Tag Archives: Memoir

A Conversation with Linda Kovic-Skow, author of ‘French Illusions’

Linda Kovic-SkowLinda Kovic-Skow resides in Kirkland, Washington. She earned an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting in 1978 from North Seattle Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Seattle University in 1985. She has been married for 27 years and has two daughters. An enthusiastic traveler, Linda also enjoys boating, gardening and socializing with friends. French Illusions, her debut memoir, is the culmination of a three-year project.

You can visit her website at www.lindakovicskow.com.


Thank you for your interview, Linda. Can you tell us what your latest book, French Illusions, is all about?

In the summer of 1979, when I was twenty-one, I contracted to become an au pair for a wealthy French family in the Loire Valley. To secure the position, I pretended to speak the language, fully aware that my deception would be discovered once I arrived at my destination. Based on my diary, French Illusions captures my often challenging, real-life story inside and outside the Château de Montclair. The over-bearing, Madame Dubois, her accommodating husband Monsieur Dubois, and their two children are highlighted as I struggled to adapt to my new environment. Continually battling the language barrier, I signed up and attended classes at the local university in the nearby town of Tours, broadening my range of experiences. When I encountered, Adam, a handsome young student, my life with the Dubois family became more complicated, adding fuel to my internal battle for independence.

French IllusionsHow did you come up with the idea for your book?

About four years ago, after my husband and I dropped our youngest daughter off at college, I went through a sort of mid-life crisis. I missed being a mom and I wondered how I would fill the void. Sure I had my part-time bookkeeping business, but it consumed only a few hours a day and it wasn’t interesting any more. Something was missing, but what?

This prompted me to review what I like to call my “mid-life list.” This is similar to a “bucket list,” with an important twist. The idea was to refocus myself and figure out the things I wanted to do with my life in my fifties – while I could still do them. My list was short.

-Learn to play the piano

-Travel to Africa to see the elephants

-Travel to Tahiti and see the island of Bora Bora

-Travel back to France (with my family this time)

-Write a book

At the time, I didn’t own a piano and, with two daughters in college (on the east coast no less!), I couldn’t afford a trip to Africa or Tahiti. I had already traveled back to France in 2001 with my family, so that left me to examine the fifth item on my list more closely.  If I did write a book, would it be fiction or non-fiction? What genre would I choose?

The answers to my questions came to me in the shower (which is where many of my ideas seem to materialize, strangely enough). I decided to hunt down my diary from my au pair adventure in France and compose a memoir. It took me three years and countless hours to write French Illusions, but now I can scratch another item off my mid-life list.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

I have to admit writing my memoir was a lot more complex than I initially imagined it would be. My diary offered a great outline, but I had to research and fill in hard-to-find data on the Loire Valley, the Loire River and the town of Tours. Internet searches produced most of the information and travel books supplied the rest. From the beginning, difficult questions emerged, such as how to deal with the French sprinkled throughout the book, and whether or not to italicize my thoughts. Oh, and I really struggled with how much detail to include in my own love scenes.

If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Set in the beautiful Loire Valley, French Illusions, my remarkable true story, will remind readers what it was like to be young, adventurous and filled with dreams. It’s not too late to create your own memories so go out and explore the world. Life’s for living, after all.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

It’s difficult to choose one excerpt, but I’m proud of the detailed picture I paint of a French baker in Songais.

“I watched as the other woman, maybe in her eighties, kneaded a large ball of dough at a table on the other side of the display window. Her gnarled fingers pulled and rolled the dough, adding flour until it gained the right consistency. At one point, she stopped to scratch her face , leaving a smudge of flour on her cheek. As I followed Madame out the door, our eyes met, her grin transforming her face from serious to radiant.”

In your experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

I chose to self-publish my paperback through Dog Ear Publishing. They gave me control over design, editing, pricing and allowed me to retain all the rights to my book. Then, I contracted with BookBaby to create my eBook, which I published using my own Limited Liability Corporation called Dreamland Press. They were a good match as well because they charged a fee to create the eBook, but they don’t take a percentage of the royalties.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I start my day about 8:30 in the morning with a generous cup of coffee. After I check emails, I attend to book business for a few hours – promotions, research, my blog or twitter. At certain times of the month, I meet with clients or perform tasks associated with my bookkeeping business. Often, in the afternoon, after lunch, I walk the dog, run errands or write. I can’t sit for long or my neck hurts, so I switch back and forth between my desk and a standing computer station. Late in the day, my husband arrives home from work and that signals a break for dinner. After a few more hours writing at the computer, I finally shut things down at around nine o’clock. Ahhh, a glass of wine usually helps me unwind.

What’s next for you?

French Encore – the sequel to French Illusions!

Thank you so much for this interview, Linda. We wish you much success!


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Read-a-Chapter: French Illusions by Linda Kovic-Skow

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the memoir, French Illusions by Linda Kovic-Skow. Enjoy!


French Illusions

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing (October 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1457514575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1457514579

In the summer of 1979, twenty-one-year-old Linda Kovic contracts to become an au pair for an wealthy French family in the Loire Valley. To secure the position, she pretends to speak the language, fully aware her deception will be discovered once she arrives at her destination. Based on the author’s diary, French Illusions captures Linda’s fascinating and often challenging real-life story inside and outside the Château de Montclair. The over-bearing, Madame Dubois, her accommodating husband, Monsieur Dubois, and their two children are highlighted as Linda struggles to adapt to her new environment. Continually battling the language barrier, she signs up and attends classes at the local university in the nearby town of Tours, broadening her range of experiences. When she encounters, Adam, a handsome young student, her life with the Dubois family becomes more complicated, adding fuel to her internal battle for independence.


Chapter One

The Dubois Family




Je suis américaine. Je ne parle pas français.”

It took equal parts sign language, broken English and even more broken French before I understood the train attendant in Paris. Two more transfers? You’ve got to be kidding, I thought.

Cursing my high-heeled shoes, I dragged my luggage down endless platforms before boarding my final train. An hour later, just as the sun set across the Loire River, we pulled into Songais. Only three other people disembarked and went off their separate ways, hastening around me as I wrestled my suitcases into the station.

Filled with both apprehension and excitement, I surveyed the room, looking for Madame Dubois, but no one there fit her description. Wandering over to one of the tall arched windows, I pressed my face against the pane, peering left and right.

The Songais train station sat along a narrow cobbled street, lined with one white stone building after another, each attached to its neighbor. The structures varied in height, either two or three stories, their rooftops gabled, some with severe peaks. A few buildings presented Juliette balconies trimmed in black wrought iron, their built-in flower boxes filled with raspberry-red geraniums. Seeing no cars or people in either direction, I refocused my attention inside the building.

As I waited, a million thoughts jumbled through my head. How would Madame Dubois react when she discovered my lie? What would I do if she refused to let me stay? Was there a train back to Paris tonight? Even if I could persuade her to let me stay, what about her husband?

The longer I waited, the more agitated I became, starting whenever I heard the slightest sound. A woman entered the station, her heels tapping a steady beat on the linoleum floor. When I saw she carried a suitcase, my heartbeat moderated.

“Avez-vous du feu?” My body jerked as a handsome young man leaned toward me.

Fumbling through my reference guide, I found the word feu, which meant fire, and tried to make sense of his question. Convinced this was a come-on, I glared at him and refused to answer. His shoulders slumped and he shook his head as he walked away. A few minutes later, it occurred to me he merely wanted a light for his cigarette, but by then he had vanished.

“Bonsoir, Mademoiselle Kovic.”

I spun around and saw a tall, statuesque woman, far advanced in her pregnancy, walking toward me. A burst of adrenaline discharged in my brain. With each step, her dark blue wool coat opened, exposing a large belly. Stopping in front of me, her lips forming a thin smile, she extended her hand in one swift motion.

“Bonsoir, Madame Dubois.” My voice quivered as I clasped her palm against mine.  “Good evening” was one phrase I managed to learn, but what to say next? “Parlez-vous anglais?”

Madame Dubois frowned and tilted her head sideways. “Yes, I speak English fluently, but you speak French, correct?”

“The truth is, I speak only a few phrases.” Inhaling deeply, I continued. “I realize this must come as a shock, but I hope you’ll let me explain before you make a decision whether or not to let me stay.”

Her eyes hardened, the color drained from her face. Seconds ticked away as I swallowed firmly against the bile rising in my throat.

Finally, she spoke. “Clearly, I am stunned by this turn of events, but you are here now. As you can see, I do need an au pair very soon. We will discuss the situation with my husband and decide what to do then.”

She motioned with her hand for me to follow her and moved toward the exit. I felt so relieved by her words, it took me a moment to react and pick up my bags.

With her nose raised higher than necessary, Madame Dubois led us around the few remaining passengers and out the door to her Peugeot.

“Put your things back here,” she said, opening the trunk with her keys.

I shoved my bags inside with a grunt, slid into the front seat and Madame pulled out of the train station’s side parking lot. As she maneuvered the car through the town’s slender streets, I studied my new patron. She appeared to be in her early thirties. Her thick blonde hair was pulled back from her face into a low ponytail, emphasizing her prominent nose. Unadorned by makeup or lipstick, no one would have called her pretty, but her alabaster skin glowed flawlessly, and her reserved demeanor suggested self-assurance in her social standing.

Hoping to ease the tension, I ventured, “Is it far to your home?”

“No, we live only a short distance from town.”

“How convenient,” I said, twisting to gaze out the window, marveling at an ancient stone church and then catching a glimpse of a grand, elegant chateau rising above the town, its multi-towered turrets extending skyward.

“Have you lived here long?”

“I grew up in Songais and so did my mother before me.” Madame Dubois’s voice sounded cool and aloof. “I would not consider living anywhere else.”

Her chilly reception increased my anxiety. I shifted my position, trying to relax my clenched teeth. At least she didn’t put me back on the train immediately. Somehow I would have to persuade her and her husband to give me another chance and let me stay on as their au pair.


Five minutes later, Madame pulled the car off the main highway onto a private road marked with an ornate metal gate. We progressed slowly along a gravel driveway through a forest so dense it formed a tunnel in front of us. As Madame rounded a bend in the road, I caught my first glimpse of the Château de Monclair on the hillside.

Built in the mid-1800s, it stood three stories high, topped by tall gables decorated with medallions and leaf designs. Elegant dormer windows on two sides protruded from the roof. Red bricks dominated the building, but cream-colored stones framed all eight of the massive paned windows, four on the first level and four on the second. An intricate stone railing encircled the court off the first floor, and the area below opened up to a massive expanse of grass lawn. We pulled up to the front entrance and I glanced at Madame Dubois, my mouth agape. “It’s unbelievable.”

She smiled and dipped her forehead, a regal motion like a queen to a servant.

The interior of the Château de Montclair proved equally impressive. The ten-thousand-square-foot structure housed eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, a library, and various formal and casual rooms. Moving around the interior, our heels clicked on the gleaming marble floors, the sound resonating upward from the foyer, emphasizing the soaring grandeur of the building.

Twelve-foot ceilings, six-foot tall mahogany wainscoting and intricate built-in dark wood cabinetry highlighted the superior artisanship of the 19th century. Period furniture and ancestral art, placed to perfection, made me feel I was touring a museum rather than a home. In almost every room, elaborate colorful flower arrangements welcomed us. The bouquets looked freshly picked—possibly from a garden somewhere on the grounds.

Several times Madame Dubois hastened me along, her fingers gripping my elbow when I stopped to gawk at a sculpture or a painting. “Come this way and I’ll show you the upper floors of the chateau.”

We climbed the stairs to the second landing and strolled down the hallway, Madame pointing toward closed doors as we passed by. “These are the children’s rooms, but they are already in bed.”

My eyebrows lifted in surprise when she said this. Leaving the children alone to fetch me from the station seemed irresponsible, but then again, it was only a five-minute drive.

When we reached the master bedroom, Madame grasped both handles on the double doors and opened them with a flourish. A large, exquisitely carved mahogany bed dominated the room, complemented on either side by matching nightstands. On the opposite wall, a mirrored dressing table accommodated several perfume bottles with crystal stoppers. Beside the six-foot tall window, a dozen burgundy-red roses sat on their own stand, and two graceful armchairs took their places nearby. The royal and light blue silk bedspread and elegant floor length blue-patterned drapes finished the room.

Standing still, drinking in the scene before me, I obeyed with reluctance when Madame Dubois waved me toward the exit.

Continuing up the stairs to the third floor, we entered the first bedroom on the left, one of four on this floor.

“This room is reserved for my au pairs,” Madame Dubois said, prompting a wide-eyed double take from me.

The diminutive room contained a graceful barrel-arched dormer window with two built-in wardrobes on either side. Below the window, a compact desk invited au pairs to sit and write while enjoying the view of the valley below. A small, narrow bed rested against the opposite wall, and a comfortable stuffed chair filled the corner. The adjacent room contained a small sink, but nothing else.

“It’s lovely, but where is the bathroom?”

“Down the hall,” she replied, pointing with her forefinger. “I suppose all of this is quite different from your home in the United States?”

“That’s for sure. I never imagined I would live in a place like this.”

Madame Dubois crossed her arms under her chest. “We will see . . .  My husband and I will listen to your explanation first.”

Descending the stairs, I contrasted my own home with the Château de Montclair. Raised in a humble family with very few extravagances, my reference for this kind of wealth came from television and the movies. My parents shopped at second-hand stores and discount grocers, always settling for the less expensive choice in order to save a dime or two. Over time, they saved and accumulated money, acquiring several low-income rental properties. Influenced by hardships during the Great Depression and World War II and always looking toward the future, they remained hesitant to spend money on anything deemed “unnecessary.”

For the last three years, I lived in one of their apartments while I worked and attended college. Although I appreciated the discounted rent, I dreamt of one day moving into a chic residence in a more sophisticated part of town.

Madame’s voice brought me back to the present. “I’ll pour us some lemonade, and we can wait for Armand in the salon.”

Holding my drink, I followed her into the room, and we sat in two armless chairs near the fireplace. A few minutes later, Monsieur Dubois, debonair in an expensive business suit and tie, sauntered into the room.

Broad-chested and of average height, his brown eyes and olive skin augmented his good looks and suggested a Mediterranean influence. He glanced my way, but before acknowledging my presence, he greeted his wife. Strands of dark wavy hair fell forward as he kissed her on the cheek.

He then turned to me. “Bonsoir, Mademoiselle Kovic.”

The bile revisited my throat. I pushed it down.

Armand, Mademoiselle Kovic ne parle pas français,” she told him. Miss Kovic doesn’t speak French.

Monsieur Dubois scowled and wasted no time dissecting the matter. “I do not understand. The agency assured us that you spoke French. Who wrote the letters for you? Why would you take such a chance?”

“I know it was foolish of me and I’m sorry.” Swallowing back tears, I tried in earnest to explain how and why I had deceived them, my voice cracking on several occasions.

After I finished, neither of them spoke, their cold blank stares daunting. At last Madame Dubois broke the silence. “This is your explanation?”

She didn’t understand how much I wanted the flight attendant position with World Airways. I’ve never wanted anything so much in all my life, I thought.

Desperate now, I leaned forward and offered some final heartfelt words. “You have every right to be angry with me, but I really am a good person. I promise to work very hard as your au pair, and I’ll practice my French daily if you’ll only agree to let me stay.”

A look passed between Madame and Monsieur Dubois, and then he rose from his seat. “We will need a few minutes alone to discuss the matter. Would you mind waiting in the foyer?”

“No, of course not.”

I exited the room, doubt swirling inside my brain. Did I convince them? I wasn’t sure.

While I waited, I chewed my bottom lip, pacing back and forth, my hands clasped behind my back. When Monsieur called me back into the room, my lungs froze in my chest.

“Madame and I have decided to let you stay. As you can see, we have very little choice with the baby coming so soon. We hope this deception is the last we will experience while you are here.”

A long lingering breath escaped from my mouth. “Thank you so much.”

Monsieur Dubois offered me a tenuous smile and his voice softened. “I am sure you are exhausted. Why don’t you go up to bed? Everything will look brighter in the morning after a good night’s rest.”


Reprinted with permission from French Illusions by Linda Kovic-Skow. © 2012 by Dog Ear Publishing

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Women’s Contemporary Fiction Author Rozsa Gaston: ‘When I suffer from writer’s block I go running’

Rozsa GastonRozsa Gaston is an author who writes serious books on playful matters. She is the author of Paris Adieu, Dogsitters, Budapest Romance, Lyric, Running from Love and the soon to be released Paris Adieu sequel, Black is Not a Color Unless Worn By a Blonde.Rozsa studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between Rozsa worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family.

You can visit Rozsa’s website at www.parisadieu.com.

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About Paris Adieu

Paris AdieuThe first time Ava Fodor visits Paris as a nineteen-year old au pair, her French boyfriend introduces her to the concept of being comfortable in her own skin. If only she knew how…

One Ivy League degree later, she’s back for an encounter with a Frenchman that awakens her to womanhood. If only she could stay….

Five years later, Ava returns to Paris as a singer/pianist. She falls for Arnaud, whose frequent travel tortures her. While he’s away, a surprising stranger helps Ava on her journey to self-discovery. Armed with the lessons Paris has taught her, she bids adieu to Arnaud, Pierre and her very first love – the City of Light.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Rozsa. Can you tell us what your latest book, Paris Adieu, is all about?

Paris Adieu is a coming of age tale of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

The book has two themes: 1) how to be  comfortable in your own skin and 2) how to fake it till you make it.

Paris Adieu’s heroine, Ava Fodor, is clueless about both at the start of the story. But over ten years and three separate stays in Paris, she figures out a thing or two – thanks to insights living in Paris has given her. Ava studies French women, French food,  French attitude – while French men study her.  By the final chapters of Paris Adieu, she’s more or less transformed herself into the woman she wants to be. And if she hasn’t entirely, at least she’s learned how to fake it till she makes it.

Ultimately, Ava grasps that her newfound sense of self will work for her back in the U.S. in a way it never will if she stays in Paris. She’ll never become French. But she has become fabulous. More or less.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

My main character is Ava Fodor, a slightly plump, frizzy-haired nineteen-year-old American au pair in Paris. She struggles with being less than perfect.

Jean-Michel is Ava’s fussy, exacting first French boyfriend who educates her on all matters Parisian. Too bad his provincial outlook drives her up the wall.

Four years later, Pascal, Ava’s second French boyfriend, gives her something she’ll thank him for eternally – an introduction to her own womanhood.

Arnaud, Ava’s third French boyfriend, dazzles Ava’s head as well as her heart, until she finally tires of matching wits with him in a never ending zero-sum game. Recalling Pascal’s advice to her to always seek authenticity, she realizes she can’t be herself with Arnaud, nor in her career as a singer pianist.

When Arnaud’s friend Pierre shows interest in her original songs in a way Arnaud never has, Ava gains insight into who she really is and where she belongs. Pierre’s entrance into her life catalyzes her to move in a new direction – back to New York armed with the lessons Paris has taught her.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I base my characters on real people.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I almost never have more than a vague idea of where my plot is going. My characters let me know sooner or later what is going to happen to them. The plot derives from them.

Q: Your book is set in Paris. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Audrey Hepburn summed it up best when she said “Paris is always a good idea.”

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes. Mais oui!

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Ava meets April, the Californian ex-girlfriend of Ava’s French boyfriend Jean-Michel. April has returned to Paris for a brief visit and drops by to see Jean-Michel. Expecting to feel jealous, instead Ava realizes that she and April have far more in common with each other than either of them do with Jean-Michel. They’re both a bit plump, both on diets, both struggling to get their arms around the very Parisian concept of being comfortable in their own skins. When Ava witnesses Jean-Michel trying to sabotage April’s efforts to stay on her diet when they all go out, she gets wise to Jean-Michel’s controlling ways. After April’s visit, Ava has Jean-Michel’s number – and it’s up.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

I hope you enjoy reading the following excerpt from Paris Adieu as much as I enjoyed writing it:

“You saw her recently?” Arnaud asked, his voice for once not booming out, dominating the conversation.

“She passed through Chavignol about a month ago,” Pierre said.

“Did she ask about me?” Arnaud’s tone was serious, almost reverential. I remained quiet as a mouse, tiptoeing behind the men.

“I can’t remember,” Pierre replied.

“You can’t remember what Mélanie said to you? I don’t believe it,” Arnaud said.

“We were at the boulangerie. It was crowded – we spoke in passing.” Pierre looked around, spotting me then clearing his throat.

I walked quickly ahead, pretending not to have heard anything. My blood boiled to think of how vulnerable Arnaud’s voice had sounded when he’d asked if whoever Mélanie was had asked about him. I’d never heard Arnaud utter a single word to me in a similar tone, not even when he’d said je t’adore.

Suddenly, I didn’t adore him back at all. My feelings for him crumbled, as the scales fell from my eyes. He was carrying a torch for someone named Mélanie. And whoever she was, she wasn’t me.

Always maintain straight posture at critical moments,” my grandmother’s voice rang out inside. I straightened up, flicking my ponytail back to ward off the gnat of insecurity now buzzing behind me. Then it hit me – Mélanie was the name of the woman in the photo at Arnaud’s country house.

Something tugged at my hair. I ignored it. Again, I tried to catch their conversation.

Arnaud had realized I was within earshot. Changing course, he began to describe a herd of elephants he’d seen in Cambodia.

I felt another tug. This time, I turned my face to the left, where Pierre’s warm, brown eyes caught mine. I lowered my own quickly, my pulse racing. He had been the one pulling my ponytail. Meanwhile, Arnaud droned on about yet another fascinating, obscure thing that had happened to him in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Pierre lowered his eyes back at me and made an inaudible ‘shhh’ with his mouth.

My smile was discreet, unnoticed by Arnaud, who was now waxing rhapsodic about how baby elephants call for their mothers. Whatever.

It occurred to me things that happen to us don’t really matter as much when they are not shared. If Arnaud had been watching baby elephants bawl for their mothers with me, for example, we would have shared the memory of such a charming scene forever, woven into the fabric of our relationship, however long it lasted.

Instead, it would be Arnaud telling his baby elephant story to others throughout the years, regaling strangers in bars with tales of wondrous exploits he underwent alone. So what? It all seemed like a big nothing to me.

“And then the female elephants all form a circle around the babies and bellow at the male elephants who try to charge the watering hole before the babies have had their drink. Yak, yak, yak, blah blah …” Arnaud was now completely caught up in his anecdote, oblivious to Pierre’s eyes flickering over mine, engaged, attentive, and fully present in the moment. “Be here now” was what Arnaud had preached to me.

But Pierre practiced it.

My mind wandered back to George Berkeley, the eighteenth-century empiricist who’d said “to be is to be perceived.” He was one of my favorite philosophers. In my college philosophy classes, he’d been one of the few I’d fully wrapped my brain around, along with Hegel and his three-part dialectic. As a songwriter I could really get behind the concept of three – verse, chorus, bridge were the three components of just about every pop song ever created. It was inarguably a pleasing number, both to the mind and to the senses. No wonder God had chosen it to represent Himself.

But back to Berkeley’s way of thinking – let’s just say that Arnaud hadn’t really seen those baby elephants, or heard them crying for their mothers, or seen the ladies get huffy with the males who tried to drink before the kids had their fill. Who would ever know? Since Arnaud witnessed this whole scene by himself, then who was to say it actually happened?

That’s what Berkeley would ask and that was what I was asking now. If Arnaud chose to live his life in a way largely unshared by anyone who remained constant in it, then was there meaning in what he experienced? Frankly – who cared?

Excerpted from Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

When I suffer from writer’s block I go out running. If I’m really blocked, I do a speed workout. Speed workouts put the body into an anaerobic state which causes the brain to produce endorphins afterward. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that promote feelings of euphoria. I usually sleep well and dream vividly the night after I’ve done a speed workout. I think it’s those endorphins inviting inspiration into my brain. By the next morning I’ve usually come up with a fresh new writing idea.

If that doesn’t work, I brainstorm by writing down as many plotlines, outcomes, and crazy directions for the story to go in as come into my head. I do this first thing in the morning before the day gets cluttered up with real life.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Read! I’d kick back with a fiction work of choice and learn from other authors. Famous, infamous or unknown, it wouldn’t matter. I love reading what other writers do with words. It’s always instructive. Even when its bad, it teaches me something. But there’s nothing like the pleasure of reading a well-written passage. It’s as good as eating a box of fine chocolates.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I’d written Bonjour Tristesse, the 1954 masterpiece and debut novel by Françoise Sagan. That book had it all: style, austerity, chic, wit, insouciance, ennui, the whole gamut of what the French refer to as “je ne sais quoi” – “I don’t know what.” I hope Paris Adieu has a similar blend of seasoning – but without the ennui. Ennui is one of those characteristics largely exclusive to Europeans – unless we’re talking about Whit Stillman characters. I’ve always wanted to have it, but never will.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Complete your projects. Don’t start a manuscript, lay it aside then start another one. Get into the habit of completing whatever writing project you begin. It’s a good discipline to follow and sooner or later one of your completed projects will be good enough to publish. If no one else thinks so, just publish it yourself. Voilà – you’re on your way!

Thank you so much for this interview, Rozsa.  We wish you much success!


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Interview with Sarah Tate, author of ‘Web of Lies’

Sarah Tate is a single mother living and working in Switzerland. She arrived in Switzerland ten years ago and apart from a brief stay in France, has remained ever since, as Switzerland has become her adopted homeland.

Sarah has three young kids, who take up most of her time, but she still managed to find time to write her first book ‘Web of Lies – My life with a Narcissist’. The book is an auto-biographical novel which describes in graphic details, the ups and downs of life with a person who suffers from (amongst other things) Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Web of Lies takes the reader on an emotional journey and gives a deep insight into what it’s like to be sucked into the world of a disordered individual, and more importantly, how to escape with your sanity intact.

Her second book, Renaissance – A Journal of Discovery, is the sequel to Web of Lies. It describes the road to recovery from narcissistic abuse, and charts the progress of Sarah and her children as they rebuild their lives following the breakup of the family, and slowly come to terms with the financial and emotional devastation caused by Sarah’s ex.

Sarah has discovered a passion for writing, and is about to embark upon her first novel, a psychological thriller.

You can visit Sarah’s website at www.sarahtateauthor.com and her blog at www.singlemumsal.blogspot.com.  Connect with Sarah at Twitter at www.twitter.com/SarahTateAuthor or Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Tate-Author/358586909900.

About Web of Lies

Web of Lies takes you on an emotional roller-coaster, experienced through the eyes of Sarah Tate, an intelligent, young newcomer to Switzerland who is swept off her feet by an older, more experienced company manager. Within weeks of their meeting, Bill impresses her with a courtship vastly unusual in modern times. He lures Sarah with his intellect along with numerous gifts, expensive restaurants, and trips to luxury hotels. Sarah, who is searching for not only love but security, quickly finds herself falling for the worldly but sensitive and caring man Bill represents himself to be. In Web of Lies, she describes the highs and the lows of what it is like to be involved with a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, how to come to terms with the abuse, and most importantly, how to escape.

Bill, who is seventeen years older than Sarah, has led what she finds at first to be a fascinating life. Married twice before, he has been recently widowed, after his second wife fell into depression and took her own life. Within months of their first meeting, Bill has proposed to Sarah, and they are planning a lavish wedding and exciting new life together. However, Sarah quickly starts to feel there may be more to Bill than meets the eye.

Sarah battles to keep the marriage on track, but is frustrated by Bill’s lackadaisical attitude towards work, and his constant bragging about how he’s going to make millions via various entrepreneurial schemes which never materialize.

Sarah eventually begins to wake up to Bill’s lies and schemes, but not before she discovers his dark side….

As the marriage ends, Sarah battles serious clinical depression in order to cope with the destructive relationship with Bill.

Sarah realizes finally that she must break the pattern of abuse in order to escape with her sanity intact. Mindful of protecting her children from him, she eventually stands up to Bill for the final time, and is left at the end to carve a new life. She is in debt and alone, but thankfully free from Bill’s negative and unhealthy influence.

Giveaways, Contests & Prizes!

In celebration of  Sarah Tate’s new release, he will be appearing at  Pump Up Your Book’s 1st Annual Holiday Extravaganza Facebook Party on December 16.  More than 50 books, gifts and cash awards will be given away including an an e-copy of her book, Web of Lies!  Visit the official party page here!



Q: Thank you for this interview, Sarah. Can you tell us what your latest book, Web of Lies – My Life with a Narcissist, is all about?


Web of Lies is an auto-biographical novel.  It tells the story of a young woman, who is swept off her feet by an older, more experienced company manager, and how she falls head of heels in love with him.  After they are married and begin a family, the cracks begin to appear in the relationship, and the narcissistic personality traits of the husband are revealed.  Soon, her world is turned upside down as she finds herself literally trapped in a spider’s web of deceit and lies.  Life goes from bad to worse, as the husband creates more and more financial and emotional turmoil for the family. Things seems impossible until she finally sees him for what he really is, and gathers all her strength to make the break from the cycle of destruction in which she is caught.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?


There are a lot of ‘self-help’ types books out there which deal with toxic relationships and how to recognize the traits of a disordered personality. But there are not a lot of ‘real life case histories’ which ordinary people can just pick up and read as though they were a novel, yet still learn to spot the red flags in these relationships.  I wanted to write a gripping novel which would also educate people about the true nature of narcissists and psychopaths.


Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Obviously, I spent a great deal of time researching the personality disorders described in the book, and also talking to other women /men who had lived through a similar experience.  Once the book was written I sent it to a very well-known UK Forensic Psychologist, Dr David Holmes, to get his opinion on the book and provide a comment which would help the reader understand the condition even more, by reading a professional opinion of the book.


Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?


That this kind of thing can happen to anybody.  That it’s easy for the narcissist/psychopath to draw you in and make you believe his world is real, and moreover, that you are NOT going crazy, and there is a way to get away from the spiders web.


Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?


I was fascinated, spellbound. This man had led a full and colourful life. He was well-travelled, well-versed, and so very experienced. Not only that, but he was clearly a successful businessman, who had ‘retired’ to his position in the company where we worked, in order to ‘kick back and enjoy life’ a little more. I wondered what on earth it was that Bill could possible find interesting about little old me. Here I was, just twenty-nine, and with no significant story to tell, and yet he seemed in awe of me. The perfect gentleman, he appeared genuinely interested in everything I had to say. He paid me compliments, held open doors, and treated me with kindness and respect. As the evening wore on, I was becoming more and more drunk, and I was having an absolutely fantastic time. It certainly seemed as though Bill was too, because when it came time to leave the club, it was clear that neither of us wanted to leave the other’s company just yet.

“Why don’t we go back to mine?” he suggested.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m starving, and I think we both need some food to help mop up all this wine!”

I had to agree. Once out in the fresh air I was staggering somewhat. Not really a good look when you’re on a first date with somebody, but I felt so completely comfortable in his company by now, it really didn’t seem to matter. I gladly accepted his invitation, comfortable that he really was a perfect gentleman, and that we were going to become the best of friends. That was the start of the weekend that would change the course of my entire life.”



Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?


Yes, it’s incredibly hard if you go down the traditional publishing route.  These days, if you’re not already known in the public arena, it’s virtually impossible to get an Agent or a Publisher to take an interest in your story.

After a long and drawn out process of failed attempts, and a very dodgy publishing deal offer, which would have seen me relinquish all rights over my book, I decided to educate myself about the self-publishing process and go it alone.  I got some expert advice from people within the industry and that helped me greatly.  I prefer the control I have now the book is self-published.


Q: What’s a typical day like for you?


Hectic!  I’m up at 05.45, drop my kids off with the child-minder at seven, then go to work.  I work in an office all day, then at 16.00 I pick the kids up, we go home, they do homework and I cook.  By 8pm they go to bed and it’s then that I get time to sit at my computer and do publicity work on my books, or write.


Q: What’s next for you?

Lots more promotion of Web of Lies, plus its sequel, Renaissance.  I’m also planning on writing my first novel (a psychological thriller) during 2012.


Thank you so much for this interview, Sarah.  We wish you much success!


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Interview with Carla Malden, author of ‘AfterImage’

Carla Malden grew up in Los Angeles, California. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from U.C.L.A. with a Bachelor of Arts in English and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society for her academic achievement. She worked extensively in the film business, both in production and development.

With her husband, filmmaker Laurence Starkman, she wrote twelve feature screenplays; they also served as rewrite guns-for-hire. The team of Malden & Starkman wrote and produced the short romantic comedy Whit & Charm, which screened at eight major film festivals, including The Hamptons, and won several awards. They also wrote and created a series of Cine Golden Eagle Award-winning Art History films produced in association with The Detroit Institute of Art and The National Gallery.

Along with her father, Academy Award-winning actor Karl Malden, Carla co-authored his critically acclaimed memoir, When Do I Start?, published by Simon & Schuster.

AfterImage:  A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life delivers a fiercely personal account of her battling the before and surviving the after of losing her husband to cancer. It offers an alert for an entire generation:  this is not your mother’s widowhood.

Carla Malden lives in Brentwood, California where she is currently completing her first novel as well as a children’s book illustrated by her daughter, Cami Starkman.

Visit her website at www.carlamalden.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Carla. Can you tell us what your latest book, AFTERIMAGE: A BROKENHEARTED MEMOIR OF A CHARMED LIFE, is all about?

AFTERIMAGE is a personal account of a last year and a first year: the last year of my husband’s life — our life together, and the first year of my life without him — the rest of my life.  It’s about my transition to widowhood, a widowhood too soon.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Sadly, I lived it.  I think I wrote it to try to make sense of what had happened, to try to come to grips with my new reality which felt utterly surreal.  It was a particularly bizarre reality because I woke up one morning and I was a young widow. I believed I was part of the “forever young” generation; how could I be a widow when I didn’t even feel like a grown-up?  I needed to put the experience into words to make it real.  Ultimately, I needed to write a love letter to my husband.  At its core, that’s what AFTERIMAGE is.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

All the research was done during the previous year when I was trying to conquer cancer and save my husband’s life.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

I intend no single message and hope that everyone will come away with something personal to him or her.  But if I had to choose one theme it would be : carpe diem.  Seize the day.  Bring your best, most loving self to the people you love rather than saving good behavior for random strangers.  All we have is this moment.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Around this time, early in the chemo, people began to tell me how well I was doing, how strong I was.  They commented that I was doing so many things right.  It made me crazy.  And, now all this time later, it still does.  The disconnect between how I seemed — how I appeared, how I behaved, how I functioned — and how I felt began to widen in that post-surgery / early chemo time.  At the very beginning, the onslaught of the diagnosis and my instinct for immediate action left no room for behaving like anything but the raw nerve I was.   But as the weeks passed, I found that the appearance of normalcy was worth something.  Fake it till you make it, they say.  I clung to the corollary:  If you fake it convincingly enough, you will definitely make it.

One friend said she couldn’t believe my hair was clean.

Washing my hair is the easy part, I wanted to scream.  Just like putting on mascara and all the rest.  But look at my eyes:  I’m not here.

You start to go a little nuts when the way people perceive you doesn’t match your insides.  You feel like a fraud.  You question the way in which you have related to people all your life.  How did you become so expert at deception, at feeling one way and behaving another?  Surely you don’t just wake up one morning when your husband has cancer and find yourself so skilled at pretending.

One day another friend said that I was sounding much better, that she was glad that I had managed to detach.  I couldn’t even process that comment.  I could not have been less detached.  She might as well have said, “It’s so great that you have trampolined right out of your life.”

In all fairness, no one could say anything right.

Another friend asked, “Trying to stay optimistic?”  I wanted to slit his throat.  What I wanted to hear was, “Everything’s going to be perfectly fine.”  An effort to “stay optimistic” implied we were fighting a battle that could actually be lost.  I had no tolerance for hearing that.  While I struggled every single moment to maintain a fingerhold on optimism, I wanted everyone else around us to believe it was a sure thing.  Having to try to stay optimistic  — it was that word “try” that bristled —  meant what was wrong was so big that maybe optimism was misguided.

Despite friends’ well-meaning comments, despite my over-analysis of what were intended as encouraging words, despite my exhaustion, some time around week six, something strange happened.  Were I a believer, I might have presumed I found myself in the grace of God.  My obsessive thoughts about the future subsided.

A friend I’ve known since childhood who had undergone successful cancer treatment a few years earlier suggested a trick.

“Ask yourself,” she said, “what’s so bad about today?”

Often, she promised, the answer would be, “Nothing.”  And lo and behold, as Laurence recovered from the surgery and acclimated to the chemo routine, there came a string of days that turned out to be manageable, even better than manageable.  During those weeks, I discovered contentment, even pleasure, in the smallness of our life.  Newsy phone chats with Cami, visiting with the oldest of friends, meals at home.  It was not the life we were used to living.  But it had a simpleness to it, a confinement, that was curiously comforting, as though we were swaddling ourselves in what was really important and letting the excess fall away.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

I showed my manuscript to a small circle of friends who responded so strongly that I began to think the book might have a place in the world at large.  In fact, one friend shared it with her book club and after that, the book took on a life of its own.  It began being used by book clubs up and down the coast of California.  Then my agent partnered with another agent; I knew she was perfect for this book when she said, “This is not a cancer book.  This is a love story.”  I knew she had the right approach for selling it and she succeeded.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I don’t really have a typical day.  I volunteer running a Creative Writing workshop at a rehab center one morning a week.  I see a lot of movies, go to a lot of theater and get together with friends.  I spend as much time as possible with my daughter who’s in graduate school.  In terms of my “work” day:  if I put in three hours a day, I’m happy.  When I’m really absorbed, that’s no issue.  I often work at night, too.

Q: What’s next for you?

I’m just completing my first novel.  And I’ve also just finished an illustrated children’s book with drawings by my daughter, Cami Starkman.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Carla.  We wish you much success!

Thank you very much.

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Interview with Megan van Eyck, author of ‘Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress’

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress by Megan van Eyck, is a cautionary tale about the causal relationship between marital emotional neglect and questionable choices. It is a warning for the spouse who wants to dismiss an affair as just sex or for any woman who thinks love is enough to keep a man that isn’t really hers.

“You never know what happens between two people when they are alone” is a common sentiment reserved for married couples who appear to have relationships that defy the odds. The same can also be said for couples involved in long-term adulterous affairs.

Many people believe that infidelity is only about sex: two people, one hotel room, and a few hours to spare. And Megan van Eyck’s extramarital affair began just like that, with lusty hours spent between hotel sheets. But within a few months van Eyck realized she had found what she and her lover did not know they were both looking for: true love.

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress offers an honest look behind closed doors. It is a forthcoming, sometimes steamy, account of both the passion and the heartbreak associated with being a mistress; about the futility of sharing a love while not sharing a life. Van Eyck is reflective as she addresses her compelling and unusual personal history, which made being the other woman an acceptable option. She makes no excuses for herself, her mistakes, or her betrayal of her husband as she recklessly pursues love. She wants everything, unabashedly.

But her priorities shift when Carlos, her lover, is diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. Her concerns shift for hoping for a life with him to hoping that he’ll be able to live through treatment for this rare and incurable disease. In the end, van Eyck must not only come to terms with her loss, mistakes and regrets, she must come to terms with herself.

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is must read for anyone that has struggled with love, intimacy or self-acceptance. Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress will captivate supporters, surprise critics and change the perspective of those that have ever considered having an affair.

We interviewed Megan to find out more about her powerful new book.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Megan. Can you tell us what your latest book, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress, is all about?

As the story opens, I meet Carlos, an attractive married man, while seated next to him during a five-hour flight to Hawaii. We exchange numbers, and two months later I called him. I was needy, vulnerable, and lonely after another argument with my indifferent husband about our empty sham of a marriage. I wanted a distraction … an escape, a friend. Initially, that was what I found with my affair.

But then we fell in love.

In the midst of our passionate yet tender affair, I began to see myself through Carlos’s eyes. Throughout the five years of our relationship, I came to terms with my abusive childhood spent with my grossly negligent and abusive bipolar mother who used me for child support checks and the roof over our heads.

My story is also about my struggle in engaging in a satisfying and successful long-term affair while also maintaining a marriage and a family. But mostly, it is about love and how far one woman will go in her reckless pursuit of it.

Once Carlos was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder, my priorities shifted. As his mistress, ultimately I had no choice in his medical decisions or his treatment protocol. I could not take care of him, could not visit him in the hospital, and could not say a final farewell. As a mistress I could only pray … and wait for him either to recover or die.

My husband never learned of my affair, until one fateful day three years after Carlos’s passing. After years of living in bitter resentful denial, after little more than playing house, my husband and I were forced to face the realities of our marriage—the truths and the lies. We had to decide if we truly did love one another, if we had anything worth fighting for.

In the end, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress ultimately is a story of reconciliation, not only with my husband, but with myself.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

As one might guess by the title of my book, I was involved with a married man. Our affair ended when he died from Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. I loved him very much and when he died I was devastated. For about six months I tried to do some of the things I would have done had I been his widow: I helped out at an Amyloidosis support group meeting and I walked in a walk-a-thon, raising $3,000 for multiple myeloma (a related disease) patient services. I also tried to do a few other things, but I was constantly reminded of the fact that I was not his widow, but rather his widowed mistress. I couldn’t do anything in his name because of the nature of our relationship, so everything was just a nameless tribute.

Months later, once I realized that I was trying to fill someone else’s role—trying to do the things I believed his widow ought to be doing—I figured out the path I was trying to walk wasn’t mine. Then I began to wonder what form of tribute would be appropriate for a mistress, and it didn’t take long for me to come up with the idea to write the book.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Since Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is a memoir, there was little research necessary. But since Carlos and I traveled to Thailand and Tokyo, I did have to do a little research about the correct spelling of monuments and cities. Thank goodness for the Internet!

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

In Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress, I actually try to convey two equally important sentiments: the way you love your children is the way they will love themselves and, no matter what, cheating husbands are almost always waiting to love their wives.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Sure, I’d be happy to.

About two years into my and Carlos’s affair my mother passed away. In the weeks that followed I was stuck in a fog of murky sadness. In his effort to be caring, Carlos took me on a trip to Hawaii so that I could process my emotions without having to worry about getting dinner on the table or doing laundry. He understood that I needed space. I was so fragile and vulnerable at that time and I didn’t have the strength to muster my coy mistress pretences any longer.

That was the moment I knew I was in love with him—when I knew that he finally loved me for me, not for all of the things I always pretended to be.

The following in an excerpt from Chapter 14 covers that time:

I realized I had not reinvented myself within the context of my evolving mistress role. Rather, my grief and neediness had stripped me of every pretense and fabrication of my mistress character: I was just me. Carlos seemed to love the woman I was under my curls and smile. He did not notice that I had stopped making double entendres. I’d dropped my coquetted demeanor. I unabashedly told him I needed him. I wore my neediness on my sleeve like some sort of Girl Scout merit badge, next to the one with my heart on it. He was no longer loving the woman of my manifestations. I had stopped being the compilation character of my father’s lovers. I was just me—only me. And with that, there was relief, joy, and a new self-acceptance…I felt free to love him with my nubile heart.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

Actually, I chose to self-publish. Going the conventional route, finding an agent and then a publisher, can take years. Given that mistresses have been such popular topic with the media lately, I believed that I needed to get my book out sooner than later.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

Besides being an entrepreneurial author, I am also a wife and mother. My primary obligation is to my family, so I try to respond to mail, do interviews, and write blog posts in the early morning, before everyone is awake.

The rest of the day belongs to my family. I cook, clean, run errands, volunteer at my children’s schools, meet my husband for lunch—typical mom stuff.

That said, I do log on to Facebook and Twitter several times throughout the day and try to contribute something regularly. I believe it is important to remain accessible and in touch with people.

Q: What’s next for you?

I have a concept for a series of children’s books I would like to pursue once this book has run its course. But right now, I’m so busy with Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress that I haven’t had time to do much else.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Megan. We wish you much success!

Thank you so much for having me. It has been a pleasure!

Megan van Eyck lives near Seattle, Washington with her husband and children. Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is her first memoir. You can visit Megan’s website at www.widowedmistress.com.

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‘Crossing Borders’ Michael Ferris: ‘Be open to new things and do not judge people until you really know them’

Michael Ferris, originally from St. Joseph, Michigan, started working in his father’s music store, Ferris Music Center, at the age of sixteen and started playing the classical guitar at the age of seventeen. Having had many wonderful teachers, not only with great talent but also great souls, he moved on to study at the internationally acclaimed Mozarteum University for Music and Applied Arts in Salzburg, Austria (*-Die Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Mozarteum) where he completed his M.A. in Guitar. Michael studied under well-known guitarists Maria Isabel Siewers de Pazur, Joaquin Clerch, Augustin Wiedemann, Ricardo Gallen, and the world-renowned player Eliot Fisk. In doing so, he has not only learned the instrument, but lived out his dreams.Having the chance to gain an array of experience during his travels in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, he is now able to speak several languages fluently and works at an international company in Vienna. In addition to this, he still teaches guitar and holds courses in Business English at a local college on the weekends.

His latest book is Crossing Borders.

You can visit his website at www.crossingborders.ferrisguitar.com or connect with him at Facebook at and Twitter at http://twitter.com/ferrismichael.  Visit his book’s facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crossing-Borders-by-Michael-Ferris/178577402162088.

Q: Thank you for this interview Michael. Can you tell us what your latest book, Crossing Borders, is all about?

It is about how I came to Austria to study guitar with dreams of studying with a famous guitarist, accomplishing that dreams and how I ended up living here in the end. Of course, living in a different country and traveling, a lot more things happened then just learning to play the guitar.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

The story of how I came here to study is really quite fascinating. I have to say that I had always thought it would make a nice story. That is why I wrote a two-page article and submitted it to Classical Guitar Magazine. Well, to my great surprise, they published it! That was the definite incentive to want to write even more.

I have had a lot of very strange cultural experiences in Austria that I have quite often contemplated in my mind again and again. Then the thought came to mind that others could also benefit from the cultural knowledge I‘ve acquired throughout the years. I actually wish I had read a book similar to Crossing Borders before traveling to Europe. It may have given me a small head start to it all so that I would have been able to avoid a lot of the mistakes I made.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

I would say I went through a lot of life experiences. I realized that when people write autobiographies, they are usually much older than I am. Yet, it is really the distance from home that has made me able to contemplate about life to such an extent to write a story about my life. I really have had a ton of very odd and exciting experiences which I would have never had if I had staying in the states.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Be open to new things and do not judge people until you really know them. My book takes the reader on a cultural trip, showing that things are not always what they seem, especially when dealing with a different culture. This is one of the greatest challenges for people even working in an international environment and something that human resource experts struggle with on a day to day basis at many companies.  Gestures, intonation, paralingual expression in general, cannot be judged when dealing with a person from a different culture. In addition, even certain actions are not understood at first sight. It is important to remember that there is a rhyme and reason to everything. It is important to at least allow the time to find out what it is before making a definite judgment.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

On our way to Casablanca, we had what we called ‘the bus ride from hell’. The bus was hot, there was no music, and above all, it kept stopping. It smelled bad, like an armpit that had not seen deodorant for a long time. Suddenly, the bus stopped in the middle of a desert for about forty-five minutes. We thought it was broken down and we started getting really worried. The bus driver shockingly ordered all women to stay in the bus. Going outside to the big group of men talking, I saw the man who originally collected our bus tickets. He was about my age with black oil smeared all over his face wearing a tattered shirt.

“What is the matter? Has the bus broken down?” I asked.

“Give me a cigarette and I will tell you,” he said. Thinking how strange his response was, I took one out of the package in my pocket and gave it to him.

“The bus is not broken down,” he said lighting the cigarette, inhaling and then blowing a smoke ring, “No diesel.”

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me consists of …. Well, I guess you will have to read the book.

Q: What’s next for you?

Seeing that my son was just born, I plan on concentrating on him a bit and enjoy God’s beautiful gift which was just brought into my life.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview Michael.  We wish you much success!

Thanks for having me.


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