An Interview With Author Of ‘I Am Your Friend’, Billie Bacall
Billie Bacall is an author and artist. Her debut book, I Am Your Friend – a book filled with hope, consists of a collection of 100 original images and quotes designed to act as a source of inspiration for those in need. It’s helped pick me up when I felt low and I’m incredibly proud of my old friend Billie, who I met when she was an actress, many moons ago. She is one of the bravest women I know.
…With The World Health Organisation citing depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide, Billie’s mission is to lift the spirits of anyone who has been touched by feelings of anxiety, low moods, trauma or depression as well as those who are just generally in need of some positive vibes.
Having recently experienced some of the toughest years of her life, Billie knows exactly how it feels to be down and trapped in an internal world of negative thoughts. Within the space of just 24 months, she was hit with the sudden death of her husband, underwent major surgery and embarked on a course of chemotherapy.
20% of the books’ profits are being donated to Future Dreams Charity – a breast cancer charity supporting the fantastic work of the new Haven Centre at Kings Cross, London.
What is a typical day?
There is no typical day around here as it depends where I am and what’s going on. Life can feel very fragmented at times. I often yearn for a situation where I am more desk-bound but of course it’s fantastic to be so flexible! I would say my absolute priority is my family as I am their sole carer so depending on my energy levels, I can fit in a lot with meetings, and meeting the kids’ needs. My mother is always telling me to slow down – sometimes l listen to her, sometimes I don’t!
Most days follow this pattern: practice mediation, pranayama breathing and some yoga stretches before a shot of wheat grass, kefir (and as many greens as I can fit into my day as a rule). Then, it’s the school-run.
If I feel I’m time-poor, I focus on working smartly. At the start of each day, I take 10 minutes to plan and set my priorities/ intentions. I like to plan my week and ensure that everything on my to-do list is done by Friday. That way, I find the days feel less stressful. I also make sure I read something informative and cook fresh food every day. I also like to get to my desk in my beautiful tree house in the back of the garden each day – even if it’s only for a few moments as it offers me the space, solace and freedom I need mentally, in order to be productive.
The day must also include humour and joy, music is essential so I like to dance and have fun.
I love to swim and play tennis so try to alternate between the two – preferably an outdoor swim and doing tennis drills which really helps focus my mind.
My New Years Resolution was to have better phone hygiene and habits so I now ignore all incoming texts / calls unless urgent and stick to a set time which is usually 4 pm where I reply to all over a cup of tea.
Work wise, at the moment, I’m developing lifestyle products with the images from my book and I’m looking to work with someone in merchandising so spend a lot of time researching. I need a lot of thinking time for my work. Last year, I completed my book I AM YOUR FRIEND which took a huge amount of effort and dedication – I have been the creator/editor/designer/ admin for the project since its inception. It’s been a massive undertaking but was something that needed to be done.
I’m now completing a children’s story I’ve written and illustrated which is nearly ready and a screenplay, too. I never saw myself as a writer (I’m a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art) but there you are! I have unlimited small notebooks dotted all over the place where I jot down drawings and bullet points to record my thoughts so I can keep track of my train of thought for each project.
What’s your biggest achievement?
I’ve always achieved the important things I’ve set out to do in my life to-date so that is obviously amazing! Recently, I would say holding my family together after my husband passed away very suddenly, which was a very confusing and traumatic time for us all. However, we are all feeling stronger now, my children are thriving and they have a joyful and positive approach to life and living, which is paramount to me.
What is in your handbag?
I like to travel light so ideally i would leave the house with only a credit card, phone and keys. However, it will depend if I’m running around with my micro or larger hobo style. So typically, always Ainsworths Rescue Remedy, Arnica cream and Arnica 30, Dr Bronzer hand spray, my treasured Montegrappa pen and notebook, lip colour and Steve McQueen persols (shades) as they fold tight, and a small drawing or note from one of my children.
My bigger bag will also contain:
A mini tape measure, my trusty Olympic trip camera, post it notes (I run my admin and family life on my post it notes!), more funny notes and drawings from my children, reading material (I’m doing everything to read in any spare moments instead of fiddling around with my phone) rolled up Pashmina and walnuts for snacks.
Not in my bag, but always with me: a water bottle with water from my state of the art water filter. I have the best water in London!
What are your ambitions in life?
These days, I keep my life very simple. I take a page out of my own book – “true life is lived in the heart – the rest is just scenery.“ My ambition is to be true to myself. The rest will follow suit. I’m also spearheading The Blue Hole Project: an ambitious event scheduled for 8 May 20121 – World Ovarian Cancer Day at the beautiful and majestic site of the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize. The intention of the project is to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.
What do you wish you knew at the start of your career?
Live by the mantra to respond not react, it’s a different mindset.
Don’t give away your power – learn to hold it, and don’t say yes to everything…be selective.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Definitely having a pad in London, Ibiza and Tel Aviv. Moving between those places and enough money in my pocket to live that lifestyle!
I Am Your Friend book to be translated in every language and to have gone global. We already have reviews from all over the world which is amazing as it only recently launched – but I want the book to be accessible to everyone in their own language… To be in the flow creatively and, of course, healthy – we are nothing without our physical and mental wellbeing.
What advice would you give to a budding author?
Visualise your story, dream it, write it all down and don’t censor yourself during that process as you can edit later. I have thick files of drawings for each image in my book. I wanted the images to look natural and effortless and immediate but I went through at least 20/30 versions of each image to get to the point of knowing I had captured the essence of each message so it’s a huge process which takes a phenomenal amount of time and effort. You have to wholeheartedly love what you are creating so you can push the boundaries and hopefully produce something of merit.
Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve then enjoy the ride to that destination.
What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
Nothing. Give love..it’s irreplaceable. Build them strong from the inside out..the rest they will figure out for themselves.