Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I've always loved words and writing. I started writing stories as a young child and used to write lyrics to music on the piano as a teen. Stories turned into public speaking competitions with the Royal Canadian Legion. Then in high school, I wrote the weekly column for the school in the Oshawa newspaper. I think I earned 40 cents per square inch back then. I write a lot for my work - as a policy pointy-head and for business and organisational strategies. My favourite writing is now, as an author - and I love writing poetry too.
What makes writing your passion?
I'm a words girl - with so many delectable choices to convey moods, atmospheres, visuals - selecting words is SO satisfying. PLUS sharing how-to or giving guidance to help us be better humans and live and love together as unique authentic adventurers. I cannot imagine my life without words.
How long have you been writing?
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Publishing my first book was like birthing my first child. I didn’t know what to expect until I'd been through it. After the publishing experience, you gain more confidence that you can accomplish writing a book. The second comes more naturally and (ahem) you don’t need to push so much :)
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
As a non-fiction writer, I usually have real characters or a mash-up of real peoples' personalities to work with. I giggle when friends read my books and try to guess who's who.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Remember to stay faithful to your passions. They will be layered by social mirrors and expectations and tough to uncover if they are allowed to be trodden and misplaced. It would have been great to have a time capsule containing your essence as a child, serving as a reminder decades later, when we often 'forget' what we are all about.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I always enjoy getting reader emails, comments and reviews. I love hearing how my stories affect others and the sharing of common experiences in their reactions. I’ll sift through book reviews online periodically - due less to avoidance than just plain busyness. I LOVE getting good reviews, seeing in words what people think as they read and enjoy my books. It is not only rewarding to hear, but it makes me glow inside, fuelling the whole writing process, making the craft enjoyable and worthwhile.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I write my first draft using names of real people that inspire me and infuse the characters in my books. Sometimes I blend together the best traits of two people into one. At the second or third draft I have a ton of fun ‘re-naming’ everyone. Since the characters typically grow and change during the story, it can be challenging to find an appropriate new name (have you ever tried to name a baby … well imagine a dozen at once!) When someone asks me about a particular character. my reaction is first who’s that? I often have to follow the breadcrumbs back to the original person/people that inspired the character to come to life before I can answer effectively.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
I'd love to say 'don't judge a book by its cover' but after writing four books and hearing what readers say about covers - well, we DO judge books by their covers. Authors need to be excellent marketers (with fabulous cover designs) in addition to having perfect prose in the pages that follow.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
There is a Maori proverb about what is important in the world - He Tangata! He Tangata! He Tangata! - It's people! It's people! It's people! When my work is enjoyed and appreciated by others, I feel energised and connected by the invisible thread that ties us all together. I live to serve people.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I'm such a fan of Brene Brown's research into shame and being strong; and I love Glennon Doyle (just finished untamed - fantastic) and refer to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - a lot. My dream would be to one day be considered up there, with these amazing women writers, researchers and the shoulders we all stand upon to reach new heights.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I have stepped back from reading public comments in media stories where people sometimes misplace their human compassion filter. I get a fair bit of publicity as my books reflect current topics - like internet scams or online dating. Someone up there must be looking out for me as I develop a thicker skin and accept with gusto: what other people think of me is none of my business - trolls or otherwise.
What would you say to your readers?
We are all in this together - I need you as much (I hope) as you need me. I love that some of my walking through the fire lessons, might ease the load or prevent others from experiencing harm. I LOVE engaging with my readers and often at in-person events, end up spending way too much time swapping life stories - which I love to hear from others - isn't that what sharing a love of books and stories is all about?
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I am blessed to have two beautiful daughters and an amazing Kiwi husband. We live in Wellington New Zealand, one of the prettiest countries I've ever visited and although very far from the mainstream, constantly punches above its weight in international sport, governance and artistic achievement. From Jane Campion and formula one racers to literary genius and the All Blacks - I am Canadian born, but blessed to be a Kiwi now.
What is your day job if you have one?
I'm really lucky to live my passions for helping people - especially people and places. I am CEO of the Learning for Living Academy that offers online courses and webinars for lifelong learning and I love coaching all walks of life from entrepreneurs to charity chief execs. Love Assist Associates of course is another key part of my life, increasingly with bringing more Love Coaches onboard, we are growing smarter safer daters around the globe AND closer to reaching our target to Love Assist one million hearts by 2025.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love yoga, walking along the water or in native bush and meditation. For someone that is typically high-octane, I need the peace and connection that these mindful practices bring. Highly recommend silent retreats too (though my hubby cannot believe I stop talking that long)!
Did you have a happy childhood?
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
Losing 140k in a romance scam turned me into an author.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I've started on Love Adventures: To infinity and beyond - the third in the trilogy of life, lessons and love. After the broken heart (I Love You Send Money) and the learning self-love (Turbulence: An extreme love story), part three is about two hearts living together in a conscious relationship. It's a work in progress and needless to say, my marriage is giving LOTS of fodder! Rick and I just came back from two weeks in a camper van driving around NZ - yep, this next one will be a doozey.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
The ability to 'walk in each other's shoes' to really feel and know what it is like to be another human being - which would give us greater empathy.
Self-love, acceptance and worth is a requirement for every human being. No guilt, shame, playing small.
Kindness and compassion toward every living creature, place and idea. What great building blocks these would provide for the planet.
What is your favorite music?
I have very eclectic music tastes. From indie and hard rock to classical and opera. Each mood has music attached. In my first two books, I 'pair' music to each chapter to give the ambiance and setting more voice.
Share a secret with us 🙂
In my third book Turbulence: an extreme love story, a few featured canines are named after friends' pets. Don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the naming. My homies will also get some insights into ‘back in the day’ when reading about past events and people.