Author Interview: Dean & Sarah-Jane Gratton

Dean Anthony Gratton and Sarah-Jane Gratton caricatures introducing themselves.
Dean and sarah-jane gratton caricatures saying Hi, I'm @grattongirl And I'm @grattonboy
The Grattons

Sarah-Jayne Gratton is an author, television presenter, and former theatre performer. She is a European correspondent for the television show You Are the Supermodel, where she hosts a weekly segment on personal branding.

Dr Dean Anthony Gratton is a bestselling author and columnist. Dean has worked extensively within the wireless telecommunications R&D industry and has an accomplished career in software engineering.

Q. Your greatly anticipated book entitled Zero to 100,000 is released in October 2011: Tell us, what is the book about and why did you both decide to write it?
Zero to 100,000 is a social media book that fills a very real need; that of the smaller businesses and solo-preneurs who want to build a fast and effective social media presence from scratch on a tiny budget. There are plenty of social media books out there geared at big businesses and large corporations, but nothing that reaches out directly to the smaller business in the way our book does. As a couple who are also a ‘brand’, we were keen to share our experiences and the secrets of our online success with others.

book cover of dean and Sarah-Jane Gratton's book zero to 100,000
Zero to 100,000

Q. What did you find most enjoyable and challenging when writing Zero to 100,000?
We wanted to make the book something a reader would enjoy picking up and reading. After all, something as exciting as social media shouldn’t be a chore to discover and we wanted to make the experience fun. There are always challenges, of course, when writing a book on such a fast moving and evolving arena; the primary one being that of keeping it as fresh and relevant as possible. We overcame this by writing the book in such a way as to impart a philosophy that transcends basic platform functionality, giving the reader the confidence they need to ‘go with the flow’ of inevitable platform evolution and to do so in such a way that will enable them to sustain their online success.

Sarah-Jane Gratton looking into the camera
Sarah-Jane Gratton

Q. You are both big personas on twitter under the names of @grattonboy and @grattongirl. Were you hesitant about sharing your secrets of success in the world of social media?
Not at all! There’s never been a tougher time for business and brands and yet there’s never been more opportunity to compete against the big boys. It’s very much a David and Goliath situation. We don’t want to dwell on issues of economy here but well, it’s difficult not to these days. The ironic thing is that social media opens the door for those of us who don’t have huge financial resources to fall back on or to support us on our journey. The small businesses and brands of today no longer need to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to put them in the public eye and make them sparkle. Social media provides them with the opportunity to do just that every day if it’s used correctly. Knowing how to use it can be the difference between success and failure, so we are more than happy to share our secrets and to help our readers’ brands be all they can be.

we’ve learned through trial and error so that our readers don’t have to!

Q. What is your opinion on the publishing industry at present? Books or Kindle?
There’s a place for both. We’ve yet to find a Kindle that imparts the pure joy of holding a leather-bound classic in your hands or excites the senses with the wonderful aroma of a new book’s pages. Devices like the Kindle and the iPad, for that matter, offer a fabulous way of ‘taking your library with you’ daily. They have also opened up a whole new world for the visually impaired by allowing readers to select their print/font size – a functionality that has, and will, enrich the lives of so many.

Author Dean Gratton smiling into the camera
Dean Gratton

Q. Describe an average day in the life of a Social Media expert. Does the day always start with a tweet?
A tweet and a coffee, but not necessarily in that order! We both rise early to ensure that our personal social media activities don’t eat into our day too much. We work to a daily schedule of time slots allocated to sending out and scheduling tweets, posts on our Facebook pages, video promotions and posts on LinkedIn, which are less frequent. You can’t be too rigid, as you need to engage with your social media audience so we regularly check in, to reply and comment on our followers’ content and questions. Fine-tuning this takes time and the book provides many helpful ways of ensuring that you get the most out of every day – we’ve learned through trial and error so that our readers don’t have to!

Lunchtime is when we normally brainstorm about new project ideas or current event promotions. When it comes to productive output, there’s something magical about the holy trinity of food, wine and conversation that surpasses any boardroom.
There’s no such thing as a short day when you’re working with social media and we are often at our desks past midnight but, then again, there’s no such thing as hard work if you love what you do – right?

Q. What have we got to look forward to next from the Grattons?
We have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline but nothing we can share with you just yet 😉 – We’ll save them for another interview …

You can pre-order your copy right now on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zero-100-000-Social-Businesses/dp/0789748002/
You can find out more about Sarah-Jayne and Dean through their websites – www.sarahjaynegratton.com and www.deananthonygratton.com, and you can follow them on Twitter @grattongirl@grattonboy.

Thanks guys.

The London Cookbook

The London Cookbook by Jenny Linford

Author Attic is delighted to introduce to you Food writer Jenny Linford. We filmed Jenny talking about her latest book in a charming  tea shop hidden from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street called PostCard Teas.  We  learnt a lot about the diverse London food scene and of course a lot about tea!

Jenny Linford is a London based Food Writer and has written 15 books ranging from Cookery Books to Ingredient guides. You may know her best from her food guide called Food Lover’s London, but she is back with The London Cookbook published by Metro Publications. Jenny talks about her journey of researching for The London Cookbook and offers recipes, food stories and eating out recommendations in London.

The research side of the writing process all sounded rather fun as she told us it was largely based on her husband and son accompanying her around London discovering new recipes, meeting new people and eating scrumptious food. She is also the founder of the successful Gastro-Soho Tours which have been running since 1994. The unique tour offers an insight into Soho’s food scene and you can expect visits to a variety of coffee shops, supermarkets and lots more.

Discover London’s diverse food scene with The London Cookbook and to find out more about Jenny please visit her website – http://www.jennylinford.co.uk/

Author Interview: Jenny Linford

The day Author Attic went exotic and had a cup of Oolong tea with food writer, Jenny Linford, in a lovely tea shop called Postcard Teas. We were also a bit indulgent and kept up the exotic theme by having some passion fruit flavour cakes! Read below to find out what Jenny had to tell us about The London Cookbook over a very sophisticated tea break.

Q. You visited many shops, butcheries and cafe’s whilst writing ‘The London Cookbook’. Which was your favourite discovered shop and why?
I’ve been writing about London’s food scene for many years now and I put all my favourite people and their shops in The London Cookbook so I couldn’t pick just one!

Five bags filled with handmade biscuits in a basket
Rosemary’s Biscuits

Q. There is a borrowed recipe on nearly every page of ‘The London Cookbook’. Which recipes now feature regularly in the Linford household?
I was given  a lot of great recipes from food-loving Londoners. Among the ones I find myself making regularly are Piloo’s Coriander Chutney, Sarah’s Seedcake and  Rosemary’s Biscuits.

Q. Most of the food places you visited in London are family run businesses, what is your opinion of the food giants in London such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco?
What I love about London’s food scene is its diversity. The big supermarkets are hugely successful and profitable, so I wanted to highlight the independent food shops as many of whom are struggling to stay profitable because of London’s high rents, business rates, the congestion charge and changing food shopping habits. I like shopping in markets and independent food shops because you get to know the people selling to you and they take a personal pride in what they’re doing.

Q. It’s summer time in London. Which food hang out would we most likely bump into you in? 

At the moment, I’m often to be found sitting at the marble-topped bar at Jose’s, Jose Pisarro’s great new tapas bar on Bermondsey Street nibbling on prawns with garlic and sipping sherry.

olives in a ceramic plate with spoons in them
Fresh Olives

Q. Describe a day in the life of a food writer.
It’s always very diverse, which is what I really like about my work. One day I can be exploring London, visiting new food shops, the next day  I might be in my kitchen testing a recipe or in my study writing.

Q. You founded the very successful Gastro-Soho Tours in London. Tell us what will we see, who will we meet and most importantly what will we get to eat?
My Gastro-Soho tours take in a range of food shops, from bustling Chinese supermarkets to vintage specialist food shops dating back to the nineteenth century. There are a lot of tastings en-route, from freshly baked Chinese red bean buns to my favourite olives, flavoured with anchovies, chillies and lots of garlic.

The London Cookbook lying on top of a wooden table
The London Cookbook

Q. What other new food titles have we got to look forward to?
I don’t have a specific book project on the go at the moment, but watch this space!

Q. If you had to describe ‘The London Cookbook’ in a style of a recipe what would it consist of?
There are so many different elements in the book – recipes, stories, food history, glimpses into the many different cuisines that can be found in this most cosmopolitan of cities – that it would definitely be a fusion dish!

No kitchen should be without one.

Author Interview: Amanda Craig

Author Amanda Craig drinking coffee in a diner
Author Amanda Craig drinking coffee in a diner
© photo by Charlie Hopkinson

Amanda Craig, author of Hearts and Minds, takes a tea break with Author Attic to tell us about her writing.

Hearts and Minds

Rich or poor, five people, seemingly very different, find their lives in the capital connected in undreamed-of ways. There is Job, the illegal mini-cab driver whose wife in Zimbabwe no longer answers his letters; Ian, the idealistic supply teacher in exile from South Africa; Katie from New York, jilted and miserable as a dogsbody at a political magazine, and fifteen-year-old Anna, trafficked into sexual slavery. Polly Noble, an overworked human rights lawyer, knows better than most how easy it is to fall through the cracks into the abyss. Yet when her au pair, Iryna, disappears, Polly’s own needs and beliefs drag her family into a world of danger, deceit and terror.

all my characters are different aspects of my own character, but distorted and made more extreme.

Q. Who are your literary influences?
My strongest literary influences are, as far the the novel goes, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Balzac and Trollope. I also read a lot of detective fiction, and particualrly admire the recent novels of Kate Atkinson, who like myself is interested in describing contemporary society through the lens of a murder mystery.

Book cover of hearts and minds - amanda craig
Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig (Published by Little, Brown, 2009)

Q. Do you base any of your characters in your books on people you know?
I sometimes get ideas for characters from small details of, or stories about, people I know but they grow into something different. Othewise, there’d be no fun, and no point. That hasn’t prevented one or two journalists I know identifying themselves (with legal threats) as characters. The problem with journalists is that they put all their imagination into their expense claims, leaving nothing left over to conceive of the very different uses to which novelists put theirs. Essentially, all my characters are different aspects of my own character, but distorted and made more extreme.

Q. What book what you have liked to have written?
I would have liked to have written Elizabeth Jenkins’s The Tortoise and the Hare, an overlooked masterpiece about an unhappy marriage, every word of which is perfect; also Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, ditto.

Q. What are you currently reading?
I have just finished reading Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child, which is beautifully written but less original than The Line of Beauty, and I am continually reading children’s fiction in my role as the children’s critic for The Times, in which capacity I recommend Eva Ibbotson’s One Dog and His Boy.

You can also find out more about Amanda by visiting her website at Amandacraig.com.