Please welcome today’s guest:

Not Without My Father 3


I never really liked my father. He was the classic 1960s dad: worked hard; came home and let everyone wait on him; let Mom handle all things kid-related; never talked to me.

When I turned thirteen, he decided to change his approach. He believed he hadn’t taught me anything. His every sentence to thirteen-year-old me started with, “Andra, you need to learn…..”

What thirteen-year-old girl would bond with that?

We shouted down my teens, harangued through my twenties and seethed away my thirties. I rolled my eyes every time I saw Dad’s number on my caller ID. I couldn’t send him to voicemail fast enough. He drove me MAD.

Then his appendix ruptured. He was seventy-seven. He died on the operating table. I only found out I almost lost him when I went to the hospital three days after they revived him. I was busy, after all. Chasing the mid-life dollar at the peak of my income potential. I didn’t have time to drive two hours and sit in a dreary hospital room, couldn’t afford to scrap a planned client trip. When I found out he almost died, I panicked.

I didn’t know my father. At all.

Still, I couldn’t imagine how we could fix our relationship. The pattern of dysfunctional communication was ingrained. Intense. Unalterable. He was almost eighty. Almost gone. I didn’t know what to do, but spending time with him didn’t change our dynamic.

When I decided to walk the 10,000-year-old Natchez Trace to launch my debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, Dad was the last person I wanted as wingman. Things between us were still off. I couldn’t imagine living with my father for five weeks. I mean, I was forty-three years old. I lived on my own for more than two decades.

Sharing a hotel room with my eighty-year-old father? For five weeks? HELL ON EARTH.

His gas was legendary. He called it ‘the paper mill.’ He scratched himself all night while a sleep apnea machine breathed for him, and he wasn’t fond of wearing clothes to cover his almost three-hundred-pound frame. Strangers loved his stories, but I plugged my ears through the five billionth telling.

For some reason, he agreed to accompany me on my journey. While I walked fifteen miles a day on the Natchez Trace, he explored tiny southern towns and regaled everyone with The Roy Show. Usually, he picked me up and dragged me to meet someone, forced me to sign books with sausage fingers and stand even longer on feet that looked like they’d been through a meat grinder. When he got so carried away with his own mystique that he forgot to pick me up, I hated him even more.

Spending five weeks with my dad was the stupidest idea I ever had.

Until it wasn’t.

I wrote Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace to encourage everyone, everywhere, to Make a Memory. We all have family members we love to hate, but we’ll still miss them when they’re gone. They’re family. They’re part of us.

That’s important.

It’s never too late to Make a Memory……..until it’s too late. Think about someone who matters to you. What have you been meaning to do with them? How long have you been putting it off? Won’t you regret it when all you can say is “I wish I had?”

Turn “I wish I had” into “I’m glad I did.” Read Not Without My Father and be inspired to Make a Memory. Right now. Today. Because the memories you make are the pieces you’ll have to cherish when that person is gone.

Thank you, Andra, for stopping by today! What an awe-inspiring adventure!!


Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins

Not Without My Father 3Title: Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Author: Andra Watkins
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.

After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.

For More Information

  • Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.



About the author…

Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Michael T Maher.

A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University.

She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films.

Her acclaimed first novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press on March 1, 2014. To launch the novel, she became one of the only living persons to walk the 10,000-year-old Natchez Trace as the pioneers did.

Her trek and her time with her 80-year-old father became the basis of her dysfunctional family memoir Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

Presented by:





MBA&M: Tell our readers a few titbits about Jillian Haslam?


JILLIAN: Jillian’s life has been one of stark and remarkable contrasts. Today she is a self-assured and happy NLP Trainer, Life coach and motivational speaker and author having given up a successful banking career to pursue her interests in helping other people overcome problems and issues in life. What is remarkable about this is that she started life living in circumstances that most people in the western world would ,find hard to even imagine. Picture this, a mother and her children living in a country that was harsh and unforgiving, being forced to live under a partially sheltered stairwell amongst puddles vermin and dirt with all their worldly possessions held in an old tea chest thrown away by someone with no idea where their next meal was coming from. Jillian was one of those children a few years ago. Powered by nothing more than sheer determination and a steadfast belief that things could only get better, she has turned her life around to what it is today. She has told this story in a moving sometimes sad but incredibly heart-warming tale of her life and that of those around her in her book Indian.English. that is set in post-independence India and the United Kingdom.

      MBA&M: What made you decide to write “Indian.English.”?

JILLIAN: I have always enjoyed helping people and talking to them to try and find solutions to life’s challenges. As I spoke to different people I came in contact with, I found that a very effective way to connect with them was to give them instances from my own life that related to what they were going through. Seeing that, on hearing about my experiences helped others harden their resolve to go on and overcome their own hurdles and challenges made me believe that I should share my story with as many people as possible, in the hope that somewhere, someday, it may encourage another soul to overcome their issues and improve their lives.

      MBA&M: What were some of the challenges in writing “Indian.English.” and why a memoir?


  JILLIAN:  I never knew how hard it is to sit down and write about something – even when you’re most familiar with what’s happened in your own life. As I sat typing into my laptop, many recollections that were locked away as distant memories came flooding back bringing a lot of the pain and other emotions we went through at the time. Thoughts of why and how we lost four siblings to extreme poverty and malnutrition, how we came so close to losing our baby brother to floods and disease, how my siblings and myself were abused in the streets and pelted with water balloons on our chest and backs etc. and how we cried all the way home, how my little sister survived despite chocolate bombs being thrown at our home for hours on end and where were the twins that were buried (if they were buried), none of know, even till this day.  I often found myself too overcome by emotion to carry on writing and was extremely grateful for the mind development trainings that helped me bounce back and continue writing. The other aspect of writing this book that was hard for me was that like several other new writers found, it is not easy to get a book published in today’s day and age and the market is full of people looking to take advantage of those relatively inexperienced in the world of authoring and publishing. However, I am grateful that my story is now out there available for anyone to read and sincerely hope that it helps people in some small way. As I’ve said before, my intention for writing about some of the experiences in my life was to demonstrate how any simple, ordinary person can go through the most difficult heart wrenching and torrid experiences in life but can still come through and find happiness at the other end, as I seem to have done in my life. Therefore, a memoir seemed to be the most appropriate form of autobiography to use, to achieve this goal.

       MBA&M: Who would you say is your real life hero? Why?

  JILLIAN:  As with most people, I have several heroes but three that I have modelled myself on (a key NLP technique) are Mother Teresa, Princess Diana and my own mother. I admire Mother Teresa for her sheer selflessness and her unfathomable compassion for those around her and her desire to help those less fortunate than herself. In Princess Diana, I find the quality of being able to put one’s own troubles behind them and still care for what others are going through, a quality I would like to follow and in my own mother, I admire the quality of her being able to put a smile on her face despite extreme trauma and sadness in her world and meeting each tomorrow with renewed optimism leading her children and all around her to believe that it would be a better day than yesterday, this is “Hope” and something that got us through each day, each month, each year. People come in many forms and identifying their patterns of behaviour and modelling their strategies is key to one’s self development.

   MBA&M: What was or is something you would like to accomplish in your writing career?


JILLIAN:   I have written this book with the objective of helping many people who live below the poverty line as I can. There are many who can afford trainings, education, coaching and other self-help programs but there are also far too many who are unable to afford a single meal or a single shirt for their backs or medicines to safe their loved ones lives, leave alone any further education. My dream is to be able to set-up orphanages, education centres, shelters and smaller hospitals in order to help people to eat, learn and to inspire them by my story to be able to live life to their maximum potential. I truly believe that like myself “Everyone can be happy and happiness can only come by fulfilling their basic human needs first” which is what I intend to do.

      MBA&M: What are some of your favorite books, authors, stories, etc.?

 JILLIAN:  I like to read about the lives and experiences of other people, as I find that thought provoking and interesting. I also enjoy reading motivational and self-development books. I recently came across the American pioneer story by Laura Ingalls Wilder and found that to be a truly remarkable and touching family story. Some of my favourite authors are Wayne Dyer for his books “The Shift” & “The Ego”; Virginia Satir for all her books on family therapy, Frank McCourt  on Angela’s Ashes & Robert Winston for his books on the Human Brain, Human Instinct etc.

        MBA&M: Can you give our readers a few titbits on your upcoming project(s)?


JILLIAN:  I have recently launched a company with the objective of helping people be the best that they can be. I would like to extend this project in the future to be able to help those who are in dire need of help and support, like the poor, the aged, the unemployed and the children, to put a smile back on their faces in whatever way I can.


       MBA&M: Tell our readers where you can be found and where “Indian.English.” is available?


JILLIAN:  I am currently based in London in the UK but my services are targeted at a global audience. More details about me and my company are available online at . The book is available on the kindle, online on amazon and at all leading book stores. More details on the book can be found at

Thank you for visiting with us today,what a fascinating story!!





                        ISBN-13: 9781908775016                       

Publisher: Legend Press Ltd

Publication date: 11/1/2011

Pages: 236

Indian.English. is Jillian Haslam’s memoir of growing up an English girl in post-colonial India. Her harrowing yet ultimately redemptive story of living in the dark squalid by-lanes of Calcutta, abused and misunderstood by many, recalls the darkest moments of Angela’s Ashes and the inner turmoil of The Glass Castle.

For every atrocity described in Indian.English., however, there is found a parallel kindness—a sacrifice, really—on the part of the poorest of the poor, who helped her family to survive. One cannot overlook those small, seemingly insignificant and mundane acts of human kindness. Within these humble people thrive a grace beyond description that literally saves lives every hour of every day.

Such was the case with Jillian and her family, which suffered through the death of children, abject starvation, trauma and humiliation.

In vivid detail, the author recounts how she learned to look for the positives embedded in the numerous challenges encountered on her path; and how to overcome adversity to be successful.

This rich story of her life, of finding the road to success, and how she utilizes her wisdom and vision to help others through her foundation, vividly illustrates how and why Jillian Haslam inspires everyone she meets.


*all descriptions and images from author’s website*

*Please spread the word about “INDIAN.ENGLISH.A MEMOIR” by Jillian Haslam*