Saturday, August 27, 2016

Author Interview: Joan Zawatzky, Author of Stop Family Anxiety

Hi, I’m Joan Zawatzky.

Thank you Amanda Howard for hosting me on your blog.

This initiative will give many of us an opportunity to talk about our books and writing, and not to leave it out, ourselves. With many of us contributing it should make interesting reading.I write both fiction and non-fiction. My latest book is Stop Family Anxiety, a self-help guide for all family members who are caught in the anxiety cycle. It was released recently.
Readers can find out more about me on:

My website:   
My Facebook page: Joan’s Place of Books
Amazon and other book distributors.

At last I have the time to do as I wish and what I enjoy most – writing! After the hectic years of running a full-time psychology practice and then looking after my elderly mother, I am almost retired. Painting is another joy but I haven’t indulged in it much lately as I’ve been concentrating on writing. I started writing my first book about depression and then a novel The Scent of Oranges  late in life. I was hooked after that and kept at it. Now I’m working on another. I am married to Hymie or preferably Hy. We are both authors, but on totally different topics, which is stimulating and forms a bond of shared interest for us. We don’t have children or grandchildren, and so our beloved Siamese Tansy, and our books have become our children. Our rambling house allows us to each have a study a distance away from each other.  We do meet over lunch and later to chat though.  I can’t stop myself from writing, and I’m at it most mornings and some afternoons when I can. There are always stories in my head, my imagination playing out scenes
 and pictures and often at inconvenient times. I try to scribble down ideas in a journal or they are lost forever. The sound of words is an ongoing song for me. The challenge of wiring, it’s use of imagination and yet structure is what I enjoy most about it.

There are those moments when I curse and wish I didn’t have to do the boring parts like rewriting. I don’t suffer from “writer’s block”.  If I don’t feel well or am tired I rework material rather than attempt something new. I find myself slower than I would like to be. If only I could dash off books quickly and get all my thoughts down on the page and not keep changing paragraphs.  I’m not easily satisfied with my writing, but once a book has left my hands I can let it go.  Writing fiction is for me and my readers, but my books about topics, such as depression and anxiety are intended to fulfil a need in the population and to continue giving back my skills and knowledge gained over the years.          .I’m a late nighter and read into well the morning. I read a lot of fiction and some crime. But I’m particular about reading books that I can learn from in style and content whatever the genre. Reading constantly stimulates me and makes me try harder to improve my writing. A long heavy book read recently took my breath away – A Little Life by Hanna Yanagihara. I’ve just finished reading The Dry by Jane Harper and loved it. I’m a late nighter and read into well the morning. Presently I’m reading The Dry by Jane Harper and loving it.

On Characters in my books
All my characters are extremely important to me. Even their names are important. They all come from me, but not necessary from my experience. In a positive or negative way they are a tiny part of me, male and female or child, whether from the distant past, more recent, or I if can imagine being so in the future. I bond with my characters while writing a book and constantly think of them. I like to give them a satisfactory ending or one they deserve – positive or negative.  I do like my character to grow and develop as people through the book.

My latest book is Stop Family Anxiety released recently. Writing fiction is for my enjoyment and to
entertain my readers, but my books about topics such as depression and anxiety are intended to fulfil a need in the population and to continue giving back my skills and knowledge gained as a psychologist/counsellor over the years. This book took two and a half years to complete which is longer than I intended. I don’t think I will write more non-fiction as I am going to enjoy myself. I had to plan this book carefully as it deals with several anxiety disorders at different ages, the implications as well as suggestions to follow.

My novels grow organically. I have a general plan of the story and how it moves through the chapters, but allow it to grow and change as the characters develop.

Stop Family Anxiety is a breakthrough book that addresses the current problem of anxiety in families, and the suffering of family members from anxiety disorders - parents, school going or younger children, teenagers or grandparents. Step-by-step solutions are offered clearly and without jargon.  This book provides families with three major ways of overcoming anxiety:

  • Practical methods of stopping the cycle of anxiety spreading in families. Anxiety is like a virus. When one person suffers from anxiety, it can spread to other family members without anyone realising it is happening. Loved ones who were not anxious before can develop anxiety disorders. Home life can begin to deteriorate and break down.
  • Ways in which a family can unite to support an anxious loved one. How individual members can help each other to recover.
  • Information about how to cope with common anxiety disorders -generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and separation anxiety. Conditions associated with anxiety such as depression, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD are discussed as well.

  The issues covered in this book include:
  • The difference between worry, everyday anxiety and anxiety disorders.
  • Understanding relationships and developing stronger family bonds.
  • The causes of anxiety.    
  • Changing destructive, anxious thinking with cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Reducing anxiety by nurturing self-esteem and developing assertiveness.
  • Preventing the anxiety caused by bulling at school and work, as well as cyber bullying.
  • Spiritual belief as a means of finding meaning and purpose.
  • Methods of deep breathing, relaxation and mindfulness.
  • The calming effect of exercise.
  • The effect of substance abuse on anxiety.
  • Exciting current research studies on anxiety giving information and hope. 

Love Heals – Stories of inspiration hope and change (tentative title)
The book comprises sixty plus stories, many originally written to help my clients who were experiencing difficult or stress. There are now several new stories as well. I am at the second draft stage with most of the stories. I am enjoying this book immensely and hope that the storytelling will open many windows for readers. I hope to finish it before Christmas.

The Mermaid’s Song
I’m working on a novel about the journeys we all take. We are all searching but some of us move to a new country – migrate to do this.  It is about a psychologist, her clients and her family and clients.  Many of her clients are refugees and immigrants. In contrast to her usual clients, she sees a Danish immigrant for counselling. His background as well her own become the focus of the story. There is romance, intrigue and history interwoven into the story.

Book 5
The Third Generation (EBook and paperback)

A powerful and uplifting story of enduring love. Vienna 1960. Ella is Jewish and Luke Catholic, but despite their differences their unwavering love continues throughout their lives. They are childhood sweethearts and part several times, through and later marriage to other partners, but they resume their relationship secretly in Vienna and later in Melbourne.

Ella and Luke bear their parent’s scars of World War II, but know little about their past. Ella’s mother is unwilling to talk about Ella’s father, a survivor of Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, died shortly before her birth.
When Luke’s mother dies, he is appalled to discover documents revealing his grandparents’ roles as guards in the same Camp in which Ella’s father was held prisoner. Ella is horrified by Luke’s findings, but her love for him does not waver.

By the time they are able to live together openly, both have aged and changed. Luke remains steeped in the guilt of his family’s past, while Ella has become more independent,
and decides to learn more about her Jewish heritage, so that she can pass it on to her children. 

Book 4
Depression: Light at the End of the Tunnel (Ebook and paperback)

This unique combination of several practical tried and tested therapeutic solutions:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that breaks down negative, self-destructive thinking and helps to rebuild your life.
  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) that continues the good work of CBT with meditation, awareness and acceptance of your thoughts.
  • Healing tales that will inspire you and bring hope and motivation into your life.
  • Case histories and explanations of the forms of depression, its causes, symptoms as well as  the most current treatments available – both medical and natural.

If one method doesn’t help you, another will.       

In addition, Joan Zawatzky offers methods of understanding and supporting a depressed teenager, assistance with a partner or an older family member who is depressed. She deals with the important areas of turning aggression into assertiveness, improving low self-esteem, encouraging low motivation and keeping your body in tune.  The topics of bullying, preventing suicide in teenagers and adults, substance abuse and seeking professional advice are also covered in the book.

Book 3
The Elephant’s Footprint (eBook and paperback)

The Elephant’s Footprint is an intriguing crime novel laced with romance and set against a South African backdrop. Linda, a sharp and intuitive detective leaves Australia, to return to her birthplace Rustenburg, amidst the excitement of the World Cup soccer challenge. She finds the once lush farmland crippled by drought, lawlessness is on the rise and disease is rampant. At critical times, such as this, the local community seek help from their healers and witchdoctors. Even Voodoo resurfaces. Her skill in detection is well known, and she is persuaded to join an overworked police force in a murder investigation. Initially, the police believe that an elephant savaged a young woman found dead in a nature reserve. However, it soon becomes clear that sinister human influences are at play.

This is the first in a number of bizarre killings of female healers. Inundated with crime and the added responsibility of security during the World Cup, the police give up the search for the killer and she continues to investigate alone. She meets and falls in love with George, an archaeologist working on rock paintings in the area. With his support, she challenges evil forces trying to remove her from the case. But will her perseverance and George’s scientific knowledge help her to uncover the murderer? 

Book 2
The Scent of Orange (eBook)
Linda returns to the family orange farm in South Africa to attend her father’s funeral.  She is drawn back to her past, to the striking beauty of her homeland and the people who still live and work there, but her country is vastly different to the one she left in 1985.  A democratic government has emerged from the shame of apartheid, yet it’s a violent land where extreme  poverty, AIDS and TB exist alongside western affluence and where beliefs in ancestral spirits and voodoo still linger below the surface.

Her father’s last wish was for Linda to investigate the murder of her youngest brother and the guilt of those accused.  Ghosts of the past guide her search as she seeks the dangerous truths behind each new lead.  As the lies unravel her family will be dishonoured, a shameful past will be revealed and yet there is one great hope for reconciliation and the future.

Book 1
There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel (out of print)                        
My first book


Both of our early books were published locally and worldwide by traditional publishers, but as we kept writing we made a decision to start our own publishing company, Veritax Books and self-publish. I especially had a many a sleepless night with feelings of resentment about the way I and my books were treated. The less said the better about this phase in my writing life.

Now we enjoy the control we have over our books and the way we can take them in the direction of our choice. Undoubtedly, more work is involved but we consider it worth the trouble.

Fortunately for me, Hy does most of the marketing to libraries, organisation and so on. We have both given talks. I have told stories to school children but I doubt whether any of it generates much in the way of sales, though it keeps our names out there and the help topics provide a service to people.

We use Lightening Source and Amazon as well as other Ebook distributors and are listed on almost all online book distributors.

Ebooks vs physical books.

I definitely prefer to read physical or real books and most people I know feel the same way. We only read Ebooks on holiday.

  •  Write the book you would like to read and you enjoy working on.
  • Pick characters meaningful to you. Give your character a conflict, a special gift- something to propel her/him forward.
  • Make things happen – a plot with climaxes and downs.
  • Make the story believable.
  • Make use of facts and/or imagination in heaps.
  • Do your own thing and don’t copy others in style or content.

Thank you so much Joan for joining me today. It was a really interesting interview, thank you!

If you’d like to be interviewed for this blog, please drop me a line and don’t forget to subscribe for further author interviews.


Amanda Howard

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