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Author Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Sally Rowland. We are mostly about writers, but we love the other arts too. It’s a great pleasure to have you here and to share your artworks with our readers.

You’ve been a Facebook friend of mine for a while, but oddly, I got to know you better when you challenged me to the Words Game. I don’t like to brag, but I beat you nine times out of ten. (laughs) Anyway, you took it in stride and when we joked about it is when we bonded even more. Needless to say, I enjoy roaming through your Facebook albums, viewing all your art and photos.

This brings me to your first question: Sally, what were you like as a child and when did you first start sketching and realize you had artistic flair?

Sally Rowland: Hi, Betty, and thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your Dames of Dialogue family. I must say I was surprised, but pleasantly so, to be asked to share my artwork with you all.

I’m enjoying being beaten by you in the Words game–but it’s early days! Maybe we should be playing a drawing game, too, to even things up a bit? (laughs)

Artist Sally Rowland

Anyway, to your first question: I was born and spent the first ten years of my life in Bristol, England. I come from what is known as a “working class” family, which really means you didn’t have a lot of money. I think for many children back then, you didn’t have many “things” and had to rely on your imagination to have fun. I have fond memories of making mud pies in old cans, while we girls pretended we were cooking.

I remember loving to paint and draw as a little girl and I think I might have been about five or six when I won a prize at school for painting a clear plastic container with daffodils. Well, they were meant to be daffodils, but more likely just green and yellow blobs. (laughs) My biggest passion back then, though, was music. We were taught to read music and I played the recorder, finally moving up to the bass recorder, as I was the only one who had the finger span to play it.

My Christmas gifts were nearly always craft themed: Paint by Numbers, knitting kits, books and my favorite “Fuzzy Felt,” which was a box of cut-out felt pieces that you could attach to a board and make all your own scenes, pull off and do again and again.

My family immigrated to New Zealand not long after I turned ten and that was a huge change for us. The school system is quite different and I loved English and anything artistic. I did woodworking, metal craft, art, photography and so on. I think it was during that time I discovered my real love of drawing, so my essays and school projects were always full of pictures I’d drawn to go along with the required words. My favorite part of the art classes was actually doing a wood-block print and an etching on a slab of rubber that was then turned into a print. I still have a scar where the knife left the slab and went right over my thumb…

Sally Rowland – High atop the world in her native UK; an area known as Carn Brea that overlooks Redruth and other parts of Cornwall.

Betty Dravis: I have to laugh at you mentioning the Facebook game of Draw Something, Sally. I enjoy that one with my kids and a few friends. I’m such a terrible artist that I have no doubt you’d outdo me in technique, but I’m still pretty good at guessing the pictures. My drawings look like a kindergartner’s, but I’m getting pretty adept with stick figures. (laughs)

But back to your art, did you or your parents keep any of your younger works?

Sally Rowland: I’m sure my daffodils ended up in the garbage because I wasn’t really a prolific painter when younger, but I did do a wooden bird sculpture at school in New Zealand that my parents still actually have today. It’s complete with a burned beak, as I got a bit carried away when we had to use a flame to give it some color.

Sally’s favorite portrait of her “Mum” Margaret

Betty Dravis: I bet your parents really hated to part with the daffodil art. We tend to love everything our children do…good or bad, but it seems like they made a good choice, keeping the sculpture.

What’s your favorite medium?

Sally Rowland: I would have to say oil is my favorite medium. I’m entirely self-taught in regards to painting, Betty. I never had any formal training, so using oils was a way to be able to correct mistakes before the paint dried. (laughs) I also find that oils match the way I like to paint, which is a lot of blending to get my desired color and effect. I do the same when doing pencil portraits; lots of smudging and blending going on there too.

In recent years I’ve started to dabble with digital painting and I find that I do that the same way I paint with oils–lots of layers and blending. The good thing about digital is that, of course, there’s no mess–I’m a very messy painter–no time limit on drying and if I don’t like what I just did on a layer, I simply delete it and start over. Another thing I love about digital is that you can work on one thing at a time and when you’re happy with it, you can simply merge it into the main piece of work.

Betty Dravis: Digital painting fascinates me, Sally, so thanks for sharing some of the intricacies. I’ve seen samples of all your mediums and they’re fabulous. I think my favorite oil is the one that looks like a scene from a Greek isle. The colors are so vibrant… I like to think of that painting as a “feel-good” work. It really cheers me up.

Since you didn’t mention watercolors above, we would appreciate hearing a little about that. I saw some samples of your “exercises” and if I recall correctly you said on Facebook that you were beginning to try your hand at that. How’s that project coming along?

Sally Rowland: Oh the “Greek Village” painting… You have a good eye, Betty! I love that one myself, and you’re right, it’s definitely a feel-good painting. The joy in creating it is that I got to use whatever colors I wanted for the buildings, while still trying to keep it looking somewhat “Greek.” (laughs) I’m glad it cheers you up; it certainly does it for me too. I even got that one professionally photographed and sold some prints, as well.

But on to the watercolors: I’m definitely all at sea with that particular medium. My late mother-in-law, who was one of my biggest fans, used them. Although she was pretty modest about her talent, she painted some lovely works which we have here, along with lots of paints, brushes and papers she had amassed. She inspired me to give it a try and, as you mentioned, the exercises I tried were fun, but hard. I’d still like to get into it more at some point, but I’ll definitely need to take some courses. I can remember her telling me that her teacher kept saying, “More water, Patsy… More water…” (laughs) Nevertheless, it’s a whole new way of painting that I’m looking forward to trying one day in the not-too-distant future.

At the moment, though, I’m just enjoying having a room for my art supplies…one I can make a mess in and nobody cares. (laughs) We recently–well almost a year ago now–moved to a new city and home, so we’ve been busy redecorating. The first room to be finished is, of course, my art room, so I’m just settling into that and looking forward to finally having a dedicated space in which to pursue my passion properly.

Betty Dravis: If your exercises are any indication, you’ll be great at that too, Sally. I have two favorites: the red one with the chair and table and the purple viola. It will be interesting to see how you progress in the future, but never give up your oils…

So you have been traveling around quite a bit. I bet it’s exciting to be back in Canada again. I have some dear friends there; it’s a lovely country, eh? (laughs) From the few photos I’ve seen, your new home looks very comfortable and you’re making headway in setting up your work areas. I bet you look forward to getting back in the swing with the Belleville Art Association. Tell us about your plans for the future.

Sally Rowland: Yes, I guess I’m a bit of a gypsy! (laughs) I’ve always loved to travel and experience new things, and immigrating to Canada was certainly a big move. While things don’t always work out the way you expect, it’s fun to just take what life throws at you and do the best you can. Eventually, it all works out just the way it should, although it can take a bit longer than you thought to get where you want to be.

As I mentioned, we’ve been here in Belleville for almost a year now. I had intended to join the local Arts Association straight away, but thought it would be better to get settled first and get a few things sorted out so that I could make the most of what they have to offer. With that in mind, I’m looking at joining them later this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting other local artists and learning some new things along the way.

Betty Dravis: I’m really curious about digital painting, so one more question about that, Sally. Is that accepted in the art communities as “real” art? Also, I notice that most of your digital art is of movie stars. Your portrait of Sandra Bullock is certainly lifelike. Beautiful… I admire her greatly, but my favorite digital photo is of the unforgettable and gorgeous Marilyn Monroe. Are you, like most everyone these days, fascinated with movies and the entertainment world?

Sally Rowland: Ah, the good old question: “Is digital art real art?” Personally, I say yes, it is, although I know a lot of artists who disagree. To me, it’s simply another medium. You still have to have the talent to design, draw, paint, etc. On top of that, you also have to be able to use the software to bring it all together, so I view it as just another tool to create with.

I need to purchase a proper painting software package at some stage. Currently I use a photo/paint program; it’s not the best thing, so it really challenges me. To me, the process is almost the same as painting with oils, etc.: You sketch the idea, then use that as a base to add layer upon layer of color and shape until you get the final product. I mentioned the things I like most about digital painting above, but I’d like to stress the point: the flexibility is a definite bonus.

Yes I must admit most of my digital work has been of movie stars, but to be honest, I’m not really into movies/celebrities/entertainment. Photos of stars are so abundant on-line that I found them useful for learning how to use my software. (laughs) I do love trying portraits, though, so I guess that is why there are so many. Many years ago, I recall having a book of portraits of movie stars–the black and white studio shots. I didn’t really care who they were, I just loved the actual photographs. I have to admit that I do have a few books about Marilyn Monroe, though. I found her life intriguing and very sad, rather than glamorous, despite that she was quite the beauty at the time.

Betty Dravis: Sally,I think all generations adore Marilyn; she’s a real, unforgettable legend. But, OMG, I almost forgot that you also did a digital of my very favorite: Clint Eastwood. Although that’s not one of my favorites of your works, I love all things “Clint,” as everyone knows. Since I was lucky enough to interview and get to know him a little–back in the day—I’ve never forgotten him. At the time of the interview, I didn’t realize how much larger-than-life he is, but he put me so at ease that I immediately bonded with him. I made him my mentor (from afar) and tried to shape my career after his. Fat chance! (laughs)

But getting off the subject for a minute, since art is a rather passive activity, how do you keep in shape? Do you have a favorite exercise regime or do you simply rely on healthy eating? Or could it be that your husband Pete and your three cats keep you hopping? (laughs)

Sally Rowland: Oh my, Betty! Keeping in shape! I have to admit to being a passive exerciser also… (laughs) I think the biggest thing I ever did was a 10k marathon which I loved. I also used to play on an indoor cricket team (both all-girl and mixed teams). However, over the years I’ve noticed that I can’t do a lot. I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). It’s not too bad, but one false move and I’m in pain for days. Keeping in shape now is probably limited to gardening and healthy eating. Now that we’re out of the city and living in a less populated area, I think I’d like to get back to biking, a great way to stay in shape and also see more of the area.

Oh yes, Pete and the cats definitely keep me on my toes, as well, but that could be an entire book if I told you everything. (laughs)

Sally with Tyson as a kitty.

Betty Dravis: Well, Sally, you certainly look fit and trim, and I’m very sorry to hear that you have scoliosis. With that in mind, you seem to have come up with the right solution for yourself: gardening and healthy eating. Sounds very sensible to me…

Perhaps you will write that book one day, with illustrations, of course, but the world will have to wait. (laughs) Now speaking of cats, I heard that there’s an interesting story about one of them that traveled back from New Zealand to Canada with you. Do you mind sharing that with our readers? The Dames love animals…

Sally Rowland: My oldest cat, Tyson, now almost thirteen, has probably racked up more air miles than some people. I got him as a kitten back in New Zealand and within months we were headed off to Canada. (I swear there are more paperwork and conditions for moving pets than people–at least there was back then…)

Then after a while we decided to go back to New Zealand, so off he went again… Loads of paper work and then quarantine back in New Zealand (more strict animal import regime). After some time there, and with my in-laws getting older and needing help, we decided to go back to Canada. By that time, we had adopted another cat from the local SPCA. Tyson took it in his stride, though, and was a real trouper.

The day we picked them up from the airport was so funny. We got a bit of a runaround, but finally got sent to the right ‘hangar.’ All we could hear was loud meowing as they were delivered to us, howling inside their cages–on a forklift! The silly thing about it all was that when we went back to New Zealand, Tyson had to be micro-chipped (NZ law). It was apparently so that he could be tracked. However, even with the government-approved micro-chip the cattery/pet shipping company that we used when we finally came back here said that they couldn’t read the chip. So much for that! (laughs)

Tyson has been through a lot for a cat; we all know how cats need routine and familiar surroundings. He’s now getting old and has had some health scares, but he is still my baby and we’ll do whatever we can to make sure he has a great “retirement.” (laughs)

Betty Dravis: Aw-www, poor Tyson, but he’s well loved, Sally… Truthfully, he has many more air miles than I do. I enjoyed your interesting stories about pets and airlines. I never realized pet transportation policies were that strict. With Tyson and the other two cats in mind, I hope you decide to stay in Canada for the duration. (laughs)

From little cats to big cats; Sally with her tiger print.

Now, if you don’t mind my asking, Sally, where do you get your inspiration for a particular painting or work? Art, like book publishing, is a tough, competitive field. Is your family supportive of your career choice?

Sally Rowland: In the last few years, Betty, I have to admit to not feeling terribly inspired. As with everyone, I suppose, life situations get in the way. I find I’m still trying to find my own niche. I often say, “I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” so in a way, I’m still on my own journey of self discovery. I’m definitely leaning more towards portraits, but as you say, like book publishing, art is also very tough and competitive, so I’m happy to take on anything…well, apart from landscapes. (laughs)

I’m very lucky to have an extremely supportive family. Painting had not been my choice of career at all, despite loving it. My career background is actually in finance, banking and tourism, of all things. Art had always been just a hobby, so I feel really blessed to be able to get involved in something I’ve always loved.

With my own family back in New Zealand and in the UK, it’s always lovely to send them photos of my art–what I’ve done or am working on–and get feedback. I remember when my parents had to have their dog put to sleep: He’d been so unwell and, although it was the right decision, it was heartbreaking. I decided to paint Mac as a puppy–when he was all healthy and vibrant–but it took my Mum quite some time before she could even open the parcel and finally get it framed.

Betty Dravis: It’s heartening to know that your family has been supportive of you, whether in tourism or art, Sally.That means a lot to anyone and often makes the difference between success and failure.

Speaking of support, Sally, do you have a favorite artist? If so, tell us about him or her…

One of Sally’s favorite artists is Tamara De Lempicka. Above is her version of one of her paintings; hanging on wall of Sally’s rec room.

Sally Rowland: Gosh, Betty, it’s hard to say I have one favorite artist. I love so many styles. It’s like I love ice-cream but all the flavors are delicious… (laughs) But when I think about it, my top artist would have to be Modigliani. We went to an exhibition of his art back in 2005 in Toronto. I was just totally blown away seeing them in the flesh, after only ever seeing them on-line or in a book. They were huge…vibrant…and up close you could see his brush work and the lines from his original sketch on the canvas. Awesome…

Needless to say I could never afford his work, so I decided to paint my own. I’m also a huge fan of Rosina Wachtmeister; her cat paintings are wonderful, as are her other works. I admire Vermeer for his use of light… Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Klimt, Beryl Cook …ad infinitum I’m afraid. (laughs)

Betty Dravis: I anticipated such an answer, Sally. When I ask authors about their favorite author, they almost always have a long list. (laughs)

With those choices in mind, it will be interesting to see how you answer this question: If you could spend a day with just one person (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, I’ve been doing a lot of family research over the years and hit a huge road block with my own great-grandfather on my father’s side. He’s not famous, but he’s elusive and I can’t find anything much about who he really was, or his family, so I’d have to say it would be him.

I’d like to sit down with him for one day, notebook in hand, and ask him thousands of questions about his life and our family history. The most we know about him is that he was a musician in the Army back in the 1800s and spent over a decade in India and perhaps other countries; beyond that there is nothing. He’s a mystery and I love mystery…

Sally at an art show in New Zealand in 2005.

Sally poses with some of her art in Port Credit, Ontario in 2005.

Betty Dravis: That’s a very human choice, Sally. It’s too bad that so much of our personal family history gets lost because we’re too busy to ask our parents when we’re young, not becoming interested until it’s too late.

Sally, when you’re actively working, what’s a typical day like for you? Do you have any habits or established routines that work best for fulfilling your daily commitments?

Sally Rowland: I mentioned earlier that I’m a messy painter. For me, I just get absorbed in what I’m doing. I prefer to listen to music, which depends on what exactly it is I’m working on. I throw on my old clothes because I just know I’m going to get paint everywhere. (laughs) There is never a set routine; I just like to go with the flow.

Betty Dravis: Sally, I hear you loud and clear! That’s so typical of artistic types. I get so absorbed in my writing, I often forget to eat or even get out of my jammies. (laughs)

Which painting turned out to be your biggest challenge? Do you have a personal favorite?

Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, my biggest challenge–and it was actually a challenge on an art forum–was painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I had never attempted to reproduce or paint from a master, so I thought I should give it a go. Even to this day, I really don’t know how I did it. I just got lost in the process and loved it. It’s still my personal favorite. I gave it to my mother-in-law as a gift, and now, since she passed away, it’s back with me. That gives it a personal touch and some lovely memories too.

Sally’s version of Vermeer’s Girl With Pearl Earring.

Betty Dravis: Oh, I love that one, too. I had forgotten about it, but when selecting the Greek painting over The Girl with the Pearl Earring, I did so mainly for the cheerfulness of the painting, not for quality. I must say, the latter is absolutely phenomenal work, even if you did copy a master. Your rendition is brilliant, Sally.

Now for your next question, what advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Sally Rowland: From where I am now–at this later time in life—I would tell them to embrace their passion. Take as many classes as you can to help you, but don’t ever let that interfere with what you love to do. I hate that phrase “think outside the box”; I’d prefer to hear, “There is no box.” While I sometimes wish I had taken notice of what I loved to do, I realize there is a reason your journey takes you where you need to go first. Just keep that passion going…

Betty Dravis: That’s great advice, Sally. I never thought of it exactly like that; it’s thought provoking. I do agree about the passion; that makes the difference between winning and losing.

What is your most cherished memory of a viewer reaction to your work?

Sally’s work for Flintstone Lounge at end-of-season ball in mid 90s.

Sally Rowland: For me, every reaction is important, be it good or bad. One painting I sold started out as a really silly thing. I looked at it and went “arrghh,” so I turned it into a seascape. All in blue: clouds, sky, boat… All of it! When I posted the changed painting, someone wanted to buy it. They loved it–and that made me very happy.

Betty Dravis: Since blue is my favorite color, that sounds like “eye candy” to me. I’d like to see that one sometime. I think it may be on your lovely videotape (link below).

But now for a fun question! I waited till near the end to put you on the spot, but do you mind sharing the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in connection with your artistic works?

Sally Rowland: Oh, this question took me all of two seconds to answer, Betty. (laughs) It has to be when I took part in another on-line art challenge. One of the pieces you could do was a Frans Hals. I loved it, so thought, “Yes, why not?” I thought not only could I paint, I could also have a go at using a palette knife. So off I went… But I couldn’t figure out why the paint was soaking into the canvas I was using. I was almost halfway through before I felt like running from the room screaming because I’d actually painted on the wrong side of the canvas! I did finish it, still have it, and it’s a reminder that sometimes mistakes are worth keeping.

Betty Dravis: Oh-hahaha, Sally. That is funny. I’m glad you treasure the work now, though…mistake or not! You certainly have a fun, exciting life…

Now before leaving, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that you also design CD covers. Please share about the ones you’ve created.

Two of Sally’s CD covers for Guitarra Azul are hanging in her new art room.

Sally Rowland: Oh yes, the CD covers… I’ve really loved this aspect of my art. I found Guitarra Azul, a Chicago-based band, through MySpace about four or five years ago and loved their music. I was lucky enough to be asked by Steve Edwards to paint something for their second CD. I love their music, so was really happy to do it. My first one was for Oasis; an 18×18 oil painting on which I had to actually change the title on the canvas itself. (McGuyver skills coming into play here.) Then in late 2011, I started work on a digital painting for their latest release Lotus Flower. I’m very happy for my art work to be a part of such wonderful music.

More recently I have designed and digitally painted a cover for Simon Allan in the UK for his upcoming EP release Demons and Dreams. We’re working together for another release later this year, also. It’s very exciting for me, and I hope, for them as well.

Sally’s digital painting cover created for Simon Allan’s upcoming CD Demons and Dreams.

Betty Dravis: Since you love music, it’s very appropriate that your work be on CD covers, Sally. I’ve seen all three covers and while I love them all, I’m captivated by the Demons and Dreams cover. Probably because my latest book, Six-Pack of Blood, is a horror anthology (co-authored with the very gifted writer Barbara Watkins) and I spent some time with the cover artist. I can picture that particular painting on the cover of a horror book. (laughs)

I also understand that one of your works is scheduled to be in a book. Please share that with us.

Sally Rowland: I guess this is where fun meets something wonderful, Betty. My friend Brian Bohnett, who is an author and also a graphic artist, has been working on a biography for many years now. Brian has done an amazing job on his biography The Remarkable Enid Markey: First Lady of the Tarzan Films. This will be an eye-opener because most people would recognize the men who played “Tarzan,” but not many would know the “Janes.”

While Brian was sharing his journey, he sent me some lovely photos; one caught my eye, so I decided to try painting it digitally. It was all in fun, but I am happy to say he has included it as a frontispiece to his biography, and it’s also part of a set of cards to go along with the book. The book is being released at a convention in California this coming August. I am so excited for him and proud to be involved, even if in only a small way.

Enid Markey

Betty Dravis: That sounds like a fascinating book, Sally. This is a coincidence, but I have a Tarzan tie-in: In my 1106 Grand Boulevard novel, I tell the story of my aunt’s first husband being Franky Johnston, the swimming coach who taught Johnny Weissmuller to swim for his role as Tarzan. Small world…and the Internet has made it even smaller. (laughs)

It sounds like you have some great projects coming your way. Since we’re almost finished, now’s the time to mention any other plans you might have.

Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, after I settle into the art community, as mentioned above, I’ve also got plans to get my own website up and running so that I can start selling my work, be it paintings, prints or digital. I like to think of myself as a bit of a late bloomer in the art world. I know how competitive it is, so I know that to be successful I’ll have to have a good business plan. That all takes time and is something I’ll be working on this year also.

Betty Dravis: I’m so happy for you, Sally. You sound so vibrant and full of life. The move seems to have agreed with you.

Before closing, I’d like to tell our readers that they can find more of your artwork in the photos on Facebook, and the YouTube video has a vast array of your works. I love the way it’s presented in sections. All your works are great, but the pencil sketches amaze me too. We didn’t get around to discussing the sketches, but an example is to the right. It all starts with an artist’s ability to sketch, so the fine examples on the video are important. The links follow and readers should keep in mind that the contact info at end of the YouTube is outdated. Sally will share that with us when she gets completely relocated.!

Black-and-white photograph of Sally, enhanced by infusion of light.

Thanks for being with us today, Sally, It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and to view your stunning art. We look forward to your website so we can check into buying some of your art. Until next time, please keep in touch and send your website link so I can put it out on the social media.

Sally Rowland: Thank you, Betty, for allowing me to be a part of your world. It’s always a pleasure to join with other artistic people. I know you showcase many successful people, so as a still-emerging artist, I truly appreciate that you took an interest in me. And you’ll be the first I inform when my website is up and running. Thanks again, for having me on Dames of Dialogue.


Windermere, EnglandBeing an admitted Anglophile, there’s not too much about Great Britain I don’t enjoy, but I adore the Lake District and knew I would ultimately use that place as a setting for a novel in my Nora Tierney mystery series. The land of Wordsworth, Ruskin and the inimitable Beatrix Potter, it comprises almost nine hundred square miles of national park, the largest such area in England and Wales, all lying within the county of Cumbria.

This area is the most picturesque I’ve seen in England, with the bluest skies and fluffiest clouds. It contains England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and its largest lake, Windermere. There are shallow tarns, rising fells, sparkling ghylls and every species of tree found in Britain in its woodlands. The area’s unparalleled beatify beckons lovers of nature: hikers and campers, fisherman and boaters, artists and writers.
Rydal MountI’ve visited Dove Cottage in Grasmere where Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy from 1799 until 1808, during the years he produced some of his most memorable poetry. The Lakeland house of stone, plaster and whitewashed walls is carefully preserved and can be seen almost as it was in Wordsworth’s day.

Only two miles away in the hamlet of Rydal is Rydal Mount, his home from 1813 to 1850. A field of daffodils, named in memory of his beloved daughter, Dora, runs beside the road from Ambleside to Grasmere. Rydal Mount contains family portraits, first editions and personal possessions of the poet.

Artist and writer John Ruskin’s home stands on the eastern shore of Coniston Water. Brantwood was his home for twenty-eight years, and the house is preserved with most of his furniture, pictures and books in place. From his lovely garden, visitors can sit at tables, share a snack, and take in the view across the lake to the peak of Coniston Old Man.

Beatrix PotterAnother spot I have fond memories of is Hill Top farm, Beatrix Potter’s home in Near Sawrey. That house is also open to visitors and is one of the busiest National Trust properties in the region. Potter bequeathed 14 farms and over 4,000 acres to the National Trust in her will so that the land would never be developed.

There is much to see and do in Cumbria, even if you’re not a hiker or outdoor enthusiast. Many homes and attractive gardens exist in the Lakeland area, ranging from Middle Ages farmhouses to huge castles built and restored over many centuries.

In southern Cumbria near Grange-over-Sands  (the area Elizabeth George set her latest Lynley novel, Believing the Lie) is Holker Hall, a large rambling mansion complete with a green-roofed turret and extensive gardens with rare shrubs and trees. It houses fine examples of paintings and carved furniture. Near Kendal are two beauties: Levens Hall’s garden includes topiary forms laid out in their original 17th-century pattern; Sizergh Castle features a 14th-century pele tower and a 15th-century great hall. And in the western Lake District, near Ravenglass, Muncaster Castle has gardens boasting one of Europe’s finest collections of azaleas and rhododendrons.

It was an easy decision when I was writing The Blue Virgin to picture Nora moving to the Lake District. I devised a way for that to happen, and she’s packing up for that move as the first book in the series opens.

In the second book, The Green Remains, Nora is settled into Ramsey Lodge for at least the next year, working alongside the illustrator of her children’s books, awaiting the birth of her first child in the lakeside village of Bowness-on-Windermere. And of course, she becomes involved in a murder investigation.

The books are a mix of cozy and police procedural, as Nora manages to ruffle the feathers of the investigating officers on each case. I moved the characters around the village of Bowness and its neighboring town of Windermere with ease, trying to capture the nature-filled sense of the region. Indeed, Nora’s brisk walk around the shore of Windermere leads to her discovering a body at the water’s edge and sets the events of the story in motion.

When I wrote The Green Remains, I kept my local maps of Bowness clipped to cardboard in front of my laptop. My photo albums of the village are on a shelf behind me, and a few of them are clipped to the same cardboard. But it had been a while since I’d physically been there, and I needed a local contact to clarify things for me newly retired Steve Sharpe of the Kendal Station, Cumbria Constabulary, did the honors, and here I struck gold.  Lake District Biking

Steve had grown up in the area, and is something of a local naturalist and fisherman.  Besides being able to answer my questions about policing and proper titles for everyone from my detective to the pathologist, he gave me wonderful information about things like: what is in bloom in autumn? What birds would be around? What is the weather like at that time of year? Steve has become a long-distance email friend and is still answering my questions. And that’s a good thing, as I am writing the third book in the series, also set in the Lake District, The Scarlet Wench.    

Marni Graff is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series, set in the UK. The Blue Virgin is set in Oxford and introduces Nora, an American writer living in England. She becomes involved in a murder investigation to clear her best friend as a suspect, to the chagrin of DI Declan Barnes. The Green Remains follows Nora’s move to Cumbria where she’s awaiting the publication of her first children’s book and the birth of her first child. When Nora stumbles across the corpse at the edge of Lake Windermere, she realizes she recognizes the dead man. Then her friend and illustrator, Simon Ramsey, is implicated in the murder of the heir to Clarendon Hall, and Nora swings into sleuth mode.

The Green Remains by Marni GraffGraff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes a weekly mystery book review at A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven and founded the group Coastal Carolina Mystery Writers. She has also published poetry, last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute; her creative nonfiction has most recently appeared in Southern Women’s Review. Her books can be bought at or at


1.  Tell us about your novel, Touched By The Light.Linn Halton

Can a feisty, bewildered young spirit keep two people together despite everything that is tearing them and their love, apart?  This is a ‘feel-good’ story about psychic connections between people on different levels of existence and how the two worlds can become curiously entwined.  Mya tries desperately to keep Laurel and Dan together, although she has no idea who they are or why she finds herself involved in their lives. Her efforts are often hilarious and misguided.  It’s all about life and love, the things that hold us back; the mistakes we make and the things we don’t say but should.  But when fate is involved anything can happen, although there are no guarantees that even soul mates can find their way through.  The journey they take is filled with all of the emotions life has to offer and an insight into Mya’s new reality beyond the ‘light’.

The story unfolds as told through the eyes of Mya and also five other characters: –

Laurel – a young woman born with psychic ability, a fact she attempts to keep hidden

Dan – Laurel’s boyfriend

Lennie – Laurel’s best friend

Sadie – Mya’s sister

Grace – a medium working on a TV programme Dan is involved with, which televises live sessions trying to make contact with spirits

At the beginning Mya is confused and disorientated. Having recently celebrated her 25th birthday, she never considered she might die at a young age and she doesn’t know what to expect after ‘the bright light’ appears.  Suddenly she finds that she can connect with Laurel, a young woman of about the same age whom she doesn’t know.  Laurel can talk to and sometimes see the spirits of people who have passed.

Mya feels the reason she is involved with Laurel’s life is because she is supposed to save Laurel and Dan’s relationship.  Dan is under a lot of pressure and is stressed out; the company he works for are struggling and they haven’t been able to pay anyone for quite a while. Dan is nearly broke, but he hasn’t told Laurel any of his problems because they are trying to have a baby; he feels that he’s failed her.  Laurel is so busy organizing their lives and worrying about not getting pregnant that she hasn’t noticed how withdrawn Dan has become.  Mya is frustrated because she can see it all so clearly.  If only they could both stand back and look at what is happening to them; talk about what they are feeling, there is a real chance they could get through this rough patch.

Suddenly Mya loses contact with Laurel after the couple split up, but she is surprised to find she is then able to ‘watch’ Dan.  She can’t talk to him and he can’t see her, but it is clear to her that he is falling apart. She tries to let him know when she’s with him by moving things, but they usually end up getting smashed!

He starts talking to her, at first a little annoyed at the disruption.  However, as time goes on he senses that she doesn’t mean to upset him and he ends up using her as a confidante.  He finds talking to a spirit strangely comforting, partly because he knows she won’t repeat anything he tells her!  He feels she is a friendly spirit and assumes it is something to do with the show he’s working on.  He affectionately calls her ‘Cupcake’ and is worried about her, so he asks Grace to see if she can help.

When Grace tries to connect with her, she is puzzled that this spirit doesn’t seem interested in passing a message onto Dan.  Grace knows this is an unusual situation and takes Dan to meet a friend who is involved in psychic research.  Lawrence is very informative and he talks about near-death and out of body experiences, auras, déjà vue, telekinesis etc.  They also talk about mental telepathy.  Afterwards Dan begins to think that Cupcake is the result of Lennie’s subconscious thoughts, willing her best friends Laurel and Dan back together.  He wonders if Lennie needs them to succeed to prove to herself that relationships really can work.  She herself seems unwilling to commit to a relationship and he suspects she is searching for that special someone to love.  But Lennie has trust issues of which Dan and Laura are unaware, the ‘baggage’ she carries with her from an experience she had many years ago.

As the story continues to unravel there are unexpected twists that trigger much deeper feelings, as two soul mates destined for each other, can finally come together.

Linn Halton at beach2.  From Finance to Fiction

A leap perhaps, but not as great as some might imagine.  It taught me so much that has helped me enormously now I am able to devote my time to writing on a full time basis.

I specialized in forecasting and budgeting at a ‘head office’ level, for several organisations over a twenty-year span.  It was my job to drill down into the detail of large chunks of expenditure within an organisation, often hundreds of millions of pounds.  That’s where the investigative work is done and that’s how you assure yourself that the people managing their allocations within the overall budget know what they’re doing.  Sometimes the people on the ground spending the money needed assistance in understanding the accounting system, how to track their expenditure to date and how to provide good quality forecasts.

It sounds dry, but I found it exciting.  A large part of the job was providing support where it was needed and sometimes this involved one-to-one training with new budget holders.  Often they were experts in their field, who suddenly found themselves managing very large sums of money because that went with the job.  I enjoyed working one-to-one and found people usually reacted favourably, often relieved someone was there to guide them.   Other times it was reinforcing accountability and the need for a clear audit trail, or questioning the detail of their expenditure forecasts.  Not always easy, but I tried to sell that in a positive way, because understanding what you do ultimately makes you better at doing it!

Although the majority of my time was spent analyzing figures and working on spreadsheets, I had to do written reports that summed up the ‘story’ the figures were telling.  I’m not at all ashamed to admit I regarded it as a personal challenge to present each narrative in as interest a way as possible.  Including using cliffhangers ‘it remains to be seen if this pattern continues into the next month’ or ‘this is unexpected and further investigation indicates that …’.  Perhaps I just have a strange sense of fun!

Linn Halton by windmill3.  What skills did you bring to your writing that you learned in the world of numbers?

It taught me that detail is everything.  Of course I make mistakes all the time when I’m writing, but it means I don’t find proof checking at all tedious.  I’m used to that level of scrutiny and looking for errors – it used to be erroneous zeros, now it’s anything that the automatic checker hasn’t picked up – and yes, that does happen.

It also taught me to plan for deadlines.  Finance is full of deadlines – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly  … budget reviews, forecast revisions …. It was endless.  That’s where I learnt important lesson in life no. 1: –

Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today

In Finance there was always the unexpected hitch.  Either a sudden request for all sorts of information because the business was having to reign-in expenditure, or budget under spends came up for reallocation.  Both were equally difficult because it was essential to ensure that the best value for money in terms of the business objectives was achieved.  At the same time all of the usual deadlines still had to be met.  Let’s say I often worked long hours and took things home to work on at night and weekends.  So I became used to doing as much preparation as I could for each deadline as far in advance as was possible.  Even if I could only get a task halfway there, I did that much and left it to finish off.  If it was something I could complete way in advance and nothing would change, then I would do the task and sit on it for a while before presenting it.  Sometimes the recipient really appreciates you giving them a little extra time by doing your bit earlier than expected!

So that leads me on to vital life lesson no. 2: –

Get yourself organised

There’s a saying here in the UK ‘I can’t see the wood for the trees’.  For those who are puzzled by that, I interpret it as ‘get down to what really matters and ignore everything else’.  It makes life simpler and you can juggle more things at the same time.

I can’t stop on this topic without mentioning vital lesson no. 3: –

It isn’t always what you know; it’s whom you know

But I expand that a little and add ‘and it’s how you treat them’.  If you treat people nicely and with respect, then they will treat you the same way in return.  I have been privileged to meet some absolutely fabulous people in my time, a great many had helped me out when I was struggling to learn something new or integrating into a new environment.  I find that it also very true now that I have turned my attention to writing and I am happy to pass on whatever I have learnt to anyone who cares to ask.

It also gave me the very bad habit of working long hours … not something I would recommend, but it’s useful now when I want to finish something I’m writing whilst it’s fresh in my mind!  As long as I have coffee next to me I can work through the night!

4.  What inspired ‘Touched by The Light’?

The death of my mother in March 2009 was a life-changing moment for me.  I had given up my full-time job at the end of December 2008 to spend more time with her.  I knew she was unwell, although I had no idea we only had three months left to enjoy some quality time together.

Early in January 2009 she was at home and had a bad fall, breaking an arm and fracturing the bone at the top of her leg.  After six days in hospital she came back to stay with my husband and I until she was mobile again.  It was a very difficult time and I tried to tempt her with food to build her back up again and encourage her to exercise.  She was frail and a part of me knew something wasn’t right, in fact I’d felt that for the previous three years.  She constantly denied anything was wrong, but I confided in both of my brothers that I felt she didn’t have long to live earlier in 2008.  It was especially difficult as one brother lives in California and he hadn’t made it home in time to see my father before he died in 2004.

It’s a long story but Mum went back home about ten days before she collapsed again and died, about a week later in hospital.  What I hadn’t known at the time was that she had been diagnosed with Leukaemia shortly after my father died.  She apparently asserted her right not to have treatment and to have two things noted on her hospital records.  Firstly that they would not resuscitate her if the situation arose and secondly that her family should not be informed of her illness.

So when I brought her home and looked after her I had no idea that it wasn’t a battle we were going to win.  How I wish I had known that at the time, but I respect that it was her decision.  I pushed her each day, thinking that there was a chance she could get fully well again.  The injuries did heal, but I could see she wasn’t progressing as I’d hoped; I just didn’t know why.  I mention this only because someone might read this and understand the full impact of the decisions they make, perhaps from a perspective they haven’t considered.

She was the most selfless person I know, to a fault.  She never, ever put herself first in all the years I knew her.  I understand the reason behind her decision and that was that she didn’t want to worry or upset anyone.  I’m not saying I think she made the wrong decision, what I’m saying is that it’s a tough one to make and maybe you need to stand back a little and really think through the implications.  In reality it hadn’t stopped me worrying about her – I’d had three years of constant ‘pressure’ from not knowing what was wrong with her.  Where it hurts me most, is that if only I had known then I would have taken each day as it came and let her dictate to me what she felt she was capable of doing.  There is no way of taking away the pain of losing someone, but this regret still weighs heavily on my mind.

Well, that’s what I ‘think’, but of course my mother was very wise and the reality was probably that I would have fought to get her whatever help we could to beat it or prolong her life.

So back to the original question.  In between sorting out my mother’s home and all the associated paperwork, I started to write.  The reason I have explained the lead up to this, is that when my mother lived with us she stayed in a little cottage we had in the garden.  It wasn’t large, but it had a lounge with a study area which led into a bedroom (all open plan) and a separate bathroom.  When I sat at the computer, just beyond the screen the bed was always in view.  I never ‘saw’ her at that time, but I felt her around me.  It wasn’t low key, as some of the experiences I have had, it was intense.  She was pushing me to write and I wrote for hours on end.  But I hated working once the light started to go, not because I was scared, but because as I sat with the light on next to the computer her presence grew stronger.  What upset me was that I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t give her a hug.

When I began ‘Touched by The Light’ I literally sat down and typed.  No plan, no characters, nothing in my head.  The first thing that came into my mind was, and still is, the opening of the book – ‘Dying was, quite frankly, incredibly easy.  One minute I was there and the next minute I was ‘here’, wherever ‘here’ is’.

It wasn’t coincidental and from there the book wrote itself.

5.  A typical day in my life now I’m at home and write

It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I could have the luxury of giving up my full time career and devote my time to writing.  I have my mother to thank for ‘engineering’ it and I truly believe that is what she did.  If she hadn’t been ill I would have worked through until retirement.

I always knew I’d write a book some day and it was a thought I treasured.  It was my secret passion and ironically, the one thing for which I seemed to have an enormous amount of patience.  It’s probably the only thing in my entire life that I have taken as a given and accepted gracefully.  With hindsight that astounds me – why did I think it was something I was even capable of doing and why was I so patient, waiting until I could have ‘me’ time without feeling guilty? I should also throw in at this point, that I’m a Gemini (which does explain a lot of things) and I have followed my daily forecast for more than thirty years.

I have always written poetry, but until 2009 my little collection sat in a box beneath my desk.  When I turned 50 it had a companion; my present to myself was to disappear after dinner each evening for three months and for the first time since I was about fourteen, I wrote a story.  This story was much longer than anything I’d written as a teenager.  It was my test – I suddenly realized how disappointed I’d be when I finally got to that special time in my life, only to find I wasn’t able to write something start to finish!  Once completed it joined my poems in the box under my desk.  I had achieved my main objective and I was excited about the future.

So at last the future is here!  My working day is very similar to when I had a job.  I start early and sometimes work very late.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, all those stories in my head desperate to get themselves down on paper.  So it’s usually coffee in bed and do some proof checking, trip to the gym, home, shower and straight in front of the Mac.  I am guilty of eating whilst I type – a bad habit from my ‘employed’ days.  I write/blog/Twitter through until just before my wonderful husband is due home.  Then it’s make dinner, talk, watch some TV together (unless it’s date night or we have plans with friends) and if the words are ‘flowing’ back to the Mac.  I often work through into the early hours if I have something on my mind, because it prevents me from sleeping.  That’s just the way I am.

My husband and I have two sons, one living in Bristol and one in North Wales.  We are lucky enough to have three wonderful grandchildren, so we love to spend time with them whenever we can.  The bonus of working at home is that I can arrange my time as I please.  A couple of evenings a week I usually pop into Bristol to babysit grandson Bill.  My son opened his own school last year where he teaches Krav Maga and my daughter-in-law is going along to learn self-defence and to get back into shape after Bill’s arrival last August.

We also do a monthly, long-weekend trip to North Wales and that is lovely because we can play with Charlie, our other grandson and baby Lily Grace born in January 2011.

Several times a month I take a day off and can now enjoy the most wonderful lunches with friends who come out to visit me.  It makes me take a break from the Mac and does me the world of good.  I also attend a monthly meeting at the Cirencester Arts Centre for ‘Writers in The Brewery’.  And yes, it does have a bar and the wine is very good.

So I still have the same work ethic I’ve had all my working life, it’s just that now I’m realising a dream.  I enjoyed my non-writing career – and only 20 years of it were in Finance; I also had a few years doing interior design and showing houses, then restoring old cottages  – another long story!  I want each day to be full of enjoyment, whether it’s with the family or writing and I count my blessings all the time!

6.  What’s next?

I have three manuscripts that are complete and look down at me from my bookshelf, eagerly awaiting publication.  I knew that once I started writing I would be prolific; I’ve always had this habit of ‘narrating in my head’ since about the age of twelve.  Sounds strange doesn’t it?

It happens when I’m doing something where I’m physically occupied but my mind isn’t required to contribute very much.  So when I’m cleaning the house (and I LOVE cleaning, I’m obsessed) stories just come to me and I play them out in my head.  It’s fun, it makes any task fly by and I’m never bored, even when I’m doing the most tedious of jobs.  I’ve recently re-painted the whole of the interior of our currently home, we moved here in March 2010 from an old Hunting Lodge.  The new house was only eighteen months old when we moved in and rather bland.  Redecorating was great because it gave me a whole month of ‘pure’ mind-wandering time, away from other distractions and with just a little background music for company.

Over the past few years I have kept an ideas book and when I go to the gym I keep a notebook and pen at my side at all times.  I often slow the treadmill so I can jot down some notes without actually falling over and whizzing off the end!

So the three completed manuscripts awaiting some wonderful Literary Agent to fall in love with ‘Touched by The Light’ and decide they want to embrace my work,  are:-

The Quintessential Gemini

Katherine lives her life according to her daily horoscope and her passion for life, astrology and unexpectedly, love unfolds as three lives become inextricably tangled. Insecurity, self-doubt, guilt, stress and frustration, coupled with village gossips and merciless reporters wanting eye-catching headlines; it’s not just a story about two people who find each other.  It’s about people having to cope with whatever life throws at them, fair or unfair and the ‘baggage’ we all carry around with us and often fail to address until forced to do so.

Never Alone

‘It’s a gift to be shown something that allows you to make a difference and alter the outcome of someone’s life, but the weight of responsibility and the ethics that go along with it is huge.  The thing I have to ask myself is how did my actions change the future?’

Holly is the envy of all her friends, she has lived with the gorgeous Will for five years and supported him every step of the way.  His IT business is about to go global and they are on the verge of having all their dreams come true!  A life split between homes in the UK and Los Angeles beckons, offering them a glamorous and exciting lifestyle they will both fit into quite perfectly.

However, a series of terrifying encounters unleashes an inherited psychic connection within Holly.  Her ‘perfect’ life is turned upside down as she struggles with the reality of her ‘gift’.  Help comes from a chance meeting with medium Peter Shaw and she discovers that she is also being given healing and protection by the spirits of two people.  One of them is her best friend’s brother, who died suddenly in tragic circumstances and Holly finds herself confiding in him in an attempt to sort out her own life.

She begins to sense that the path she’s on isn’t the one she’s destined for, but is it too late to change things?  The thought of hurting the people she loves the most causes her to bury her emotions, until fate takes a hand.

The Restaurant

Age, relationships, careers – we all appear to be so very different.  Yet beneath the exterior facade we show to the world at large, is that really the case?  The things we bury deep inside, the worries and fears we can’t always verbalise and the hand fate takes in our lives.  Sometimes we fail to recognise in each other that innermost struggle and yet it exists for all of us.  The Restaurant @ The Mill is busy and comes alive with conversations and emotions of people unconnected in their normal day-to-day lives.  Only one thing is certain, life is an eternal struggle and that is the common thread that ties together the stories of the restaurant owners, five of their customers and the resident ghost.

7.  How did you get involved in the world of psychics?

In my late twenties a chance trip with some friends to see a clairvoyant for a bit of fun, turned out to be very thought provoking.  She told me a string of personal things that made me hold my breath.  She then went on to tell me that my coccyx bone pointed the wrong way!  Now even my husband didn’t know that, it’s not something that comes up in conversation and I only discovered it after having an xray following the birth of my first son by c-section. I remember telling my mother, in case she’d heard of that before and then forgot all about it until the clairvoyant mentioned it!

Over the years I visited a number of clairvoyants, often seeking an answer to a specific question.  I didn’t always receive an answer and over time I found I could very quickly establish whether the person sitting opposite me was ‘in tune’ with me.  Frequently I came away with a head full of meaningless names and pieces of information that never made any sense at all.  Then there were the times when I felt that I was an open book and the person on the other side of the table knew even my most secret thoughts.  On a number of occasions I was told that I had ‘the ability’ if I wanted to develop it, but that wasn’t for me.

Ironically, in amongst all of these little visits I had been ‘seeing things’ in a number of the houses we’d lived in.  We have just moved into our thirteenth property, a very lucky number for me over the years!  We’ve purchased a wide variety from two bed to four bed; this included two new builds, a 1950’s house, a 1960’s house, two Cottages, a converted Stable and an old stone Hunting Lodge.  The Cottages and The Lodge were renovation projects.  I came to realize that ‘seeing things’ didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the age of the property for two reasons.  Firstly, on numerous occasions what I was seeing was with ‘me’ and followed me wherever I went and secondly the things I saw related to people whom I was able to establish had died in the property.

When my husband and I were renovating the Cottages, we gave up our full-time jobs to work on the properties with help from local trades people.  Between us we have a number of skills, my husband can handle electrics, plumbing and building jobs.  I can project manage, control budgets, paint, re-point stonework and design the interior layout, kitchen etc.  To give us a break from the work, which was hard but so much fun, my husband worked a few hours each week in a local garden centre and I did house viewings for a local realtor.  We call them Estate Agents in the UK and the house buying/selling system is very different.

Ironically it was this job that exposed me to numerous psychic experiences.  Was it in the wine-cave basement of a large, partially renovated Edwardian house?  No, the worst experience was in a 1980’s standard three-bedroom property on a housing estate.  It is one of the psychic episodes I have written about in ‘Never Alone’ and the story is actually very funny in parts.

So in telling you all this you probably think that I’ve been an open-minded convert for a very long time.  That I fully accepted the fact that there is life after death and spirits do exist, but the answer to that is ’no’.  Until 2004 I somehow managed to file away these ‘incidents’ in my head in a box marked ‘quietly ignore/over-active imagination’.  On the odd occasion I did refer to some of my experiences, it was only when the subject was raised by someone else.  My husband Lawrence was a bigger skeptic than I was at that time and I could tell he was uncomfortable hearing me admit I had seen things.  What amazed me was that so many people had unexplained stories of their own to tell.

In 2004 my father died and proved unequivocally to myself AND my husband in numerous ways that he was with us on a regular basis.  That and another very real incident my husband experienced when he was alone turned him from a skeptic into a believer and we started to talk about it openly.  If either of us experience something now, we immediately turn to the other to see if they see/feel it too.

As mentioned earlier, my mother died in 2009 and again, linked in with her death was a truly amazing story of its’ own.  Since then she has been with me frequently, not just supporting me, but also pushing me!  Both of my parents have also been in touch via a medium and given more validation than I could ever have hoped to receive to prove it was really them.

Psychic ability runs in my family, as does a general sensitivity to psychic occurrences.  It’s not something I’m interested in developing at the moment, but who knows what the future might bring?  Weaving some of my experiences into my stories was very much a direct result of my ‘spirit guide’, my wonderful mother.  It simply hadn’t occurred to me beforehand and now I wish I could claim credit for an idea that has since added an enormous amount of fun and intrigue to my writing.

8.  Living in the Cotswolds

If you visit the UK you must visit The Cotswolds.  It should be there on the list, along with London, Shakespeare country and the home of Jane Austen of course!

Here is an extract from the Gloucestershire Tourism website and there is lots more information there.

‘The Cotswolds is an area of England about the size of greater Tokyo. Popular with both the English themselves and visitors from all over the world, the Cotswolds are well known for gentle hillsides (‘Wolds’), sleepy villages and for being so ‘typically English’.

There are famous cities such as Bath, well-known beautiful towns like Cheltenham and hundreds of delightful villages such as Burford and Castle Combe. Above all, the local honey-coloured limestone, used for everything from the stone floors in the houses to the tiles on the roof, has ensured that the area has a magical uniformity of architecture.

You will see ‘Dry stone walls’ everywhere in the fields. Many were built in the 18th and 19th centuries; a matter of considerable skill as there is no cement to hold the walls together. They represent an important historical landscape and a major conservation feature – and are of course still used by farmers to enclose sheep and cattle.

During the 13-15th centuries, the medieval period, the native Cotswold sheep were famous throughout Europe for their heavy fleeces and high quality of wool. Cotswold wool commanded a high price and the wealth generated by the wool trade enabled wealthy traders to leave their mark by building fine houses and wonderful churches, known as “wool churches”. Even today, the sight of sheep on the hillside is still one of the classic Cotswold images.

Not all villages are well known, and today many still hold their secrets. Amongst the treasures to be found are perhaps a hidden village off the beaten track, perhaps Painswick, Biddestone, Winchcombe or Woodstock, or an unspoilt historic church, such as at Northleach often called the “Cathedral of the Cotswolds” – open the church door and you will discover a hidden world of history.

Today, the larger market towns and villages of the Cotswolds are famous for their shops, such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester, Chipping Norton and Tetbury.

The Cotswolds are unarguably romantic. From Cheltenham, England’s Regency Spa town, two Romantic Road routes introduce you to the Cotswolds along country roads leading through peaceful river valleys, country towns and villages of honey-coloured stone, complete with manor houses, churches and traditional pubs.

In an area rich in history and natural beauty like the Cotswolds, it is sometimes difficult for visitors, even those who have been before, to get to know the country roads and traditional villages. The Romantic Road provides touring routes that are easy to follow and trace the tales of the many artists, writers and craftspeople who have drawn inspiration from the Cotswolds. It shows off the loveliest villages and landscapes, reflecting the romance of their history and literary heritage.’

I now live in Nailsworth, one of the smaller towns within the Cotswolds, which is about five miles from Tetbury. It’s a wonderful place to live with many beautiful walks and stunning views, Nailsworth is one of the ‘five valleys’ – Frome Valley, Nailsworth Valley, Toadsmore Valley, Slad Valley and Painswick Valley.  Slad was made famous by author Laurie Lee when ‘Cider with Rosie’ was published in 1960.  A lovely story based upon his childhood experiences living in this small village just after WWI.

Local Farmer’s Markets give a real sense of local produce and products.  Both the Nailsworth and Tetbury markets are full of wonderful little stalls, where you find people who are very passionate about what they do.  In Tetbury for instance, there is a wonderful stall selling jewellery made out of old British coins.  With either a silver or gold finish, they do some amazing fretwork cutouts to enhance the design of each piece and which creates something very unique.  They can literally find a coin with any date you are looking for and create your chosen design.

I settled here in March 2010, I was born and lived in Bristol until a few years ago, which is about twenty-five miles away.  When we visited Nailsworth for the first time about five years ago, we fell in love with this little town.  It seemed like the perfect place to be, now that I spend my days writing. There is a real sense of community here and I’ve already met some very interesting new people who will hopefully become long-term friends.

9.  How did you meet your husband?

Our eyes met across a crowded (and in those days) smoky room.  I met Lawrence, the love of my life, at a local dance and it was an instant attraction that remains to this day.  We knew from that first meeting that we were destined to be soul mates.  This year we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary and he is not just my husband, but a best friend, confidante and my ‘rock’.  We never run out of things to say to each other and we enjoyed the years we worked alongside each other renovating properties; being together 24/7 only served to strengthen our relationship.  We make a truly great team!

When a relationship grows that initial spark develops into a much deeper thing; where one becomes more than a lover – a trusted friend, confidante, someone to lean upon in times of trouble  – where mutual respect validates that love.  It isn’t as rare as some people would perceive it to be, but true love has to be ‘self-less’; if you are both prepared to put the other person first and give your love honestly and openly, then you get so much more back in return.

My parents came to regard Lawrence as their ‘son’ because of the close relationship that existed between them, which often confused people when they insisted upon introducing us as ‘our daughter and son’!  I also have two marvelous brothers, the youngest lives in California.

It might make you laugh to hear that although we were only 16 and 17 years old when we met, within six weeks we announced to friends and family that we were saving up to get married!  One of my Uncles, who didn’t marry until his mid-forties, informed us that we were too young and it wouldn’t last.  The irony of this story is that 39 years later my Uncle is the oldest surviving member of my parents’ families and we are the main supporters to enable him to continue to live reasonably independently at the age of 91.  I was always his favourite niece and Lawrence very quickly became the nephew he knew he could always rely upon when something went wrong in the house!

10.   How does astrology affect your daily life?

I’ve always been fascinated by horoscopes, I follow the world-renowned astrologer Jonathan Cainer and have done so for years.  I am a very positive and motivated individual – a classic starter/finisher.  When I do something I put every ounce of energy I have behind it and become totally committed, but sometimes that can become borderline fanatical.  People who know me well laughingly say I’m an obsessive-compulsive; perhaps I am to a degree, but not in the way that many unfortunate people suffer from the actual disease.

I understand why people might jokingly say that, because I’m organized to a degree that could appear to be obsessive.  I’m also a cleaning freak, love doing it – partly because I find cleaning, sorting and de-cluttering cathartic.

You will probably understand therefore, that because I am so organized, I often feel a compelling need to know what lies ahead – so I can plan.  That’s where astrology can help.  But it isn’t just about an astrologer’s interpretation of planetary alignments; I follow Jonathan Cainer because I like his style and attitude to life.  He has charisma, makes me laugh and often reminds me to laugh at myself, not to be so intense about everything.

I can’t say that I live my life according to my horoscope (which is why it was fun to write ‘The Quintessential Gemini’ who does just that!) but the guidance I’m given can be reassuring.  If life is going along quite smoothly, then I might miss my daily horoscope for a couple of days because I’m so busy.  However, if things aren’t going quite so well then I might consult Jonathan’s website several times a day.  I look for clues in what he is trying to tell me in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly forecasts.  I want to make the most of the opportunities presented to me, but because of my character traits I need someone to remind me to slow down, stand back and look at the bigger picture.  Jonathan does that and on so many occasions I’ve changed the way I’m approaching something because he’s advised me to proceed with caution or wait before jumping in.

One thing I can say for sure, is that my life has benefitted from understanding when planetary alignments are favourable and when I’m better holding off life-changing decisions for a while.

I remember reading Jonathan’s yearly forecast for 2010 when it was first posted on his website. It contained a lot of information about big changes in my life.  I think this extract was a great summation of the essence of his message: –

‘In 2010 something good is coming your way and it will keep on coming throughout the year. So no matter what you feel intimidated by, look again. Look into yourself. Into who you are. Into what you came here for. Into what you might be able to achieve if you were really to set your heart on it and really to get a fair shot at it. Life is about to give you a real way forward, bringing great enjoyment and fulfillment.’

This was the year in which a publisher accepted my first novel, I began to write articles in preparation for the launch of my website on 13 December 2010 and I started to relax with my new routine.  For a long time after I gave up full time work (and once my mother had passed) I felt a little unsettled.  I loved spending my days writing – hence four novels over eighteen months – but I didn’t feel totally relaxed.

I have finally adjusted to my new lifestyle and realize that I was feeling guilty, as if I was merely taking time ‘off’ work when I wasn’t ill or on holiday.  I felt I needed to justify enjoying myself!  What I do now isn’t work, it’s a pleasure and I love every single minute of it and now I embrace everything associated with that.  I’m not saying I didn’t love my previous career(s), but this one means SO much more.

I still have ups and downs of course; I’m on a steep learning curve!  I need Jonathan’s celestial guidance even more and rely upon him to keep me on the right track!

11.  When did you start reading and what did you read?

As soon as I could read I immersed myself in books. I was a sickly child and my early teens were the worst, so reading became my escape.

School introduced me to Shakespeare, the great poets and wonderful novels that became lifelong favourites – The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins and The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy in particular.  I fell in love with Jane Austin as soon as I started reading her books and this connected with my ‘inner romantic’ that would surface much later.

At a young age I was back and forth to the library (in fact I walked to three different libraries to find new reads) once if not twice a week.  I was borrowing books that they probably thought were for my parents!  I read a wide range from the classics, to Stephen King and Sergeanne Golon (the Angélique series).  I’m not sure my parents would have approved of all of my reading choices had they realized, but it started a little fire inside of me – a desire to sit down and write a book of my own one day.

My father was an avid reader and introduced me to some wonderful novels by Ken Follett.  He loved biographies in particular.  My mother preferred romantic novels, but she had little time to read whilst the family were young because there was always something else to do.  My constant reading was sometimes viewed with dismay, as often it would be difficult to get me to join in – or even appear for dinner, because I couldn’t put a story down.

I like positive-feel biographies, I like love stories – historical or modern day, psychic stories, contemporary ‘feel-good’/’all about everyday life‘ books.

Both of our sons grew up with a love of reading and my husband reads a wide range of authors.  He is also one of the ‘test readers’ for everything I write and the first person to which I show my new work.

12.  My favourite bookstore

Moving house we have lived in various parts of Bristol, in the South West of England before moving to Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.  Since moving to this area we have lived in Huntingford, Almondsbury, Dursley and now Nailsworth.  So I have come to know the local libraries and local bookstores very well!

TOUCHED BY THE LIGHT by Linn HaltonIn Nailsworth we are very fortunate to have The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.  They also have another branch in Tetbury and I was curious to know the origins of the name.  Visiting their website at I found the answer.  ‘We get asked a lot about our name.   We called ourselves after a great book about bookshops, by an American ex-bookseller called Lewis Buzbee.   He got the image from a couple of letters that Vincent van Gogh (another ex-bookseller), wrote his brother, about wanting to paint a Parisian bookshop at night, with the light spilling onto the pavement.   We loved the image, and we loved the book!   Lewis is a great author and advocate of literacy – see his website here:’

I love the fact that their name has a story to it, a tribute to something from the past that has a link to icons of another era.

Linn B Halton

‘Touched by The Light’ publication date: 24 February 2011

by Book Guild Publishing, Brighton, UK, ISBN 978-1-84624-531-2


Twitter: @LinnBHalton

by Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Good morning, Rob, It’s my pleasure to have you visiting with us all the way from Holland. I’m glad you could make it, and thanks for taking time from your busy schedule.

I’d like our readers to know that I met you through model/award-winning screenwriter Kitania “Kitty” Kavey who starred in our first Dream Reachers book. She recommended you highly, but I must confess, when I started researching you it was your logo that intrigued me. Odd to say, but that orange lizard is rather attractive, in a funky kind of way. (laughs)

But first things first, Rob… To relate to people as you do, a person must have inborn intuition and certain powers of persuasion. Did you recognize any special skills as a child? When did the urge to help people start? Please share some of your early childhood with us. I’m especially curious about what it was like growing up in Holland.

Rob Waterlander: Well, Betty, I am not the typical personal, mental or motivational coach people might expect. My intuitive and empathetic nature is something I was born with and have developed over my lifetime. I have always been a beacon–shining and attracting people who were wondering what direction to go–although initially, I wasn’t aware in full. Looking back, I think things started moving in the direction of guiding people when classmates started asking for guidance, mainly girls sharing their emotions.

I feel I got my extensive class, or University of Life, the first three months of my life. Long story… (laughs)

Being adopted by two of the most loving parents after I was given away has been the key to unlocking my potential for intuitively seeing and feeling people. It helped me to enter the world of helping those in search of more of what they want.

And by the way, Kitty is an amazing person, gifted and so sweet.

In 1996 I started organizing youth sports events for charity: CliniClowns sports events. CC is a foundation that originated in NYC when Patch Adams started to perform as a clown in hospitals, entertaining children with long-term illnesses, sometimes terminal. These sports events put me in contact with professional soccer players and the rest is history; one soccer player referred me to another, etc. And I love it!

By the way, Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams is one of those special ones on earth. Would love to meet him in real life and have a chat.

As for Holland, my country is probably one of the best countries overall. I grew up in a suburb of Amsterdam, what used to be a little fishermen’s village where I felt safe, being able to play, hang out and develop the “real” me.

Betty Dravis: That’s interesting how CliniClowns started; I recall reading some stories about Patch Adams. I agree with you about him; he had to have been a caring, sensitive man to devote his life to children like that. I sensed when I met you that you were born with this “sensitive” ability, Rob. Thanks for explaining the fascinating details.

This might seem like an odd juxtaposition, but getting back to your logo before I forget: Why did you choose a lizard? And why an orange one…?

Rob Waterlander: I chose the lizard, Betty, because it’s associated with intuition and psyche, balance and sensitivity, helping us to detach from our past what no longer serves us. Detachment from ego, power to regenerate that which is lost, facing fear, controlling dreams, conservation, agility… The lizard is an archetype of adaptation, variation, flexibility and shrewdness. The lizard typifies characteristics that I work on every day within my own life, and it helps teach my clients to realize these same skills in theirs.

Also, the lizard’s stillness and its silence–having the peace and ability to hang-out for hours and hours in the heat of the sun–is something that I can relate to myself. So, as you see, there are various aspects of what the lizard is to me and, therefore, what made me choose it. I listen, absorb in silence, and then intuitively see and feel where the person’s next steps are.

Betty Dravis: Well, I can’t argue with your wise choice, Rob. I once chose the turtle as the logo for a newspaper I owned…because of its patience. But that didn’t last long because my subscribers thought I meant that they were “slow” like the turtle. (laughs)

Rob visits author Betty Dravis in California.

But back to you, after the lizard, the second thing I noticed on your page was your brilliant smile.  It was a pleasure when you visited my home in February to find that the smile is genuine and almost a constant…  I found you to be a truly happy, up-beat guy. In my opinion, only a man who has found his true calling in life can be that happy. But before you get into what you’re doing now, please share a little about the path it took to get from “there to here.”

Rob Waterlander: I am following the path leading to the sanctuary where I want to be, and being on track feels good. I have two lovely souls in my life who are blood related: my children, a son and a daughter. Those two are my link to many things in life that I cherish, given by one of the most remarkable women in my life, the high school sweetheart I married and was married to for almost twenty-one years. I divorced almost ten years ago, although she is someone I am eternally linked to. There is another woman in my life with whom I have found the connection I so want, leading closer to the sanctuary where I love and long to be. I am feeling good… From here, I have everything to offer to people looking for guidance, joy and releasing resistance in life, allowing them to be who they are and enjoying life in full.

Having been in sales for a long time, I learned a lot about myself and people. I enjoyed doing something that brought me success and acknowledgment of me as a professional: advising and selling roofing constructions for new and re-roofing projects with a contract value of up to more than two million dollars per project. One of the projects I did brought me to Richard Meier, the well-known and famous NYC architect.

My intuitive qualities were a valuable asset to work with project teams and buyers within the construction industry and during those years I developed my qualities extensively.

Betty Dravis: I agree, Rob, that being in sales teaches valuable lessons about others. I bet you felt proud and fulfilled when you actually viewed the architectural beauty of the completed construction projects, also.

I saw some recent photos of you with a lovely, dark-haired woman with a smile that matches your own. Is she the new woman that you spoke of above?

Rob with Carly

Rob Waterlander: Yes, Betty, she is felt as my mate in the sanctuary. (smiles) Her name is Carly Couweleers and we were brought together by one of her daughters and two of my best friends.  She is a guide, too—although a bit different from what I do. She is able to see through people at levels going beyond what most of us see, and I can see us working together with people in the future. It is amazing to experience someone to work with who is guided by spiritual guides and is a woman of God, also. That I asked for too…

Betty Dravis: I’m so happy for you both, Rob. Carly does, indeed, sound like a God-send and I can tell by your glowing description that she’s “the one” for you. (laughs) You should make a great, inspiring team. Like-minded, compatible people working together can perform miracles,

When you decided to take a road trip to visit me in Manteca, you were in the States for client meetings in San Francisco, and after you left you had more meetings in the L.A. area. Were those meetings successful and did you manage to help your clients progress in their search for a more meaningful life?

Rob Waterlander: I was in California for a few meetings with people and some workshops in San Francisco and L.A. I am glad I took the time to also drive down to Manteca from the Bay Area before heading to L.A.  Being able to meet up with you, as well as with your friend Johnny, was such a good thing.

You, being a mother, do have the natural drive and joy of wanting to make a difference, but it was Kitty Kavey who told me and still does: “Rob, go to L.A. They need you there.”  Truthfully, Betty, after having lived in San Diego in 2003, going back there has been a good stepping stone. I am glad I decided to say yes to the meetings. Whether the people I met are making the progress they want in their life or not, it is an option I offered to them. As you know, we all have freedom of choice.  I love working with those creative guys and gals…and Malibu is so my area. (smiles) I am certain to go back soon.

Rob poses on a hill overlooking Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Betty Dravis: It’s a great start, Rob, and I’m happy you enjoy working in the States. Speaking of road trips reminds me that you love to travel and have clients in many countries. What countries have you visited and where did you go on your most recent trip?

Rob Waterlander: I love the globe–the playground offered to all of us here in the world. The world is huge, although I think it is nothing compared to what is out there and waiting for us, Betty.  My last travels took me to the Middle East and I will be there soon again. It’s an amazing area… Also I had the chance to spend some time in Venice this summer.

I have been to many places in the world; except for the Far East I have been to almost all continents, although not all over those continents. I would love to see more of Africa and the Middle East. Sydney and San Francisco are my favorite cities. Another part in the world that intrigues me is South America; Venezuela and Bolivia showed me extremes in atmosphere.

My next travel will be to Saudi Arabia and Northern Africa, both for business. Then in 2011, I am also traveling to the USA, both for pleasure and business. Recently, I started to look more into the Dutch Islands, close to Amsterdam, and other than the climate, it is so wonderful.

Awesome shot of Rob in Venice.

Betty Dravis: Wow–all that travel boggles my mind! That’s a mighty ambitious agenda, Rob. You certainly do love to travel, and fortunately, you’re in the right career to be able to do it. (laughs)

I know cruises are a lot of fun, so what’s the funniest or most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on a cruise?

Rob Waterlander: Wow, Betty…. hahahahaha… I had the chance to go on a cruise with my best friend–thanking him for all the years he gave me so much fun while he was playing in one of the leading soccer leagues in the world, the Premier League in England. We went to Norway and met some wonderful entertainers while on the cruise. He had a not-so-nice experience, which to me was very funny… (laughs) We kayaked in a beautiful fjord and he turned upside down while looking backwards; not so nice for him–losing his camera and phone.  But I will always remember that cruise as precious because I spent quality time with a dear friend who gave me a lot, both he and his wife. Enjoying food and travel with a dear friend is the best!

Rob and his lovely daughter Lisa on cruise to Venice.

Well, kind of funny, too, my son’s luggage not being there when traveling for a cruise departing from Panama and having to shop for new clothes almost every day because each day new promises came our way. Eventually, he had to take part in a formal night and seeing my son actually enjoying being dressed in a tuxedo was worth it. My son said, “The next time, I will probably travel with a plastic bag and an empty suitcase.” Six weeks later, the suitcase re-emerged having been to Miami and all over the Caribbean. (laughs)

And, very sweet was being with my daughter during a formal night seeing her in her evening gown.

Betty Dravis: It’s odd how those embarrassing moments give us laughs years later, isn’t it, Rob? As for your kids in formal attire, I’m posting a photo of you with your lovely daughter in her formal gown. She does, indeed, look so grown up and lovely. I bet your son was very handsome too.

Now, getting back to your career, to sum it up, you are an intuitive motivator, “people whisperer,” inspirer and guide and you work one-on-one with people to help create the life they want. This means working to ensure their independence and helping them discover or rediscover their personal light in order to continue through life’s challenges.

That sounds like a colossal job to me. Do you mind telling us how you begin with an individual? And please share a few success stories.

Rob with his handsome son Sven on a Panama cruise.

Rob Waterlander: Before I answer that, Betty, let me assure you and your readers that my work is not meant to substitute for those who have addictions or conditions that should be treated, but I can work as part of their team to success. All the possibilities are within each individual and I can help them discover the endless joy and happiness that is there.

Light is essential. Many times we try to see the light in our lives, and we can’t. It may seem there is no light… Circumstances and events can overwhelm us. Even well-meaning friends and family can discourage us from living our true purpose. Entertainers and sports stars, in particular, are under tremendous pressure to fulfill the expectations of others around them, often losing themselves and their personal focus in the process.

What I always start with is tuning in on people, feeling and seeing behind the masks we all wear in daily life. I am just silent… I listen and, occasionally ask a question. Listening to what they say and don’t say, figuring out where they are and where they want to go…

Talking about individual people, I would have to give disclosures that most prefer me not to give. In general, I can say this: Entertainers and sportspeople with level-headed spouses who use common sense should stay in close connection with their partners, enabling them to thrive. When they lack support of a good husband/wife or similar, they might, sooner or later, need a person who is able to give support, guiding them through life’s challenges and helping them to focus on what they do so well.

Rob's parents, his children and their mother get together to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday.

Betty Dravis: I understand and respect the privacy of your clients, Rob, so thanks for generalizing for us. I totally agree that a helpful mate is a powerful force and it’s very important to support one another…whether it’s a spouse or a dear friend.

I hear that you specialize in working with people in the entertainment and sports community; professional athletes, musicians, singers, movie actors, artists and other creative talent. Why and how did you manage to narrow the field?

Rob Waterlander: As I said earlier, the sports events helped me connect with sports people and those guys kept referring me to other athletes.

Basically, I have chosen these entertainers and sports people, as well as other creative guys and gals, because I enjoy working with people with that specific state of mind. Driven and at the same time fragile somehow. I think all the attention and “The show must go on” stress levels make people prone to stuff that would stress out anyone. There is just no escape when everybody is expecting a brilliant performance and appearance.

Rob & Carly biking on Vlieland, one of the Dutch Islands.

Betty Dravis: You’re absolutely right about that, Rob. We’ve all seen some of our favorite stars, whether entertainers or athletes, fall apart due to that kind of stress.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re good at what you do and I hope you don’t mind if I share what a few people wrote about you. I’ll start with Kitty Kavey since I know her and she’s mentioned above.

“Intuitive, kind and empathetic to others, Rob Waterlander is an absolute joy and privilege to work with. If you’re in the entertainment or sports industries, he really “gets” the pressures that we have to live up to–not only our own expectations, but the needs and expectations of those around us and the public. He doesn’t preach, or tell you what to do or which plan to follow. Instead he leads each individual to the place within where the answers lie. He gently guides one to what they know, and what they need to know, to not only be successful in career, but also to be able to reconnect with the happiness and peace within. Not only that, but Rob is also an expert in combining the realities of business and marketing (and public relations), with the spiritual/emotional needs of an individual.” – Kitania Kavey, Screenwriter, Actress, Model, The Netherlands/Europe

And the following is from a sports professional in the UK:

“Rob is someone who is empowering and directing. He has the ability of communicating at the right moments, pointing out exactly that part I couldn’t see beyond at that moment. I call it diving in, opening and showing the pregnant space of possibilities… opening doors to what was waiting so close. In a way, I wasn’t initially aware that I was applying aspects of what he said and shared when we interacted. When distracted by people in my daily professional or personal life, it’s easier to feel the patience of knowing whether now, tonight or tomorrow I would exactly see what I needed to see. As an athlete with a focus on performance, once or twice a week having a balanced day-to-day life is essential. Rob is a valued part of keeping focused, knowing that all is well.” – Fabian Wilnis, Professional Footballer, UK

Rob & Carly with friends Juliet and Fabian Wilnis, a professional footballer, UK.

Those are powerful words of praise, Rob. Knowing that you’ve helped those people must be encouraging to you, keeping you inspired and focused on your own dreams and goals. I’ve heard you say, “An interesting question for many coaches supporting people could be ‘who is going to motivate you when the motivator has gone home?’” Please answer that intuitive question for us.

Rob Waterlander: Well, Betty, I feel what works best is when a client is independent, only dependent on their own gained knowledge. When they absolutely know themselves–their hearts, and can listen again to their authentic selves–only then will they be secure and happy. I have made it my life’s work to guide people towards what always has been waiting for them, and once there, I just stay around to fine-tune, watching from a distance as they live thriving and wondrous lives.

Once I have established a level of clearness with my clients, I try to see them twice a year…up to a max of twelve times.

Betty Dravis: That makes perfect sense to me, Rob, and I see that truth working in the Dream Reachers that my co-author Chase Von and I have interviewed. That’s good, solid advice and I can see where we could all use someone like you in our lives—someone who really cares. I saw your gentle guidance when you met my friend John Manha who has multiple sclerosis. You talked with him at length and I saw your compassion and nurturing abilities first-hand. As a strong, determined Vietnam veteran, he’s a good judge of character and he was truly impressed with you and admires your calling. He felt your life flow… Thanks for that and for encouraging him in his personal and business goals.

But we’re nearing the end of this interview, so I’d like to invite you to share your Mission Statement. We’ve discussed everything in the statement, but I think our readers would like it condensed as a refresher.

Christmas at May Pen, Jamaica.

Rob Waterlander: My Mission Statement as stated on my website is: My goal is to guide each person to create for themselves the opportunity to have each of their talents and thoughts tuned in to the direction of that which one has a passion for. I know that if the passion and creative direction of each individual is found and followed, then the physical, mental and financial rewards will flow naturally.

Thank you, Betty, for this chance to get my message across to more people. I sure hope to meet up soon again and have the chance to do another lunch together. Meeting Johnny was felt within… Please say hi to him from me and deliver this message: “I enjoyed talking to you a lot, Johnny. Man, you have an awesome smile.” (laughs)

Betty Dravis: I, too, hope we do lunch again next time you’re in the States, Rob. I certainly enjoy your company. This time I will listen for your “silences” too. (laughs) And I’ll certainly pass on your message to Johnny. He’ll be pleased to know you’re thinking of him.

It’s awesome what you offer your clients, Rob, but I almost forgot to mention that you work with companies too. By now our readers must be eager to learn how to contact you, but before that, tell us a little about your corporate services.

"Horse Whisperer" - Rob has a way with animals too.

Rob Waterlander: I’m glad you remembered, Betty, because that’s a big part of my business. I am available to work with corporate Human Resources Departments and with recruiters and headhunters to help find the right executives for their companies…or the right companies for their clients. In today’s market it is imperative to match the job opening with the right candidate before time and money is invested in a position that doesn’t work out. I assess the needs of both the company and the job seeker to ensure a good fit for both. I walk with them on the beach or we cycle… Any activity is great while figuring out whether the company and the candidate are a match. It is so fun to be with a person who has a dream…and spending a while with a candidate for a job enables me to see whether he really wants it or whether he just wants to survive. I understand it is so much better when a person actually feels excited because the job fits a part of  his dream. And it saves a company loads of money when the new person is the right one.

Betty Dravis: You’re right, Rob! That’s very important in today’s business climate. I have several corporate friends who use services such as you offer. Thanks for expounding on that area of your profession. And now here are some links where people can reach you:

Rob’s Main website:

Other websites:!/robwaterlandercom!/robwaterlander

Before closing, Rob, this might seem silly, but I think it will shed more light on the real you: If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you take with you?

Rob at Abu-Dhabi.

Rob Waterlander: It’s the island life! Wooo-hoooo… I’m so much an island person, it feels like a present to me. Hahahahaha… This is a good question for me, Betty. Thank you for asking.

Now let me think… What/who I would like to take with me and what I would like to have with me there? I can choose whatever I wish, though only three? Well, that is easy: My children and Carly. And hopefully, there will be available a few jackfruit trees and coconut trees.

I might be pushing a bit now, but if possible, I would like to take my two best friends. I will miss you all, but having my children and Carly will help me to get through. (smiles)

Betty Dravis: Oh-haha, Rob, I guess you would be living on love, coconuts and jackfruit then. I’ve never seen jackfruit, but I read somewhere that it’s the largest fruit in the world and can grow as large as eighty pounds. Well, that’s a lot of food, so you certainly wouldn’t go hungry. (laughs)

I really appreciate your sharing your time and your life with us today. It’s fascinating how you found your true purpose in life. I see the principle of “What goes around comes around” working in your life: Helping others achieve their full potential to live their dream enables you to live your dream.

The cost of your services wasn’t mentioned, but you do work on a sliding scale and are available worldwide, so that’s a big plus in your favor. That said, it’s been fun getting to know you better, and do come back to keep us posted from time to time. As for me, I’ll see you on Facebook, I’m sure. And I know you’re open to answer comments from everyone on Facebook.

Farewell and good luck, Rob…or in your language, Vaarwel and geluk! Please keep us posted on your activities. Oops—I almost forgot to thank you for the bright yellow “wooden shoe” house-slippers you brought me last time.

Homecoming of the Dutch Team

Rob Waterlander: Hehehehe, I see some Dutch here… (smiles)

Well, what I do always makes me feel good and that is the most important thing. Feeling good… What I charge depends on circumstances, indeed. Roughly it varies between 1,000 to 4,000 Euro/US Dollars for working with someone a maximum of two days, and people pay/arrange my travelling and lodging.

Thank you so much, Betty. It was fun to answer your questions. I am grateful because it helped me to go back to joyful moments, especially those in the six years of organizing sports events. It was fun and educational to work with pro-athletes, pro-referees and nine- to ten-year-old soccer players of the major soccer teams in Holland, as well as working with TV and radio teams and those who sponsored the events. I learned a lot… One thing I remember so well is what a general manager of Nike said: “Rob, focus on two things at the same time, max. That allows you to be successful with what you do. Just do it!”

And, I am amazed at you every day, Betty. You are the age of my mom, though you run your blogs, write books and do your interviews… I hope I have the chance to see you again and then I would like you to have some fun in real wooden shoes, instead of the fluffy ones. (laughs)

Thanks again, Betty. Hugs and loving vibes sent your way. xx

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