to Margate to talk about their work.

What are going to be the main attractions of the 2022 Margate Bookie?

It’s a big festival this year. Really big. The line-up includes Maggie Gee, Dr Radha Modgil, Daisy Buchanan, Lauren Bravo, Rosie Wilby, Jude Cook and Felicity Hayward. I’m knocked out that Monique Roffey, who won the Costa Book of the Year, is joining us. And we’ve got children’s events, a poetry slam, the launch of our zine, hip hop and workshops. And it all finishes with a special live reading of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land directed by Richard Skinner, who heads up the Faber & Faber Novel Writing Academy.

You are going to be launching your own new book “The Story Is Everything” at the Margate Bookie this year – an enjoyable experience I’m sure it will be – do you get nervous at book launches? What do you think is so special about launching a new book at a book festival?

I split the world into two types of party people – you’re either a host or a guest. I’ve held a party every year since I was eight, so I don’t really suffer from party fears.

Writing a book is a big commitment. The Story is Everything took a year to write and a year to revise and edit. It’s good to mark its appearance in the wider world. There’s something magical about seeing your original ideas printed in a beautiful book. It’s a moment to celebrate, the time to crack open a bottle of champagne as she slides down the slipway…

Apart from being founder of the Margate Bookie and an author, you also teach business storytelling and writing skills at companies and universities around the world. What does that entail?

I’ve taught courses all over the world to many different types of people. NGO workers from Madagascar, bankers in Rome, security chiefs in the shadow of a heavily-guarded oil terminal jutting into the Thames. All of my lovely students want to influence how their readers think, feel and act. They want to feel confident and in control as they write, and proud of what they publish. They smart ones are very clear about what they want to avoid – dull, corporate and boring are all on the shit list!

Have you always wanted a career in the world of literature or did you have other aspirations?

I’ve always wanted to do too many things. I like to be challenged and to learn. I’ve still got a lot more books to write.

What advice would you give to anybody thinking of starting a career in writing?

The more you imagine a single reader, the more your writing connects with many different people.

When I prepare my work, I always visualise the same listener, Clare, sitting in the chair opposite me. She’s a smart person, but not an expert in my subject. She has high standards when it comes to grammar, logic and presentation, but she’s also supportive and forgives my mistakes. If I keep Clare in her chair just through my words, I know I’m on the right track.

Think more about the writing than the career.

Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear at the Margate Bookie? Any “lucky socks”??

The Bookie is normally held during warm months, so there’s no chance for me to wear my lucky writing cardigan. Looking through the photos of the last seven years, it’s clear that red Campers and old Paul Smith workshirts have been staples.

Boots Or Shoes?

Got to be shoes. I cover a lot of ground during the litfest!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about the Margate Bookie

www.margatebookie.com
@margatebookie on TW, FB and Insta

Photographs by Ben and published with kind permission. Header/Pinterest photo by Linda Hobden

Linda x

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Author Interview: Geoffrey Paris

I recently read a memoir/true behind the scenes account of a hotel manager spanning over four decades. The book, “More Sauce Madam? The Adventures Of A Hotel Manager” by Geoffrey Paris was an interesting account of how a shy and awkward young man coped with working long hours and being faced with embarrassing incidents from naked guests to drunken porters; and his gradual climb through the hospitality sector to become hotel manager, enduring fraudulent proprietors, incompetent waiters, con artist customers, prima donna popstars, royalty and love interests along the way. The book was an entertaining read, and it gave me an insight into the working lives of my own daughter who is a food and beverage manager (previously in hotels) and both my son and son in law who are both Head Chefs previously in hotels but both now cook in restaurants. I thought the book also gave an honest account of what to expect when working in the hospitality industry, especially useful if that is your intended career path. There is some swearing in the book and there are some adult themes discussed but neither are distracting the book flow. I received a complimentary copy of ”More Sauce Madam? The Adventures Of A Hotel Manager” for review purposes and my views are 100% my own.

So, after reading the book I managed to get a chance to chat to Geoffrey
Paris about his memoirs. Hi Geoffrey and welcome…

Hello! I’m Geoff. Having enjoyed a 40 year career in hospitality, as a hotel manager, mainly in Devon & Cornwall, I have semi-retired from the rigours of the job to enjoy a bit of time for myself. Having attended weekly pottery classes, I was given the opportunity to teach pottery, which I still do once a week. I concentrate on modelling, mainly marine life and animals. After 6 months out of work, I began to miss the camaraderie of hotel life so went back full-time as a receptionist at a local hotel. Ironically I am therefore working 6 days per week. So much for semi-retirement!

What made you decide to write down your memoir & stories about life as a hotel manager?

I had always kept diaries as a teenager up to the age of about 30, which helped immensely once I started to write after a particularly bad experience as a Manager at a Torbay hotel. I felt the world needed to know what we went through.

Your book highlighted for me that there can be fun times, chaos, extreme hard work, stress, companionship and loneliness in following a hotel manager based career. What were your expectations about being a hotel manager before actually becoming a hotel manager? Was it better than you thought, or worse or just different?

I actually wanted to be a chef, perhaps aided by the fact that I was incredibly shy at the time, so would be kept out of the public eye. To my annoyance, my Dad, who was paying for my college education, forced me to study hotel management. Working as a member of staff in hotels was easy in the sense that responsibilities were minor. I looked at managers and how they operated (good and bad) but still thought it an impossible hill to climb. For instance how would I, a small shy person, tell a beefcake chef what to do? I have worked for some excellent managers, for whom you would do anything, as well as alcoholic and dishonest managers, who were impossible to respect..

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

Once in the mood, meaning no hangover, food and coffee easily available, no commitments that day, and several hours free, then I could go for it and the words just flowed. I enjoyed researching former work places on-line. Time was the main issue, what with the long hours worked in hotels, as well 6-day weeks on occasion. The editing and publishing process, with Mereo Books, being a totally new experience for me, was thrilling.

What main advice would you give a young person hoping to go into a hospitality career – aiming to become a hotel manager? What attributes do you think they should possess?

An HND or degree is one direction to start off, but chain hotels in-house training schemes are a good option, not afforded to me due to epilepsy, which in my younger days was regarded as a disability due to ignorance. You may have the opportunity to work overseas and meet some fascinating people. You may work long anti-social hours, but the rewards of seeing people enjoy themselves thanks to your hard work is satisfying. If you work your way up the ladder, which might at times be a challenge, you can end up at some marvellous hotels, have a good salary, and mix with the stars. Attributes – definitely a people person, positive, outgoing, eager to help others, and a can-do attitude. Patience, quick thinking, multi-tasking, and an eye for figures. Communication at all levels is a major factor. Understanding the needs of customers and staff.

So, we know you became a hotel manager, but as a child had you always wanted to have a career in the hotel trade or did you have other aspirations?

Yes I wanted to be a fighter pilot or work in submarines, but due to my epilepsy drugs, which as a teenager knocked me for six, could not pursue a career involving high academic standards. I couldn’t even become a chemist, which has always interested me. Chain hotels would not touch me, which nowadays would be classed as discrimination, so I was restricted to privately owned hotels. But I didn’t give up!

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

I don’t always have time to read, but since publishing my memoirs, all I read now are other memoirs/autobiographies. My favourite author is probably Thomas Hardy. ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ is a favourite. On holiday I might buy a thriller at the airport.

Is “More Sauce Madam? The Adventures of a Hotel Manager” available to purchase worldwide?

Most definitely. Through Amazon, WH Smith, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc, as well as from my publisher Mereo Books.

When you are booking a holiday for yourself at a hotel – what criteria do you look for when choosing where to go?

I always read the Trip Advisor reviews, both good and bad, and form a general opinion. I prefer leisure facilities, a good food recommendation, and a hotel with character. I also check the booking.com prices (if listed) to compare the tariff. Location is fairly important.

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

At home jeans and polo shirt. Slippers inside. At work, suit trousers, white shirt, tie, black shoes and socks.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Marks & Spencers where I buy all my clothes. Shoes from Clarks. Groceries/weekly shop stuff from Sainsbury’s.

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

Trainers, so I can go back in the gym…., but not in a hurry 😊 I need some more swimming shorts, different colours – from M&S.

Boots or Shoes?

Always shoes. I did have some boots once as a teenager, but it was too much of an effort putting them on/off. I can’t wear Wellington boots because I have smallish feet and large calves, so can’t get into a Wellington. If anyone knows where I can buy wider ones, please let me know!

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

Website: www.geoffparis.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/geoff.paris.5
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/ParisGeoff

And for my ceramics: www.geoffparispottery.com

Instagram: www.parisgeoffpottery

Geoffrey Paris is the author of More Sauce Madam? The Adventures of a Hotel Manager – a candid, eye-popping memoir of more than four decades working in hotels, restaurants and pubs. Geoff’s book is published by Mereo Books (paperback, £12.99) and available through the publisher, book shops and internet booksellers.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Geoffrey Paris – apart the foodie photo which is by Linda Hobden showing food made by my eldest son Chef Dan!

My thanks to Geoffrey Paris for the review copy of ”More Sauce Madam? The Adventures Of A Hotel Manager”.

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Waterbury Winter Book Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the ”Waterbury Winter” book tour to celebrate the latest novel by author Linda Stewart Henley. Definitely a heart warming story that draws you in with its array of lovable characters – a story of friendship,and real life. This delightful story is a great book to pack in your holiday suitcase or download on your kindle to read whilst lying prone on the sunbed! I loved it!

BOOK SUMMARY

Barnaby Brown has had enough of freezing winters, insurmountable debt, a dead-end job, and his solitary life as a young widower with no one but his beloved parrot Popsicle. He yearns to move to California and reawaken his long-lost early life as an artist. But new troubles come in threes. His ancient car crashes into a snowbank. Popsicle escapes through a window carelessly left open. 

A New York gallery owner offers to represent Barnaby’s paintings—but is he on the up-and-up? All of it serves to shock Barnaby into confronting how low he has sunk, and he vows—again and again—to change. He has a few obstacles, starting with his heavy drinking and long-term neglect of his ancestral home. As he takes steps toward a better life, he re-discovers the value of old friendships and latent talents seen in new light, and finds the courage to consider a second chance at love. Rejoining the mainstream of life presents several startling mysteries he must unravel, with a few mortifying but enlightening stumbles.

A heart-warming novel about ordinary people reclaiming their dormant potential, Waterbury Winter celebrates the restorative value of art and the joy to be found in keeping promises.

Find out more about Waterbury Winter by visiting GoodReads or the author’s website. You can also purchase it on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org.

MY INTERVIEW

It is with great pleasure to welcome Linda Stewart Henley onto the blog! Hi Linda!

Hello 😊 I’m Linda Stewart Henley , author of Estelle: A Novel. (Among other honors, it won Silver in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Historical Fiction and was a finalist for The Eric Hoffer Book Awards as well as for the 2021 Nancy Pearl Award). Waterbury Winter is my second novel. I live in Anacortes, Washington, with my husband.

I’m an English-born American and I choose settings for my novels in places I have lived. These include New Orleans (Estelle) and Connecticut (Waterbury Winter)

Who or what inspired you to write “Waterbury Winter”?

During  a visit to see family for Christmas one year in a snowy part of the country, my husband and I stopped by a drugstore. It was December 26th. We were the only people in the store except for the cashier at the checkout counter.  He asked us how our Christmas was. Fine, we said, and asked him the same question. “Well, I was here, and my car broke down.” That man, unknown to him, became the model for Barnaby Brown, a lonely man who doesn’t celebrate Christmas and whose car breaks down.

I really enjoyed reading your book, “Waterbury Winter ” and I particularly enjoyed the characters of Barnaby, Julia, Lisa & Sean. What character did you particularly enjoy writing about? What character was the hardest to portray?

Julia was the hardest. I had to make her relationship with Barnaby believable. I think it worked because they were both lost, haunted by their past, and stuck when they met.

Researching for your novel must have been quite interesting…for example, the brass button collections, the social work aspect, ice fishing … did you discover anything that shocked you or uncover some nugget of information that was unexpected? 

I didn’t know anything about Waterbury when I started the novel, so yes, everything surprised me. More about that in the next question.

The novel is based in New England and yet you live across the continent in Washington State. What made you pick that location for the novel?  

I wanted a location that had seen better days, just like Barnaby. Waterbury seemed right because its once famous brass industry had disappeared. It seemed like the perfect setting for the story of a man who struggles to redeem himself.

Growing up, did you envisage yourself as a writer or did you have other career aspirations?

I never saw myself as a writer until my first novel was accepted for publication in 2020. Until then, I was just playing with words, trying to learn how to write fiction. I spent my entire career working as an administrator at institutions of higher education.

Is “Waterbury Winter ” available to purchase worldwide?

I’m not sure if it’s available worldwide, but it’s for sale through Amazon in the USA, Canada, Europe, and the UK.

If you could visit any place in the world to inspire your next novel, where would you go and why? 

My next novel is set in the UK at the start of WWII. I’d love to go there to confirm that I’ve accurately represented the places I write about there. I haven’t lived in England since I was sixteen. 

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

I’m not working, and most people in my part of Washington State prefer casual clothes. The rainy climate doesn’t allow for stylish shoes and many people enjoy hiking. So we wear a lot of hiking gear, even when we’re not on the trail. Having spent time in the Southern United States, where people tend to dress up more, I sometimes wish we had opportunities to wear more interesting clothes. I do have a few nice dresses, mostly summer ones. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I miss the big department stores like Nordstrom’s. I like clothing boutiques, places where the sales people want to help you find suitable clothes. The personal service is much more fun for me than online shopping. 

Boots or Shoes?

Both! I can’t imagine wearing street shoes in the mud and snow. I had to learn about this. When I first moved to Washington, I went on a hike in the Cascade Mountains. It was early spring, and the creeks were overflowing. It was impossible to keep to the trail without wading through the water. I wore hiking boots that I’d bought in California, and they weren’t waterproof. I walked all day with wet feet. After that, I went to REI and bought a sturdy pair of waterproof boots. 

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

              www.lindastewarthenleyauthor.com

              www.facebook.com/lindastewarthenley

THE BOOK TOUR DATES

Great to chat to you Linda! Thank you so much for the advance copy of your book and inviting me onto your book tour! I’ve had a blast!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Linda Stewart Henley.

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Author Interview: Andreas F Clenow

What do you get when a Zurich -based financier/best selling investment guide author decides to write a novel? A thoroughly entertaining crime mystery set amongst the world of secretive private banks in Switzerland. A Most Private Bank is the debut novel by Andreas F Clenow, a fictional story but one based on a world that does exist – the world of financial empires, rich kids, private banks and criminal empires. The novel oozes charisma, mystery, seduction, romance and enough twists and turns to keep you hooked. The characters you can visualise in your mind … Sandra (the faithful secretary/lifesaver); Jim Dixon – the middle aged dealmaker with a fallen past; Christina Rosenbaum – the young , rich, stunning & flirtatious client; …. the sidekick, police officer, spy, bank manager, gun slingers… Oh, and Jim’s knowledge and addiction to the finest Swiss watches. Add a pinch of passion. Definitely fast paced, definitely page turning and in a setting that gives it that added wow factor. Highly recommended.

I caught up with author Andreas F Clenow to find out more about his writing, his finance career and ….cows! Hi Andreas!

Hi Linda, and thank you for having me! I am quite possibly the only Swiss financier in the world who can brag about having grown up in a place with the tourist slogan “Cow Densest Town of Sweden.” I left my native country some twenty years ago after going on a business trip to Geneva that turned out to be a little longer than planned. Rather than going back North, I found a wife, moved to Zurich, founded a hedge fund, got a son and bought a house. It’s been an interesting ride.

“A Most Private Bank” is your debut novel – a fictional crime mystery set among the world of secretive private banks.   What inspired you to write a novel ? 

I have wanted to write a novel for decades but I wasn’t sure if I had anything really interesting to say.  I believe that, at least for most of us, it takes life experience to craft a vivid world and to tell a meaningful story. This story plays out in the secretive and amoral world of hidden money, a world that I know well, perhaps too well. 

We’re now all starting to get used to regular data leaks, again and again showing that so many banks and bankers are little more than highly paid grifters. I wanted to show my take on this, to tell stories from the inside without actually exposing real people to legal or physical danger. Most of all, myself.

And of course, now that finance, hedge funds and banks are getting a bad rep, and deservedly so, I thought perhaps we could get #notallhedgefundmanagers trending on twitter… 

You are a Zurich-based financier – so 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?

This was overall a very tough call. My book takes place in Zurich over a single week, and it involves only a handful of key characters. In reality, almost all people and scenes are based on real events, experienced by myself or people close to me. Of course, all characters are combined, based on multiple real people and the actual events involved far more people over a far longer time. My own role in these events vary just as widely. While my main character’s place is always front and centre, mine may have been anything from a key participant to an unwilling observer. 

It may be surprising to the readers of the book, but if anything, I have toned things down for the book. Sometimes reality simply isn’t believable. 

The hardest character to write was without a doubt Christina. I believe that it’s always tricky for a man to write a female character, but even more so if you need a manipulative Femme Fatale who won’t hesitate to use any means available to get what she wants. As a man writing such a character, you’re walking a fine line and you take the risk of the reader mistaking your male characters’ misogyny for your own.  

Were there any aspects of writing your novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected (considering you have written 3 non fiction books) ? 

Writing a work of fiction was orders of magnitude harder than writing finance books. At the same time, it was also far more fun.

What truly surprised me though was the publishing process. My first three books, all non-fiction, have hit all the top of the best-seller lists, achieved sales ranks in the top one percent globally and got translated into eight languages. Non-fiction publishers from all over the world have called me to ask if I’m writing another and if they can have it. 

In the fiction space, nobody cares. Publishers don’t take calls from authors and after fifty requests, only twenty agents got back to me with a copy/pasted ‘no thanks’. The rest didn’t bother replying to emails or returning phone calls. A large number of literary agents, quite oddly, state on their websites that they don’t deal with people of my race or background. I found the process rather absurd, but thanks to my previous work and contacts I found a way of getting the book out there and making it a success anyhow. 

Hypothetically speaking, if “ A Most Private Bank” was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters, especially Jim Dixon and Christina Rosenbaum? 

I thought Matthew McConaughey would make a good Jim! A cynical fallen hedge fund manager, hiding out in Europe and playing the big fish in a small pond. The amoral leading man, concealing his true feelings and motives from the readers and playing the game on his terms.

Do you think we could get away with Keira Knightley for Christina? I know, she’s a few years older than my character but I think she’d pull it off! Would you mind giving her a call for me, Linda?

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

My first week at the University of Gothenburg I found myself sitting on a couch with a beer, a guy from the computer club and a girl from the trading club. They were both trying to recruit me as a new member. I’d like to say that I turned the trading club down, but the truth is that I applied to both and got rejected from that one. That’s probably why I started my first IT company, back in the mid 90s, before I started my first finance company.

I always enjoyed the intersection of finance and computers, which is why quant finance appealed to me. But if you’re asking about earlier days, I have a dirty confession. In my teens, I was a… politician. Don’t tell anyone.

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

Absolutely! I carry my Kindle everywhere. When I was younger, I read only non-fiction. That flipped upside down some 15-20 years ago and now I devour fiction. In particular, I love the classic hard boiled masters, and I hope that shines through in my own work. Hammett and Chandler are of course at the top of my list.

I made the mistake of reading the brilliant World War Z by Max Brooks during the first wave of the pandemic. It’s such an amazing book, written with such realism, that I started to blur the real pandemic outside the door with the zombie pandemic that he crafted! 

Another author which gives me somewhat mixed feelings is Brett Easton Ellis, and in particular Less Than Zero. It’s the kind of book which makes me both impressed and depressed. The latter, because of the fact that he produced such a masterpiece at the age of 21 and that there is no way that I could ever learn to be that good if I had a hundred years.

 Is A Most Private Bank  available to purchase worldwide?

If you find a country where they don’t sell it, let me know!

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

I like to dress well, but prefer to mix styles for a bit of personal touch. At the moment, I’m wearing a grey pinstripe Ermenegildo Zegna jacket with a crimson pocket square, matching the short sleeve Boggi Milano polo of the same shade of crimson which I have on under it. 

At the risk of becoming a brand spokesperson, my blue jeans are also from Boggi Milano, secured by a brown spotted ostrich belt. The shoes are black On sneakers, the up and coming Swiss brand of comfortable sports footwear. A discrete steel Rolex Submariner on a black-and-silver NATO strap rounds off the picture.

For leaving the office, I have a black Hugo Boss overcoat, a grey cashmere baseball cap, naturally without any text or logo, and gold plated square aviators from Randolph Engineering.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

In terms of fashion, I very much prefer the old brick and mortar experience. Perhaps that is at least in part due to not fitting the regular molds, and the difficulties of finding anything that fits off-the-rack. I have the nation’s most prolific shopping street right outside the office, but quite honestly I would rather take the car for an hour to the many excellent brand outlets in Switzerland and Germany. High fashion designer quality at half the price, what’s not to like!

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

Spring is approaching rapidly and a new pair of Bally loafers would be nice.

Boots or Shoes?

Unless I’m hiking the Alps, I’d go for shoes, either comfortable sneakers or oxfords. 

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


My novel, A Most Private Bank is available here: https://smarturl.it/amostprivatebank And of course, you can read more about the book, and get in contact with me through my author website, https://www.clenow.com/.

All photographs are by Linda Hobden (apart from the author pic, published with kind permission of Andreas F Clenow).

My thanks to Andreas and to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity for the copy of ”A Most Private Bank” for review purposes.

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