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Archive for June, 2020

Smashwords is the second biggest e-book platform in the world so I feel very priviliged to be interviewed.

Why did you become an author?

I love books! My father was a teacher in Antwerp which has one of the biggest and best libraries in Belgium so we spent many hours at the library. We could take out a maximum of five books so my brother and I had competitions to see who could finish reading them first!

I run BECS, an award-winning training company in London which specialises in business, management and mental health courses. I design the majority of our course books. Sean Chapple (The Ice Man), a good friend of mine and fellow author, advised me to put the top tips that we give to our participants in a book. That is how “The Business Survival Guide (Because It’s A Jungle Out There)” was born in 2010. In September 2020 we will publish the second edition.  We have just published “The Mental Health Survival Guide (Because It’s A Jungle Out There)” and in January 2021 we are publishing “The Management Survival Guide (Because It’s A Jungle Out There)”.

When I graduated as a psychotherapist I wrote “Brain Based Stress Management” because I know I can help people suffering from mental health problems. Knowledge of how your brain works is the key. The solutions are easy, fun and free.

Who are your favourite authors?

Georges Simenon (1903-1989) is my favourite author. I have a large collection of his books in my office, including a few first editions. Georges Simenon wrote the Inspector Maigret series and nearly 500 novels. I admire Georges Simenon for his descriptive language. He can describe a setting so well that you feel  as though you are present; that you might be sitting at the table next to him tasting the same food, drinking the same beer, experiencing the same atmosphere and looking at the people around you. Simenon’s psychological novels are masterpieces. He understands people incredibly well, which makes fascinating reading.

George Simenon’s private life was crazier than any of his books. Just like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, he had to remind people that he was Belgian and not French. He was born in Liege and moved to Paris when he was a young man. He travelled the world and lived on his sailing boat, in France, the USA and Switzerland. Although he was married, he claimed to have had 10,000 lovers. He certainly lived life to the full. https://georgessimenon.co.uk/

Stephen Clarke is a fantastic writer. I love “A Year in the Merde” which is the first of his Paul West series. It is the almost-true account of Clarke’s experiences as an English expat in Paris. It is hilarious! I know the French and English cultures very well and was not surprised about the massive culture clashes which Clarke describes so well. I read this book while I was travelling from my home on the English Riviera in SW England to Kuwait. I burst out laughing so many times that my fellow travellers must have thought I was mad! http://www.stephenclarkewriter.com/en/home

Deon Meyer was recommended by a South African friend. I love his Benny Griessel series which features an alcoholic policeman in Cape Town. In the background you read about the many problems South Africa has to cope with: race issues, corruption, poverty, government budget cuts, etc. I like Meyer’s style: it is cool, sexy and fast. On one page he sometimes changes between four characters’ thoughts without a problem, which is remarkable. https://www.deonmeyer.com/

Dr Barry J. Gibb is a neuroscientist, author and film maker. In his book “The Rough Guide to The Brain” he explains how the brain operates. The book is easy to read and includes interviews, case studies and links to TED talks. He also covers popular psychology subjects such as déjà vu, dreams, IQ, mental health illnesses, love, hypnotism, the placebo effect and clairvoyance. The book is a must read if you like psychology! https://www.barryjamesgibb.com/

Which are your favourite bookshops?

“Foyles” in Charing Cross Road, London is one of the biggest and best book shops in England. Before I write a book, I do my market research at Foyles which is a paradise for book lovers. Every subject on this earth is covered so I have spent many happy hours at Foyles. The staff are amazing. If I ask about the last publications of my favourite authors, they can usually tell me without looking it up on the system. http://www.foyles.co.uk

“Better Books” in Kuwait is an underground second-hand bookshop in Kuwait. It is underground for two reasons: the bookshop and community rooms are in the basement of an apartment building. Secondly, you will never find it unless you look up the location on the internet as there is no bookshop signage. You can only see a door to a basement. The bookshop houses Frosty, a fluffy white cat who loves cuddles (comparable to the “We have been expecting you Mr Bond” cat) and a bird who flies around the bookshop and sits on your shoulder or head when you least expect it. The shop wants to stimulate reading so they organise book competitions for children. The book prices are very low and when you bring back a book, you receive 50% credit to buy new books. Many people come in for a chat, the animals or spend hours reading on the sofas. https://www.facebook.com/betterbookskuwait/

“Book in Bar” in Aix-en-Provence, France is a café and a book shop. The café is not separate. The tables, chairs and sofas are set in between the books. I love this place. The food and drinks are home-made and delicious. They have new and second-hand books in English and other languages. Some people visit to meet up with friends, some to read the shop’s newspapers and magazines and some to buy books. http://www.bookinbar.com

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I run two international companies: BECS is a training company. A lot of our clients are in the Arabian Gulf region. Rasson Properties has holiday apartments and cottages in South Spain, France and England. My jobs allow me to travel, meet people and speak different languages. I have turned my passions into my jobs. What could be better? http://www.answinnen.com

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