Category Archives: Interview

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.

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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

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      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

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      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

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      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).

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      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.

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      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.

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      An Interview With Shyrdakjurte

      This week I’m focusing on the beautiful rugs produced by the nomadic people of Kyrgyzstan, known as Shyrdaks. Shyrdaks have been listed since 2012 as part of UNESCO world heritage status. I had heard of Persian carpets but not Shyrdaks until I spoke to Henning Stirner, a documentary film cameraman who got to know Kyrgyzstan through working on a documentary film project. Shyrdakjurte is an idea born out of a desire to help the local people of Kyrgyzstan. I’ll let Henning explain…. Welcome to the blog, Henning…

      Hello. I am Henning Stirner, 58yo, and since 1997 I have been working as a cameraman/DoP, based in Berlin, Germany. For exactly 10 years I have also been the owner of Shyrdakjurte. 2023 is our 10th anniversary! Notice, get 10% off on the whole stock! Code: Anniversary-10%

      What inspired the creation of “Shyrdakjurte”?

      I did a documentary film which let me get to know the beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan, the great people living there AND the gorgeous Shyrdak rugs. Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countrys in the world and we try to help families to get some income.

      The beautiful rugs, known as Shyrdak, are made by the nomad people of Kyrgyzstan. What makes the Shyrdak special?

      The Shyrdak carpets are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The production has been made for centuries, made by hand with material growing just in front of the Kyrgyz people’s doors. The thick felt carpets protect the nomadic people in their traditional yurts and while staying with their cattle in the mountains. The fascinating thing about producing these rugs is, that the women gather together working in circles on one piece. Actually two pieces, because the rugs are made by placing two different coloured felt sheets in layers one on top of the other, cutting them in one step and stitching them on a rougher bottom layer. This leads to two identical carpets, one negative & the other one positive.

      You have a lovely wide range of rugs (and felt slippers) on your website. What rug designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far ?

      That`s really hard to tell. Last few years it turned out that maný people love the natural tones (grey, beige, brown) BUT there are also many customers choosing the very colourful & bright designs. Customers’ wishes are wonderfully surprising, diverse and difficult to predict.

      Do you have a particular favourite design?

      I love the ORSLON BIP style, unfortunately sold out. But like all the designs, it could be tailor-made & produced in individally desired colours and sizes.

      As you are based in Germany, and obviously the rugs are made in Kyrgyzstan, are your products available to purchase overseas?

      Yes sure, we`re selling worldwide! We do have costumers in the United States from the east to the west coast. We have sold some pieces to Australia. The most customers abroad we do have are in Switzerland. A lot people in Germany and in the EU order at or for the slippers in our shop on ETSY.

      Apart from buying standard sizes etc, your company offer a customised service too. How long, on average, does it take for a single rug to be made?

      An individually tailor-made Shyrdak needs about two months until it`s delivered at the customer’s home.

      What’s the best way to take care of the Shyrdak?

      Carefully vacuum. Stains can be carefully dabbed off. If you do have snow in winter, do as the Kyrgyz do: Place the carpet with the good side down in the freshly fallen snow and pat it out. Expose your Shyrdak rug from time to time to direct sunlight.

      Having visited Kyrgyzstan many times whilst making your documentaries, and since your Shyrdak enterprise… what are the things about Kyrgyzstan you adore or would recommend to a visitor?

      The friendly people, the great landscape with huge mountains. Various peaks with a height of 5, 6 and 7 thousand metres. Wonderful green plains with the healthiest, happiest and most beautiful horses I have ever seen. The beautiful, huge mountain lake Issik-Kul, the largest after Lake Titicaca.

      You are a cameraman for feature films and documentaries- since launching Shyrdakjurte, how have you managed to balance your time on both jobs?

      Since Shyrdakjurte is an online shop, that’s no problem at all. If I’m abroad for a longer period of time, my son takes care of shipping and orders.

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

      Jeans, shirts or polo shirts and sneakers, leather jacket or goretex protection. Since my hair is decreasing, I wear hats in the summer to protect myself from the sun’s rays and in the winter from the cold.

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? ;;;

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

      Shoes, dufflecoat & cap.

      Boots or Shoes?

      Shoes, I don’t want to be restricted, my ankle must remain freely movable

      For pinning later

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

      Such beautiful designs and colours! Thanks Henning for the introduction 😊

      Linda x

      All photographs have been published with kind permission of Henning Stirner.

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      Author Interview: Fiona Graham

      I have just finished the laugh out loud debut novel, The Chancer, by screenwriter Fiona Graham. It is such a great feel good story that it comes as no surprise that the novel has won the Bronze Medal for Comedy Fiction at The Readers International Book Awards 2023. A brilliant accolade indeed 😊. And I was even more chuffed that Fiona agreed to chat to me about The Chancer, her films and what lurks in her wardrobe, of course…. but first, here’s a book summary…


      In 1989, in the west of Ireland, Donnie McNamara, tired of being a family disappointment, buys a one-way ticket to Tinseltown to pursue his much-ridiculed dreams of acting.

      Abe Nelson, a fallen Hollywood legend, now wallows in LA’s dive bars.

      When their worlds collide, Abe becomes an unlikely mentor to Donnie and is catapulted into his fantastical plans to become a Hollywood actor. But will the journey to stardom end in red carpets or red faces?’


      Hi Fiona 👋 Welcome to the blog

      Hello, I’m Fiona Graham , an award-winning author and screenwriter based in County Galway, Ireland. I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but I have lived most of my adult life in Ireland. I live with my husband, daughter, and three dogs, Guinness, Skye and Pirate. 

      Although you are a screenwriter, this is your debut novel – so who or what inspired you to write “The Chancer”?

      William Goldman, who penned many films and books, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once said that if you only write screenplays, it will rip your soul apart. I found that amusing, but there’s definitely some truth to it – a screenplay has a long journey to reach the cinema with big investments and so many people involved, and the majority of screenplays never reach the cinema. There is something wonderful about writing a book and people being able to read it as soon as it is complete. I originally wrote The Chancer as a screenplay and decided to also try my hand at writing a novel – I thoroughly enjoyed the process as I was able to tangent in different directions, and backstories and relay the inner thoughts of the characters, which is much more difficult in a screenplay because it’s all visual.

      “The Chancer” is a hilarious story set in the 1980s about an Irish lad from the sticks having the dream of being a famous Hollywood actor, a dream much ridiculed by most people he knew.  I liked Donnie –  he made me giggle but I wanted to shield him from those who put him down !  His brother in law was just obnoxious and I wanted him to get his comeuppance from the very beginning! 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?

      The funniest thing about writing fiction, whether a novel or for the screen, is that people always ask who the characters are based on. A few people have told me that they fell in love with the character of Summer in The Chancer and asked me who she was based on – they were very disappointed to discover she was entirely fictional! Having said that, I often do use people I know (maybe even just an acquaintance) and use some of their traits or quirks and mix them up with other people I know, add a large dollop of fiction and that might create a character. The character that was the hardest was Abe because I wanted him to be more than just a fallen Hollywood legend, sinking into despair. We’ve all seen characters in films and books who have fallen from pedestals so I wanted to show more depth to him. I hope I achieved this through his relationships with his sister and with Donnie. 

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

      I loved the freedom of writing a novel, not being constrained by the limiting structure of a screenplay – you have more time to describe things and dwell on the inner thoughts of characters. On the other hand, writing a novel is a much bigger piece of work, requiring a lot more writing!

      If you could visit any country/place in the world, to base a future novel in, where would you go and why? 

      I’m always more comfortable writing about places and situations I know well to ensure authenticity, and I also feel comfortable in the genre of comedy/dramedy. However, I also love a bit of sci-fi and watch every program on the paranormal and UFOs! So, it could be helpful to be abducted by aliens and taken to another planet and then I’d be able to write authentically about it – failing that, I’ll just have to make some stuff up. 

      Author Fiona Graham with Vinney Browne (left), Charlie Byrne’s BookShop and her husband Sean Meehan at the launch of her debut novel ’The Chancer’. Fiona Graham is a screenwriter and author from Kinvara, Galway. She wrote and produced the award-winning feature film, ’Songs for Amy’. Her debut fictional novel, ’The Chancer,’ is set in Galway and LA in 1989 and is available online and in bookshops now. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

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

      When we were growing up, my sister used to always say to me, ‘You’re such a bookworm! Always got your nose stuck in a book!’ I love reading but would like to have more time to read the growing pile of books next to my desk! I usually carry a book with me if I’m going to the hairdresser or the dentist or anywhere I know I might have to wait. I’m old school and often carry a notepad too in case I want to write an idea down. I do have books on Kindle on my phone in case I’m stuck without an actual book but I much prefer paperbacks. There are lots of genres and a variety of different authors I enjoy but my all-time favourites would be Nick Hornby, David Nicholls and Helen Fielding. I’ve also really enjoyed Gail Honeyman, Emma Heatherington and Noah Hawley. I enjoy a good biography too. 

      Is “The Chancer” available to purchase worldwide?


      Actors Diarmuid DeFaoite, Seamus Hughes and Tara Breathnach at the launch of Fiona Graham’s debut novel ’The Chancer’. Fiona Graham is a screenwriter and author from Kinvara, Galway. She wrote and produced the award-winning feature film, ’Songs for Amy’. Her debut fictional novel, ’The Chancer,’ is set in Galway and LA in 1989 and is available online and in bookshops now. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

      Growing up had you always wanted to work in films, be an author/screenwriter or did you have other career aspirations?

      Growing up I wanted to be an actress or a writer, which was sort of the inspiration for Donnie in The Chancer wanting to be an actor. As I got older, I had no interest in being in front of the camera and very much wanted to write the story. When I was about ten, my father was setting up a business from home, and he had a word processor (days before Microsoft  & Apple took over the world – I am that old). I created a school magazine on his computer, which I tried to sell in school for 2p per copy but it was confiscated by the headmaster, and my father was appalled as I had used so much of his paper, he couldn’t believe I was only charging 2p! A couple of years later, I wrote a book on his computer – it was awful, but I had the bug for writing. I also love films and could watch my favourite ones over and over again, so screenwriting was always something that really appealed to me, combining writing and film.

      You are the producer of the award-winning feature film, “Songs For Amy” , working in the film industry and the hustle bustle of Hollywood… and yet you reside in Co Galway in Ireland which has a completely different vibe!  What do you miss about Galway when you are on a bustling film set ?  And vice versa, when you are in Galway?

      A lot of Songs for Amy was filmed in Galway, so I didn’t get a chance to miss it! However, I spent a good bit of time in LA, and we also shot some of the film in New York and had several trips to London and Dublin, so there was a lot of contrast between Galway and the other places I was going. The city of Galway is very arty and also fashionable – when I moved to Galway from Glasgow, I dressed up a lot more. Now I live outside the city near a small coastal town called Kinvara, which is so relaxing, and I can walk the dogs off the leads in wide open spaces and wake up with birdsong or walk along the beach. I do love the buzz and excitement of the city, but it’s always lovely to come home. 

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

      If I’m at home, I’m usually in jeans and a Fairisle jumper in the winter and jeans and t-shirt in the summer, but if I’m going out, it’s usually floaty skirts and denim jackets. 

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

      Yes, I love Hush and Mint Velvet. I also enjoy small boutiques where you find something unusual. 

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

      I can never have enough winter boots – I usually wear suede boots from Celtic & Co, and so far have never owned a pair of Uggs, but I can see the attraction to pulling something on your feet in the winter and running out the door. 

      Boots or Shoes?

      In the summer, I live in flip-flops and sandals, but in the winter, it’s always boots. I think they look better with jeans and can make most outfits more relaxed. Being only 5”3, I always prefer a heel on my boots so that I can see over small children’s heads. 

      For Pinning Later

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

      Thank you Fiona. I’m 5ft 3” myself so I fully understand the heels on boots reason … although nowadays all 5 of my offspring tower me whether I wear heels or not! By the way, Pirate is so cute 😊

      Linda x

      Thank you to both Fiona and Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing for the copy of The Chancer for reviewing. All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Fiona Graham.

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      The Unshakeable Road To Love BookTour

      I’m pleased to be part of author Brenda Shoshanna’s “The Unshakeable Road To Love” Book Tour. Brenda is a long term zen practitioner as well as an author, and she integrates teachings of both East and West in all her work, including her latest book “The Unshakeable Road To Love” where she explores the differences between real and counterfeit love. Before I interview Brenda, here’s a quick summary of her book…


      The Unshakeable Road to Love (Value Centered Relationships) is based upon Eternal Principles from all world scriptures, including Zen. These tried and true Eternal Principles, the Pillars of Love, show how to build foundations for relationships where happiness and well-being are inevitable. And where pain and conflict can dissolve on the spot. 

      A radically different approach to love and psychology, the book offers a completely new perspective on fulfillment and what is truly needed to thrive. For example, one of the Pillars of Love upon which the book is based is:

      To Be Happy, You Do Not Have To Be Loved, You Have to Learn What It Means to Be Loving.  

      The book explores the difference between Real and Counterfeit Love. We discover how all suffering in relationships is due to being caught in the trap of Counterfeit Love. And how easy it is to break free from bondage and leave that trap behind.

      This is a book of practice, filled with Turning Points, Pillars of Love, Interventions, and many enjoyable exercises so the reader can practice these principles in all their relationships and in their everyday lives.

      Written by a psychologist, Interfaith Counselor, and long-term Zen practitioner, the book combines the practices and principles of both East and West, helping us to discover and celebrate the best in ourselves and others.

      Publisher: Brenda Shoshanna (October 2022)

      ISBN-10: 1094378046

      ISBN-13: 978-1094378046

      Print length: 208 pag


      A warm welcome to the blog Brenda …

      Hello! I am Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.d. author of The Unshakeable Road to Love (Value Centered Relationships. A psychologist, author, playwright, speaker, long term Zen practitioner, and Interfaith Counselor.  Overall, my work has focused on integrating the teachings and practices of East and West and showing how to make them real in our everyday life. I’ve offered talks, workshops, and meditation sessions for many years. My workshops are focused on both personal and spiritual development, and living an authentic life. My favorite teachers are my children and  grandchildren. They constantly remind me to be playful, expect the unexpected and join them in all their different journeys, with an open mind. I’ve just started a blog called Turn The Page, where I hope to integrate what I have discovered in the many different streams of life.

      Your book, “The Unshakeable Road To Love”, is truly inspirational – an integration of both East and West teaching. What made you decide to write your book in the first place?

      I have been working with these principles for many years, have always been fascinated by the power of relationships and love in our lives. The idea to write the book came during Covid.  I was inspired to write thebook as, along with Covid, the epidemic of loneliness, anxiety and isolation was at its peak. I had come by then to realize that isolation, loneliness and anxiety could be easily dissolved through the experience of Real love. And often upset and conflict dissolved on the spot.

      You are a long term Zen practitioner and you have a weekly podcast called “Zen Wisdom For Everyday Life” … but when did you first realize this empowerment that practicing Zen can make a difference in love and life in general? 

      I actually started reading about Zen practice when I was fifteen years old, was give a small book on Zen by a teacher in school and could never put the book down. I read it again and again. About fifteen years later I actually met my Zen Master here in NY. After the first night at the zendo (place where Zen is practiced, place for Zen meditation), I could not stay away. It called to me immediately. Then, sitting by sitting, month by month, year by year, the power and strength of practice became more and more evident in my life. It became my life. In fact there is no difference between true practice and one’s life. They interfuse one another.

      Your book is jammed pack with hints, projects and situations to help on that road to love. Were there any aspects of writing “The Unshakeable Road To Love” that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

      It surprised and fascinated me, to realize again and again, how all encompassing and powerful the practice of love is, how important it was to keep mindful of it, and to keep practicing it myself. 

      You have authored over 20 books, including self help titles, books on Zen, mindfulness and meditation- very impressive 😊 However, are you a reader too?  What genre of books do you read to relax?  

      Believe it or not, I still love to relax with books on Zen, and also on the practice of releasing, love, and truths from all scriptures.

      You are also the Playwright in residence at The Jewish Repertory Theater and the Ensemble Studio Theatre, both in New York.  When writing your plays,  do you use the same preparation as you would writing your books?  Would you (or have you) written a play based on the advice given in “The Unshakeable Road To Love”? 

      I “was” playwright in residence at both of those theaters. I still write plays and actually, just received honorable mention from Tennesse Williams/New Orleans Literary Contest, for a play called “Searching For The Ox,” on Zen! The Master is the hero, it takes place at the zendo, and in Central Park among the homeless. 

      When writing plays I approach them the same way I would fiction. I just allow the characters to arrive and to reveal themselves. I let things happen, unfold as they do. I don’t usually plot things out, but enter into a dialogue with my characters. And yes, yes, I use the tools I talk about in The Unshakeable Road to Love.

      I welcome every character, grant them the right to be who they are and allow them to speak their truths. No rejecting them or trying to control them. In a sense it is a divine encounter I mention in the book. A true meeting.

      Growing up, what career aspirations did you have?

      I wanted to be an actress for many years. That morphed into being a playwright. Then I wanted to be a philosophy professor and also have a large family.

      Is “The Unshakeable Road To Love”  available to purchase worldwide?

      The Unshakeable Road to Love is available on,, and other online platforms. Not sure about worldwide?

      For pinning later

      What are you working on now?

      Just finished an Inspirational Memoir, called A Flash of Lightning. Working on finding the right agent and publisher for this work.

      I’d love for you all to subscribe to my blog. There’s a place there to interact, and share your thoughts and feelings – The Forum. The blog will offer all kinds of articles on personal and spiritual growth, opportunities for dialogue, and a new upcoming podcast.

      Also working on making the five and half years of my podcast Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, into a series of books and also offering many articles based upon it on my new blog – TURN THE PAGE  (

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

      I love colorful, simple, lively outfits, dresses, slacks and beautiful, printed top

      Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

      I like Coldwater Creek, Orvis, Bloomingdales.

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

      I love long, knit dresses as the weather gets cooler, slacks and beautiful sweaters.

      Boots or Shoes?

      I like boots outdoors and shoes inside. Shoes are usually easier to get around in, and to get into at home.

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

      I am on Facebook:

       Instagram  Zenlife7

      Goodreads   Dr Brenda Shoshanna



      All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Brenda Shoshanna. My thanks to Brenda for the review copy of “The Unshakeable Road To Love “.

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