Author Archive

Writing about death

- April 23rd, 2014

When I first heard about Patricia Pearson’s new book, Opening Heaven’s Door: Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After, I thought, why? Isn’t death hard enough to deal with without trying to write about it? In Pearson’s case, she was inspired, motivated, driven, needed (pick your word) to write about death after she lost her father and sister in the span of a year. Just thinking about it makes for emotionally tough memories. But I thought, if she can write about it, I should at the very least be able to ask her about it. The full Q&A isn’t finished. But here is a sample. Thank you to Patricia for making the time.

Q. One thing I’ve often thought about is that almost everyone will experience a death of a loved on. We all have that in common. And yet the experience is still somehow unique. We can sympathize when someone has lost a loved one, but there is still something unique to their experience. I believe no two people grieve the same way. Through the research and writing process, did you learn something about your own grief or the grieving process? 

A. I agree with you that grieving is unique, and there is no ‘right way’ to do it, or no agreed upon schedule. Some people take a life time. No one should ever say ‘get over it,’ or fix a time table. Some people never get over grief, really, they just learn to live with it. What I learned from my research is that people who are allowed to feel a continuing bond with the deceased, perhaps through seeing signs of them in birds, butterflies, electric anomalies like a switching light, actually do better with grief. We used to believe that you had to ‘let go,’ but grief therapists no longer think that. A sense that someone is still with you, in spirit, and that you’re not crazy to feel that genuinely helps.

More to come last this week. I’ll provide a link once the interview is published. Meanwhile, Patricia Pearson will be in Ottawa this week for the Ottawa Writers’ Festival. You can catch her at the Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St. at 4 pm on Saturday.

Fat people are liars

- April 21st, 2014

Folks, I interviewed Steve Siebold four years ago when he wrote a booked called Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People.

He pulls no punches in the book and even wrote: “This book pulls no punches. If you’re emotionally sensitive or easily offended, this book is NOT for you!”

He’s now come out with another book, Fat Loser! Mental Toughness Training for Dieters. I’ve put in a request to follow up with him. Here’s the original interview.

Q. I once remarked to a personal trainer that if she wanted to separate herself from the rest of the trainers and make a ton of money, she should get a psychology degree. Because if losing weight was just a matter of “just doing it,” then the billion-dollar weight loss industry would be a lot poorer. When did it strike you that mental toughness is the key?

A. I was a behaviour modification consultant for Nutri-System back in the 1980s, and the only people who lost weight and kept it off were the mentally tough. The others gave into their cravings and old habits and gained the weight back.

Q. You write that it helped you lose 40 lbs. How did you use mental toughness?

A. I made a decision to get fit and used mental toughness techniques to stick to it, such as holding a vivid mental image of myself at my desired weight; controlling my emotions under stress; and ignoring people who threatened my focus.

Q. Do you think society is less mentally tough than say 20 years ago?

A. We live in a society where instant pleasure often trumps delayed gratification, and this is most evident when it comes to obesity. People have the same level of mental toughness they’ve always had, but fewer are choosing to access it. The culinary temptations are also greater than they were 20 years ago, so it takes even more mental toughness now than it did back then.

Q. For people who buy the book, how should they use it?

A. As their daily mental toughness guide on their journey to fitness. This is arguably the most hard hitting, straight talking mental toughness book ever written for dieters. People need to be prepared to embrace the reality of their own self delusion when it comes to their weight. Our thinking directs our behaviour, and our behaviour determines our results. Use this book to inspire yourself to grow up emotionally and take responsibility for your own health. Once you succeed, it will positively impact every area of your life. Your iron clad decision to get fit combined with the strategies in this book have the power to change your life for the better.

Q. I know you have lots of mental toughness phrases in the book. Do you have a favourite?

A. “Fat people are liars.” I like that one because it shocks people into reality and it’s true. Fat people lie to themselves and others about why they’re fat, how they got fat, and the reason they still haven’t gotten fit. I did the same thing when I was fat. The secret is to recognize it and make a decision to change. Refuse to beat yourself about getting fat, because almost everyone has done it at some point in their lives. We are all fallible human beings. Decide today to get tough; get fit, and solve the problem once and for all. You’re new life is waiting for you! Download five chapters of the book for free at and get started!

Male readers

- April 18th, 2014

A British survey by OnePoll on men’s reading habits discovered that 63 per cent of men admit they don’t read as often as they think they should. And almost 30 per cent of men said they hadn’t picked up a book since being forced to do so at school. Men are also more likely to watch the move than read the book.

Wow, I don’t know if a similar poll would produce the same results in North America.

At the moment, I’m in the process of shopping for a condo. We have several deal breakers. One of them is that there has to be some wall space for bookshelves. We refuse to even give up one book. If we have to bury them in a cramped second bedroom, fine. If they make a dining room smaller, fine. If we have to get rid of another piece of furniture, we’ll do it.

So, getting back to the survey, the reason most men say they don’t read is that they don’t have the time while others said they found it difficult or didn’t enjoy it.

I can understand people not enjoying the activity. Some people like skydiving, some people like to ride motorbikes, others like to jog, and so on. We all have more than one activity that we like to do, but I certainly don’t look down on anyone who simply doesn’t like it as a way to pass the time.

What’s also interesting is that there seems to be no shortage of books for men. Personally, I can pretty much read anything. But I know that there are books marketed at a female audience and there are books that are marketed at a male audience. And there’s no shortage for either group.

I wonder if more men would read a book if they were doing it on an e-reader.

Irvine Welsh

- April 17th, 2014

Irvine Welsh is a bit warped. I mean that in a good way. He has a new novel coming out next month and I have an advanced reading copy. Sex Lives Of Siamese Twins is the title and I so far love one of the main characters, Lucy. I’m saving most of my thoughts for the review in a few weeks, but here’s what you need to know: Lucy is a personal trainer who makes Jillian and Bob from Biggest Loser look like meek and mild librarians. She becomes a bit of a celebrity after she disarms a gunman chasing two men. The video goes viral, as they say, after a fat and out-of-shape needy artist captures the takedown on her cellphone. Lucy takes her on as a client and that’s when things start to get interesting.

Would I want to meet a real-life Lucy? Well, I wouldn’t want to be attacked by the Lucy in this novel. But sure, I’d love to meet her.

Incredibly, this is my first Welsh novel. We have quite a few of them at home and my wife loves them. I think I’ve been missing something.

New Ottawa author

- April 14th, 2014

Genevieve Julien has published her first novel. It’s called Bow to Me and it’s a coming-of-age-story in which Julien draws on some of her own experiences. I did a Q & A with her by e-mail earlier this year. Here’s a sample of the interview. I’ll provide a link to the full story in a day.

Q. What inspired you to write the novel?

A. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, actually. I was laying in bed, reading the last page of Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger (author of The Devil Wears Prada), when the idea just hit me. I should write a romance novel — which was completely out of my comfort zone as I’ve always preferred writing sci-fi horror, and supernatural fiction. The story grew to incorporate my experience with addicts and my adaptation to being a lesbian.