Yes, it’s Friday and I’ve already shared a new book today. But Valentine Day is coming and that’s put me in the mood for sharing and talking about romances.
Recently I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dariel Raye, author extraordinaire, a few months back and we’ve exchanged tips and information about our respective writing and plans. She was also kind enough to feature my interview in her blog, here. Dariel told me she had a new story coming out for Valentine, and it’s now ready for pre-order, so I could not help but bring it to you. I hope to dedicate a lengthier post to Dariel and her writing, but as you’ll see I could not let this opportunity go by.
Without further ado:
“Dai’s Dark Valentine” Now available for pre-order!
Dai’s Dark Valentine
What happens when a sheltered cat-shifter and a dark fey come together?
Three-hundred years is a long time, but left to its own devices, what began as the vendetta of one man can grow to encompass even more formidable hatred.
Daitre Salons is a beautiful but naïve heiress whose true heritage has been kept secret even from her. Now, her abilities are emerging and her father’s enemies want her dead, but what bothers her most is that her new husband “in name only” insists on treating her like a child.
Joban Beaucoup, professional guard to the Salons family, and dark fey (alternate spelling from Vodouin origin), has chosen to leave the quaint yet suffocating French town of his orphan-childhood and venture to the Americas, but he needs one thing he cannot concoct, despite his magical abilities – a wife.
When Joban agrees to marry Daitre and take her to the Americas with him, he carries her three-thousand miles away, then whisks her three-hundred years into the future to assure her safety, but while Daitre struggles to adjust to this strange new world, manage her newfound powers, and make peace with her feelings for Joban, Joban learns that even here, their enemies have followed them, now more deadly than ever.
Dariel’s love for books, as well as her fascination with animals and all things paranormal, prompted the beginning of her writing journey at the tender age of 8. The paranormal romance, “Raven’s Shelter,” one of five stories in Taming of the Wolf, was her second publication, and her first with The Wild Rose Press as a result of placing second in their “Got Wolf” competition – prompted the new “Dark Sentinels” series. Also a paranormal romance, “Vashti’s Star,” which she has plans to update, was her first published novel. Dariel has written articles for The News Item of Mobile, and Black Health Magazine of Atlanta.
A classically trained pianist and vocalist with a degree in piano and vocal performance, Dariel plays more than 10 instruments, and worked as a band and choral director. With a master’s in counseling psychology, she worked in mental health therapy, substance abuse counseling, and school/career counseling for more years than she wishes to reveal. She has presently completed studies for a Ph.D. with the exception of her dissertation, but a more recent battle with kidney failure changed her perspective and renewed a focus on her first loves, writing and music. Dariel is a native Mobilian and minister of music. In addition to her novels and articles, she has written and directed three musicals and composed more than 30 scripturally based compositions. She lives with a variety of pets, where she is working on three paranormal romance series, composing music, and making plans to record soon.
Thanks to Dariel for bringing us the chance to pre-order her new book, thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you have an exciting Valentine planned. And you know what to do: like, share, comment, and of course, CLICK!
Most of you will probably think I’m talking metaphorically here, and The Scary Guy is some spiritual thing I’m going through, a fear I have that I decided to confront, I don’t know, writers’ block, therapy…But no, I’m not talking metaphorically. The Scary Guy is a real guy. I met him here in Hay-on-Wye. We were introduced by Anne, co-owner of Addyman Books, in the second week of my stay in Hay-on-Wye (at Tomatitos, the renowned Tapas Bar) and after having a general chat, Anne lent me his book and he gave me his card. As soon as I got home I checked his website as I was intrigued by the conversation and the work he had been telling us about. I was impressed by his ability to touch so many people and to make his message reach such wide variety of public, from school children to army personnel. It’s not easy to summarise briefly what he does (and as you see he puts it much better than me during the interview) but if I had to try and give you some idea before you go and explore his website and all the materials available, I’d say he talks to people about how to deal with prejudice, making sure that they understand that the best way to deal with the negative energy thrown at them is not to add their own negative energy. You cannot fight bad energy with more bad energy. The prejudice never is and should never become the problem of the victim of the prejudice. Scary uses his very personal style, his appearance, his personal experiences and his special way of connecting with people to deliver his message of love that appears incongruous at first sight. Defying conventions and challenging expectations is what the Scary Guy is about, and he’s tremendously successful at it.
We exchanged e-mails and he kindly offered to lend me a copy of the film made about him. I watched the film and I told him I’d like to talk about him in my blog but I was happy to share or post any materials he already had. He offered to do an interview instead. The more I read of the book and the more I thought about the movie the more I knew this would be an interesting conversation, even though I found it difficult to formulate specific questions. With just a few jotted down I went to meet Scary (and Cathryn Woodhall his wife, business partner, collaborator and as much a part of the project as he is). Scary and Cathryn live in a lovely cottage across a beautiful church (St Mary’s Church of England, recently refurbished and looking as good as new).
I must admit to not having much of an order set in my head and any jumping from item to item is up to me not Scary.
I told Scary I was reading the book written about him 7 Days and 7 Nights. An Official Biography of “The Scary Guy” by Mark David Hatwood. He noted that he has not written any books as reading and writing has never been one of his better skills and he learns in other ways. He told me that Cathryn is working on several books about him and what he does, because she’s “smart”. When we talked about the concept of smart he told me the considered himself rather than smart “different”. He talked about meeting young people and how they did not like to be considered “normal” and they didn’t like to be labelled normal. “Normal” has become a concept that does not work for much of the youth these days. He went on to expand and say that everybody is unique and it is improper to try and define somebody with a single word, as there are many variables that contribute to defining who we are: our behaviour, what we learn, how we learn, how we perceive things. Our minds are different and our bodies are different. He observed that there might be people who smoked all their lives and die of old age never having developed cancer, whilst somebody else might die young with fewer (on non) exposure. It is not only environmental; it is also down to one’s genes. We talked about research onto the possible effect of Nicotine in brain receptors, and how it is possible to find research stating the negatives of smoking but there are also studies looking at developing medication to act on Nicotine receptors positively. (Scary told me he smokes cigars only, maybe one a day when he is not on tour and he finds it relaxing and enjoys the ritual of it. It reminds him of the ‘old ways’ of human life, where men in the 50’s would go to the barber shop and share stories). Not that I’m encouraging smoking, I’m a doctor after all, although the comments are correct.
We discussed the nature of some of the current health and food research and how there is plenty of emphasis on the negative impact of a variety of things (sugar, fat, etc.). He told me he feels his Mother’s advice was the best, as she always advocated using common sense, and not have too much of one thing all the time to the exclusion of everything else, that the best is balance and not excess (as of course there are well known risks like diabetes, heart disease…from unhealthy diets), as the body needs variety. He showed me a box with chocolates and he told me it had been like that (full) for several weeks, and he might have two or three but would not eat them to excess.
I asked Scary who he looked up to. He told me his mother. He described her as a “closet genius”. Scary told me he didn’t find out how smart she was until she died. He told me he always felt she was different and they had a somewhat disconnected relationship with her when he was an adult. She was intelligent and humble, very private and quiet. She was also ahead of her time, in the way she thought about food, behaviour, religion…
Scary told me that he only discovered after she died that his mother had been interested in Astrology and had become an expert, that nobody knew and they found that she had done astrological charts on a lot of people. He felt he only discovered how his mother really was after her death and maybe he never really knew her before. His mother would never say anything negative about anybody. He noted that, ironically, he was now living just across a church (Church of England) and recalled how his mother would never make any negative comments about any religion. Scary’s mother was born and bred a Baptist. His mother took him and his brother (they were 6 and 5 years old) to the Baptist Church three or four times and never again. “She quit.” When he asked her years later why she had stopped going and taking them she told him that she did not like what they were telling her to do with her kids. He didn’t ask for an explanation at the time but in reflection he thought she referred to the way they did not encourage them to do things or to take responsibility for their behaviour.
To illustrate his mother’s character Scary told me that when they would go out he would “egg her on”, encourage her to make fun at people or make comments about them (if they were fat, or looked peculiar…) but she would always tell him: “Stop it. Stop being crass.” He never managed to influence her to behave in such a negative way. He never had a chance to ask how she had come to be like that. Scary told me that his challenge was to see if he could do the same, to stop being negative about people. His mother died March 16th 1993, 21 years ago.
I asked him what he found most difficult when trying to change his behaviour. He told me he found quite difficult to stop judging people. He said he finds that kind of behaviour in others too all the time. As an example he told me he had walked into Hay’s chemist, where he knows the people working there quite well and there were two female customers at the counter talking and when they saw him they laugh out loud. Sarah, from the shop, didn’t laugh and said, quite loudly: “That wasn’t me. And it wasn’t any of the others who work here either.” Scary commented to the two female customers who had laughed, how of the 7 billion people in the world at least 6 billion would laugh at him, and the 6 billion who laugh would also be the ones to end up hiring him to get over their stuff! Scary observed that his comment might be initially lost on them!
Scary said that he used to be always quick to judge and make decisions and at the time he would have thought of himself as “good at categorising and stereotyping.” He would put people in neat boxes so he believed he would know how to deal with them and on many occasions he’d be wrong. Now he does not do that and he observed such behaviour might cloud people’s perception and interaction (putting as an example what he might have thought I’d be like based on the information he had about me).
Scary is a man with many tattoos as you will have noticed in his pictures and the story of how his tattoos came to being is well detailed in the book and movie. I wanted to ask him if there was a particular plan or an overall design he had been working towards at the time of his tattoos (although it did not seem that way, at least at the beginning). He told me he enjoys tattoos and that is one of the reasons why in the past he had 3 tattoo parlours, because he didn’t have space left for more tattoos so to carry on enjoying them he decided to tattoo other people. He told me there was no specific design he had worked towards, and he would decide in the moment, depending on what felt good at the time. He told me that due to his problems with reading and writing he did not learn by reading books, and he would mostly learn by observation in an experiential form. He would do whatever felt appropriate in real time at the moment, based on his perception. He gave me as an example a tattoo in his wrist; a barcode. He told me that a long time ago, as long as 20 or 30 years ago, he went to the supermarket and as he was queuing to pay he noted the woman at the till passing a tin over the glass register panel and as she did the register would speak: tin of bins so many cents. He was fascinated and asked her how it did that and she explained that the reader read the code and it could retrieve lots of information. He was fascinated by that idea and designed his bar code tatoo based on a Campbell Soup Tin, but he added the lettering ‘Generic Brand’ in reverse that he could only read if he looked it up to a mirror.
Scary talked about how fascinated he had been at the time with the possibilities of such a system of codifying information and how he could see microchips being used for all kinds of things, including on humans. This topic got us talking about government controls, IDs, etc. He told me he accepted that the government, any government, would have to have access to certain data and observed that due to the kind of work he did he had had to send his data to the FBI to check that he had no criminal records. He acknowledged the importance of background checks. He said that he is not pro control for control’s sake but there is also the fact that some people are criminal and psychopaths and can cause plenty of harm to others and so having background checks can at least minimise such instances. We briefly discussed the latest controversy about Facebook and their experiments controlling people’s moods and interactions and he observed that it goes to prove, as he believes, that people are mostly reactive to the environment.
Scary and I were talking for quite a while so we decided we’d bring you the interview in several parts. But, if you want to find out more about him, you don’t need to wait until the next installment here. I leave you links so you can explore by yourselves.
As you know Fridays is guest author day. I met Amanda Green through social media a while back and I’ve read about her writing and her experiences and have been corresponding with her for a while. We have exchanged thoughts on mental health and a variety of other topics and I finally managed to squeeze some time to read her first book ‘My Alien Self‘ recently. I convinced Amanda to come as guest and thought it would be an excellent chance to also share the review of that book. Amanda is also kindly sharing some of her tips on writing.
Here is Amanda:
I am Amanda Green, author of six inspiring, self published books.
Outside of writing and social networking (yes I spend far too long each day on the computer!), I spend a lot of time with my pets; a handsome cat called Titus, a pretty hamster called Molly and tropical fish. I strongly believe in pet or animal therapy as being good for our mind, body and soul and I promote the fostering and adopting of animals as opposed to private breeding and purchase, as there are too many surplus animals desperate for homes. I detest animal cruelty.
I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!
I gained 9 GCSE’s at school and have travelled on/off across the world, taking in twenty five Countries – living and working at times in Japan, Thailand and Australia. I have enjoyed work in the field of Hotels, banking, property management, recruitment and Office management gaining many skills and qualifications along the way.
I run six personal websites for which I write all copy and articles and provide all photography. I learn as much as I can fit into my life
I have had my writing and photography work published in various magazines and local newspapers. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, learnt through my varied working background.
‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me‘ is my self published memoir of my journey through mental illness to recovery. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living.
My aspirations are to continue as a full time writer/photographer. I intend to be successful in fact/fiction storytelling in the mental health/relationship genres. I have unique ideas, and a very thick skin. I attended various writer’s retreats and short writing courses to further my writing, and learnt a great deal from the editor’s/literary consultant’s who worked with me on my memoir project. I am 40 years old.
The first two of my books, ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me‘ and the sequel ‘39‘, are both memoirs, the rest are fiction short stories, a novelette and a novella.
My second memoir’39’ is about what happened afterwards; the year before reaching the prime age of forty, family relationships, love and memories.
Other books – fiction…
‘Behind Those Eyes: A Novella’ (An Amanda Green Novella) – Two homeless men, a successful brother and sister, a woman falling in love, a man with family problems and a whole lot of twists in this ‘sliding doors’ style novella. It’s a story about people and adversity, love, friendship and stigma. Will you work out what they have in common?
‘Living the Dream – A Novelette’ (An Amanda Green Novelette) – Essentially a psychologically twisted style story, this book contains some offensive language and is suitable for adults only. It touches on sexual and domestic abuse of women, mental health and features three women, in East London, linked through adversity with twists and turns along the way.
It is a work of fiction, however this type of thing could be happening near you – two very important subjects we should be aware of.’
‘What I Know and two more short stories’ (Amanda Green’s Short Stories) – ‘What I know’, ‘The Coach Trip’ and ‘The Best of Friends’ make up this trio of short stories about relationships. Read how each character chooses a different path…
‘The Woman Who Lives Next Door – A Short Story’ (Amanda Green’s Short Stories) -How well do you really know your next door neighbour? Mary is yet to find out…
I have just finished Counselling skills level 2 at college and am waiting to hear if I will be accepted on the level 4 course. I would love to be able to help others facing issues and adversities, so fingers crossed!
I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living. Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to ‘stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self help, depression, bankruptcy, Alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self harm, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, Schizophrenia, psychosis, Suicidal thoughts, , paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues and psychology.
I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self publish to kindle in this first instance.
I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my books will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with.
I hope that Doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my stories, as they unfold what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.
But I have also written my memoirs in a style that I hope will be compelling and sometimes shocking reads for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.
I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD or other mental illnesses.
I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of Mental Health and life adversities – facing and combating adversity as the main point.
Author of ‘My alien self – my journey back to me’ and the sequel ’39’
My Alien Self by Amanda Green. Memoirs, mental disorder and finding your path to recovery
I am a psychiatrist and as such I do have a professional (as well as a personal) interest in personal/first-hand accounts of mental illness (or disorder) and not only professional or text-book descriptions. Of course over the years I have heard many patients/clients/service-users (choose whichever you prefer, I won’t enter the heated debates on which is the best term to use) talking about their experiences, but those have been mostly in response to specific questions, rather than their own preferred expressions or commentaries, and mostly at times of crisis.
I have also read a number of more literary versions of mental illness (sometimes recommended by people I was working with, including patients, like Silvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’, others I’ve discovered myself when reading some of my favourite writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Crack-Up’ or Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’). They are great works by fantastic writers and well-worth a read, even if the subject of mental health is not close to your heart.
What Ms. Green’s book provides is not only an account of a mental disorder sufferer (despite the diagnostic difficulties that as she observes plague the field), but a memoir of her life, her quest for finding her true self and the process of her re-discovery. And her life is far from boring. Travelling far and wide (across the UK, Spain, Japan, Australia, Borneo…), with interests as varied as the creation and management of websites, property development, Orangutan, the entertainment industry…dabbling in drugs and alcohol, complicated family relationships and a difficult love life, Ms. Green’s account is gripping stuff in its own right. And her writing expresses well the ups and downs and the subjective nature of the narration.
Having worked as a psychiatrist in the NHS (National Health Service in the UK, the same one the author seeks help from) I can see things from a professional perspective (and although the system tries hard to avoid the ‘us and them’ dichotomy it’s not easy). I fully understand why she might not have received more intense help before. Mental Health Services struggle to provide support and care for people who cannot cope even on a basic level and who present an immediate and major risk to self (people repeatedly attempting suicide, severe self-harm or severely neglecting themselves) or others (threatening to harm others or doing so) for lengthy periods of time. It is less than an ideal situation; the services are stretched to the limit and mostly dealing with crises, but that is a true reflection of affairs. There is hope that service-user led movements and the voluntary sector will help to fill in the gaps, but prioritising is difficult.
The nature and characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder with its difficulties in trusting people, impulsivity and inconsistent engagement (well reflected in ‘My Alien Self’) cause problems of its own not easily managed by the psychiatric services as they are currently set.
The author of ‘My Alien Self’ has managed to find herself, to create her own combination of therapies (learned over the years, including mindfulness, CBT, CAT, yoga, medication…) and more importantly she has had the courage to go through her life, collecting and reliving her experiences and having a hard look at her past, the most difficult part of any therapy.
‘My Alien Self’ is a book difficult to read for anybody with mental health issues and also for professionals, but precisely because of that it’s a book that needs to be read. I salute Ms. Green for her guts and congratulate her for her achievements. And I agree with her. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, but I’m sure she’ll win the war.