Fiona Tankard is a Brit who has somehow managed to spend the last 22 years in Italy, first Umbria then Tuscany. Craving fame from a young age, she wrote her first book about a space expedition, Molarta 570, when she was eight. It was a roaring success with her little friends who appreciated its intriguing cast of animals and girls and its splendid lack of adults and boys.
Spurred on by this, Fiona did a degree in English and American Literature at Warwick University, followed by a PGCE at Southampton University and a Dip TEFLA (no, that is not something you dunk sheep in, but a language teaching qualification). By that time she had discovered that boys were actually quite interesting, and thus got far too distracted to fulfill her early potential.
After a dizzyingly meteoric rise to the top of English Language teacher training in Bournemouth, Fiona met fellow teacher Alan, fell in love with his wry wit and his motorbike, and off they went to live in a ruin in Umbria, taking their motley collection of dogs and cats along for the ride.
There followed a couple of decades of building, teaching, writing, the creation of the UK best selling glossy magazine Italy, more building, writing and ghostwriting, including a kids book on Italy and an Amazon best seller. There was a worrying increase in animal companions, very often with a bit missing.
She decided in 2012 that she needed to investigate the woolly pyramid scheme that is alpaca breeding and so bought some pregnant females. This was rapidly followed by a crash course in alpaca midwifery (stand in field holding rubber gloves and looking helpless) and the sad realization that she could never sell them (far too cute), so she would "Focus on Fiber". This led to learning spinning and weaving and making some strange scarves. Her total fiber sales so far are $20 of suri alpaca fleece to a Latvian doll maker for hair (for the dolls, not for him), $5 of which was postage.
Following Alan's death this year, Fiona has had to dig so deep she is coming out the other side. However, she believes you have to move forward in life, even if it is in slightly wobbly, zig-zag fashion, so she and her friend Kathryn, who lives just ten minutes away, have decided to set up Drama Llama Press and publish wonderful books that change lives and move mountains. Well, something like that.
Kathryn Bax was born in South Africa and thanks to being a precocious only child and sufferer of the Da Vinci syndrome (interested in way too many things for one lifetime) was a drama queen from an early age. She amused herself and her school friends by taking off various teachers, but got away with it by starring in the annual school plays. She even managed to win a couple of awards without any money changing hands and actually produced a winning play in her senior year.
Kathryn went to university at the tender age of 17 and got a double degree in Psychology and English, a teaching diploma the following year and a TESOL Dip. many years after that. Her love of true crime could have led her to become a serial killer or famous bank robber, but thankfully she decided to do a Masters in Forensic Science instead. However she ran out of steam and money to complete it, which is Forensic Science's loss and hopefully not mass murder's gain.
She met her soulmate Philip at university, fell in love and got married. They had three kids who they love with a passion.
Over the next 32 years Kathryn and Philip changed country more often than most people change their sheets. They set up home in Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates, so now have an enviable collection of forwarding addresses and driving licenses.
Kathryn taught kids in plush private schools in South Africa and pre-fabricated buildings in Papua New Guinea. She passed on her wit and wisdom to adults in the oil industry and became a magnate of sorts herself by owning a language institute. She kept on writing, stashing manuscripts in dark corners and cobwebby cupboards to be revived "one day."
She is now an empty nester, happily ensconced under the Tuscan sun, living the dolce vita. She has far too many sheep, goats, cats, dogs and poultry and spends a ridiculous amount of time looking after them. She spins and weaves and produces items which look a darn sight more professional than Fiona's.
She also runs a successful homesteading website and her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post and Farmer's Almanac. And "one day" has now become "today". Kathryn has dusted off the manuscripts, polished up her quill and revved up her old passion for writing. She and "omg-we-have-so-many-things-in-common-it's-scary" friend Fiona are poised to take the publishing world by storm.