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Author Interview:   Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka

The books shown on the left are by Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka. Click on the cover to order.

Douglas R. Cobb: I recently had the great pleasure of getting to review the incredibly entertaining and inspirational self-help book, The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life, “subtitled” Two Survivors Reveal the 13 Golden Pearls They’ve Discovered,” by authors Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka. I am honoured that they both have also agreed to do an interview with me and discuss the book and provide a bit of background that led to them writing it in greater detail. What follows is that interview. I hope that you enjoy it! This interview was conducted on September 11, 2020.

Douglas R. Cobb: Thanks for doing this interview with me, Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka! For people who have never heard of either one of you, would you please tell our readers a little more about yourselves, and what led you to collaborate in co-authoring “The Secrets to a Fantastic Life”?

Dr. Lycka: It is indeed an honour to have the privilege of being featured in your review. I will answer your questions briefly and succinctly because I do not want to rob your readers of the pleasure of reading our book “The Secrets To Living A Fantastic Life.” My journey began when I suddenly and mysteriously developed a right foot drop while ironically at the happiest place on earth while visiting there with my wife and youngest daughter. My story is one of courage and determination as I defied the odds and overcame a misdiagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a diagnosis pronounced by a cryptic, surly neurologist who decreed, “Get your affairs in order, you have 6 months to live.” Although it was devastating at the time, it led me to my current path of servitude and giving back, a path I met Harriet Tinka on, and we subsequently wrote the #1 bestselling book of the pandemic of 2020.

Harriet Tinka: I am taking Dr. Lycka’s lead and giving brief answers because I do not want to spoil the readers’ enjoyment of our book. I look at my journey as surreal. A few years back, I left a career as a phenomenally successful runway model in NYC to pursue a career as an accountant at the University of Calgary. There I met a classmate who befriended me. Soon, he became abusive and controlling. The abuse and harassment became unbearable that I got a civil restraining order against him.

One night I was at the university studying and realized it was getting late. I quickly packed my books away and went home. I entered an elevator and was attacked from behind by my tormentor. He dragged me by my hair to his car and drove me to a secluded area. He told me he had a knife, a rope and gasoline and was going to tie me up, kill me, and set my body on fire. Along the way, we saw a phone booth, and he demanded I call my parents and let them know that it would be my final call alive to them.

I refused. To make a long story short, my attacker stabbed me. I fainted, and the next thing I remember was awakening in the hospital. Fortuitously, I met a nine-year-old girl there. She wheeled in a wheelchair. Although the little girl was happy as a lark, she was a victim of a motor vehicle accident, which claimed both of her parents and left her paralyzed from the waist down.

She told me that I should use my story to inspire others. I took that as a challenge.

Along the way, I learned of a competition run by the local YWCA. It was an event called Women of Distinction that was honouring extraordinary women leaders in our society. I was nominated under the “Turning Point” category. I was gratified to hear that Dr. Lycka was sponsoring the event. Dr. Lycka was a local legend — renowned for his philanthropy. I was the recipient of the award and got an opportunity to meet Dr. Lycka. I offered to buy him lunch (I always remind him of that) At that luncheon, I mentioned we should write a book. That was over six years ago. I am filled with joy that our book has helped many people and become the #1 best seller in the Great COVID Pandemic of 2020.

Douglas R. Cobb: I was struck while I was reading The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life by not only how you both overcame traumatic experiences in your lives but also by how you were active in helping others achieve goals in their lives even before that. For instance, Dr. Lycka, you have been very active in supporting various causes, and Harriet, you have always motivated women and people, in general, by being a woman that many have looked up to because of your success and your inner drive to achieve.

How important were your families and friends in influencing both of you and your successful career paths?

Dr. Lycka: In our book, we have a Golden Pearl called “Non-negotiables.” I think Harriet and I would both agree that family is non-negotiable and influence us greatly.

Harriet Tinka: Yes, family is top priority.

Douglas R. Cobb: Now, if I may, I’d like to get into some more specific questions about a few of the chapters and why you both chose the quotes that you did to aid in illustrating the great importance of the 13 golden pearls of wisdom you write about in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life. I won’t go into all of the chapters and the reasons you wrote about them, of course, because I want your readers to enjoy reading them on their own.

But, the first chapter of the book is titled “Golden Pearl #1: Love.” I thought as I was reading the book, “What a great topic, and Golden Pearl, to start off with!” Why did you choose to begin the book with that particular Golden Pearl, and how has loving others and being loved been important in your both living fantastic lives?

Dr. Lycka: We start with that because it’s a perfect place to start.

Harriet Tinka: Indeed, because the is no love like one that a mother gives, it’s a labour of love. And we end our book with Golden Pearl #13, Empowerment. I define that as the total of all our experiences, our emotional intelligence.

Douglas R. Cobb: One of the many things I liked about reading The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life was the quotes you used from a myriad of famous people ranging from authors to celebrities to sports figures. Then, there were also the terrific quotes from both of you, and the marvellous ones that introduced each of the chapters.

Using the quotes and relating similarities between different cultures, countries, and religions that you write about, it’s my belief that the book has a feeling of universal appeal to it. Stressing how we are all alike in many ways and that wisdom like that expressed by the Golden Pearls in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life makes the book very relatable. “Laughter,” about the “weapon,” of laughter that humanity has. One of my favourites you used was one by Mark Twain in chapter eleven. I love the line in the quote where Twain writes: “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” Would you tell our readers, please, more about why you selected certain quotes over others, and mention a couple that were your favourites?

Dr. Lycka: We took extreme care in choosing our quotes to relate to everyone’s experience. One prominent reviewer, Kirkus, missed that point recently, much to our chagrin. They said our book was a useful guide, but “quote heavy.” You know, it isn’t easy to make a book relevant to everyone without all the quotes we used.

Harriet Tinka: You must realize; our book is written in “several layers.” The quotes represent a “different” readership path. There are at least three paths, and they are only self-evident when you read and reread this book.

The first path is the stories. When we met with Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, at a private, small group meeting at his home in Santa Barbara, we were told that the book must have stories. Each Golden Pearl is anchored by a story. But it’s more than a story; it’s a parable.

And then we have the unique aspect of dialogue. So, the reader is like a fly on the wall eavesdropping on Dr. Lycka and me as we discuss each pearl in depth.

And then we sprinkle it with well-chosen quotes. Like sprinkles on a chocolate Sunday or raisins in an oatmeal cookie. They make the book timeless.

Douglas Cobb: Speaking of quotes, one quote that both my father and father-in-law were fond of saying was “You never fail until you stop trying.” Tenacity and perseverance can be vital in our lives, which is why I’m sure that you included tenacity as one of the 13 Golden Pearls you write about. In what ways can being tenacious benefit people and help them achieve the goal of having a fantastic sort of life?

Harriet Tinka: To me, tenacity is perseverance with an attitude.

Dr. Lycka: Well said, by the lady who runs death races barefoot. You might know them as ultra-marathons: multi-day races through the mud and whatever obstacles that get in the way, sometimes cows and bears!

Douglas R. Cobb: How difficult was it to collaborate with each other and write The Secrets to Living a Fantastic life while the world was, and still is, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr. Lycka: Writing a book like this took years, and dozens, if not 100’s, of meetings. The process started years before COVID and continues into the future, hopefully long after COVID is a bad memory, in the distant past. It will take many years for the entire process of our book and add-ons to evolve.

Harriet Tinka: It sure helps to write a series of books like this with Dr. Lycka. He starts an idea, and I finish it off and vice versa. I often must correct his mistakes diplomatically. .

Dr. Lycka: You dream. I’m never wrong.

Harriet Tinka: That’s my skill as a woman, and your co-author: to have you believe that.

Dr. Lycka: He-he.

Douglas R. Cobb: That’s a great example of the playful banter and jibes in the book between the both of you. That’s just another aspect that I really enjoyed about reading The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life. You both kid about each other always wanting to “have the last word,” for instance. It was clear that you have not just a great respect for each other, but also that you have become good friends over the years. Dr. Lycka, you mention this type of “love” in the first chapter. The Greeks called it “agape love.” How important would you say that friends are in supporting us and leading to our living fantastic lives?

Dr. Lycka: I couldn’t believe entering on a series of books of this magnitude without Harriet.

Harriet Tinka: Nor I without Dr. Lycka.

Dr. Lycka: Let me share a sneak peek of what is in store for your readers. We are currently writing two books, Secrets book two and Secrets for business. And we will be launching our podcast very soon.

Douglas R. Cobb: Dr. Lycka and Harriet, you mention your podcast. You have both appeared on numerous TV and radio shows in the US and Canada, inspiring countless people with your insights about what it takes to become empowered and to living fantastic lives.

Here are related questions for both of you. Dr. Lycka, you are a multi-time bLU talk speaker, and Harriet, you are a Toastmaster Divisional Champion. What did it take for you both to become those things? How do you use those platforms to reach wider audiences with your knowledge and insights?

Dr. Lycka: Nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

Harriet Tinka: And a bit of pixie dust. Like from Tinkerbell in Peter Pan.

Douglas R. Cobb: Haha. I get it!

Besides the 13 Golden Pearls you have written about in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life (spoiler alert), there is also a chapter after those that’s a Bonus Chapter, and it’s about the importance of “fear” in our lives. At first blush, too many people might seem like having fear and being afraid are bad and negative things. How can fear be turned into something positive?

Dr. Lycka: Dr. Lycka: Quite on the contrary: the only time a person can be brave is when a person is afraid.

Harriet Tinka: And our whole perspective is unique in this. Our theme is that of the Greek Sophist, Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens.”

Douglas R. Cobb: Lastly, I’d like to know more about your plans when it comes to if you already have another book in the works. If you do, what topic will it be about, and when can readers anticipate that it will be published? Will it be about other golden pearls, expanding on those included in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life?

Dr. Lycka: We plan at least 30 books, a podcast, our channel, and a television series. I want Brad Pitt to play me.

Harriet Tinka: You wish…

Douglas R. Cobb: Thanks again, Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka, for doing this interview with me! It was an honour for me, and I hope that it will also attract many more readers to checking out The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life and learning about the 13 Golden Pearls you have written about.

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