Book Shelf: Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, PH.D.

Too Much and Never Enough – How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, PH.D.

A must read, revealing book. Served as confirmation for what I have observed, and deduced, on my own, and what I intuitively felt from the energy that exudes from this man. So far, she’s been the only family member willing to come forward and tell the truth about this dysfunctional family and man.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/3nuVb1v

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

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Book Shelf: The Sand Between My Toes by Ailsa Craig

The Sand Between My Toes by Ailsa Craig

A beautiful collection of poetry inspired by family, nature, and emotions.

The opening poem sets the scene for the heartwarming poetry to follow …

Tides bring in life
then flow back out to sea
Time brings us life
then flows into our memory
-ailsa craig

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/3cM3OA3

Ailsa was interviewed on MTA in August 2019. Go here to read more about her and her books …

Meet the Author: The Sand Between My Toes by Ailsa Craig

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Meet the Author: Prostrate Cancer Strikes – Navigating the Storm by Gogs Gagnon

Today we travel to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada to chat with Gogs Gagnon about how a passion for computers, Apple, writing over a million lines of code, humour, dogs, therapeutic writing, Disney, and income tax software come together as part of his past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

A native of New Westminster, I followed an early passion for computers by becoming a programmer and independent technology consultant. In the course of my career, I have developed software for Apple, IBM, and the government of British Columbia, where I was the lead programmer analyst and data architect.

Now, in addition to promoting prostate cancer awareness, I devote much of my time to writing. My next book is a coming-of-age memoir set in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia during the 1970s.

I’m the father of three children, and lives with his wife and their two dogs in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

In which genre do you write?

I write non-fiction about my life experiences. My first book is my prostate cancer memoir. I’m currently writing my second book, which is a coming of age memoir that reveals what it was like going through puberty. I’m also toying with the idea of writing a few children’s books on life lessons.

How many published books do you have?

Currently, I have one book published, my prostate cancer memoir.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and what ignited your author’s flame?

I had no plans to be a writer. However, during my 40-year career as a software developer, I’ve written thousands of pages of technical specifications and over a million lines of code. It’s not real writing, but after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and realized it was therapeutic to share, I decided to write a book about my diagnosis, treatment and recovery. It was a real labour of love and ignited a passion for writing, and it became essential for me to share all the intimate details and lessons learned. Otherwise, I thought there was no point in writing. Since then, I’ve written several guest blogs about cancer and launched a YouTube channel.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I like to use humour while writing about my experiences to help lighten the more serious moments. For example, I imagined what a conversation would be like between different body parts during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’m still a little boy at heart who enjoys cartoons, video games, and playing with toys.

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

I love dogs and would choose a dog as a mascot or a dog as a spirit animal. During my cancer diagnosis and treatment, my two dogs provided much-needed companionship that helped my recovery tremendously. Even though my wife and children stood by my side, the dogs’ unconditional love was beyond human. I’m saddened to say, one of them passed away recently. She suddenly became sick during the night, and on the way to the nearest emergency vet, she passed in the car before we arrived. It was incredibly hard and emotional to say goodbye. I’m blessed to have had her in my life for 13 years, especially throughout my cancer diagnosis.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I can write anywhere when the mood strikes. I always have paper and a pen handy as I never know when I’ll find inspiration. Although, I’d love an office with a spectacular ocean view, with beautiful palm trees and mountains in the background, with a blue sky and sunshine. I would need a big desk and a comfy chair, with lots of inspirational photos on the wall. And of course, a bar to entertain family and friends that extends out into a big deck overlooking nature with a hot tub and private chef. Oh, and I guess a new computer with software to write would be nice too!

What are you currently reading?

I love to read biographies and overcoming memoirs and find it empowering to realize we are not alone. I have several books in the queue and currently reading When Breath Becomes Air.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

It was devastating to hear that I had cancer, and I completely shut down. I had no plans to even talk about my diagnoses, never mind write a book. However, I soon learned that it was very therapeutic to share and helpful to journal my thoughts and feelings. At first, my journal was private and for my eyes only. But several friends, family members, and co-workers asked about my health and how I was doing. Therefore, I decided to share my private journals with them and was overwhelmed by the feedback and encouragement to continue writing.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

My wife and I are big fans of Disney and love to visit Disneyland in California and Tokyo, although we have not yet visited Disneyworld. I recently joined a rowing team, and my wife and I like to keep active by walking, hiking, and swimming. However, COVID-19 has put a delay in our training activities. My heart goes out to all affected by the virus, including my dad, who lost two good friends. Please stay safe and be kind to each other. I’m also a member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC, and a few prostate cancer support groups in my area. We currently meet using Zoom. It’s not the same, and I miss the social interaction and human touch.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I did terrible in school and barely graduated high school. My teacher told me I had a mental block and would never amount to anything. I found a few odd jobs and later found work as a janitor. I loved the job and the people and had no plans to leave. However, in the late 70s, I purchased an Apple computer and discovered a passion for technology, quit my job and enrolled in College, where I graduated at the top of my class. I quickly found work as an independent consultant, developing games for Apple and utility software for IBM.

2. In the early 80s, I developed the first Canadian income tax software program approved by Revenue Canada. Shortly after the success and launch of the software, I landed a job with the government of British Columbia as a lead programmer and data architect, where I worked for 35 years before retiring.

3. I met the girl of my dreams on the dance floor over 40 years ago, and we have been together ever since.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I would have loved to had the opportunity to ask our dog Maya, who recently passed away, lots of questions. But I’ll keep them simple.

1. Do you remember the day we first met at the animal shelter?

2. Tell us about your life before we adopted you?

3. What are your favourite memories?

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, and a pleasure getting to know you, Gogs! Wishing you all the best and much success with this book and your next! – Camilla

Book Blurb

AT AGE 57, GOGS GAGNON became one of the millions of men diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. After his surgery and recovery, he decided to share his story to inspire others to advocate for their health and learn from his experiences. Prostate cancer hits at the very core of manhood, and Gogs, in this deeply personal account, reveals intimate details that every person impacted by the disease — man or woman — needs to know. A guide to those facing prostate cancer themselves or are curious about the disease.

Book Trailer Interview:

Where to find the book:

Prostate Cancer Strikes: Navigating the Storm is available on Amazon and a lot of other online stores in both paperback and electronic formats, with an audio version coming soon. It’s also available in many different bookstores and libraries. If you don’t see a copy, please ask for it. You can also order a personalized signed copy from my website, and you can learn a lot about my diagnosis on my YouTube channel.

For the last 5-days of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Sep 26-30, 2020, PDT, the ebook price will drop to $0.00 to purchase free anywhere in the world! Please help spread to the word to help ensure others don’t miss out on a free copy. https://bit.ly/3bdvsoI

Connect with Gogs:

Website: https://gogsgagnon.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/GogsGagnon

Twitter:

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Book Shelf: The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell – What I Learned from a Remarkable Bird

The title and the cover are what drew me to this book as I discovered it while pulling holds at the library. Written in 2015, about an event that happened in 1975, I really enjoyed this story.

While away for the weekend in Uruguay, twenty-three-year-old Tom Michell rescues a penguin covered in oil from an ocean spill. Michell cleans him up and tries to return him to sea. The penguin refuses to return and follows Michell. We learn how Michell smuggled the penguin, now named Juan Salvador, back to Argentina with him, where he is assistant master at a boarding school.

Heartwarming story of Juan Salvador’s life on the campus, to include the lives he touched along the way.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZrtY5x

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Meet the Author: Guns Under the Bed – Memories of a Young Revolutionary by Jody A. Forrester

Today we’re traveling to Venice (Los Angeles) to chat with Jody Forrester about how the Pacific Ocean, Nancy Drew, Edward Hopper’s house, roller skating, and being doggedly persistent come together as part of Jody’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am that rare thing, a native Angeleno, raised mostly in
Hollywood during the fifties and sixties. I live with my husband,
musician John Schneider, in Venice (Los Angeles) just six blocks from
the Pacific Ocean.

In which genre do you write?

Primarily memoir, but also short fiction.

How many published books do you have?

My first book, a memoir called Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, will be released on September 1, 2020, by Odyssey Books. At least six short stories and essays have been published on both online and in print literary journals.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I wrote my first story when I was ten, pretty much lifted from the Nancy Drew books that I loved so much. Having always been an avid reader, I had a deep desire to write but it took a long time for me to have the time and confidence to pursue the dream.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I revise, from what I can see, many times more than most writers. It’s not unusual for me to revise a story more than a dozen times, and my memoir required at least twice that.

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

My dog is always close to me when I write, keeping me company and my feet warm.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I once saw the painter Edward Hopper’s house on a bluff on Cape Cod, with a large window overlooking the ocean and surrounded by old-growth trees and wild flowers. That would be a wonderful place to write, though I wonder how much I would get done with such a view!

What are you currently reading?

Find Me, by Andre Aciman, a sequel to Call Me By Your Name. He’s one of my favorites writers and his latest book doesn’t disappoint.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Read, see friends, walk my dog, exercise.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

When I’m on a good roll, how transporting it can be. I love how time gets swallowed up until I emerge feeling like I’ve just gone on an amazing trip.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?

I have a box of spiral bound journals that I began writing in when I was about eight but since I’ve been writing stories and memoir, that’s fallen to the wayside. I’m not sure why.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I did have a lot of fun riding my bike around the neighborhood, roller skating down the steepest hills I could find, and making up games and plays. But otherwise my childhood wasn’t so great, and I’m much happier as an adult.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Don’t be stopped by fear or lack of confidence. It’s all in your head, all made up, not based in reality about who you are.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m doggedly persistent and don’t give up easily. Otherwise, I would never get anything written because it’s always tempting to give up.

What are you currently working on?

I’m not writing now since all my concentration is on promoting my book. Marketing and writing occupy different modes of thinking and I seem to be unable to do them both at the same time.

It was great to have you be a part of MTA, Jody. Wishing you all the best! –Camilla

Where to find the book:

Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, is available in brick-and-mortar and online bookstores and for order through Jody’s website, jodyaforrester.com.

Praise:

“Jody Forrester’s memoir is at once an important eyewitness account of how American student activism in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s turned radical, and a portrait of a young woman’s struggle to find her way in the world. Guns Under the Bed traces her journey from innocence to experience, and, in doing so, offers lessons that resonate today. Heartbreaking and edifying, this story is difficult to forget.”
— Samantha Dunn, author of Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life

“Evocative, compelling, terrifying, sad, and ultimately triumphant. A classic coming of age narrative about a woman who seeks a sense of belonging that she doesn’t find in her family or her body.”
— Emily Rapp Black, author of Poster Child: A Memoir (Bloomsbury USA); The Still Point of the Changing World (Penguin Press)

”Every memoir turns on a fundamental question: How did a person like this get into a place like that? In Jody Forrester’s case the question becomes distinctly fraught: How did a middle-class white girl from LA find herself a member of a deluded Maoist sect, armed to the teeth and prepared to die for the revolution? Her odyssey through the last days of the mythical 1960’s touches all the sweet spots of that time even as it illuminates some of its more shadowy corners: our red-hot anger at war and racism, our alienation from the hollow promises of a corrupt establishment, and our certainty that we could heal our hurting hearts and at the same time transform the world into a place of joy and justice. But of course there are no universals—Forrester’s journey is uniquely hers, and hers alone—no easy answers, and no casual causal claims. We see a young woman bursting to live, determined to find meaning in her life, and—for all of her mistakes and miscalculations—a woman with the courage to storm the heavens.”
Bill Ayers (Fugitive Days: A Memoir; co-founder Weather Underground)

Connect with Jody:

Website – jodyaforrester.com

FB – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001532824693
Instragram – https://www.instagram.com/jodyaforrester/
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/jaforrester2

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Meet the Author: You Can Change The World by Margaret Rooke

Today we travel to London to chat with Margaret Rooke about how dyslexia, a byline in the newspaper, working with charities, a view of the sea, a full English breakfast, failure to ‘Mind the Gap’, mental health problems for teenagers, ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac, and Scooby Doo come together as part of Margaret’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a kitchen-table writer of nonfiction books, based in London. My life is so much easier since my husband finished his Christmas jigsaw in the middle of April. In his defence, it was a tough one. There’s a lot more space to work now.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve had three books published over the past few years. The first two were about dyslexia. We found out that our daughter was dyslexic when she was 13 and this was a big shock to us. At primary school she seemed to be taking learning in her stride, but at secondary school she came to a standstill. I was determined that, whatever label she was given, she would still achieve whatever she wanted in life and wrote books to inspire her and others in her situation. The first was called ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic’: a book of interviews with successful people with dyslexia, from Dame Darcey Bussell, to David Bailey, Zoe Wanamaker, Mollie King, Marcus Brigstocke and many others. The second was ‘Dyslexia is my Superpower (Most of the Time)’: a book of interviews with children and teenagers with dyslexia about the advantages and difficulties they face.

Then I decided to write about something else – this time a book about inspiring teenagers called ‘You can Change the World!’ What links these three books is a strong sense of positivity. There’s an underlying message that we can achieve what we want to achieve if we have the right support, focus and drive.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I was sitting having breakfast when I was around ten and I noticed a byline on a newspaper that had been delivered to our house, Mind blown. I asked my mum, ‘Is that a job – writing things and getting your name on them?’ When she said yes, that was it. I trained to be a journalist, then worked for charities helping with communications, now I’m back to writing again.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I love being able to see out of a window when I’m working. Write, pause, look out of window, write, pause, window… It seems to help me put what I’m about to write in perspective.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My ideal writing space would have a great view of the sea, with a window or door that could be opened to see and hear the waves crashing against the rocks. There would also be a kettle and teabags in easy reach and somewhere to go for a full English breakfast close by. Perfect.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I was single for seven years before meeting my husband.
I find it hard to forgive myself when I get things wrong.
Two years ago I failed to ‘Mind the Gap’ on the London Underground and broke my leg which was trapped between the tube and the platform. This was terrifying, especially when the doors began to close. I was rescued by a London Transport worker called George who flapped his arms round like a windmill to attract the driver’s attention. My hero always.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I was hearing so much about mental health problems for teenagers, some of this in my local community. I knew that teenagers listen to other teens more than anyone else so thought a book of interviews with young people who make good decisions benefiting themselves and others: campaigners; volunteers; fundraisers and other role models; might be of great benefit. The book’s called ‘You can Change the World! Everyday Teen Heroes Making a Difference Everywhere.’ I knew this book might not be the answer for teenagers who were seriously depressed, but I thought this could work well for children and young people who feel a bit stuck.

The teenagers in the book are amazing. They have stopped supermarkets selling eggs from caged hens, fought period poverty, raised money for charities, found ways to help beat online bullying, worked to save the environment and help the homeless… So many great achievements from a generation we often overlook and misunderstand.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

For three days a week I work for a fantastic charity for older people, Independent Age. I interview the people the charity helps, their families and volunteers to help with all areas of its work.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking?

I don’t listen to music before speaking, but when I was much younger I was depressed for a long time and music really helped me then. I remember ‘Only Yesterday’ by The Carpenters and ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac in particular were often on my mind. I still like really positive songs like Take That’s ‘Let it Shine’. However I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan and I like his gritty songs as well as the joyous stuff.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Maybe the sweets, but the truth is the older I get the happier I get. I really recommend ageing, though good health is paramount.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

All that anxiety and fear and worry you went through and things turned out well. Who’d have guessed? Maybe you could still tune the worrying down a bit when it takes over.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I think it would be great to be one of the Dream Machine gang in Scooby Doo. They seem to get on well, have a good laugh and have a 100% success rate in what they do. A win, win, win.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Fourteenish years ago I worked for Fairtrade and specifically with Harry Hill on a brand of Fairtrade nuts called ‘Harry’s Nuts!’ Harry watched the film Juno when we were flying back from meeting peanut farmers in Malawi and told me he thought I’d like it. For some reason I never forgot him saying that and I watched it last week. I thought it was brilliant. Such great characters, so well written and well acted. Harry was right!

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘You can Change the World! Everyday Teen Heroes Making a Difference Everywhere’ is an award-winning book of interviews with teenagers from many countries who talk about how they make the planet a better place. Some are campaigning to improve the environment and to deal with bullying, others are supporting Black Lives Matter, educating about LGBTQ rights, keeping teens from joining gangs,  or are simply great role models refusing to take no for an answer despite their own difficulties or disabilities. This is a book to encourage and inspire children and teenagers; to help them see that they can help to make changes in their own lives and in the world around them.

Recent research has shown that adults tend to view teenagers harshly, viewing them as ‘lazy’, ‘selfish’ and ‘antisocial’. Read this book and change your mind!

It was wonderful having you on MTA, Margaret. I love to be able to see out of a window when I’m writing, too. Lovely. I just had to include a link for “Don’t Stop” as I adore this song! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla

Where to find the book.

It’s available at Waterstones, local bookshops and online.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Can-Change-World-Difference/dp/1785925024

https://www.jkp.com/uk/you-can-change-the-world.html

Connect with Margaret:

Website: http://www.margaretrooke.com

Twitter @margsrooke

Instagram @margsrooke

Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/margaret-rooke-3b45848

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Meet the Author: London Crime by Barry Faulkner

Today we travel to London to chat with Barry Faulkner about how sarcasm and humour, English Springer Spaniels, the River Wye, the Forest of the Dean, butterflies, Literary Festivals, gangs and geezers, Morley Academy of Dramatic Art, petty criminals, and the Richardson gang come together for the making of Barry and his writings.

In which genre do you write?

Crime, police procedural and factual.

How many published books do you have?

Eleven and one at the editors.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

When I was at secondary school and English Literature was my only interest, other than football! I won a London County Council writing competition and that was it, next stop the Booker Prize! 😃

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Humour, readers comment on my DCS’s sarcasm and humour. The books may be about serial killings but I guarantee the reader will laugh out loud at least once! 😂

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

English Springer Spaniel, I’ve got three and they are totally faithful and never give up.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A crowded office at the top of Faulkner Towers overlooking the River Wye, PCs, lots of ideas on pieces of paper and reference books on English Law and UK criminals.

What are you currently reading?

I don’t read much, I’ve read all the authors I like as they issue and my last read was Robert Crais. A Dangerous Man, from the Elvis Pike series.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I have no idea, I have been writing ideas and plots down for 30 years so have a plethora of notebooks to get the brain cells into overdrive. Ideas can strike an author at any time so I always carry a small notepad. ( usually forget the pencil)

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Walk the dogs in the Forest of Dean where I live and vegetable and fruit gardening at Faulkner Towers. Her indoors does the flower gardens. 🙂

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

The human imagination is a wonderfully powerful instrument.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

That’s an easy one…. friendship with readers and other writers and being involved in Lit Festivals.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Butterflies.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Start writing earlier.

What are you currently working on?

Book number 11 in the DCS Palmer Serial Murder Squad series.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘London Crime’ My first factual book about the UK big criminals’, major heists and gangs from the Messina Brothers of the 1930s through to today’s top guns.

It was great to have you on MTA, Barry. Your background is so very interesting! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/B.L.-Faulkner/e/B00ND8R6OO

Connect with Barry:

Website: geezers2016.wordpress.com

Biography:

An Amazon Best Selling Author of the DCS Palmer Detective books. 10 out, number 11 coming in April 2020.

Author of London Crime (March 2020) the only available factual book about the UK major robberies from 1930s to the present day, the gangs and geezers that planned and did them plus the aftermaths.

Faulkner was born into an extended family of petty criminals in Herne Hill, South London, his father, uncle and elder brothers and cousins running with the notorious Richardson gang in the 60s-90s, and at this point we must point out that he did not follow in that family tradition although the characters he met and their escapades he witnessed have added a certain authenticity to his books. He attended the first ever comprehensive school in the UK, William Penn in Peckham and East Dulwich, where he attained no academic qualifications other than GCE ‘O’ level in Art and English and a Prefect’s badge (though some say he stole all three!)

His mother was a fashion model and determined that her youngest son would not follow the family career path, she had great theatrical aspirations for young Faulkner and pushed him into auditioning for the Morley Academy of Dramatic Art at the Elephant and Castle, where he was accepted but only lasted three months before being asked to leave as no visible talent had surfaced. Mind you, during his time at the Academy he was called to audition for the National Youth Theatre by Trevor Nunn – fifty years later, he’s still waiting for the call back! After several sales jobs and sending advertising ideas to various agencies he was taken on as a copywriter with the major US advertising agency Erwin Wasey Ruthrauff & Ryan in Paddington during which time he got lucky with some light entertainment scripts sent to the BBC and Independent Television and became a script editor and writer on a freelance basis. He worked on most of the LE shows of the 1980-90s and as personal writer to Bob Monkhouse, Tom O’Connor and others. During that period, while living out of a suitcase in UK hotels for a lot of the time, he filled many notebooks with DCS Palmer case plots and in 2017 he finally found time to start putting them in order and into book form. Ten are finished and published so far, with number 11 at the editors.

Faulkner is a popular speaker and often to be found on Crime Panels at Literary Festivals which he embraces and supports wholeheartedly.
He has recently been seen on screen in the Channel 5 Narcos UK series, Episode 2 The London Gangs and his DCS Palmer book ‘I’m With The Band’ has just been serialised in 16 parts by BBC Radio Bristol. He has been a subject of Corinium Radio’s Writer’s Room programme, Manchester FM’s Hannah Kate Book show, Hawkesbury Upton Lit. Festival ‘Best of British’ panel, Evesham Festival of Words Crime Panel and Bristol Crime Fest Indie Crime Author Panel amongst others

Faulkner publishes a blog about the ‘geezers’ of his youth, the criminals and their heists. It goes in depth about the Krays, Brinks Mat, Hatton Garden , ‘Nipper’ Read and all the other major heists and who ‘dun ‘em’. Take a look at geezers2016.wordpress.com.

He also speaks about that era in illustrated talks for social clubs, WI and others.

As a crime writer Faulkner is quite particular about ‘getting it right’ and as well as his own Facebook page he publishes a page called ‘UK Crime Readers and Writers Page’ which has lots of information about the forensic crime detection methods, police procedurals and other facts of use to both reader and writer of crime and detective books.

Faulkner now lives in the glorious Forest of Dean with his wife and three dogs.

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Meet the Author: Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution by Jordan Bell

Today we travel to Adelaide, Australia and chat with Jordan Bell about how being a psychologist, music, crowdfunding, walking in nature, Leonard Cohen, the art of tattooing, and Battle of the Planets come together as part of Jordan’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a psychologist by training, with a lifelong love of science, and I live in Adelaide, Australia. I love reading, music and walking in nature. When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to make sure she had lots of books which inspired her to love science as much as I do. So as a nerdy mama I had no option but to write one! Aimed at kids 7-11 years, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution explains the basics of this key scientific concept in a fun and engaging way.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve loved writing my whole life. As a child I thought being a writer would be an amazing future career, and I used to spend a lot of time writing and illustrating little books, which I’d bind up with electrical tape. As a teenager, poetry really captured me, and I was in a small poetry circle with two other poets for several years. It wasn’t until I finished my PhD a few years ago (106,000 words!) that I really knew I could write a book. And then when I got the inspiration to write this book, I knew I had to put it out into the world. One wildly successful crowdfund later (we raised 210% of our original goal!) and it seemed like the rest of the world also agreed with me!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My favourite place to write is in a cafe around the corner from my house – I take my laptop in and they bring me endless cups of tea while I’m tapping away. It’s a gorgeous calm space with delicious food and great local arts and crafts for sale. (Update – due to the new COVID-19 social distancing/shutdown rules, I can’t make use of this great venue at the moment! So I am mostly writing from my dining room table these days – there’s not as much tea-on-demand, but I can work in my pyjamas, so swings and roundabouts!)

What are you currently reading?

I am re-reading the Philip Pullman “His Dark Materials” trilogy as a preparation for reading the new book he’s released, The Secret Commonwealth. I forgot how much I loved it when I read it 10 years ago – it’s beautifully written. I have high hopes for the new adventure!

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I love singing and once put on a show of Leonard Cohen songs in my hometown.

My favourite genre to read is science fiction – it comes from my love of science and my general sense of wonder about the world.

Although I am very interested in the art of tattooing, I only have one teeny tiny tattoo myself. If I was going to get something else tattooed on me, it would be the Auryn from The Neverending Story, which was my favourite book as a child.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am the Dean at a residential college for university students, so I support students through their academic and personal challenges, to ensure they can continue to succeed at in their studies. I love my job! It’s always interesting and I really like helping people, so I get to do that a lot.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I’m quite persistent, and that I get more satisfaction from “having written” than from the writing itself. And that I’m quite good at explaining things to kids – which I guess is a legacy of my time as a children’s tutor. I was also really surprised at how much fun it was to work with an illustrator – Gabriel Cunnett (https://gabrielcunnettillustration.com/) did all the illustrations for the book, and he seemed to have the magical ability to reach into my brain, see what I wanted to characters to look like, and call them into existence on the page.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

I really enjoy the “project” of book creation. The learning curve for writing and then self-publishing my first book was virtually straight up – but apparently that’s a space I thrive in, since I love to learn.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Oh gosh, not paying bills! And the chance to spend so much time reading, and the wonder of learning about human biology for the first time.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Without question, it would be Battle of the Planets (the English-dubbed version of Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) – I used to act out invented scenes from this with my cousins all the time. As a kid I wanted to be Princess, but today I’d probably want to be Mark, the team leader.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I re-watched The Princess Bride – one of my own childhood favourites – with my daughter last weekend. It’s amazing how well it holds up as a film! It’s got humour, adventure, romance and a happy ending. And Cary Elwes is fantastically handsome, so there’s also that. I read the book it was based on a few years ago and honestly it’s probably even better than the movie. So I wanted to share that story with my daughter.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a follow-up to my first book, called Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. In a similar way to the Guide to Evolution, it explains and unpacks all the science of Climate Change, from chemistry, to physics, to biology and geology, in a science adventure that is fun to read. The research load has been intense, but I’m really enjoying it!

Tell us about your most recent book.

My first book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, gives kids a fun and fascinating understanding of the key concepts underlying the theory of evolution, using real science. Perfect for parents who want to inspire a love of science in children aged 7-11yrs, start a child’s science education early, or who want female role models in science for their kids.

Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book and how to pronounce them.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jordan. This and your upcoming book sound like great fun to read. Wishing you much success! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.

Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents: Do you know what happened after the dinosaurs died out, but before humans existed? Could you explain Darwin’s theory of evolution to your child? Parents, learn along with your kids as we explore the key contributors to evolution: inheritance, variation and selection. Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. Story-based learning helps everyone remember scientific concepts. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book, and how to pronounce them. So give a gift of knowledge to your children and set them up for a lifetime of STEM success!

Where to buy Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution:

www.gumroad.com/jordanbell

Connect with Jordan:

Follow me on Facebook for more information: www.facebook.com/AuntJodiesGuides

I’m on Twitter at @AuntJodiesGuide

And my website is www.auntjodiesguide.com

 Illustrated by Gabriel Cunnett:

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Meet the Author: Love Earth Now by Cheryl Leutjen

Today we travel to Los Angeles to chat with Cheryl Leutjen about how being an environmental law attorney, writing in nature, trees, blogging, throwing darts, composting, conversations inspired by a dead bush, and a train ride come together as part of Cheryl’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m the author of Love Earth Now, which is essentially a story book, chronicling my struggles to live more eco-conscientiously. I draw from my wide-ranging experiences as a geologist, environmental law attorney, small business owner, spiritual practitioner, and mother to navigate the fine line between eco-mindful and eco-madness.

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, I now live in Los Angeles, my adopted home for some thirty years now, with my husband, two children (when they are home from college). I founded and host the Natural Muse Meetup for people wanting to write in nature. I serve as Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the North East Trees nonprofit. I also enjoy creating art from natural elements, to showcase nature’s gifts. I’m also the butler and handmaiden to three felines, none of whom care one whit about all my credentials.

In which genre do you write?

That’s an excellent question, one I’ve been pondering for a while. I used to think my genre was “creative non-fiction” because the stories I tell are all rooted in my own experience. Then I did some further investigation and learned that it requires a stricter adherence to facts than I exercise. “Outraged exaggeration” is my personal stock-in-trade. So now I’m going with “fanciful non-fiction-ish” as my genre. Which, until it catches on, makes it difficult to enter book contests.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I never made a conscious decision to become a writer, even though people had been telling me that is what I “should” be doing all my life. And that’s probably the reason I resisted so long; I tend to flee from whatever it is others think I “should” be doing. Especially if it involves any kind of laundry.

In my prior careers, I’d done a lot of writing for other people’s purposes—and none of it offered opportunities for creativity, nonfiction-ish or otherwise. My creative writing life was inspired by parenthood. I began writing as a way of processing the insanity that only mothers of tantrumming toddlers can know. I started a “mommy blog,” to share my wisest insights with my subscribers—all seven of them. Audience or no, I got hooked on the therapeutic benefits of the writing.

So when I went to a one-day writing workshop, I’d planned to hone my blogging skills. Instead, the environmental themes of my book, Love Earth Now, came pouring out, much to my surprise. Writing is now the essential therapy that keeps me from spontaneously combusting every time I hear more bad news for Life On Earth.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I was given the coyote as my spirit animal when I completed my spiritual training through the Modern Day Priestess program. How disappointing! I was certain it would be the mighty eagle, a demonstration that I was meant to soar and that I possessed laser focus. Coyote seemed far too common.

A ragtag coyote clan clings to a bare hilltop near my home, a rare speck of open space in our densely-packed Los Angeles. Occasionally, one wanders down, especially in times of drought, looking diseased and bedraggled. Surely this was not the spirit animal guiding me to my noble calling.

Then I studied up on coyote in Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson. In many native American traditions, the coyote is known as the great trickster. Coyote lays traps, much like the cartoon Wile E. Coyote, that backfire on himself—and usually forgets to learn from his mistakes. “As coyote moves from one disaster to the next,” they write, “he refines the art of self-sabotage to sheer perfect.”

Welp, I can relate to that. I excel at laying out the best plan for persuading someone to take on a task . . . only to find I’ve convinced myself into doing it. On a tight schedule and with no budget.

Now when I see the bedraggled coyote, I extend some sympathy. Some compassion for a kindred spirit.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My laptop currently rests on an Army-green picnic table covered in graffiti, some faded and some so recent I had to check for wet paint before sitting. Surrounded by towering trees, the table perches on the hillside wilds of Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Tiny white flowers sprout from the sturdy jade plants at my feet while native oaks sway in the breeze above my head. Noisy blue jays, cawing crows and the occasional hawk circle overhead. Dappled sunshine filters through the leafy canopy, though my fingers cramp in the chilly winter breeze.

This is my ideal writing space. The hard bench offers just enough discomfort to keep me on task, while the natural beauty of this wild, urban garden unlocks the vaults of my imagination. I think of Alice Walker’s quote: “Earth was meant for joy. As an artist, connect with that joy. And you will forever be fed by it.” Steeping here in natural wonder inspires far more creative work than sitting surrounded by four walls.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

When I’m not writing, you’ll find me doing yoga, hiking, bullet journaling, throwing darts, and reading books I wish I’d written, curled up with my cat, Handsome. You might also find me tending my compost bin—which gives me far more pleasure than you might suppose. Diverting my apple cores and banana peels from the methane-producing landfill gives me a solid sense of eco-righteous satisfaction.

What’s more, I like to imagine that I’m working in partnership with all the critters in heap, doing the hard work of converting our food waste into black gold. I used to feel guilty for the waste when some once-delicious dish turned moldy or, horrors, a bottle of wine was left open too long. Now, it’s cause for excitement, like finding the perfect gift for your hard-to-shop-for friend. “The compost critters are gonna love this,” I think. “Hang on, fellas, here comes HAPPY HOUR”!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced in the process of your writing?

Writing outdoors produces some surprising experiences. Ducks inching closer, eyeing my trail mix. The dead bush that inspired a conversation. A wide-eyed, nose-wriggling mole popping out of the green grass next to me.

The strangest, though, was the day I was writing in a neighborhood park, my back against a stately oak. Engrossed in my own world, I suddenly felt a moist bit of something land on my arm. I brushed it off, but the wet bits kept coming, landing on my keyboard, my shoes and then my face (ugh). I looked up and discovered a squirrel on the branch overhead, spitting bits of green walnut flesh on me. I swear he was laughing.

These things just don’t happen when I’m writing in my local coffee shop.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Not only do I believe that things happen for a reason, I cling to that belief like the personal preserver it is. To maintain my tenuous hold on something like sanity, I need to know that there’s redeeming value in even the worst experiences. Not just that there’s “a” reason but a Hoover dam good reason why a precious keepsake was lost. Why the cat I rescued sees fit to shred me on a daily basis. Why my beloved mom passed away too soon.

The best example I can recall right now is the time when I got fired from my dream job. I’d slaved over my studies through law school, just for the opportunity to work for a top-notch, environmental law firm in downtown Los Angeles. I’d devoted two years to hammering my square peg into the round hole the firm assigned to me, trying to shoehorn myself into the culture of the firm. I’d asked for guidance and assistance when my reviews were discouraging. And still, I found myself out on the curb one day. Less than a month later, I began a new position in a law department where I fit in and excelled. I would never have given up on my so-called “dream job,” if I hadn’t been fired from it.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

My idea of the perfect solo date is a train ride. Like that song from The Commitments movie, “destination anywhere, east or west, I don’t care.” I’ll bring too many books, journals, and magazines, so I can catch up on a year’s worth of reading. I’ll pack a lunch bag with cheese, crackers, olives, basil, grapes and dark chocolate—which may be consumed with a glass of Chardonnay from the café. I’ll intend to get some serious writing done . . . and end up staring out the window, bobbing my head to the chug-a-chug until I doze off.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a companion to my book, Love Earth Now, for people wanting more guidance in discovering their own eco-contributions. So many people who’ve read my book or hear me speak say, “just tell me what I should be DOING” about X, Y or Z eco-calamity. As much as I wish I could offer a simple prescription—”buy LED lightbulbs and all will be well”—it’s not that simple. Unfortunately.

Nor is it for me to dictate anyone’s eco-contribution. I believe that each of us, all seven-plus billion humans, come to this Earth with our own calls to action to satisfy, our “soul work,” I call it. How do your heart and soul call for you to contribute, to live, to be? Only you can know. That’s why I include a “Love Earth Invitation” at the end of each chapter in the book, a simple exercise for each reader to pause and reflect for themselves. The companion workbook will offer more in-depth exercises in eco-mindfulness, opportunities to discover what each of us can do right now that will mean more to the world than all that power and influence can buy.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Love Earth Now is a deeply thoughtful, often neurotic, and sometimes comedic exploration of my own efforts to make an eco-contribution. Hailed an “ode to our planet,” it’s both a tribute to the beauty of Earth, as well as a call for us each to honor our unique calls to action.

It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA, Cheryl. The Natural Muse Meetup sounds great!! I enjoy creating art from nature elements, too, so I know what you mean about showcasing nature’s gifts. Wishing you all the best! –Camilla

Where to buy the book:

I urge readers to shop local bookstores, if there’s one nearby. If Love Earth Now isn’t on the shelf there, request it. “Shop local” isn’t just a trendy catch-phrase; it’s one simple way that any one of us can vote for change with our dollars. Shopping local not only keeps our hard-earned dollars in our neighborhoods; it also fosters stronger communities.

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a local bookstore nearby, you can purchase Love Earth Now, both the paperback and the eBook, through all the usual etailers and through my Etsy shop. You can find links to them on my website at LoveEarthNow.us.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BzyVMn

Connect with Cheryl:

CherylLeutjen.com [author website]

LoveEarthNow.us [book website]

Etsy.com/shop/LoveEarthNow

Facebook: @LoveEarthNow

Instagram: @LoveEarthNow

Twitter: @LoveEarthAuthor

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host