Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Author Interview: Dr Cheryl Rezek



Dr Cheryl Rezek

It is a great pleasure to introduce you to Dr Cheryl Rezek who has written a number of books about mindfulness. I will let you find out more about Cheryl in the interview below, and if you happen to be a Netgalley reader please see the link at the bottom too.

Hello Cheryl, and welcome to my blog
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I’m a clinical psychologist, mindfulness teacher (though I’m not sure one can actually teach mindfulness, as such), workshop leader and author. I’ve lived and worked in a variety of settings over the years which has given me a broad perspective of life. I can’t read people’s minds though I do have a sharp intuition and I tend to see life through a magnifying glass which can be a drawback as I find it hard not to notice small details. It’s an asset in my work but not as much outside of it. Humour is key to my sanity.

How did your interest in mindfulness begin?
I first started meditating when a friend and I attended some groups, many decades ago. I often felt quite spaced out and a bit uneasy doing the type of mediation that focused on a third eye. Quite a while down the line, I came across mindfulness meditation and found it to be far more grounding and stabilising than the previous form I was using and have stayed with it ever since. I think that the mindset, the philosophy, of mindfulness is so valuable. Recognising that life is impermanent and transient, that things change, that we can step back from our thoughts and emotions and not attach to them as though they are our only reality, and developing our capacity to be in this moment of our lives, no matter what is or happening or how it feels, have been profoundly helpful to me. Doing the practices is what develops this so it’s not only a head thing.

What made you decide to start writing books?
I had studied English at university as one of my majors so books and knowledge have always been part of my life. I’ve never liked reading long books and, particularly with non-fiction, found myself wanting to skip ahead or becoming frustrated at much of the nonsense that is written. So many people are afraid of the idea of therapy so I wanted to get sound information across to people to help them understand their lives and try and manage them in a way that would allow them to feel more in control and engaged. My books are written for a public audience, for those people who frequently won’t go into therapy but are needing understanding and some guidance.

Would you like to tell us about your books and what they are about?
They combine psychological concepts and mindfulness. I don’t think that mindfulness alone, without a personal context and understanding of one’s life, will necessarily give someone what they need to know. We need to put our lives within a context and make some sense of them, even when things seem senseless. Added to this, we can’t expect ourselves to shift simply because we have gained some adult, cognitive, knowledge about an issue or meditated for 20 minutes a day. We need to know what drives us, what unconscious beliefs and motivations are propelling us to do things even when we know they aren’t helpful. Just like a car, there is an external frame but it is the engine within that determines the power and capacity of the vehicle. As people, we are no different. We need to know something about what’s inside as simply having an adult thinking awareness isn’t going to bring about any lasting shifts. Importantly, we are mind and body, not mind or body, so by combining mindfulness with psychological concepts, it really opens up a way to view and manage life in a far more integrated way. The mindfulness practices are gentle, grounding and very powerful. It’s a pity that people sometimes read the books without doing the practices as that means they are only getting half the value. I’m not a flowery, fluffy sort of person so my books are based on what has worked clinically, and personally, for me as a psychologist and what I believe can help people to move forward with their lives. I place a lot of emphasis on take responsibility for our lives as that is central to it all. The expectations we’re fed frequently don’t match the realities of life and its difficulties. This unrealistic view doesn’t prepare us for life so we’re constantly feeling as if we are failures or are inadequate rather than being present in each moment of our lives and valuing it for whatever it is. My work goes under the banner of Life Happens, so I guess that says it all.

Are you working on a new book at the moment? 
My big project at the moment is getting my children’s book off the ground. It’s written for children but adults really seem to like it too. It’s a scaled down version of my adult books and it aims to give children a way of reigniting their natural ability to be mindful and to develop a set of skills that they can use now and throughout their lives. It’s simple and engaging – and very grounding as it helps children to use themselves to manage difficulties as well as to enjoy all the good things in life. We all have a mind that jumps around and wanders off, and we all wish we could be more settled and quiet. Consequently, it’s called Monkey Mind and The Mountain: Mindfulness for 8 – 80 year olds (and older).

Off the back of the book, I’ve started a campaign of A Million Happy Mindful Children. A percentage of profits will go to a children’s charity. For me, that’s my way of expressing my gratitude for having the opportunity to write and sell the book and a way of giving something to the community. 

If you could write a book on absolutely any topic, what would you choose?
I would love to write a book that curbed greed, corruption, violence and abuse and that transformed the people in the world into a variety of kind and respectful communities. I’m not sure what the title would be but I don’t think too many copies would be sold.

Thank you for joining me here on Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.


Monkey Mind and The Mountain is currently available to download via Netgalley.

You can find Cheryl online in the following places:

 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Author Interview: John Ault


I am pleased to welcome John Ault to my blog today, to celebrate the launch of his new book Thirty Days in February. I have bought my own copy of this book and haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I think you will agree it has a fantastic cover! Anyway, enough from me, let's get on with the interview.


Hello, John, and welcome to my blog.
Please tell us about your new book. 

Well the book involves a young MI6 agent who becomes embroiled in an international crisis which takes him initially to Singapore and British Hong Kong. The book is set in the post-Cold War period in the mid-1990s when international tensions are no longer concerned with the Soviet Union but still involve nuclear proliferation and Britain’s response to it.

I am intrigued to know whether you found the process of writing your first fiction book different to your previous non-fiction works.

Yes, very different. When you are writing academically your arguments are based in evidence and the research you have conducted. When writing fiction I found it a much more personal process. Actually writing about emotions, people and events is much more intense really.

Did you draw on personal experiences when you are creating your characters and plot lines?

John Ault
Yes, absolutely. I have visited all the countries that are visited by the lead character in the book. His travels are my travels so they should be realistic. Like most writers I have also based the characters on people I have met or know well. I suspect people who know me will see a lot of me in the main character – if a slightly younger version!

What next? Could you give us a little summary of any other books in progress?

I am pondering whether the lead character could appear in another book. Certainly I have ideas for another, probably a prequel, and am drafting ideas for how it might work in a similar travel diary format that this book is written in.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Well one review, by popular author Iain King, said it better than I could: ‘The book is loaded with wonderful portraits of exotic locations, throughout the Eastern hemisphere and faraway oceans – as just a travelogue it would make for a compelling read. But the author has weaved in geopolitics and history, giving this book that little bit extra. Compelling.’ Sorry, that’s not one sentence!

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Write your book – write it the way you like. However, once you have written it ask close friends and family to read it before you publish it. Ask them to be honest, not kind, and really find out from them what they liked and didn’t like.

It’s much better to hear what people you trust think before you unleash your book on the world and can’t change it.


Thank you for your answers, John, and also for joining me here on Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

John has kindly said he will do a giveaway of one paperback copy of his book. This is a worldwide giveaway! Please see the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Alternatively you can buy a copy of the book yourself from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or your local Amazon site.

You can find John online in the following places:

a Rafflecopter giveaway