How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I’m a writer and a creativity coach. I write books to inspire & support my readers in living the happiest lives they can live. Many of my readers also want to be writers and I also enjoy working with a selection of them to help them bring the best versions of their books into the world.
Tell us a little about your journey to becoming the person you are today…
I self-published my first book, Men, Money & Chocolate. I went all over London, Oxford and Cambridge, bribed independent bookstores with homemade flapjacks, and begged them to sell my book. Eventually people started reading it and loving it. A girl who worked in my local Borders bookshop loved it so much she sold over 50 copies herself in three months, by insisting all her customers buy it! About six months later, I went back to the first publisher I’d approached, Hay House, and told them I’d sold over 600 books. Funnily enough, the woman who’d rejected it the first time around had just left and the new editor loved it. She invited me for lunch at a lovely restaurant in Notting Hill and we spoke for hours. Now that book has been translated into 26 languages. Interestingly enough, they also told me that my minor successes in self-publishing was also a major factor in them deciding to publish me.
What inspires you?
Excepting nature, which I love to walk in so I can tap into my innate intuitive sense and write what needs to be written, my greatest inspiration is my mother. She is one of the wisest people I know. She’s a healer who practices as a life coach and she was the one who opened the gateway to my first true experience of enlightenment.
What are your favourite holistic treatments/practices?
My husband has recently started practicing Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine and – lucky me! – he gives me treatments almost daily. I also do her energy routine daily. I do reiki, massage, kundalini yoga – though since I have a 9 month old, I do a lot less nowadays than I used to!
How do you relax?
While writing The House at the End of Hope Street I wrote for 10 to 15 hours a day. I fell headfirst into the story, even dreaming about it at night. After my son was born I had to cut my writing hours down dramatically! Since I’ve always been quite an obsessive writer the shift into motherhood wasn’t an easy adjustment for me to make. Nowadays I just write for a few hours in the mornings. I can write anywhere but my favourite place is at my desk on a sunny day. I have a window that looks out onto my garden. Whenever I’m stuck for words I usually find inspiration in the flowers and trees.
What’s next for you?
I’m always writing and I’m currently working on two books: The Patron Saint of Lost Souls and, rather excitingly, the sequel to Men, Money & Chocolate. I’m writing that with my mother – the person who inspires me every day & frequently saves my sanity too!
Menna Van Praag shares the fascinating secrets of her success at The Isbourne Wellbeing Festival on 3rd September. More information here.