Katarina West Q&A; The Thousand Tiny Miracles Of Living Twice.

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A little while ago, an email arrived in my inbox; Katarina West has written a new book, about a middle aged Cinderella-esque woman who has the chance at a second life. It was released yesterday, and as part of the ‘blog tour’, I emailed Katarina a few questions about the book.

Hello Katarina, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

No, thank you! It feels great to be back.

Initially, what was it that made you want to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been composing stories in my head. Maybe that was the reason, that ability to create a world of your own.

What was the inspiration behind your new book?

I had this middle-aged woman in my mind who is discontented with her life and dreams of another kind of life. An angel hears her prayers and swaps her body with a Hollywood A-lister. So now she has beauty, youth and fame – and not only, for she falls in love with a gorgeous thirty-something man. He adores her… but would he still adore her if he knew who she really was? That was my first question, the thing that made me want to write The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice. Then the whole question of humans and angels snowballed, and my upcoming book grew into a feel-good fantasy series. It is called Angel Aid, and as I said, The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice is the launch book of the series.

How do you start writing for your novels?

Drafting, drafting, drafting. It is my weak point – before I have the story written down once, I am perennially anxious and worried.

Was this informed by any personal experiences?

No, not really. I just want to tell stories.

Did it require any research?

Less than my two previous books. But still every writing project entails a myriad of background work. Those little details that you must check, and checking them will require plenty of time.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

I’m writing Book 2 in the Angel Aid series. So, my protagonists will be back!

What are your tips for anyone who wishes to follow in your footsteps?

That’s a big question. If I had to squeeze any piece of advice into a few words, that would be to write and read as much as possible.

Random: Which do you prefer- apple or pear?

Both… I love fruit. I couldn’t live without it!

The Thousand Tiny Miracles Of Living Twice is out now; click here to buy on Amazon. And click here to see Katarina’s website.   Or you can see my reviews of her first two novels: ‘Absolute Truth For Beginners’ (Click here) and Witchcraft Couture (Click here)

Interview With Calli Of Looking Through Rose Tinted Glasses.

As part of this week’s guest posts, I wanted to mix things up a bit, meaning today with have an interview with Calli from Looking Through Rose Tinted Glasses. (Click here to view her blog.) Calli is also founder of @letsnotbequiet , which is a really cool initiative ; go and follow her!

Morning Calli, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Firstly, how and why did you come to blog?

1) I began blogging as a way to fill time. I began my blog when I was in a spout of anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I had left my job and didn’t have anywhere to go, so I started my blog as a way to stop me from being bored. I originally began the journey of becoming a Youtuber, but didn’t want to invest in a good editing software if I potentially wasn’t going to carry it on.

 What was your inspiration behind your blog?
2) My genres of blogging is food and entertainment. I share my love of baking by sharing my recipes and I also love writing about television. Writing reviews of shows is a really great way of some people noticing your work. I even had one of the directors of Broadchurch like one of my promotional tweets of the review!
 What would you describe as your blogging routine?
3) I usually spend my mornings getting some blogging work done. My morning is scheduling tweets, writing and promoting blog posts and getting some emails sent and answered. I tend to spend my afternoon drafting some posts and planning future ideas with companies.
What do you think about monetised blogs?
4) Does this mean making it professional? I think professional blogs are awesome, I’m really trying to make my blog a full time thing, it’s just a case of making companies understand that us bloggers charge for their services for a reason!
 Where do you see your blog in a years time?
5) It’s tough to say really, I hope that in a year I have done some TV work and more people will be reading my blog. It’s my dream to be a tv presenter and I am really hoping by next year I have done something TV related and that could make people read my blog and hopefully make more companies want to work with me!
 Who are your favourite bloggers?
6) I don’t really have a specific favourite blogger. I tend to just read blog posts that catch my eye on Twitter!
 For anyone who wishes to blog, do you have any advice?
 
7) My advice would be to just do it, and not care about what other people think. Food and entertainment is such an original combination in my eyes, and I haven’t found another blog quite like mine, so start your blog. Be patient. And have fun.

Interview with Henrik Jeppesen, the man who travelled to every country prior to his 28th birthday! 

For someone who has visited every country in the world, and prior to his 28th birthday, needless to say I felt inspired.

Credit: HenrikTravel.com.

You visited every country in the world before your 28th birthday; What inspired you to carry out such a feat?

It’s such a difficult question to answer. I love many countries for different reasons. Italy and France for the food. South Africa has a lot to offer for travellers while Iran probably has the friendliest people in the world.

In countries that may be dangerous, how do you manage risk? 

Do a lot of research is very important before going to one of the “so-called” dangerous countries. Finding local contacts you can trust. Tour operators, hotels and/or expats.

Credit: HenrikTravel.com

What is your favourite country you’ve visited and why?

Watching TV and foreign films about the different countries around the world. Then I set a goal of visiting 50 countries and then 100 countries. I decided to go for all of them as I became more comfortable travelling.

How do you plan to carry out your goal of visiting every territory ? 
Taking them one at a time and write to people that might be able to help me reach the difficult destinations.

Credit: HenrikTravel.com

For anyone who wishes to follow in your footsteps, what would be your advice?

I believe it is possible for almost everyone to travel the world. Even without money. Accommodation and transport are the biggest expense when travelling. Couchsurfing Stay with local people for free around the world. I have stayed with many locals around the world and never had an issue, but keep in mind things, of course, can happen. Make sure to check the reviews and don’t stay at a place with no reviews. Hitchhiking I have hitchhiked with more than 1,000 cars with no issues. It’s a great way to experience the local culture wherever you go completely free of charge. Travel On a Low-Budget It’s a bit easier to travel if you have a bit of money. Airbnb is a much cheaper alternative to hotels. The best tip for transport is to use low-cost airlines and low-cost buses. Sign up for their newsletters to get notified when they have promotions. Low-Cost Airlines Includes AirAsia, Air Arabia, EasyJet, Fastjet, Jetblue, Jetstar, Ryanair, Spirit Airlines and Tiger Airways. Low-Cost Buses Includes Boltbus, Eurolines, Greyhound Express, Megabus and Peter Pan Bus Travel Light One important rule to take advantage of the low fares is to travel light. No check-in luggage as it can cost you more than the ticket itself. Airlines have different rules, but try to keep it to a maximum of six kilogrammes and 55x40x20 cm in size. Focus on cost-saving Meals at supermarkets for less than a dollar in many countries.

Random question:What do you prefer: cats or dogs?
Dogs by far. I still miss my dog that died nearly six years ago while I was in India.
To find out more about Henrik, please visit Henriktravel.com

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With the purchase of a Spongedry via this link , you can now, if you add my blog code under ‘Note to seller’, get an extra free blender:

Pink: LYDIAPINK

Purple: LYDIAPURPLE

Black: LYDIABLACK

Gail Crowther Interview; On Her New Book, Sylvia Plath, And Other Projects…

If you’re a regularly reader, you’ll know that I live to investigate Sylvia Plath; the confessional poet has been of great importance to me since I read The Bell Jar at thirteen. Recently, Doctor Gail Crowther has written the book, The Haunted Reader And Sylvia Plath;I spoke to her to find out more about it. 


Hello Gail, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

My pleasure.

 You have recently written a new book, The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath. What inspired you to write this book?

 I suppose the interest came from my own personal attachment to Plath which I formed when I was 13. I love so many writers, but my reading relationship with Plath feels quite unique and I increasingly noticed this seemed to be the case with other people too. I grew more curious about what was going on at that convergence between reader and writer, and the subsequent nature of the relationship that developed. So I decided to try and find out a bit more about it. This involved carrying out primary research over a number of years, using a method I called creative autobiography, to discover what sort of attachments readers had with Plath. I was especially interested in those who formed strong attachments, and the results of that research are The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath.

 What do you think is the relevance of Freud when analysing people such as Plath?

 Well my book does not actually analyse Plath, but rather her readers. I was so resistant to using Freud at first because, as a feminist, I really struggle to get beyond some of the problematic gender politics in his work. I explored other psychoanalytic theorists and other concepts such as projection and introjection. I also looked more generally at theories of reading and fandom. But as soon as I read ‘Identification’ by Freud as well as ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ and Narcissism’, I realised that constructing a framework from his theories was going to best help me explore what was going on.

 Did your impressions of Plath change at all?

 Not really, though I was really pleased to discover just how powerful and positive a role she plays in peoples’ lives. She is a real constant, and despite the often stereotypical depiction of Plath in popular culture as a suicidal misery, readers who become attached to her see a very different Plath – they see a vibrant, funny, insightful Plath…which of course she was.

copyright Kevin Cummins, 2016


 What do you think about the seemingly mythologised fandom round Plath? 

 I think Plath herself and those who read her and become attached to her, have had a very rough time indeed. The fact that the expression the ‘Cult of Plath’ is used says it all really. I do think in recent years a revision is taking place and hopefully Plath will emerge from this as a more rounded cultural figure. Certainly the publication of her Letters over the next year or so will make a massive difference to how she is understood. Her voices in those letters are astonishing – multiple, playful, serious, anguished, hilarious, teasing, passionate, stroppy. Once Plath becomes fully recognised for the woman she was, I think (hope) this positivity will transfer to her readers too.

 Do you have any other projects in the works?

 Yes. I have one more Plath piece to research and write which will be an essay for a forthcoming book, Sylvia Plath in Context (edited by Tracy Brain). This will explore Plath and religion, an area that is surprisingly under-researched I think , given all that imagery in her poems. Then hopefully around May a book I co-wrote with Peter K. Steinberg will be released, called These Ghostly Archives, sharing our archival experiences and delights. When books get published in quick succession it seems like they must be speedy projects, but The Haunted Reader took almost ten years to research and publish, and These Ghostly Archives is the product of eight years of research – so these things take time before they actually appear in print.

 Then I have a couple of non-Plath projects bubbling away, but I also hope to give my writing brain a little bit of a rest. Though not for very long.

 Random: what do you prefer-heels or flats?

 In my head, heels. In reality, flats.

Thank you very much to Gail for answering my questions. Be sure to visit her website by clicking here, and to buy a copy of the book by clicking here.

Interview with Jemma Morgan, A.K.A Dorkface. 

I’m not sure how to introduce this interview, so please excuse me if I start to ramble. Jemma Morgan is the woman behind the incredible blog Dorkface; if you’re not reading it, fellow Bloggers, I highly recommend you do. Jemma blogs, blogs, and is also founder of The Girl Gang; additionally, she is also co-founder of a podcast.  For this interview I opened up questions to Twitter and Instagram, meaning that anyone could suggest questions. They are marked by an *, and are credited to the people. All photos are courtesy of Jemma Morgan.

How and why did you start blogging?

I always wanted to be a writer growing up, and today blogging is the natural first step to getting yourself out there and starting to explore the written word in a public way. It’s fantastic! I only wish I’d started sooner.

Credit: Jemma Morgan.


Where does the name Dorkface come from?



I wanted a quick, snappy name that would be easy to remember. I also didn’t want it to be related to any particular niche, like beauty or fashion for example – because I wanted to keep my brand open to write about anything and everything, rather than putting myself into a box! Also, I was worried about trying to look ‘cool’ – knowing that I could never pull that off if I tried! I thought, I’m a total dork, so why not just get that right out in the open? 🙂 And so Dorkface was born, and I love it still!

* Jess, from halfgirlhalfcup.com, asked, If you were a unicorn, what colour would you be? 

Lilac, and glittery!

* Georgia Boanoro, from georgiaboanoro.com, asked, What are your top 3 colours?



Blush pink, lilac, pastel blue.

Credit: Jemma Morgan.

 

*Ilka Elise, from ilkaeliseb.com, asked What are some of your favourite stationery brands?

Blippo, Paperchase, Fox and Star! And lots of little Etsy sellers.

What do you think about Blogging as a career?



I think it’s fantastic that there’s such a creative career open for anybody with passion. I especially love that females are dominating this industry.

Do you think we can sometimes over-share online?

Nahh.. not really. I mean, I definitely keep a lot to myself, because that’s my choice. But It’s totally fine for anyone else to bare all – and there’ll be an audience who wants that. It just depends what you want for yourself.

Credit: Jemma Morgan.

*Lottie Johnson, from Diariesofalipstickaddict.wordpress.com, asked If you could only use one beauty product, what would you pick?

Definitely lipstick! It’s an instant mood booster isn’t it?! I’m obsessed with GOSH liquid lipsticks at the mo’.

*charlotte Samantha, of Charlottesamantha.co.uk, asked What’s the one thing that keeps you motivated?

Honestly? Wanting to make my parents proud.

*Hayl Vogel, from Haylvogel.co.uk, asked, Where do you get the most inspiration for your etsy shop products from?

Simply from things I like most! I love surface pattern design, nature can inspire a lot, magazines, and just real life in general! You can take inspiration from anything really.

Credit: Jemma Morgan.

For anyone who wishes to follow in your footsteps, do you have any advice?

Always be yourself, it’s so much easier and more fun!

Thank you very much to Jemma Morgan for answering all of these questions, as well as going out of her way to promote this on her Twitter page. Don’t forget to visit her blog by clicking here. And to visit her really cool etsy shop, click here

Interview with Jodi Picoult, on Small Great Things, Racism, and more.

*Thank you to Kerry Hood and Jodi Picoult.*

I love to read good writers. That’s probably a defining characteristic. Any way, at about age twelve, I sat down to read Vanishing Acts ; And, after, I had to read anything Jodi Picoult wrote. I read Vanishing Acts, My Sister’s Keeper, Keeeping Faith. Any way, I was allowed to ask her a few questions, in conjunction with the new release of her new novel, Small Great Things. (SPOILER: It’s a great book!)

Growing up, did you aspire to be a writer?

One of my first memories is of getting a library card. My mom was a huge reader, and every week she’d come home with a stack of books, and all I wanted was to be like her. I started reading at age 3, and I was so excited when, for my birthday, I got a reading lamp that sat next to my bed, so that I could read before I went to sleep at night. I was a voracious reader, and I remember several children’s books that were special: “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Umbrella,” “Little Blue and Little Yellow.” As I got older, I started inhaling the All-of-a-Kind Family chapter books, and the “Little House on the Prairie” series. I remember wanting to be as kind and calm and beautiful as Mary, but realizing deep down that I was probably a lot more like Laura: headstrong, messy, and too smart for my own good.  As for wanting to be a writer – yes, I think so, writing was always something I loved doing – but it probably was Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, and her fantastic imagining of a different world, that made me wonder if it could do it.

You’ve also released Small Great Things, your most recent book; why did you choose the topic of racism?

I have known I wanted to tackle the race and prejudice issue for many years now, but I didn’t have the framework until a couple of years ago.   I did know I wanted to write from the point of view of several characters – a Black nurse, a skinhead father and a defence lawyer, a women who, like me, and like many of my readers, was a well-intentioned white lady who would never consider herself to be a racist.   First, I read many books by social justice educators, and enrolled in a social justice workshop. I listened to an Asian-American woman recount her love/hate relationship with eye liner, because of her features; I heard a Black woman say that she had to put on a mask every day just to act the way white people needed to her act.  I left in tears every night as I came to see that I was not nearly as blameless as I thought I was. I then sat down with women of colour who overlooked my ignorance and graciously shared their successes, failures, hopes and fears.  There was the young Black mother who recounted her panic after police shot yet another unarmed Black youth.  She showed me pictures of her beautiful baby, and asked how she could possibly keep him safe forever. A poised, brilliant college graduate told me how whenever she rode the subway, she carried a Vassar water bottle, which she would prop on her knee as if it to say, “It’s safe to sit beside me.” 

 I also interviewed two former skinheads for hours.  They explained to me what white supremacists believe, described some of the violence they had personally inflicted, and told me how the movement has changed its approach since its heyday in the 1980s.  Now, skinheads let their hair grow out and dress like us — and they don’t run in violent crews in inner cities.  They are connected on the internet, and spreading hate  in local communities, posting flyers meant to incite fear.  

 Here is the grievous mistake I had made for the majority of my life:  I assumed that racism is synonymous with bias.  Yet you could take every white supremacist and ship him off to Mars and you’d still have racism in the world.  That’s because racism is systemic and institutional…and yet it is both perpetuated and dismantled in individual acts. Of all my books, this one will stand out for me because of the sea change it inspired in the way I think about myself and how far I still have to go in terms of racial awareness.

Will there ever be a sequel?

It is not currently in the plan!

For those wishing to follow in your footsteps, do you have any advice?

If you want to write … DO IT. Many people have a novel inside them, but most don’t bother to get it out. Writing is grunt work – you need to have self-motivation, perseverance, and faith… talent is the smallest part of it (one need only read some of the titles on the NYT Bestseller list to see that… 🙂 If you don’t believe in yourself, and you don’t have the fortitude to make that dream happen, why should the hotshots in the publishing world take a chance on you? I don’t believe that you need an qualification to be a writer, but I do think you need to take some good workshops. These are often offered through writer’s groups or community colleges. You need to learn to write on demand, and to get critiqued without flinching. When someone can rip your work to shreds without it feeling as though your arm has been hacked off, you’re ready to send your novel off to an agent. There’s no magic way to get one of those – it took me longer to find my wonderful agent than it did to get published!  Keep sending out your work and don’t get discouraged when it comes back from an agent – just send it out to a different one. Attend signings/lectures by authors, and in your free time, read read read. All of this will make you a better writer. And – here’s a critical part – when you finally start to write something, do not let yourself stop…even when you are convinced it’s the worst garbage ever. This is the biggest caveat for beginning writers. Instead, force yourself to finish what you began, and THEN go back and edit it. If you keep scrapping your beginnings, however, you’ll never know if you can reach an end.

Small Great Things is out on 22nd November. (Click here to pre-order.) Jodi is also on a book tour: click here to see her schedule.  

 

 

Interview: Philipa Hanna on Singing, Speed Of Light..

Back in May, I saw Anastacia in concert; but what also caught my eye was the support act, Philipa Hanna. The lady with a huge voice…I bought her album, and have played it too many times to count since. Here, I spoke to her about her career. Thank to Tom Price and Ian Griffiths also for your help!

Hello Philippa, and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Growing up, how did you become interested in music?

My dad was a singer and often dragged me up to sing on stage with him. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t feel somehow ‘called’ to do it. I started writing songs when I was about nine.

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Philipa Hanna. (Thanks to Rosie Hardy.)

What was the first record you bought?

This is quite embarrassing, but it was a Salt & Pepper album. My dad threatened to throw it on the fire when he heard it! Very edgy rap.

How does your faith influence your music?

My faith is the centre of my world and everything else flows out of it. If I’m struggling it’s my faith I lean on. If I’m celebrating it’s God I thank. Because my life before Jesus made no sense to me, so now I rely on him fully to face the world and every task in front of me.

“Phone, purse, laptop, Body spray, hairbrush, dry shampoo, concealer, lip gloss and lots of other random things. Usually a stray Unicorn someone has given me as a gift!”

-Philipa Hanna on her handbag essentials, Mademoiselle Interview. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVNKj0fbMiU

Your new album, Speed Of Light, is a complete stunner; how did you come to create it?

Thanks so much! I went out to America to pursue some industry opportunities and I wound up meeting Kyle the producer of the album. We connected and I LOVED his take on what I could sound like and the type of artist I could be. That’s the beauty of a great Producer, they actually become like a mentor. They pull out the best from you and edit some of the stuff that needs to go…

Was any specific event of inspiration?

I used my journey to America to inspire a lot of the songs. In so many ways the process wasn’t what I hoped for – lots of things didn’t happen that I thought would happen. But in other ways it was more than I could have asked. I think that’s true of our lives all the time. We face disappointment and its easy to get angry with God. But in hindsight we see that He had our best interests in mind.

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Philipa Hanna. (Thanks to Rosie Hardy.)

What did you think about supporting Anastacia?

She was fab! And the shows were amazing. We had a really great time and made lots of new fans!

For a day at the office, what could we find in your handbag?

Phone, purse, laptop, Body spray, hairbrush, dry shampoo, concealer, lip gloss and lots of other random things. Usually a stray Unicorn someone has given me as a gift!

“I went out to America to pursue some industry opportunities and I wound up meeting Kyle the producer of the album. We connected and I LOVED his take on what I could sound like and the type of artist I could be.”

-Philipa Hanna on her album, Speed Of Light, Mademoiselle Interview.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-pktzrl4uw

For aspiring singers, so you have any advice?

Invest into developing your skills, work hard and above all KNOW yourself, and BE yourself.