Latesha Randall is a woman of many talents. An accomplished writer, she is also well known for her Raglan Coconut Yoghurt brand that has been a recent food sensation nationwide.
With her writer’s hat on, Latesha will be celebrating the release of her second children’s book, Abigail Knightly with a book launch at the Old School Arts Centre on Saturday 7 November. The Chronicle sat down for a quick Q and A with Latesha to get the story behind her new book.
You are quite the busy bee at the moment with your Raglan Coconut Yoghurt business but you also wear many other hats! For those that have not yet met your lovely self, what other ‘jobs’ do you do?
Yes, a busy bee indeed! I run a digital agency with my fiancée Seb, called The Good Agency. (www.goodagency.co.nz). We help good businesses thrive, and I do this largely through words – assisting business owners with copywriting, marketing strategies, and PR via the magazines/outlets I freelance for. I’m also the editor of Arrival travel magazine.
Tell us about your new children’s book, Abigail Knightly, and how that came about?
I wrote the story about 5 years ago. I had just finished a children’s book writing course through a local Polytech and I was feeling very inspired to write stories, I wrote heaps of them, but only a few really stuck and Abigail Knightly was one I didn’t want to just abandon in a dusty notebook.
I worked on it over the years, refining the wording, and sending it off to various publishers. I got heaps of rejection letters (very kind, encouraging ones I must say!) but I didn’t give up on the story.
I got inspired by a book SARK wrote that talked about making whatever pitch you do really creative, so for my last two approaches to publishers I went all out. I made an Abigail-style dress-up box and decorated it with pictures of real children I know who were dressed up in their own creatively put-together outfits, and I attached a multi-colour cover letter. It worked!
RSVP Publishing accepted my story a year ago and have just released it this month.
Were there any highlights or lowlights you can think of while you were writing the story?
For me, writing is all highlights. I loved writing it and refining it. What’s hard is the ‘getting it out there’ part and dealing with rejection! You just have to believe in your story and keep going.
You published your first book at the tender age of 19! Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write all the time. Write everything you experience. Write in different styles, for different purposes.
I’ve researched and written about nearly every topic under the sun for my various copywriting jobs (I used to run a copywriting business), and I’ve also had a couple of personal blogging projects, plus writing travel stories and children’s stories. It’s good to try out different types of writing to develop your own style.
Raglan is home to quite a few writers and creative people in general. Do you think living here inspires you or has an affect in any way?
Definitely. I love living here and feel really blessed that I’m able to. So many people in the world are focused on day-to-day survival.
Being able to have the time and safety to think creatively and express yourself through art or writing due to having your basic needs met is a real luxury and I try not to take it for granted. The beauty of Raglan and its people is certainly very inspiring.
Who are some of your favourite writers?
At the moment – Allegra Goodman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, SARK, and Eckhart Tolle. When I was younger I read a lot of fantasy books and loved Robert Jordan and Robin Hobb.
Have you read any good books recently?
I just finished ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s all about the creative process, and I think anyone who either already loves to express themselves creatively or wants to become more in touch with their creative side would find it a good read. I love her light, approachable, humorous style of writing.
What’s next for Latesha?
Well Latesha is hoping to get a nice break over Christmas! This has been the most full-on year of my life so far and I’m ready for lots of reading, writing and volleyball sessions over the Christmas holidays.
Abigail Knightly Book Launch @ Old School Arts Centre, Saturday 7 November from 3.30pm. Join Latesha to celebrate her book launch with dress-ups, face-painting and lots of cake!