An Interview With Designer and Reality Star Kari Ann Peniche




Kari Ann Peniche is the owner of Revamp Décor. Ms. Peniche is a former Miss United States Teen and reality television star; here is a link to her website:


Q: What made you interested in design?


A: I moved around quite a bit growing up and after University, and with each new place, I felt I had to personalize and create a statement before I could call it home.  I wouldn’t settle for living in a generic space, even if I hadn’t planned on living there long.  It has always been important that my home represented who I am. Friends started asking me to help with their places, and I soon realized that there are many people that don’t have the patience or desire to do what I love doing.  After I got married, my husband, who’s a residential developer asked me to be involved with his projects, which led me into the full time world of design and decor.   Designing peoples homes has allowed me to apply my creative energy and artistic sense into interior spaces as designer which has had a profound impact on me, as well as my clients and their surroundings.


Q: Why should someone looking for a designer hire you?



A: My expertise lies in understanding the unique vision of each client with the belief that anything is possible.  It is my passion to create original interiors, as well as finding creative solutions for budget-conscious clients.  I have put the leg work into sourcing materials and furnishings by creating and sustaining relationships with fabric designers, manufacturers and builders, which in the end will save a client valuable time, money and headache. For all my clients, I diligently strive to create their dream home by capturing their personalities, goals and aspirations, while at the same time adding value to their space.


Q: Your site says you offer mood boards. What are mood boards?


A: A mood board is a group of pictures taken from magazines, books or websites, fabrics, textures, color swatches pretty much anything that can help express the mood, feeling or overall look you are wanting to achieve.  It’s something I really like working with because it can help a client visually see my direction.  It also helps me me get an idea of what clients are drawn to and if any changes need to be made in the overall feel of the design.  I always use a mood board before jumping into the expense of the project no matter how big or small the project is.


Q: What kind of training do you have in design?


A: As anyone will tell you, the most valuable training comes from actually doing the work. For the past 10 years I have worked with a group of exceptionally talented manufacturers and principal designers. The knowledge I’ve gained from hands on experiences has been and continues to be invaluable. The theoretical lessons and guidelines learned in becoming certified in “Design Psychology”, and “Home staging” has given me a foundation on which every job begins.  It continually amazes me to watch how my clients wellbeing and quality of life changes once we begin the process of designing their homes.  Design Psychology is about understanding the impact these environments have.


Q: You were a Miss Teen USA. What do you think would surprise most people about the beauty pageants process?


A: I have found that most people are surprised when I say that I believe pageants offer a great opportunity for personal growth.  Preparing for a pageant is doing everything you can to become the best possible you.  How often do we get the opportunity to focus on ourself and give the attention needed to become our best both inside and out, physically, mentally and spiritually?  Not very often.   People often think pageants are about competing against other girls but the truth is you’re competing against yourself.  At the end of a pageant every delegate leaves a little more poised, confident, has better speaking and interview skills all of which require really getting to know who you are, what you believe in, what your goals are, what you stand for and what you want others to know about you.  I think having the experience of pageantry translates in a positive way to other areas of life and career.


Q:  You lost your crown when you posed for Playboy. Do you regret your decision to pose for the magazine or did it help your career?


A: I do believe Playboy was a positive stepping stone in my entertainment career but that was over a decade ago and my career goals today are so different than what they were when I posed for the magazine.    I was 20 years old.  My experience working with Playboy was all positive and it was also a fun time in my life.


Q: You have appeared on a couple of Dr. Drew’s rehab shows. How were you selected to be on these shows in the first place?


A: My manager David Weintraub pitched this new VH1 show called “Sex Rehab with Dr Drew” which was a spin of the successful “Celebrity Rehab” series. David, having been a producer and casting director for “Celebrity Rehab” knew what the show was looking for, and stressed how being on the show would be good for my career and that the network was looking for a new starlet. I wasn’t sure I agreed with him and I didn’t consider myself a sex addict, but to be honest I was interested in being on television. It had been five years since I was in Playboy and the opportunity to be on the screen was tempting. To make a long story short the following day I was the first member cast for “Sex Rehab with Dr Drew”.  Producers liked me and I was asked to be a part of Celebrity Rehab and then Sober House.




Q: Do you think you were portrayed fairly on the show?


A: No, I was not portrayed fairly for who I am in real life.  I was cast for a part.  Reality TV is not real!  I portrayed a character that the producers were looking for.


Q: After being evicted from Dr. Drew’s Sober House for violent behavior, you asked the other residents if you could return and they said no. Do you now understand why they did that?


A: I needed to leave the show to take care of some personal things that had come up and I was told to ask the other members if I could come back, it was pretty much staged to look that way.


Q: If you could design a house for any reality star who would it be and what would the house look like?


A: I’d love to design a house for Donald Trump and not just any house but the White House.  Now, if I could just do anything I wanted to the house, then I would go with a mix of its classic American history and Trumps gold bling style he does to most of his properties.  It would be an old world modern vintage that sparkles.  An understated elegance with a little flash.  However, since I’d be working for Donald Trump it would be a collaboration of ideas. I’d be focused on what he and his family’s visions were and I’d be there to bring vision to life.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Jaie Vee



Jaie Vee is the author of Getting her to YES; here is a link to the website:


Q: What is, Getting Her to Yes about?


A: THIS BOOK IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR MEN.  This book is exclusively for MATURE men, showing average men how to get ladies or the wife to give SEX. It details a lady’s mind-set, so men are clear why such cheap and simple tactics are effective. It includes erotic sex stories that can excite dominant male, and submissive female emotions. One can preview the first seven pages at and see Reader’s Favorite 5-star review at the link attached there.


Q: What made you decide to write it?


A: I started tinkering with writing about sex many years ago, because I was always helping men I knew “get sex”. Just a few basic “tips” changed their entire sex lives from no sex to lots of sex. Men know so much about a lot, but nearly nothing about female’s motivation for sex, or how to get sex.


But I couldn’t write a complete “understanding” till I was in a relationship with a gorgeous talented, self-driven amazing man. He was so wonderful to me each time I came back to him, then fairly quickly removed all MY gifts, leaving just the sex. I’d hint about this and that, but like many females, I couldn’t flat out tell him stuff. I left the last time feeling “used”, though I know he believed he was really trying. Then is when I realized, no matter how smart a man is, men really have no clue what ladies get out of the sex dance. And no woman will ever tell them.


As a strong woman, it took me “a lot of guts” to write that females choose the submissive position in sex, and why we ladies biologically have to. I reveal all the secrets we ladies will never tell our man. I had to, because, though those secrets are of short-term benefit to ladies, in the long run, ladies lose because men have not any clue what makes us want sex.


Q: What qualifies you as an expert in this area?


A: Having never desired children, and never needed a man’s money, company, or help, I got to observe the relationships of others with some emotional distance. And emotional distance is what a lady would need to state some of this stuff.  I got all the attention a lady could want when I worked as a dancer (in states where the men could not touch). Also, as an engineer and inventor, I tend to know stuff others want to learn, so I always get plenty of “feeling needed” attention.


My mom just read the first 24 pages and said she’s,  “finding it hard to stop reading.  So far, a very interesting book and I do agree with you.  Good job, I think you have sorted things out pretty well.” I never expected Mom to read it, but that was a great compliment.


Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it effect your ability to write?


A: I run a small business, mostly involving the sales of my top-rated Silent Sleep  Snore Stopper(R) nasal inserts. When on Amazon, the Slim/Avg. size was the 593rd best selling product on all of Amazon. I sell less than that volume now on my website, but I also get friendlier customers, like half of which write me thank you emails.


When selling on Amazon, large-nosed men would buy the most popular Slim/Avg. size, then write “doesn’t work” one star reviews. I’d have to convince them to return the insert for the correct LARGER size, then I’d wait the painful weeks for them to change the review. Sometimes they would not return it because it cost so little money, it was not worth their time, so they’d leave the bad review. The issue was more due to the way Amazon set things up, to let the customer stab the seller with a bad review, versus having the customer contact the seller first. Such size issues are important for products like mine.


I’ve also spent the last few years renovating two houses, entirely replumbing, rewiring, adding gas, fixing foundations, rebuilding rotted floors, changing walls, etc all myself, using mostly free or used supplies. That gave me lots of time to think and write the most concise and clear book I could, as well as work on other non-physical projects.


I take on new odd projects every year. Last year I did a property conversion to business for someone else, which required knowing all the building codes, drafting, and “how to build stuff”. That was great fun.


Q:  If your tips don’t work is there a money back guarantee?


A: Well, I don’t know how Amazon runs the book end of things, but I have a Twitter account listed in the book, for men to ask me questions, and I will do my best to reply. But, frankly, men know so little about how to get a woman to want sex. Often, only one tip of the hundreds I state will fix a man’s sex life. Simply reading the “why” will help men the most. I write the book in a conversational style with lots of examples from my own life, and those of others I know, so to give some dimension to the tips.


Q: Who are some of your writing influences?


A: I read mostly just technical and biological stuff, no novels. I learn best by experimenting and tactile work, and searching out those who are willing to give negative feedback.  Like, I found a guy who does reviews, who suggested putting “yes” in the title. What a great tip! I put requests up on Craigslist to read a draft of my book, and got lucky that an editor type guy volunteered to comment on the first 40 pages. Without his advice, my book would not have been something most men would actually listen to. He suggested the conversational style and adding my own stories. Great advice!


Q: What makes your book different than other sex tip books?


A: That’s easy! Most sex books focus on the PHYSICAL aspects of sex. The physical aspect of sex is what the MAN enjoys. It is the emotional and fantasy part that excites the female. It is a complete reverse thinking than what is out there in books. Some books might say doing chores can help get a lady in the mood. That’s way too boring and abstract for a man to “understand” the “why”.


Q:  What are some common mistakes that men make when trying to seduce women?


A: I go through most of them in the book, but saying they are “very passionate”, touting their manly sports as a main focus of their free time, and thinking just “being friendly” or “giving her stuff” will move ladies towards sex.


Q:  What is the weirdest thing a man has ever said to you when hitting on you? 


A: No man has ever said anything “weird” to me. The sickest thing a man ever did was, after my sister divorced my brother-in-law, he actually tried to kiss me at Thanksgiving. Gross.


Understand, I most often dress in paint-covered, multi-layered sweats, mostly wear two hats and never wear make-up (but for photos), so men cannot quite define what “I look like naked” to “hit” on me. I also don’t even glance at men as if I am “looking”, cause I’m not “looking”. (“Glancing” is the only thing men are good at spotting). Men instead talk to me as the source of information that I am, especially on construction, code issues, patent writing, etc.


I find “being hit on” to feel like someone wants to take a bite out of me, and that is NOT a good feeling. Because I have confidence in my physical appearance, I do not need or desire others to boost my ego by flaunting myself. (That body shot I took of myself this September, when I got in the mood to “make a book”.) The few men that dare hit on me? I give them tips on how to get sex from someone else.



Q: What have you done to promote your book? 


A: YES just got published Nov. 2, 2016, a few days ago. I got a Reader’s Favorite 5 star review, saying my book will “revolutionize the way most men view sex”. I am trying to get a review in a chosen male-oriented magazine. I’ve investigated the politics with the magazine, its owners, and other stuff like how reviews are distributed, publisher’s issues…  I am looking for the loose mortar no one else is targeting in the brick wall that is in front of “getting noticed”.


It may come down to want versus NEED. I have two 5-star rated children’s books. No one needs another children’s book. But men really need my YES book. It’s like my Snore Stopper inserts, where I did zero advertising to get to ranking 593 on all of Amazon. Once the word gets out about my YES book, I hope every man on earth reads it.


Women might never see anything interesting in my book, because they know this stuff. The problem is, men don’t know ANY of this stuff. Ladies, if you accidentally buy my YES book, PLEASE, give it to your dad or uncle! There is ZERO romance in the book. There is nothing of any value at all for the ladies in my book.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.



An Interview With Photographer Sinji



Sinji is a photographer; here is a link to his website:|0/



Q: What made you want to be a photographer?


A: When I was young, my Brother had a 35mm with a bunch of Filters and many gadgets, I was Amazed. Nature is Amazing. I loved Photography ever



Q:  What kind of training do you have?


A: I Studied Photoshop, StudioMX in College


Q: What makes your photography unique?


A: I have a special technique, I expose Spirit Entities hiding in the Photo’s, I do not add anything I merely enhance the pixels

Q:  What gave you the idea to Photoshop nature photography in the first place?

A: When I was learning Photoshop, one day I started ” pushing buttons” to experiment with what they do.

Q: You work as a personal chef. How does your day job influence your photography? I use color combinations

A: from plates of Food I made, when I need to modify the color.

Q:  What is the most photogenic kind of food?


A: Desserts with candied fruit, candied vegetables, candied nuts and boiled sugar fruit sauces are Beautiful and very photogenic.


Q: What has been your most challenging photographic project?


A:  My work is always challenging. It’s like a box of Chocolates, I never know what my work is gonna look like when I’m done. Only a few are acceptable.


Q: What do you like about living in Alaska?


A:  I like snow, when I was living in San Mateo, it never snowed


Q: Who are some of your favorite photographers?


A: I appreciate everything High Culture.


Q: Who would you Photoshop into the White House?


A: President Obama has a great face, I don’t get good results from People or anything Man made.
For my Art, I do not photograph People , only Natural and not Man made things or People. I tried Photographing people and City Scape, but when I modify the Photo, I did not get desirable results.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Photographer Nicholas Makhonuk



Nicholas Makhonuk is a photographer; here is a link to his website:



Q:  What made you interested in photography?


A: Photography peaked my interest once the iPhone 4 was out.

I was about 17 at the time and Instagram had also been released. The mixture of exploring new places and being inspired to use my phone as a camera had it really easy to start photographing.


Q:  What kind of training have you had?


A: All my training has been through on the field, youtube or learning from a few other photographers on the job.


Q:  What kinds of things do you like to photograph?


A: I enjoy city scapes and landscape for personal photography. Street photography can be fun also. As far as clients and events I prefer to photograph weddings because of the many emotions that go with it.


Q: What do you hope to express through your work?


A: I hope to capture beautiful images and moments naturally. I want to make sure when you get your images you say wow I remember exactly that moment like it just happened.


Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?


A:  I do photography full time.


Q: Who are some of your influences?


A: I am influenced by conversations, the places I visit and the books I read.


Q:  What have you done to promote yourself?


A: My promotion has just been the typical online marketing :facebook, instagram etc.


Q:  What do you like about living in San Francisco?


A: I am no longer in the bay area but in Los Angeles. I moved here because of the huge media industry and great weather🙂


Q:  What would you change about it?
A: I would make Los Angeles have less traffic. Uber pool is a bit of a start for this problem.



Q: What is the oddest thing you have ever photographed?


A: I photograph odd times often. Often there is a silly expression that I capture and think if only this person knew how they look like. and then they do:)

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer John Ramaine


John Ramaine is the author of the novel, “A long Time Ago”; here is a link to the Amazon page:



Q: What is A Long Time Ago about?


A: The essential premise is plainly expressed in this axiom, ‘What if the mistakes you’ve made could be erased creating a path for you to fulfill your destiny’?  This question crosses many lines and is capped with a ‘what if I’ or ‘if only’.  Many books and stories have been penned using this idea.  The way I went about making it my own was through the influence of films and the iconic images they leave in the human psyche.  I used the paradigm of time travel to convey a personal story, using the film industry as a backdrop.


Q: What made you want to write about time travel?


A: Time travel allows us to fulfill our deepest desire in having personal involvement with a particular period, setting or era long since gone.  It’s also an interesting way of correcting your mistakes while retaining the memory of why you made the mistakes and how you never want to repeat them.  But as in any time travel story, just because you correct a mistake doesn’t mean that the alteration doesn’t have its own set of problems.  Probabilities and dimensions come into play.  It’s discovered in A LONG TIME AGO that mistakes are a part of who we are and how we’ve become who we’ve become.  It allows the reader to travel with the writer and experience the unexpected that comes about in trying to work out what happens in fixing the very thing that led you to the time machine in the first place.  And if you try to fix the mistake, do you still find the time machine and try to correct the mistake that essentially never happened?  It can play with your mind a little.


Q: What would you say the theme of the book is?


A: When you open the cover of the book, there is a caption written at the bottom of the first page; ‘Dreams never die, they just sometimes get put on hold.’  Every dream and desire we have as individuals is plainly attainable through our imagination.  But just because you get a dream or a vision to create something or be someone, it doesn’t automatically fall onto your lap.  It may take time…years even, to reach a glimmer of what you see inside of yourself.  You face delays and setbacks that are constantly screaming at you to give up and that it’s never going to happen.  But the impediments along your path are maturing you in ways that nothing ever can.  Time permits the lesson of patience and experience.  Nick Webb, the main character in A LONG TIME AGO goes through this on a constant level.  Numerous setbacks and personal problems are the theme of life for every character ever written.  It’s how they come out of it that’s worth the price of admission.   And also, after the dedication, I added a page long quote that icon, James Dean said during his struggling days as an actor.  It is a very satisfying passage and lends largely to the theme of the novel.


Q: Who inspired the character of Nick Webb?


A: This being my first novel was originally birthed from a screenplay.  And like anything that’s first, it’s born from you.  Every experience the character feels and goes through is in some way my own.  Broken dreams and disappointments that cascade on Nick are merely a reflection of myself, save for the heightened sense of his environment.  Nick has a strong moral background and impression of what’s good and what’s evil.  He is also a movie guy who has an appreciation for the cinematic arts and hates to see it succumb to the banal influence of social media and the demographic pie chart.  Nick is a man who knows he has a destiny to fulfill.  He is a man of principle and like myself, a dreamer with purpose.  When I read the book and the description of Nick, I see myself.  Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be able to separate the two.


Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?


A: In addition to writing, I am also an actor.  I was just hired to play Banquo in Frog and Peach’s Main Stage production of Macbeth here in New York City.  It’s wonderful but doesn’t pay squat.  Like any creative person trying to break through, I have had numerous jobs in my journey to help make ends meet.  Anything from census taker, theater usher, dog walker, furniture mover, vacuum cleaner salesman, flower shop delivery boy, ice cream scooper, envelope stuffer and pen salesman to name a few.  I’ve also done film industry jobs working as a production assistant, first AD, casting assistant, hand model and photo double to name some.  As of last week, I worked as a greeter.  All of these jobs keep me hungry in pursuit of success in my field.  They don’t require a heavy mental strain, which allows me to concentrate on more important matters.  The experience of meeting new people in these positions adds a myriad of characters and circumstances that feed the writer in me.  It’s all cataloged quite well.  But mostly, and I would be remiss in not mentioning that it is my wife Julie who is the main breadwinner.  Her indissoluble spirit of faith in me, as an actor and writer keeps her doing what she does in helping me get to where I need to go…for now.


Q: What sort of educational background do you have?


A: I never took a novel writing class but I did take various seminars along the way on screenwriting.  I attended the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU for a year before dropping out but that was for film productions mostly.  A LONG TIME AGO was born from a screenplay I wrote.  In a way I was very pleased that it didn’t get produced.  Despite a wonderful stage presentation and some interest from film producers, it just didn’t get off the ground.  But I could not, for the life of me, let the story go.  It was too personal and important to just die on the shelf.  The story needed to be expanded but I had no idea how to do that.  One day, while taking a walk, I was presented with a choice.  My heart spoke very clearly, ‘Write the novel.’  I had an epiphany.  This was the answer in taking the story to places that a screenplay could not go, while at the same time reaching deep into the character’s motives and intentions.  I knew a screenplay could only skim the surface.  It made all the sense in the world but the problem was that I’ve never written anything like this.  I had no idea how to start.  Through Julie’s encouragement I simply jumped into the process, mistakes and all.  I began writing A LONG TIME AGO, using the screenplay as a template.


Q: What are some of the writing influences and how is this evidenced in your book?


A: The voice in the book is my own.  During the process of writing, I would read out sections to Julie to get her reaction.  She noticed a gist of Mickey Spillane in the narrative, the way things were being set up and resolved.  I really appreciated that since I read a few of Spillane’s books, which obviously seeped into my subconscious.  I also thoroughly enjoyed reading Vonnegut, so he may have gotten in there as well.  I would say that my main influence is the movies.  Filmmakers tell the story through pictures.  As writers, we tell our story through words.  When people read our stuff, they have to see it.  It has to be visual.  This is the link to the imagination, taking the reader where the writer wants them to go.  I do believe that this is my gift as a writer, in that I describe everything to a visual term.  I take you there, making the story all the more enjoyable.


Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote your book?


A: First of all, the book is a self-published work on Amazon.  I never ran it through an editor nor did I take it to publishers.  I never really saw it beyond my ability to self-publish and just put it out there.  A LONG TIME AGO is a near diary of my life, not to the events that surround the main character but his emotions and the sacred oaths he takes in pursuing the high road.  My intention was to get this novel on the record.  It was a challenge I’m glad I reached.  There are also particular intricacies that I wanted secured in my name, which includes a high level of science acumen regarding the time traveling device.  Should the book ever get optioned, I will have secured the actual idea.  In the meanwhile, like everyone else, I created A LONG TIME AGO Facebook page that is accessible for view.  Every once in a while I will promote my book on my regular Facebook wall.  The first couple of years I did receive residual checks, although that’s kind of dried up now.  I also read the favorable reviews on the Amazon site, which are amazing.  In the years since its availability, I have had many friends who expressed interest in reading it.  In return I simply asked for an honest review.  Good or bad.  Yet, I have not received any reviews from the people who said they bought it.  The book does run a tad over six hundred pages, so there is a commitment to it, but because it involves films, science, romance and action, I was counting on reaching the better nature of my colleagues.  I’m still waiting.  I do have grander plans for the book; I’m just not able to articulate them now.


Q: Why do you think old Hollywood fascinates people?


A: The movies of our past and I include anything before 1980, left indelible impressions that have found their place in our vernacular.  Images of Bogie, Marilyn, Wayne, Liz, Brando and Cagney, et al, exist in our subconscious.  They live and breathe in our movements.  We quote them, enact them and watch them repeatedly.  Books rarely do this and television never.  Movies built our myths.  They are the foundation of our dreams.  They are handed down generation after generation because they still speak to us.  We don’t judge or ever get weary of them.  Also, the movies exhibited a tone of class and elegance.  This is surely lacking in today’s cinematic culture, which distributes soon forgotten and rarely quoted content.  Actors don’t carry the same impact that the old actors emanated.  This is an ongoing mention in A LONG TIME AGO, a sort of personal frustration on my end.  Also, old Hollywood appears remote and otherworldly, as seen through the prism of its current state.  It’s unattainable.  The character of Nick Webb goes back there and finds a spirit of renewal.  This is the reader’s opportunity to go with him and feel refreshed.


Q: If you had a time machine what would you change in the history of film?


A: Great question and it is answered in the book.  The character of Nick Webb is rebuffed in going back through a documentary to change history.  I hope this doesn’t give away too much.  I will share that the most recognized film in history is the Zapruder film, which documented the assassination of JFK.  Like Nick Webb, I would eagerly figure out the most accessible way to stop the assassination.  And I would do it over and over again until I got it right.  But part of the problem comes back to alternate dimensions and outcomes.  Are things meant to be?  Can we really correct the past?  In A LONG TIME AGO, the movies play a big role in answering that question.  But this very dilemma is presented in the book and for anyone interested in the assassination; it is a fascinating approach to an event that we, in our imagination, still try to solve.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.


An Interview With Writer Ilanna Sharon Mandel



Ilanna Sharon Mandel is the author of The Bridge of Haunted Souls; here is a link to her website:


Q: What is The Bridge of Haunted Souls about?

A: The Bridge of Haunted Souls is an action-adventure in magical realism inspired by Jewish mysticism and a belief in the enduring need to hope for an afterlife. It’s a novel that explores the importance of friendship and loyalty, especially for young teens. In the story, Tamar is contacted by her young cousin Gabriella who recently died in an accident. Tamar and her two friends Rachel and Diana brave an adventure through an ancient cemetery, and the bridge between the world of the living and the afterlife. Their guide is Bruria, the Guardian of Souls. The three friends learn the terrible truth about what happened to Gabrielle and how she plans to re-enter the world of the living, so that Tamar will take her place in the world of the dead.


Q: What experiences in your life inspired you to write the book?


A: I have been writing practically my entire life. I published my first poem when I was 16 and never looked back. It has been my dream to publish novels. I recall being a young girl in Regina, Saskatchewan, when the famous writer W.O. Mitchell (Who Has Seen the Wind) came to our school and gave a reading. I was transfixed. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a writer. This novel in particular was inspired by my own childhood experiences with my friends when we found an ancient gravestone out on the prairies. We concocted an entire story for the gravestone, although we never did learn the truth about it.


Q: What makes Tamar an interesting character?


A: To me Tamar is interesting because she’s not a caricature of someone; she’s a full person. She is smart, adventurous, funny and kind, but she also worries and always feels she has to be in charge. Tamar finds it hard to hold back; she’s always interested in moving forwards. From her parents, who are archaeologists, she gained a love for adventure. But, she has an incredibly open mind, and so although the wonders of the afterlife are revealed to her, she’s ready to see them. Tamar is also a loyal friend and is always watching out for Rachel and Diana. Ultimately, her sense of responsibility and love for Gabrielle set her off on the adventure to begin with. So, she’s very brave, but in many ways also a regular teenage girl.


Q: Why do you think people are so fascinated by the afterlife?


A: Because it’s the ultimate question in life; what happens after we die. We all want to know. Some people have a deep-rooted belief that when we die, our souls live on, while others believe that death is nothing, and still others don’t know what to believe. It is one of the most enduring issues of our human existence.


Q: You work as an instructional designer; what does the job entail?


A: As an instructional designer, I do a lot of different things; I write curriculum, training, courses, workshops, create e-learning, interactive learning, and write live action and animation scripts. I have had the opportunity to work for a broad spectrum of clients and a huge range of topics. I focus a lot on the healthcare and education sectors, and am a specialist on disability-related issues.


Q: What is the least effective thing you have done to promote your book?

A: I think the least effective thing I have done is announce it on Facebook. People just don’t seem to pay any attention because there is so much going on all the time, the information just gets lost.




Q: What famous writer would you most like to meet?

A: I would love to meet Ursula K. Le Guin. She is truly my idea of a complete writer. Ursula has written in fantasy, science fiction, academia and practical, informative articles. She’s a brilliant woman whose work in science fiction is some of the most seminal writing that exists today. As a writer she brings a strong social conscience to her stories, and always develops deeply complex yet relatable pieces. She is one of the reasons I began writing in science fiction.


Q: What is the best advice you have gotten about writing?


A: Find your own voice and don’t give up. I believe strongly in these twin principles. It’s imperative as a writer that one doesn’t try to mimic or sound like anyone else. All writers are inspired by others, but don’t try to emulate them. Take the time to find your voice and your stories. Write about the topics and situations that are most meaningful to you. And, don’t give up. I’m in my 60s and publishing my first novel.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently three quarters of the way through my second novel, entitled Prairie’s Edge. The novel is quite a departure from this novel as it’s far more adult in nature, although the protagonist is a 16-year-old girl named Lesley who lives in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. Lesley copes with a plethora of challenges – her Mom is an alcoholic and has brought a strange, drifter to live with them, and then her dying grandfather comes to stay so he can die with his family around him.  Lesley feels her world closing in on her and only wants to escape the prairies. Her mother ends up in rehab and the drifter named Grant becomes a seminal figure in her life, who helps her to take care of her dying grandfather.


Q:  If you could bring anyone back to the land of the living, who would it be and why?


A: I would bring back my Mom. We lost her young and it was quite shocking as she died of a brain aneurysm no one knew she had. My father came home to find her in a terrible state and called the ambulance, but she passed away quickly. We were extremely close, and her way of raising me was to tell me stories. Whenever I asked her a question, she invariably had a story to tell me. She was also a talented writer, as was her brother (who won major awards for his poetry). My Mom was writing her own first novel when she died, so sadly, it was never finished.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Reality TV Contestant Katie Mills





Katie Mills appeared on the second season of reality show The Mole; here is a link to one of the episodes:


Q: What made you interested in being on The Mole?


A:  I watched the first season and was able to immediately tell who the mole was. I thought I can do this. I jokingly said something in class and my students told me I should try out for the show. So I did.

Q: Do you believe you were portrayed fairly?

A:  I think they portrayed me just how I was. A young, emotional woman. It’s interesting to see myself now and think WOW have I grown up so much.
Q: Who got the best edit on the show and who do you think got the worst?

A:  I honestly think everyone was fairly edited. I think it would have been tough to edit anyone badly as we were all so friendly with each other.
Q: How has reality TV changed since you were on it?

A: There’s a lot of bullying on reality tv now. I love Reality TV and I think because I participated in it I will always love it. However, some of the ways women treat each other and talk over each other on shows. That’s not entertainment.
Q: Are you still a school teacher?

A: No. I left teaching a year and a half later. I moved out of Penacook, NH and moved to Maine. I got involved in insurance and I absolutely love it. I have to deal with people like I would deal with students, but it’s now behind a desk instead of in front of a classroom.
Q: Have you ever auditioned for another reality show? No. I wanted to try Amazing Race but that application was way more complicated than the Mole one was.
A: Your IMDB page says you have worked as a crew member on several short films. Are you interested in film or television production yourself? I’m not sure who edited my IMDB page. The crew stuff and short films is not me. I have only been on the Mole. I love film, however. I remember asking production of the Mole if this would get me a SAG card. They just laughed at me.

Who do you still talk to from the cast and what have they been up to?

A: Facebook makes everything easier now. When one of the producers, Clay Newbill, won an Emmy for Shark Tank – I messaged him to Congratulate him. We all say hello and banter on FB but it’s been 15 years. We grow up and life changes. I think I hear from Bill the most.

How real is the television show, Unreal? ( It is on Hulu if you haven’t seen it.)

A: I have watched Unreal. Reality tv wasn’t like that when I was on it, but it doesn’t surprise me now if it was that way.
Q: What advice would you have for someone who is considering going on a reality show?

A: Think LONG and HARD about it. In today’s world, everything is available to the populous due to social medial. Luckily, my stint on reality tv was positive, but some of these women who go on other shows to find a suiter or do crazy adventures could be exploitive. I was very lucky that ABC, at the time, was very Disney and Family oriented.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.