Interview with Kicki Hansard, author of The Secrets of Birth (The Green Parent)

Kicki Hansard April 20 cover

The April/ May edition of The Green Parent magazine includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting authors and experts.

I spoke to doula trainer Kicki Hansard about her book The Secrets of Birth, the importance of language and why pregnant women should consider hiring a doula.

Saying someone delivered your baby completely takes away your power and makes it sound like the stork came. No, YOU birthed your baby, no matter how the baby was born. I always say pizzas are delivered, grapefruits are sectioned and babies are born.

You can read the feature here (PDF).

Don’t forget, you can get £5 off a subscription to The Green Parent when you use my code HHILES. More details here.



Stitch Fix referral link / discount code


There are lots of great resources which tell you what personal styling subscription company Stitch Fix is and how it works, including their own FAQ section, but I’m hoping you’ve found this simple page because you’re looking for a Stitch Fix referral link, promo code or discount code.

If you use my referral link to sign up to Stitch Fix UK, we will both get £15 credit to use towards purchases. Win-win!

Thank you!

Green Parent interviews

Green Parent interviews

Green Parent june july 2018

I write a regular feature in the wonderful Green Parent magazine, interviewing parenting experts and authors about their work. I’ve spoken to some fascinating people over the years! You’ll find a link to a PDF of each article on the relevant page.

Don’t forget, you can get £5 off a subscription to The Green Parent when you use my code HHILES. More details here.

October/ November 2020 – Sasha Sagan

August/ September 2020 – Gemma Bray

June/ July 2020 – Dorka Herner

April/ May 2020 – Kicki Hansard

February/ March 2020 – Pippa Grace

December/ January 2020 – Margaret Rooke

October/ November 2019 – Bernadette Russell

August/ September 2019 – Emma Pickett

June/ July 2019 – Dr Lawrence J Cohen

Apr / May 2019 – Alex Gregory

Feb / Mar 2019 – Meagan Wilson

Dec / Jan 2019 – Hollie de Cruz

Oct/Nov 2018 – Alice Hanscam

Aug/Sept 2018 – Natalie Meddings

June/July 2018 – Gretchen Rubin

Apr/May 2018 – Rebecca Eanes

Feb/Mar 2018 – Mark Ellis

Dec/Jan 2018 – Dr Amy Brown

Oct/Nov 2017 – Tsh Oxenreider

Aug/Sept 2017 – Lucy H Pearce

June/July 2017 – Milli Hill

Apr/May 2017 – Robert A LeVine

Feb/Mar 2017 – Vanessa Olorenshaw

Dec/Jan 2017 – Ellie Stoneley

Oct/Nov 2016 – Richard Louv

Aug/Sept 2016 – Rachel Macy Stafford

June/July 2016 – Christine Gross-Loh

Apr/May 2016 – Janet Lansbury

Feb/Mar 2016 – Heather Shumaker

Dec/Jan 2016 – Sarah Napthali

Oct/Nov 2015 – Sharifa Oppenheimer

Aug/Sept 2015 – Noël Janis-Norton

June/July 2015 – Jackie Singer

Apr/May 2015 – Lenore Skenazy

Feb/Mar 2015 – Daniel Siegel

Dec/Jan 2015 – Angela Probert

Oct/Nov 2014 – Naomi Stadlen

Aug/Sept 2014 – Gill Rapley

June/July 2014 – Kim John Payne

Interview with Pippa Grace, author of Mother in the Mother (The Green Parent)

Interview with Pippa Grace, author of Mother in the Mother (The Green Parent)

Pippa Grace cover Jan 2020

The February/ March edition of The Green Parent magazine includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting authors and experts.

I spoke to Pippa Grace, author of Mother in the Mother (published by Womancraft Publishing), about the significance of our maternal heritage and the deep connections we have with all women.

Social media can help us connect up but I’d much rather have people face-to-face around the table with a pot of tea and a piece of cake, and then really go into the depths of conversation, let down their front, cry if they need to, and be healed. There is real value in real conversation.

You can read the feature here (PDF).

Don’t forget, you can get £5 off a subscription to The Green Parent when you use my code HHILES. More details here.

My top 10 reads of 2019

My top 10 reads of 2019


I’m a little bit staggered by this, but I have somehow read 50 books (so far!) this year (a total of 14,287 pages, according to Goodreads). And by read I mean completed – there have been I-don’t-even-know-how-many books that I have started and abandoned. I have no qualms about stopping reading a book I’m not enjoying. My to read pile is high enough without spending time labouring through something that’s not right for me.

Part of my reading success this year is down to discovering the joys of BorrowBox. I’ve rekindled my love for libraries too, and BorrowBox lets me borrow ebooks and audiobooks as well. And quite a few of the 50 books I “read” were actually listened to, but I’m more than happy to count them.

Seeing as I’ve read so much, I thought I’d round up my top 10 favourite books of the year. It’s a pretty balanced mixture of fiction and non-fiction, new releases and well-loved re-reads, and includes works targeted at all ages of reader.

In true Top of the Pops style, we’ll count down from 10 to the hotly contested top spot.

10. Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers by Louise Harnby

A very sensible start to the countdown, this very practical guide gives new freelancers a step-by-step plan to launching their business. Fiction editor and proofreader Louise Harnby also has a fantastic website (and podcast) which is endlessly fascinating and extremely informative. I’ve been freelance since 2013 but am planning a relaunch next September when my youngest starts school, and am currently studying proofreading with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. Watch this space!

9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

This was a re-read prompted by watching Marie Kondo’s Netflix series. You probably know her central idea about only keeping items which “spark joy” and I would love to do a thorough sweep of my house to get rid of everything which definitely does not do that. I’ve taken to folding my clothes as she suggests but I haven’t started thanking my socks yet. I just wish she would write a follow-up aimed at families with young children!

8. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

I love a good YA novel and “devoured” this one (sorry) quite quickly. The basic premise is this: four founding families of a small town surrounded by spooky woods somehow trapped some sort of bloodthirsty monster in a kind of “Upside Down” and since then the members of said families have (or in some cases, don’t have…) various supernatural powers which they use for good or ill. I would have liked to see more loose ends tied up instead of just setting it up for the sequel, but the tactic has worked because I’m looking forward to reading The Deck of Omens when it’s published next year.

7. The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

I’m a huge fan of Elly Griffiths and her Ruth Galloway series and it was a toss up whether to include this one or Ruth’s eleventh and latest outing The Stone Circle. The Stranger Diaries is a standalone thriller with well-observed characters, multiple narrators and plenty of red herrings along the way. I thought I’d cracked whodunit but at the denouement the real villain of the piece came rather out of left field. It’s a very atmospheric book and would probably suit a dark and stormy winter night more than a summer read.

6. The Institute by Stephen King

I’ve read quite of lot of Stephen King and generally prefer his works which fall outside the straight horror genre, like this one which is more of a thriller. The Institute of the title is a state facility where children identified as having particular psychic powers are imprisoned, experimented on and ultimately put to work for covert ends. It was full of detail and seemingly unrelated storylines converged neatly into a thought-provoking finale.

5. The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy by Penelope Lively

Another re-read, this time a well-loved favourite from my childhood. I was a big Penelope Lively fan as a child, and even now the titles give me a little thrill – The Whispering Knights, Astercote, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, A Stitch in Time and so on. But my favourite was always The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, so much so that I have two copies from when I temporarily couldn’t find my original. It’s a deliciously creepy tale set during a stiflingly hot summer when an ancient Horn Dance is being revived as entertainment at a village fete. But sinister forces are unleashed as tempers fray and the Wild Hunt rides again…. Ooh, I feel like I could read it again right now!

4. Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff

This was the second of three 9/11-related books that I read this year. It reads like a thriller, weaving together personal stories from that terrible day and giving a heart-breaking insight into the real-life tragedies. It was packed with details and the power of the human spirit shone through. I could hardly put it down.

3. Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett

Very much a surprise entry in my top ten! I hardly ever read “old” books – I’ve never even read any Jane Austen! – and I did not expect to enjoy this. However I am ridiculously proud of my North Staffordshire roots and I decided that I had to read some of Arnold Bennett’s Potteries works. I found the early chapters hard-going but I persevered (unusually for me!) and before long I was completely invested in Anna Tellwright’s struggle for independence. I thought about it for a long time afterwards and even downloaded Arnold Bennett’s complete works on Kindle (and will read some more at some point!).

2. See You In September by Charity Norman

This was an unputdownable, twisty novel about an ordinary young British woman who gets sucked into a cult in New Zealand. It was so well-written that you could easily see how Cassy would be drawn into it – although sometimes I wanted to throttle her! – and right up to the final pages I couldn’t tell how it was going to end. It was interesting to see the impact that Cassy’s choices had on her family back home in the sections from her mother’s perspective. I love it when I stumble across a page-turner (this was a random download from BorrowBox that I found when looking for something else) and it completely transported me out of my life to the shores of Lake Tarawera.

1. The Only Plane in the Sky: The Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M Graff

This is the book which had the biggest impact on me by far this year. YouTube’s algorithms threw up an interview with the author into my recommend videos and I downloaded the Kindle version straightaway. Like everyone old enough to remember, I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the 9/11 attacks. But there was so much I didn’t know about what happened that day, and this book paints an incredibly vivid picture from multiple perspectives in an “oral history” presentation style. You’re hearing from people directly, in their own words – some who lived to tell the tale, and heartbreakingly, others whose last words were captured on answer phone messages or phone calls with their loved ones. I was so gripped by this 512-page book that I read it in just four days in September, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

What were your favourite reads this year?