Month: October 2013

An Interview With Psychologist Kathryn Hahner


Kathryn Hahner, PhD is a Licensed Psychologist who is an expert on the psychology of humor; here is a link to her website:

Q: What made you choose psychology as a profession?

A: There are many branches of psychology, different from each other. I won’t list them all, but for example, Physiological Psychologists are expert in the workings of the nervous system and wouldn’t know about treating and diagnosing mental disorders, the realm of Clinical Psychology. Industrial/Organizational Psychologists work in the corporate world with systems and procedures. Cognitive Psychologists do research in memory and thinking.
My doctorate is in Social and Personality Psychology, a branch of experimental psychology that deals with the science of social interaction (the Social Psych side) and the psychology of the individual (Personality Psych.) It’s geared toward college teaching and research, and I did each. I was drawn to this branch of psychology because I have always wanted to know what makes people tick. I’m good at generating hypotheses and critiquing research, but I knew while still a grad student that I didn’t have the superior quantitative and methodological skills to compete in the research and academic market.
I began training in Clinical Psychology outside grad school, found that I liked treating people with all kinds of problems and was good at it. When I applied for licensure way back when, the work experience I presented as one of the requirements, was in Clinical. Nowadays, to sit for the licensing exam in any state, the doctorate can’t be in a different branch of psychology from that of the work experience. We split credential psychologists are “scientific practitioners,” a vanishing breed.

Q: What made you interested in the psychology of humor?

A: Most psychoanalysts (I am not one!) see humor as a defense mechanism or as a way of expressing so-called “repressed” material of an aggressive or sexual nature. The very concepts of “defense mechanism” and “repression” make me want to laugh. No good data exist to support these pieces of dogma that are examples of circular reasoning; the proof that something is repressed is that we can’t remember it…Huh?!? And how do we know that joking is a defense against (whatever)? – because psychoanalytic theory says so. I have known since I was a child that humor, whether in everyday life or performed (which is comedy) is a survival technique. It is a way to transcend pain, suffering, boredom and tragedy.
To understand what makes something funny is a goal I’ve had most of my life, and it’s an impossible one. No philosopher, social scientist, or for that matter, comedian, has ever been able to pinpoint the difference between a dramatic statement and a comedic one, except that the comedic one makes us laugh. But why do we laugh? I wanted the experiment for my doctoral dissertation to provide the answer, and after reviewing the existing research literature, I realized I couldn’t even pose the question. This was because the theories of humor were all flawed, some more than others, and what dominated the field was what’s known as “superiority humor theory,” a mean spirited approach beloved to the behaviorists (don’t get me started…google “behaviorism in psychology” and see for yourself) – and first promulgated by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in the 17th century. Basically, the theory is that all humor can be reduced to a way of making oneself feel superior to others. Put-down humor does exist, but it’s only one kind, and it’s seldom that funny.
So, I designed an experiment to test the hypothesis that members of what’s called a “reference group” in Social Psychology will not mind jokes about their own group, as long as they think the jokes are coming from a group member, and will not appreciate the same jokes if they come from an outsider. The data supported my hypothesis. People not only make fun of themselves – they can transcend all kinds of trouble through this kind of humor. I’m not advocating for self-deprecation; it’s a fine line. My all time favorite stand-up comedian is Richard Pryor. He took the most tragic events of his life and made them hilariously funny. No one ever did it as well, and probably no one ever will. Recently, Jay Leno said in an interview that Pryor was the funniest comedian he’d ever seen.

Q: What did your research for your dissertation on humor entail?

A: In many Social Psychology experiments, the subjects in the research think we’re looking at one thing, and we’re really looking at something else; basically, the experimenter lies! The reference groups I used were African American students in Black Studies classes, female feminist college students and Jewish students. I ran out of money part of the way through, so limited the groups to Black Studies students and feminists.
I sent my assistants into the classrooms, and they read a script that explained that the research was about what makes jokes funny. The same jokes (in written form) were given to all subjects to rate, but some of the Black Studies students, using them as an example, were told by my assistant (an African American) that the jokes were written by an African American, and they were shown a photo supposedly of this writer. Some of the jokes were neutral in content, others had African Americans as the butt of the jokes. The students who believed the jokes came from an African American rated the jokes with an African American as the joke butt higher than did the students who were presented with the same jokes, but where the experimenter (my assistant) was white, they were told the person who wrote the jokes was white, and the photo was of a white writer. In fact, in one of the classes, the white assistant had to grab the joke booklets and run, the students were so angered by black jokes from a white writer. Data from the feminist subjects didn‘t support the hypothesis; won’t go into what I suspect to be the reasons.
If you’re thinking “Duh – isn’t it obvious that you have to be a member of the group to make fun of it?” you’re right. Sadly, I needed to demonstrate the obvious when the reigning theory of the day was that people never laugh at themselves, that all humor can be reduced to putting someone else down. I won’t even go into what the psychoanalysts think humor is about; don’t get me started on them either…psychoanalysis and behaviorism – two enemy camps that are actually two sides of the same coin, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a counterfeit coin.

Q: What does a person’s sense of humor say about their psychological makeup?

A: Let’s take two famous comedians whose brand of humor says much about their personalities. First my idol, Richard Pryor. He made the horror shows of his life hilarious – a heart attack, being an abused kid, running down the street on fire, racism. He died slowly of multiple sclerosis, and he was brilliant to the very end. He didn’t just die with dignity; as he grew more ill, he championed the rights of the most victimized creatures – animals – sentient beings that are property under the law and regularly abused by humans. Then there’s Jerry Seinfeld. He has said that his comedy is “about nothing.” I couldn’t agree more. Seinfeld is very rich, and I don’t mean spiritually or psychologically.

Q: What makes a comedian or humorist successful?

A: If you mean financially successful, that’s one thing. One word: Seinfeld. Ok – I’ll give him this: while trivial, his humor is common denominator; anyone can relate to it, and that’s important. Kathy Griffin has great timing (important element in comedy, which is different from humor, to be explained.) And, like Pryor, she transcends the nonsense she experiences and perceives in life, although she doesn’t deal with tragedy at the level of Pryor. She’s successful artistically and financially. Kathy does make fun of the celebs she admits to being obsessed with, but it works because her demeanor is self-effacing, and she makes fun of herself. Two things that I think make a comedian successful (by my definition) are content (taking negative things everyone can understand and making them bearable or at least interesting) and timing. But you can say the same thing about a dramatic actor; what makes something funny is very elusive.
To get technical, a joke typically consists of a set-up, joke body and punch line; that also doesn’t pinpoint what makes it funny. Possibly the best thing written about humor is an essay by the philosopher Henri Bergson. In his essay on laughter (you can google it) he gets as close as anyone has to defining what’s funny and ends by saying that just when you think you’ve found the answer, it evaporates like sea foam in the hand of a child playing by the shore.
About the difference between comedy and humor: they’re usually used interchangeably. I sometimes distinguish between them, with comedy as humor that’s performed, whether by amateurs or pros. Humorists usually write funny essays, books, etc. or deliver funny speeches.
Humor can also occur spontaneously in everyday life. There are people who are successful comedians and don’t know it. I was on a subway here in New York where I live, and the train was very crowded. Over the PA system, the conductor repeatedly scolded passengers who kept blocking the doors and not moving into the cars. A woman I’d never seen before started to laugh, and the next thing I knew we were laughing together at the announcements and joking. Instead of being stressed, this woman I’ll never see again and I had a great moment.

Q: You’ve worked a lot with AIDS patients; how did your training in the psychology of humor help you?

A: Psychological theories of humor didn’t help me much with anything. The basis for my dissertation experiment – don’t joke about the ingroup unless you’re a member – is something I’ve always known and practiced. Wish I could say the same for most comedians. Arrogant as it may sound, my own rule, “Don’t mock it unless you’ve tried it,” has informed my work. There are exceptions to the rule. Black comedians can make fun of whites because blacks have been persecuted historically. Same thing re Jews; Lenny Bruce made fun of the “goyim,” and it worked. Women make fun of men – same principle, but as we gain equality, it becomes less viable for us to mock men.
Getting back to AIDS: I worked as Psychology Supervisor on an inpatient unit back in the days when all AIDS was a death sentence; all my patients died. One of my favorite patients never lost his sense of humor. As he was dying, he had an oxygen mask that had a hose-like part descending from his nose. In a small voice, he called me to his bedside and whispered, “Do I look like an elephant?” We laughed. It would have been terrible and not at all funny if I had been the one to make the elephant joke to my patient. It helps me to be open to humor wherever I find it, while not violating the individuals I treat, which means that if a patient is humorless, so am I. Forcing humor on anyone is a violation, an intrusion.

Q: What do you think most people misunderstand about your profession?
Keeping in mind the many branches of psychology, I’m speaking to Clinical Psychology, which is mainly what I practice. Most people think that Clinical is all psychology. Even worse, psychology is confused with psychoanalysis. Psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and other mental health providers can be psychoanalysts. I was trained in a type of psychoanalysis more contemporary than the Freudian model, though it had many of the same intrinsic flaws. I also was trained in other types of psychotherapy and evaluation. Because my clinical training was outside grad school in various venues, I was exposed to several orientations. I mainly do cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which can be too rigid, since it grew out of the behaviorist tradition in academic psychology. I think of myself as “CBT light.”
Many people think that psychologists just sit and listen, then say “Our time is up.” True of a lot of my colleagues. You could do that for free with a friend. Good psychotherapists talk with their clients and give them the tools to change their thoughts and behaviors, making themselves obsolete in their clients’ lives. Woody Allen has been pouring words into psychoanalysts’ ears forever and ended up married to his step-daughter.
More confusion: psychiatrist vs. psychologist. This confusion is built into the otherwise wonderfully written sitcom, Frasier. Dr. Frasier Crane was sometimes a Ph.D. (psychologist) and sometimes a psychiatrist (M.D.) Freud, by the way, was a psychiatrist; lay people don’t always know that. When people assume that because I’m “Dr. Hahner,” I’m a psychiatrist, I say “If only! – I’d be rich from writing scripts for tranquilizers.”

Q: How did your education help you as a performer?

In terms of process, or as it’s called in comedy, “delivery,” it doesn’t help at all – it hinders. I have to be careful about talking too much and using words no one would understand. I don’t mean to sound arrogant; it’s just a statement of fact. However, I get material from psychology. I do an audience improv where I tell the audience that my day gig is something that can put people off, and I ask them to guess what it is. A clever audience member offered “undertaker,” and I said “close, but no.” My critique of Freud’s theories of castration anxiety and penis envy always gets a laugh. It’s a streamlined (and one hopes more comedic) version of what I’ve taught my psychology students.

Q: How has humor evolved in the years you have been studying it?

A: Need to distinguish here between humor and comedy. Comedy has become more sophisticated; you see less broad comedy such as The Three Stooges. I never thought they were very funny; I think more people, adults anyway, these days would agree. On the other hand, greatness survives. Classic bits by Nichols & May, Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory, etc. stand the test of time, or maybe you could say they were before their time. Samuel Clemens (AKA “Mark Twain”) was a humorist who is as funny today as he was in his own era. As for theories of humor, I think the field has evolved so that “superiority humor” is no longer considered the model for all humor. I’ll end pretty much where I started. It is said that Richard Pryor “revolutionized comedy.” I call what he did (and I try to do) “transcendent humor.” I like to think that this nutty world that is increasingly tragic is being increasingly transcended through comedy.

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 Ojai Realtor Alisa Varney


Alisa Varney is a realtor in Ojai; here is a linkk to her website:



Q:  How did you become interested in real estate?

A: Since I started in the real estate business at the age of eighteen, I was looking for a career which had flexible hours so I could support myself, continue with my education, and to be able to assist others. Helping people to achieve their goal of investing in real estate is very rewarding, whether it’s for their own personal home, vacation home, or investment property. I always feel honored when people ask me to be a part of such a huge step in their lives and oftentimes my clients become long-term friends.

Q:  What makes Ojai an interesting place to live?

A: There’s never a dull moment! Weekends are filled with art, music, theater, tennis, food, and other fun events and festivals. And if you’re looking for some down time, Ojai boasts many hiking and horse trails. There’s a special event in the evening called the “Pink Moment” when the fading sunlight casts a vivid pink shade on the top of the bluffs of the Topa Topa Mountains.

Q:  What is the most challenging thing about the real estate market in Ojai?

A: With so many unique homes and not a lot of housing tracts, it can sometimes be difficult to find comparables for pricing.

Q:  What is the most unique feature you have seen in a home?

A: I was surprised to see a hot tub set-up in a spare bedroom!

Q:  What is the most important thing to the average house hunter in Ojai?

A: Most of the requests are about location. It seems that a lot of people want the luxury of leaving their car at home and getting to their favorite spots by foot, bike, or sometimes even by golf cart. Because our town is smaller in size, only ten miles long by three miles wide, this request can usually be fulfilled.

Q:  What do people overlook when house hunting?

A: If you’re looking at a property with oak trees, you’re going to have to learn to live with them. They are protected here and can’t be cut down without approval, which probably wouldn’t happen unless they are a hazard. We place great value in our oaks and even have some that you have to drive around that are growing in the middle of the street. A lot of our water comes from Lake Casitas, so we try to conserve our resources. Ojai has a more dramatic seasonal climate and new residents may have to learn about different landscaping options. Planting California natives is encouraged. You should see our spectacular fall display!

Q:  What makes Ojai so popular with celebrities?

A: Celebrities can feel relaxed and not be bombarded with paparazzi.  Also, if you time the traffic right, we are only a 1 1/2 hour drive from Los Angeles.

Q:  Do you think forbidding chain stores has helped or hurt Ojai in attracting residents?

A: It certainly has helped. Ojai residents and visitors enjoy the shopping experience from a variety of unique stores. Many carry products that are either grown or made in Ojai and can’t be found anywhere else. We’re proud to support our local artisans.

Q:  What misconceptions do people have about the city?

A: Many are surprised that we are not all artists or farmers. We have a variety of social groups and activities for everyone to feel involved and welcome.

Q:  What is the oddest request you have heard from a client?

A: One time a prospective buyer contacted me to locate a large parcel so he could have his own hiking trail. Because Ojai has so many eclectic features, many requests would not seem so odd here.

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 January Jones


January Jones is the author of Thou Shalt Not Whine and several books on the Kennedys. She also hosts her own radio show entitled “January Jones sharing Success Stories”; here is a link to her website:


Q: What inspired you to write Thou Shalt Not Whine?

A: I had wanted to deal with the “whining epidemic going on in our country. People were even whining about whining. My publisher suggested that I do s survey on the top ten things that people whine about for a book. I did the survey and it took on life of it’s own. We found that each age and stage of life comes with it’s own whines. The book ended up being 13 chapters with over 100+ cures for whining with humor and hope. Thou Shalt Not Whine: The Eleventh Commandment reached #1 at

Q: Who are some of your writing influences?

A: I have always loved history and adore reading non-fictional stories about real people with their struggles, stories and their successes. One of my favorite writers is Joan Didion.

Q: What made you so interested in the Kennedys?

A: Like everyone else from my generation, I was fascinated with all of the Kennedys and Jackie in particular. I read everything about them and I was one of Jackie’s biggest fans. Then when I became a widow at 25 years and stood behind a flag draped coffin with 2 small children, I related to Jackie in a major way. After watching her life unfold, I wrote Jackie  Ari & Jack: The Tragic Love Triangle. It is a controversial theory that will make more sense than anything you have ever heard before about JFK assassination. It is a love story with all of the elements of power, wealth, romance and murder. Aristotle Onassis was one of the most powerful men of that time and he considered Jackie the Crown Jewel of his collection of famous people. Basically, Ari needed CLASS and Jackie needed CASH. They were a perfect match for each other.

Q: What don’t most people understand about Jackie O?

A: Most people don’t realize that Jackie was not a wealthy woman. The Kennedy money was all in trust funds. When Jack died, she was left only $25,000 and the interest only to one of her children’s trust funds to be terminated upon re-marriage. Also most people do not understand that Jackie and Ari were an item before Jack was killed. Jack had forbidden Ari to even enter the country but Jackie went on a 17 day cruise with Ari that was a romantic interlude and he wooed her with $50,000 in jewels. Ari flew to Washington and was Jackie’s guest in the White House during the funeral, so one man was lying in state in the East Room and his enemy was in the guest room.

Q: What is the most inspiring success story you have had on your radio show?

A: There are so many that it is impossible to pick just one. However I just published a book entitled: Priceless Personalities: Success Stores Shared By January Jones that features 10 interviews from the show with guests who were unforgettable. They are the ones who have touched my heart and soul. They are the ones that I am honored to share with the world.

In this book, we’re talking about people dealing with problems such as incest, molestation, runaway kids, child abuse, drug abuse, polygamy, unemployment, scandal, starting over, self-confidence, self-esteem and workplace issues.

Then there are my guests dealing with difficult physical struggles such as blindness, cancer and birth defects that are beyond traumatic. My guests have all been exciting, eclectic, and energizing. They have amazed, amused and even astonished me.

Q: Does having the same name as a TV star help or hinder you?

A: It is a great help due to the name recognition on all of the search engines. There are two other women named January Jones. The Actress on Mad Men and there was an exotic dancer and singer of that name who used to appear on The Johnny Carson Show. She has videos posted on YouTube. Both of them are and were lovely, beautiful and very talented.

Q: What is the difference between whining and arguing a point?

A: There is a big difference in that whining can be annoying and it is a ploy to get attention. Whereas arguing a point, can help resolve issues and create understanding of a problem. One is very unhealthy and demeaning and the other can be very healthy and constructive way to deal with life.

Q: Who do you think is the whiniest celebrity? (Why)

A: Gosh, there are so many these days with all of the reality TV personalities out there trying to get attention be it good or bad. In my book, I name Joan Rivers as the Queen of Whining and Regis Philbin as The King of Whining.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to sell their book on Amazon?

A: I would suggest that they publish their book with amazon’s Create Space program. It is the most efficient way to publish these days and get exposure at amazon especially if you sign on to convert your book to their kindle program. I have self-published in the past and had a New York publisher but I have never encountered an easier way to a beginner to get started that with Create Space.

Q: If you were a Kennedy which Kennedy would you be and why?

A: Well, I must say that it would have to Jackie Kennedy. I have followed her life and feel that she was a true heroine for our times. Her life was difficult but very exciting and filled with amazing adventures. She was a woman to be admired. She was married to two of the most powerful and ruthless men of the last century. Jackie swam with sharks and when all was said and done she was the last one left standing. Plus, she had all the money and the love and respect of the world. Most importantly, she was a mother and a survivor who’s top priority were her children. It is sad that she never wrote her own story but her private papers are sealed until 2044 in order to protect her children and grandchildren. So perhaps when history is written in the future, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy will be the dominant Kennedy of the last century.

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 “How to Fail in Hollywood and Kill the Dream” Stars Annabelle Gutman and Johanna Rae


Annabelle Gutman and Johanna Rae are the subjects of Richard Lowry’s new documentary How to Fail in Hollywood and Kill the Dream; here is a link to the films website:




Q:  How did you meet Richard Lowry?

A: Annabella met Rico when he was working on his feature film Rapture a sci -fi thriller and helped with production of the film. Through Annabella, Johanna met Rico and from there we all collaborated to make How to Fail in Hollywood and Kill the Dream.

Q:  Why do you think he wanted to document your story?

 A: Two women with strong passionate personalities with the same goals coming to conquer their career and dreams in Hollywood on their own.  As we all know it is not easy to make it in Hollywood especially for women in predominate world where men are calling the shots. The film turned out to be very entertaining with challenges as well as educational.

Q: What is the basic story of the film?

A: Genre is a documentary comedy. A comedy of errors about two actresses inspiring to launch their film production with bizarre comic results.

Q:  How do you feel about how you were portrayed in the film?


Annabella:  The way we in the film is not exactly the way we are in real life, since in the film we are over the top.

Johanna:  Lol. When I watched the film it was very funny to see the two of our characters interaction with one another, I felt as though I was watching Lucy and Ethel in “I Love Lucy”.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you made in Hollywood?

A: Being naive and believing in people that made big promises, and becoming dependent on these people. Eventually almost 99 percent of these people let us down and the only people we could count on where ourselves.

Q:  If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

A:  Never wait on anyone and trust your instinct. Never allow money to be an issue to slow you down. Never count on anyone but yourself.

Q:  Why do you think this documentary is worth watching?

A:  It’s entertaining, hilarious, with real life situations that real people in the world can relate to. It is also educational at the same time for people pursing their goals and dream in life.

Q:  What are some of your favorite reality shows?


Annabella:  “Million Dollar Listing ” , “Kardashians ” , “Top Model”, “The Apprentice  ”

Johanna:  ” Ridiculousness” “Catfish”,

Q:  What do you like about Hollywood?

A: Hollywood is a place where you come and make your dreams come true in the show business world. As long as you’re persistent   , ambitious, keep looking forward and never give up!


Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A: The wishy washy ,lies , and false situations , and people that can lead you so far in the wrong direction , wasting your valuable time ,and taking you away from your focus,  and what you really are trying to do . Many people seem to be very selfish, and unwilling to give you a chance.

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 Model/Stuntman Shawn Alli


Shawn Alli is a model and stuntman, here is a link to his fan page:


Q: What made you interested in modeling?


A:  Looking back I always wanted to be a Nascar driver, till one day (out the blues) I was asked to be a Model for a friend of mine’s Project. I was so natural and fun to work with that the photographer recommended for me to try out Modeling Field and here I am shooting for International Magazine, Commercials and now slowly working my way up into Acting Field.

Q: What is your strangest work story?

A:  Galli, I got so many of those but the most amazing and fun work story I can remember right of the rocket would be when I was 16 and was sent to spy on my Father. You believe that? My own Mother had my spying on my Father and paid me in M&M’s lol.. A story I can’t forget..

Q: What other kind of jobs have you done and why is modeling better?

A:  I’ve done from cashier work to business’s man work and comparing that to modeling. It is WAY fun and different, I mean you are your own boss and just live in those moments that gets to be captured by the camera for a lifetime, where you can always look back and relate to it.

Q: What is your greatest professional triumph?

A:  My Greatest Professional Triumph was being Ranked #1 in the USA for America’s next top Denim Dude and shooting Aeropostale‘s Commercial.

Q: What was your biggest goal?

A:  Even though I have been Aeropostale’s next denim dude and was Ranked into the top #50 Hottest Male Models in the USA for my Unique looks but YET I have something more thrilling that will be my biggest Triumph for a while. so stay tuned for this ONE since I’m starting to love Acting ;)..

Q: What is your dream modeling job?

A:  My Dream Modeling Job would be to do runway for Dolce & Gabbana, I mean come on who wouldn’t want to?

Q: Is there anything you would not want to advertise?

A:  I’m the Opposite, before I take off from Modeling World I want to be able to make sure that I have advertised everything in the Modeling industry.

Q: What kind of stunt work have you done?

A:  Stunt Work? Now we talking, since I love speed and have owned many race car’s and motorcycle’s which don’t last long since I have a bad habit of either wrecking them or doing something that jeopardizes them.. This might help, few weeks ago, I hit 190MPH in the backstreet quarter mile where I almost “died” I don’t know what I was thinking but HEY what kind of man I be if I don’t love challenges. set up a time and I be there. ” I live my life on Quarter Mile as there’s no tomorrow”.

Q: What photographers would you most like to work with?

A:  Since I love being on front of the Camera. I wish to work with “Yousuf Karsh“…. Darn it. I just looked up he died in 2002, well my 2nd one on the list would be Scott Kelby, just because of how he view photography and is able to bring something Astonishing on the table on all his shoots.

Q: What makes you fame worthy?

A:  Not being conceded but since I get daily compliments on my unique looks then YES that’s what makes me Fame worthy, I mean come on, let’s face it. Industry will only represent you if you are capable of unique looks, which I am thankful to my Parents for giving me Middle Eastern “chromosomes”..



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 Author Annette Bette Kellow

Annette Bette Kellow Is a model and writer whose has written a book entitled The Roses Grow Wild. Here is a link to her website:

Q: What is The Roses Grow Wild about?

A: The roses grow wild is a tale of a young graduate, Emily, and her new friends who all have dreams of working in creative careers in London. Instead they get into some hairy situations including homlessness, broken love, suicide attempts, sugar daddies and east end parties.
The characters include wannabe divas, jobbing actors, depressed writers and musicians.

Q: What inspired the novel?

A: I think London, being a student in a crazy city and hearing so many interesting stories was part of the inspiration. There are also other factors, like today everybody wants to rule the world, be famous, get rich but the substance behind it has gone.
I also have worked for many homeless shelters like Shelter and St Mungos where I heard how normal people can fall into homelessness so I wanted to include some of that.

Q: What qualities does an interesting heroine have?

A: I think a heroine doesn’t have to necessarily be the most wittiest, beautiful or strongest, but they must have something that carries them through the story whether it be recovering anguish or a sneaky clever side to them that no one saw!

Q: Who are some of your writing influences?

A: I quite like realism writers, I like Bret Easton Ellis, he wrote his books set in ‘I’ although it was influenced by things that were happening in LA at the time, so did Bukowski and Molly Parkin who I admire too. There is always a difficulty in setting a book in ‘I’ as people assume its you. then! But I think it gives it a more personal touch.

Q: How does your experience as a model influence your writing?

A: I would say modelling and acting are both parallel with each other, the characters you play and how you become ‘something else’.
Even the structure of how you show many emotions or different sides of yourself, then you just leave and sometimes never see the crew or team again. Writings a very similar structure, you fully immerse yourself, then your work leaves and goes into someone elses hands- but that’s part of the fun!

Q: What is your strangest modeling story?

A: When I was a student in New York I was so very skint, I did some part time modelling and this guy offered me 400 dollars to model jeans for him- he had a jeans fetish and told me so did his friends! So I wore a baggy t-shirt and jeans for half an hour, in a downtown studio in Manhattan, he was loving it for some strange reason, easiest 400 dollars I ever made and absolutely nothing saucy about it!

Q: What themes do you like to write about?

A: I like to write about grandeur or the other end of the spectrum, the seamier side of things. I like realism and capturing a current opinion. I’m not a feminist at all but I like writing about females stories, girls doing what they’ve got to do- you can get away with so much and I dont think theres anything wrong with using the female charms, although feminists would kill me for saying that!
Theres a reason we were born women, you only have to read the last paragraph of John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath to know that sometimes being female works in your favour.

Q: Why do you think Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular?

A: I think its acceptable kink, and its also a bandwagon. Fifty Shades of Grey I think is similar to Cheryl Cole, shes thrust into your face through the media so many times and praised so often that people begin to think shes wonderful, its amazing but humans do follow the leader. There are many kinky books out there but people just grab fifty shades as everyones reading it. I think also that fetish fashion has become a bit more popular and commercial now.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Im working on some new writing and finishing a film I recently wrote for designer Fifi Cachnil that was filmed in New York.

Q: What do people misunderstand about mental illness?

A: I think people dont realise mental illness can come and go- (of course in some it stays longer) but for many thats the reason people get better, get a job and home, then can lose it again if the illness takes over, it is ongoing but it can be suppressed and is definitely not the end of someones life. It is also not necessarily found with tablets and therapy but with finding different ways to help the individual, I think it is a very individual thing and needs specialized care for the person. I think people should be more aware of it as it affects many in their life, but it can be overcome.

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 Animal Advocate Denise Costa


Denise Costa is an animal advocate and writer whose is currently raising funds for her documentary Tony’s Tale Tragedy in Arizona; here is a link to its Kickstarter page:

Q:   What made you interested in animal rights?

A:  Actually I have been a life long advocate for animals. As a child growing up in Buffalo, New York I had a strong empathy for the stray dogs and cats in the neighborhood and would feed them whenever they came around my house. This was the 1970’s so the Animal Advocacy movement had not yet begun. When I was around 12 years of age I was browsing in Walden Bookstore and came across a book called “Slaughter of the Innocent” which exposed the horrors of vivisection on lab animals. I was horrified that such a practice existed and wanted to do something about it. At the age of 12 though I was not really empowered to do anything but I carried that same passion to right injustices into my adult life.

I turned my mission for animals to writing in 2009 when I published my first children’s book “A Tale of Three Tails” which I followed up with three other children’s books. I turned to writing non fiction with ‘Tony’s Tale, Tragedy in Arizona in 2012.” I also write a very popular column in the online Examiner newspaper which caters to exposing animal abuse cases, raising awareness for the plight of unwanted dogs in our society and the daily challenges rescuers face.


Q:  What is Tony’s Tale, Tragedy in Arizona about?

A:  Tony’s Tale, Tragedy in Arizona” profiles an actual case that took place in the small town of Clifton Arizona. Tony was a gentle 7 year old Pit Bull Shar Pei mix  that lived with his family and two other dogs. Unfortunately Tony was wrongfully accused of killing a neighbor’s Chihuahua although the bite marks on the dog did not resemble Tony’s teeth.   Tony was seized from his family and forced to live at the dog pound for 8 months before he was euthanized on June 18th 2012.


Q:  Why was Tony ordered to be euthanized?

A:  Although all evidence pointed away from Tony as the culprit in the case and their was worldwide public outcry over this, the Justice of the Peace Grace Nabor still ordered the killing of Tony based on the fact that he was part Pit Bull.  At one point the judge was observed saying she was tired of this case and wanted it to be over.  She was acting in a biased manner and not making her decision based on any evidence or lack of evidence.

Q:  What do you think has caused so much fear of Pit Bulls?


A:  At one point the Pit Bull was considered the perfect family dog and was even nicknamed “The Nanny Dog.” If you watch any of the classic films from the 1920’s and 1930’s the Pit Bull was the featured family pet in most films.  The well known “Little Rascals aka “Our Gang” had a Pit Bull named Petie that accompanied them on many adventures.  I believe the change in the view on Pit Bulls came when certain persons decided to capitalize on their innate strength and use them for the cruel practice of dog fighting. Most recently and namely the Michael Vick case.  Pit Bulls are being abused for financial gain and subjected to horrific deaths in the fighting ring and instead of helping them we have turned our backs on the breed as a whole.


Q:   OK, I have to tell a little story to ask this question; please forgive me. Although I certainly don’t think pits should be put down for their breed I do have a concern about them.  I had a little Sheltie who was one of those persons in a dog suit, dogs. She never barked, chased anything on tried to bite anyone. One day she got an infection in her big toe and needed stiches, when the doctor took the stiches out she bit him. If she had been a pit bull with exactly the same sweet disposition, who acted out of character once, it seems to me, she could have taken off his hand. What would you say to quiet my concerns?

A:  Well, any dog no matter what the size or breed is going to bite when in pain or feeling threatened or afraid. Of course a small dog like a Sheltie may not inflict as much pain as a Pit Bull however a bite or attack is an attack and cannot be reserved for one specific breed or another and thus stigmatize that one breed. Most veterinarians will muzzle dogs of all sizes when having to treat injuries or remove stitches. I volunteer at the local humane society here in Orange County, Florida  as well as a private shelter and have encountered many Pit Bulls who are sweet, loving, affectionate dogs. The only two bites I have sustained in my rescue career were by a Pekinese and Boston Terrier.


Q: What are some of the perks contributors to your Kickstarter campaign will enjoy?

A:  Contributors will enjoy different perks based on various donation levels.  $25.00 or more, contributors will receive a signed copy of the book, $250.00 contributors will receive a signed copy of the book as well as a copy of the film on dvd, $500.00 or more contributors will receive screen credit as contributors and a copy of the film on dvd.

7. What do you like about dogs?

A:  What I like best about dogs is there ability to love unconditionally and they never pass judgment on anyone. I have seen many dogs suffer from severe physical abuse to almost the point of death and still wag their tales at the rescuer or shelter workers.

Q:  Are there any legal resources for dog owners who have experienced unjustified complaints about their dogs?

A:  I would advise them first and foremost to contact and get the assistance of an attorney. They may also contact a nationwide group known as the Lexus Project at They provide legal defense assistance for such cases as well as pursue charges against animal abusers.  Another good move is to contact the local media and get them on their side.

Q:  What can my readers do to fight breed prejudice?

 A:  There are many websites dedicated to Pit Bulls and their preservation as well as petition sites that launch petitions to remove Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).  They can also report dog fighting in their neighborhoods to local law enforcement and promote the breed to their own circle of friends, co workers etc.   There are also many rallies held in various cities when a Pit Bull or any dog is wrongfully accused of a crime. They can get involved with that as well as give positive testimonials about their own positive experiences with the Pit Bull Breed.

Q:  What other kinds of animal activism do you participate in?

A:  I volunteer with my local Humane Society in their Education Department. I tour with my books to elementary schools where I read them and teach students responsible pet ownership, how to recognize and report animal cruelty in their neighborhoods, and to adopt a shelter pet as opposed to buying from a pet store.  I also volunteer at different shelters walking the dogs and working at adoption events. 

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