Interview with newly published author – Barton Williams

Barton Cuong Williams was adopted from Saigon, Vietnam in 1975 and raised in Adelaide, South Australia. He graduated as a school teacher and has written an award winning fitness programme for kids and self-published his first book, “Angry Mangry.” His second book, “But what are you?” has now been published by Olympia Publishers.

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J.H.  Who were your role models growing up and why?
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B.W. Actor: Andrew Mc Farlane from Patrol Boat and The Sullivans because I just thought he was cool as a kid. Surf Ironman Champion: Guy Leech because he was one of the youngest ever competitors to win the famous Coolangatta Gold surf ironman competition and I was lifesaving Nipper from the age of 8. And my Mum: She was the most supportive, tough but honest mum, a child could ask for.
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J.H. What drives you to do what you do?
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B.W. I want to set an example for anyone who feels they cannot achieve. I had a challenging start to my childhood and there is not a day go by where I am not grateful for that. I owe it to my family and friends to pay that back in some way, shape or form.
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J.H. What do you like doing best and why?
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B.W. I like being creative. Starting with an idea in my head, writing it down (or typing it down these days) then getting it to a stage that it becomes a finished product. At the moment I am doing more educational writing and fitness writing than ever before!
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J.H. What are the differences between self publishing and having a traditional publisher?
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B.W. I don’t see a huge difference as both these days require social media marketing and a lot of work for all involved. (author and publisher)
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J.H. Why did you want to write this book?
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B.W. This manuscript has been a long time coming. Four years ago I had a documentary made by AFTRS on my childhood which sparked a lot of curiosity. I then felt that kids could really benefit from some of my challenges experienced as a child, hence I wrote “But What Are You?”
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Baby Bart
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J.H. Do you see changes in the Arts with Diversity?
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B.W. Absolutely yes, there is sooooo much more cultural diversity on film and TV. eg. Street Smart (Channel 10) Crazy Rich Asians (feature film), Kens Convenience (Netflix), Master of None (Netflix) I think overall we are seeing ethnic minority groups being represented better but it needs to continue. Sadly Australia has take it’s time in doing so but has come a long way. I believe it has to start with writing diversity which will ultimately lead to casting diversity.
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J.H. What is your advice for future writers?
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B.W. Never give up! My manuscript was rejected by over 10 publishers in Australia and about the same in London. I was not giving up because I believed that this story was worthy of publishing! “But What Are You?” has been a long journey.
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J.H. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
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B.W. I hope to have written more children’s books, produced the stage production of BUT WHAT ARE YOU? which is already in development, having taken it to Edinburgh Scotland Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Hopefully continued to act professionally more and marketed my fitness programs internationally.
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J.H. But does success looks like to you?
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B.W. Repeated work from my publisher, acting agent or business colleagues is what defines success. I am not driven by awards or money but if people want to give them to us, sure we will accept them LOL.
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Crazy Rich Asians review

Crazy Rich Asians poster

Crazy Rich Asians opened in Australia this week with a buzz. After making 25 million in its second weekend (U.S) it’s shaping up to be one of 2018’s best movies all year. The film has now brought in an estimated $76.8 million domestically, more than doubled the cost of making the film. A sequel is now reportedly in development.

Crazy Rich Asians is based on Kevin Kwan’s best selling novel of the same title and is the second film since Joy Luck Club with a majority Asian Cast. (That’s been 25 years!) Being of Asian descent myself, I’ve never felt so excited seeing an outstanding ensemble cast, with relatable characters, both lead and supporting, who I could identify with – especially the aunties in Singapore.

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This film has been celebrated as being ground breaking for everything being Asian-American in Hollywood to portraying strong, self assured female leads, challenging stereotypes about motherhood, womanhood and mother child relationships. Unlike Joy Luck Club, these women are not traditional, tiger mums or immigrant women, they are modern day strong women. I love the broad age range of these women portrayed on film and hope for more movies like this to be made, as it’s proved to be popular with the general public.

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It follows the life of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding) as they travel to Singapore for Nick’s best friend’s wedding. Little does Rachel know that Nick’s family are royalty in Singapore and about to experience his life of living insanely wealthy. The whole journey is an eye opener for Rachel who has lived modestly in America (New York) her whole life. Rachel then meets Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) who doesn’t believe she is good enough for Nick. Here trouble begins for the lovebirds…

Most of the best laughs in the movie come from Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight)

and Ken Jeong (The Hangover) as Rachel’s college friend Peik Lin.

This was a wonderful feel-good Rom-Com, one of the best I’ve seen

for a long time.

 

I rate this movie a 9/10.

 

Crazy Rich Asians trailer

 

Photos by Jimmy Yang & Crazy Rich Asians & Kevin Kwan.

 

Writers Actors Talk about diversity and change with Joy Hopwood, Alice Pung and Aileen Huynh

Joy Hopwood’s interview with Michael Wang.

Video link below

  Writers – Actors Talk (documentary) 8 mins

 

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DOCUMENTARY DIRECTED BY MICHAEL WANG.

The purpose was to create something engaging, creative and shareable that would explore themes which were important and timeless. To better inform young Australians growing up of who came before them and what lessons they can learn from those who came before them. Recognising how paths in life can be challenged and different ways pitfalls can be managed to become successful in the performance arts, publication and film/TV industry.

Michael Wang is an online digital marketer who is born and raised in Melbourne. Working at his own consultancy Marketandpress.com he creates engaging video and advertising campaigns helping businesses improve their growth. For all this work is geared towards fulfilling his greater life’s purpose of becoming a feature-length filmmaker. He is a budding filmmaker who creates unique engaging stories and pieces of content and regularly enjoys uploading them to his personal portfolio at Huristic.com

A Very Lovely thanks to the Guest Speakers: Aileen Huynh, Joy Hopwood & Alice Pung.

Produced by the Victorian Multicultural Commission in Association with Swinburne University.
Special thanks to the team: Director Of Photography Jake Evans. Advisors Vincent Giarrusso, Helen Kapalos for you guidance.

Working with Us:
Michael Wang – Michael@MarketandPress.com
https://www.instagram.com/huristic/
https://www.facebook.com/huristic.com.au/

Jake Evans (jake_evans16@hotmail.com)

Joy Hopwood – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd7E7HS4wYqGKrqisPGnHaA
https://www.instagram.com/joyhouseproductions/

Aileen Huynh – sydney@hansencreative.com.au

Helen Kapalos – https://www.multicultural.vic.gov.au/about-us/commissioners

https://www.instagram.com/multiculturevic/

Vincent Giarrusso – http://www.swinburne.edu.au/health-arts-design/staff/profile/index.php?id=vgiarrusso

Interview with 16 year old published author Malaika Gilani

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Malaika Gilani is a 16 year old published author. She is a go getter and very motivated, so motivated that she contacted me to interview her for my blog. She has been writing short stories and poems for her school newsletters and magazines and is a Pakistani Citizen who currently resides in Melbourne with her family.

How did you start your writing career? ( & what inspired you?)

So we had a subject called personal learning in Yr 8 and we had an assignment we were to write five poems. I wrote those and enjoyed it. When people read them they liked it. A lot of people talked to me about problems like friends family etc. You cant keep everything in. So when people told me I had a hard time keeping it in like some people have such difficulties getting where they are, but instead of being happy about the progress they get embarrassed. So I started writing poetry to let those journeys out, and when people read them they felt better. So it sort of became a thing.

As I moved on with life I realised a lot of these problems we face are the same. Trouble with friends, feeling etc. So I decided to get the message across by getting a book published so more people could read.

What writers / authors inspire you and why?

Every author inspires me as they all start at the bottom. For writing everyone has to start at the bottom. Its amazing where people end up.

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How did you get your book, Untold Journeys, published by A&A Publishers?

I got rejected a few times, accepted by a few place but things didn’t work out. Then I met Joy, my agent from A&A Publishers. Things worked out from there. The rejections didn’t pull me down. I took them as a sign from God that I wasn’t ready. The first offer I got was in 2015. Back then I didn’t even have half the poems I do right now. Things didn’t work out etc. I was pretty crushed at first but now when I look back i see things are just how they are supposed to be. God has a plan. If I had published in 2015 me and my readers would have missed out on some amazing journeys.

What topics inspire you to write about and why?

Well everyday problems. As people feel embarrassed talking about them! I beg to differ. Everyone has family problems and problems with dating etc. So I want to voice these opinions and show people what society says does not matter.

What advice would you give to other writers?

Keep trying. If you get rejected its for your own good. Remember to have faith because God has bigger plans for you 🙂

What is your next writing project?

Currently focussing on Yr 12 so I will take a break.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I see a forensic psychiatrist and an inspirational author!

 

Interview with Australian author Roanna Gonsalves – “The Permanent Resident”

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1) How did you get started as a writer?

I have always wanted to be a writer. I remember writing poems as a very small girl. They were quite terrible, but I loved the act and process of writing. As I was growing up in Mumbai, my aunties in Kuwait and Australia would write letters to me and expect letters back. I enjoyed spending time with a pencil and paper, giving them information about our day-to-day lives, thinking they would be impressed with big words like ‘length’ and ‘breadth’. After I finished my degree in English Literature at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai University, I got a job in journalism, and learned to write to a deadline. The moment I started writing fiction while doing the MA in Writing at UTS, I knew I had found my calling. Fom then on it has been a hard slog as a writer, but a joyful one.

2) What made you want to write “The Permanent Resident”?

I wanted to chronicle our contemporary presence here as Indian Australians, not with autobiography but with fiction. I wanted to render on the page, the complexities of being an outsider yet wanting to be an insider, while being burdened and also strengthened in different ways by culture, class, gender and religious background. I wanted to add my voice to the tradition of writers of indigenous and non white heritage who are trying to change the way Australia imagines itself – as a White nation. But I also wanted to play with language, as a child plays in the sand. Most of the stories in The Permanent Resident started as sparkles of word bundles in my head and in the process of putting those words down on paper I understood the story that was emerging from them, the story I had to tell.

3) How long did it take you to write your story? (was it over a few years of journal/diary writing?)

As this is not a work of autobiography but a work of the imagination, I didn’t really rely on journals or diaries. Some stories are based on incidents that happened in Australia, such as the spate of violence against Indian students a few years ago, or tragic cases of violence and abuse of women by their husbands. This book took me about four or five years to write as part of a PhD at UNSW (the other part is a sociological study of the contemporary Indian literary field in the English language). However, this book is based on decades of writing practice. It’s like it takes a chef a few hours to prepare their signature dish, but those few hours are possible only because of years and years of training and practice as a chef.

 

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4) What message do you want your readers to take away after reading your story?

I would be ecstatic if readers get to the last word of the last sentence of the last story, and wish the book didn’t end. For me, literature is about speaking to that part of ourselves that is not fed by excel spreadsheets and shopping trolleys and electricity bills, however necessary (or not) these things may be for our survival. It’s that feeling of being enchanted that I aspire to when it comes to what I hope for when someone reads The Permanent Resident.

5) When growing up, who were your favourite writers/authors and why?

When I was growing up, my mother who worked for Glaxo, would bring home magazines and books every week from her office library. I read everything she brought home, from Women’s Era and Savvy, and Femina magazines, to the Trixie Belden series and all sorts of Enid Blyton books. As a child I loved the adventures that Trixie Belden went on near the Hudson River in America. It sounded so far away and exotic to me, growing up in Mumbai. The Famous Five would always drink ginger beer and play in the heather. These were alien and therefore highly desirable to me as a child. It was the adventures that these children were having in those enticing stories that attracted me to them like iron filings to a magnet. I remember trying to mimic these adventures around the compound of our block of flats. I’m so glad that this cultural imperialism of the West is not as strong as it used to be in the 70s and 80s. There are so many amazing Indian publishers of kids books in different languages now, such as Tara Books, Tulika, Katha, FunOkPlease, Karadi Tales, Eklavya, Pratham. Navayana’s Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability, Juggernaut’s Ramayana For Children by Arshia Sattar, Goa 1556’s Espi Mai series by Anita Pinto, and all of Tara Books’ gorgeous books are standouts.

My parents got us a subscription to Target magazine for kids. From what I could remember it was very Delhi-focussed, with big Delhi words like mohalla and gol gappa in it, words that I was not familiar with, we used different words in Mumbai. This added to the attraction for me. Occasionally we would read the wonderful Amar Chitra Katha comics about Hindu mythology. Growing up in the Catholic community, we had lots of reading material about Catholic saints around and I think I wanted to be a saint for a brief period of time because when the female saints died a shower of roses would always fall from heaven, and that sounded quite glorious to me. I must say that the stories in Don Bosco’s Madonna, a weekly publication that most people in my community would read from cover to cover, had a big impression on me because it contained wonderfully implausible stories of hardship and ultimate redemption, the perfect hero’s journey.

 

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6) What advice would you like to give to upcoming writers?

Read all you can and write as often as you can. As with anything, it’s all about practice.

7) What’s next for you after The Permanent Resident? Have you got a sequel or another story up your sleeve?

I have so many different ideas that I want to work on, so many different stories. It’s about balancing a day job to pay the rent and then prioritising the most urgent stories that I would like to tell. I hope I can manage this precarious balance in a suitable way in the future.

Roanna Gonsalves is an Indian Australian writer and academic. Her series of radio documentaries entitled On the tip of a billion tongues, was commissioned and first broadcast by Earshot, ABC RN in November and December 2015. It is an acerbic socio-political portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers. She received the Prime Minister’s Endeavour Award 2013, and is co-founder co-editor of Southern Crossings. She is the author of The Permanent Resident a collection of short fiction published by UWAP in November 2016. http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/the-permanent-resident
See roannagonsalves.com.au for more information.

Book review & interview with author Anita Heiss

LIN WONG’S KIDS’ BOOK CLUB

Kicking Goals by Anita Heiss, Adam Goodes & Michael O’Loughlin.

Anita Heiss is an Australian author working across a range of areas: children’s literature, chick literature, non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary, extending her reader’s knowledge and understanding of contemporary Aboriginal life in Australia. She’s a wonderful role model for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador. Kicking Goals is her latest book which is a collaboration with former footballers Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin.

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Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin are AFL legends, blood brothers and great mates. They’re two of the best footballers ever to play for the Sydney Swans. But how did they meet and become mates? What were they like when they were kids? What did they get up to at school? And what was it like to go from being normal teenagers to AFL superstars? These are popular questions kids would love to know. And all of these questions are answered in Kicking Goals where they tell their stories of friendship in their own words, as told to Anita Heiss.

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My favourite parts in this book are the moments where Adam and Michael reveal their humility and kindness.

Michael says, “Adam’s friendship means a lot to me. The toughest moment for me was the death of my grandmother, and Adam was really solid. With those types of things, and with my family living thousands of miles away, you need to be able to rely on each other.”

And Adam says, “Kids can be leaders by helping others who might be struggling to learn. If you’re really good at something, you can help teach other people your skills.”

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I was lucky to interview Anita Heiss earlier this year.

Lin Wong: What do you do each day that gives you joy?

Anita Heiss: Starting my day with a run gives me joy – this may be along the Brisbane River, Maroubra Beach (Sydney) or around Treasury Gardens (Melbourne) depending on where I am on any given day. Running clears my head, helps me work through my storylines and makes me feel good about myself and the day ahead.

The second thing I try to do most days is have a coffee with a tidda. The venue really doesn’t matter; it’s just the time to yarn, debrief, laugh and quite often plot that brings me joy.
Lin Wong: What do you do to stimulate your creativity?

Anita Heiss: I people watch. I talk to people. I put my running shoes and hit the pavement. Sometimes, I just lie down and clear my head of anything that is not about what I am supposed to be focussed on, because the one thing that stifles creativity most is a head full of chaos about things unrelated to my current project.

Lin Wong: What has inspired & motivated you to write your first ever book?

Anita Heiss: I was at UNSW doing my Honours degree and realised nearly every book on the shelf about Aboriginal anything was written by a non-Aboriginal author, and even authors who had never been to Australia. I knew that my responsibility as someone with access to education was to provide a voice for those without. My first book Sacred Cows (Magabala Books, 1996) though was really a statement to say that we (Aboriginal people) could equally write about non-Aboriginal people because we have been socialised, educated and employed though white institutions.

Kicking Goals is Anita’s latest kids’ book and I give it a 9/10.

Well done and congratulations to her, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin for creating great kids literature.

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Being in a Creative Relationship – How to make it work (Pillow Talk #SpectrumNow Review)

Six well-known creative couples talked openly about their relationships at Spectrum Now’s March festival 2016. They included: David Williamson, Australia’s most successful playwright and his author wife, Kristin, all round entertainer David Campbell and his producer wife Lisa, actor Rob Carlton who played Kerry Packer in the ABC’s Paper Giants series and his wife, writer Adrienne Ferreira, all talked openly about their relationships. They discussed the tough times, how they made it through and what they did to make their creative lives work.

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Photo courtesy of ABC

It was love at first sight for David Williamson when he first met his now wife Kristin, though they were both married to other people at the time, he distinctively remembers what she wore which made him fall head over heals in love with her. Kristin remembers his great charisma and the way he was passionate when talking about his work. They met on his first production of The Removalists. She remembers when doing a play read for him, he was actively gesturing, gregarious and witty which appealed to her. He admitted that he once cast himself in one of his earlier plays, and burst out laughing just before a funny line was delivered. He hasn’t returned to acting since!

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It was a few years later that the two split with their partners at the time, and there was a lot of hurt and pain before coming together as a couple. The Williamson’s greatest challenge came out of their open marriage in the 1970s which led to Kristin writing a list of people she could “bear to be with” as David was doing it, why couldn’t she? It wasn’t until she admitted that she was falling for a man on her list that David changed, cleaned up his act and really started listening to her. He said, “It wasn’t until I felt that I was losing her, I realised I could no longer do this.” David confessed that the whole open marriage thing doesn’t work because “sexual jealousy is deeply rooted in our inner most nature and you can’t emotionally deconstruct it.” It comes with the human psyche. Since that breakdown in their marriage he realised what a treasure he has and together they’ve worked through their relationship battles and Kristin found her own identity and career in journalism, and became known independently. She said what they went through has made their relationship stronger. Together they work as a team. She often reads through David’s drafts and has learned to be careful when putting forth criticisms because in the past he was very sensitive and often over reacted to her suggestions. David said like most writers, he draws on his own personal experiences and writes about them, giving characters different names and alters situations to make them more dramatic. Kristin often discovers when watching his plays on stage pieces of familiar dialogue and says, “That’s what I said to you last night!”

He says what he loves about Kristin is that he’s still attracted to her; he still sees her younger self and loves her inner soul and honesty. Kristin said what she loves best about David is his sense of humour and that he always makes her laugh, his intellect and curiosity in life. That’s what makes their relationship work.

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Photo courtesy of On Broadway album cover

The next creative couple was David and Lisa Campbell. David confessed that it was during The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee  musical when this British woman from the cast of An Inspector Calls came backstage. Back in his drinking days, they had a theatre tradition called Thirsty Thursdays and Magda Szubanski, who was also in the Spelling Bee, invited the Inspector Calls company over for drinks. They were all fangirling over Magda because they loved Kath & Kim and it was her who set him up with Lisa.

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The two hit it off instantly and got together just after three weeks of dating and became engaged in Paris. In 2008 they married and set up their own creative production company Luckiest Productions where they produced all of David’s national tours, as well as other productions. It was only once during David’s 80’s tour that they struggled financially. They admit that they had counselling and joked that it was Lisa who had the counsellor first, then David joined her sessions and ended up taking her counsellor. Discussing things openly and accepting the creative chaos in their lives helps them through their relationship challenges. After David’s 80’s tour he soon landed a regular gig at Channel Nine, co-hosting with Sonia Kruger. Lisa then started producing successful musicals and is currently producing Little Shop of Horrors at Hayes Theatre and reveals what she loves about David is his singing. “When he gets up on stage and starts singing, I fall in love with him all over again because he’s just so talented,” Lisa says. She also admits that he helps her connect with people for her productions. For example she was looking for a voice of authority, with a God-like tone, and Geoffrey Rush was going to do it but then had to pull out so Lee Lin Chin was suggested and David said he could get hold of her because he has a contact at SBS. David says what he loves about Lisa is how she’s a leader, “she’s the boss!”

“What I don’t like about David is his indecisiveness,” Lisa jokes.

David agrees, “Yes, even when I’m ordering, I always ask what the specials are but never order them. I’m just curious and want to know, but I’ll still order the same thing. What I love about Lisa is how she nurtures the next pool of talent coming through and she’s her own institution.”

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 photo courtesy of Saxton.com.au

The last couple was actor Rob Carlton who played Kerry Packer in the ABC’s Paper Giants series and his wife, writer Adrienne Ferreira.

“On our first date Rob wanted to kiss me before dinner! I said no and had to pull the reins in!” says Adrienne.

Rob said they had previously met five years before at university and he wasn’t someone Adrienne was interested in at the time because he was a night owl and loved drinking and smoking. It was five years later when they met again and Rob pursued her. They eventually got together and had two boys and his career grew. He raised money, produced his own TV series and had his own production company, and was on a creative high. It was during this high moment in life that he came home from work one night and made dinner for his family and Adrienne started crying at the dinner table. She said,”I’m not kind enough to you,” (pause). Rob gets up from his seat on stage and tells the audience, “Oh, isn’t that sweet, but wait, then she went on to say, ‘because I don’t like you anymore!” Those words came out of nowhere and shocked him to the core and made him think- OK at least she didn’t bring it up during an argument. She was honest and brave enough to say these words calmly to him and reveal how she’s truly feeling. He then made a list of character flaws of himself and said he’d work on them. During this time Adrienne let out her frustrations by writing a screenplay which was devastating for Rob to read, as the protagonist was a mother who used to get up to mischief on weekends.  She even asked him to direct it. There were so many issues in the play that he uncovered – the comic irony of what the mother in the story was getting up to on weekends was mind boggling for him to read and comprehend. He then thought, OK this is how my wife’s feeling. Rob then announced to her, “You’re responsible for your own happiness, I can’t make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy.”

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From that point onwards they came to an understanding that relationships change and we all evolve, it will never stand still and stay the same. She admitted she was feeling down because she didn’t have her own identity as she was part of his limelight. After writing her screenplay, Adrienne wrote novels and got published. She’s now a successful writer and has her own identity and success.

I’d like to thank them all for sharing their honest stories with everyone so we can learn from their experiences. This was one of my favourite yearly #SpectrumNow events- hearing nothing but honest stories from creatives.