Q&A with Stephanie Butland

Stephanie Butland is a professional trainer specialising in creativity and thinking skills. She also uses her unique skills and first-hand experience to support people with cancer. She helps to raise awareness and funds for many charities and has written two books about her life with illness.

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They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that my childhood ambition was to be a writer, but the journey that I went on to get here was circuitous and a little extreme – I developed a breast cancer! I was diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 37, and started blogging about my dance with cancer. The blog became popular, and inspired me to write a book, ‘How I Said Bah! to cancer’ (Hay House, 2010), followed by ‘Thrive: the Bah! guide to wellness after cancer’ (Hay House, 2011). Writing them made me fall in love with words and stories all over again, although I’ve always been an avid reader. So here I am. I still can’t quite believe it.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
In ‘Surrounded By Water’ there’s a character named Mel. She’s the sister of the main character and she’s clever, fierce, funny and sarcastic. She doesn’t own a pair of shoes that aren’t heels, she smokes like a chimney and she despairs of the fact that she can’t get a decent Daquiri when she comes to the small town where her sister lives. So I’d take her to London, and we’d go to the British Library (she works as a translator, so she loves books) then go to the champagne bar in St Pancras station and drink too many cocktails and giggle a lot. I’ve chosen Mel because she’s excellent company and because I’d like to show her that England isn’t just a gloomy, damp cave full of people who tut at her footwear.

If you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do and why?
Wow. That’s a great question. I would eat a lot of cheese and bacon, because I have type 2 diabetes and those are the things that I don’t eat much of any more, and really miss. So I’d have a bacon sandwich for breakfast and baked camembert for lunch. Maybe I would arrange to have my trip with Mel on this day too, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the hangover…..

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If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Noooo. That’s way too difficult! (I had a nightmare recently in which I was on ‘Desert Island Discs’ and Kirsty Young threw me out of the studio for refusing to select one book.) I’m changing the terms of this and saying instead of making everyone read one of my favourite books – which I couldn’t choose anyway! – I would make everyone re-read one of their own favourite books. Sometimes it’s nice to be given permission to go back and re-enjoy something,

If there was one saying that would sum up your life to date, what would it be?
‘What’s for you won’t go by you’. My Grandma (the Isabel in the book dedication) used to say it. As far as writing is concerned, she was absolutely right!

A big thank you to Stephanie and Patsy at Transworld for letting me be part of the ‘Surrounded by Water’ blog tour.

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