As a single mum of three young adults, I make a conscious effort to talk about mental health at every opportunity. My two sons, in particular, need to know it’s normal to reach out, speak out, and switch off when necessary. When I came across Alex on LinkedIn, he had just shared the news about Roman Kemp’s male mental health and suicide documentary and also shared part of his own story. We connected, and I asked if he would join me on my blog to share his book with my audience.
Everyone needs to read this book as it’s, in Alex’s words, “A love letter to all the men who have lost their way and to the women that love them.”
About the Author
Alex Holmes is an award-winning podcaster, mental health coach and writer from London. He has been hosting and producing podcasts since Mostly Lit in 2016. It was named one of the top podcasts of 2017 by the The Guardian and the BBC and won the Best British Podcast Award at the 2018 British Book Awards. He now hosts Time To Talk, previously known as What Matters with Alex Reads – one of Apple’s top 100 Mental Health podcasts.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
My name is Alex Holmes. I am a writer, resilience coach and podcast host.
I began writing when I was very young, and in many cases, these things start by the power of reading. I loved reading fantasy books, so I was naturally drawn to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and others, but my first love were books that drove me to want to write stories like my idols. I remember reading Alice Through The Looking Glass, and Alice in Wonderland, as well as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches and more, and it just spurred me in the way of wanting to write books that were inclusive for everyone.
Nowadays, I don’t write much fiction. I write a lot of non-fiction. As a former full-time journalist, I spent a lot of time on human stories, so it was a natural progression for my book Time To Talk: How Men Think About Love, Belonging and Connection. But, I do want to write children’s books some day – stay tuned!
When I am not writing, I’m recording a podcast called Time To Talk where I speak to people about becoming resilient, destigmatising mental health and building connection. The days are joyful, I must say.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
It is my first book. I hope to write more, but I am proud of my little contribution to the world.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
It is non-fiction, and it is a conversation with men about what they think about self-compassion, self-forgiveness, body image, love, friendship, success/failure, and self-acceptance. It’s a manifesto for healing for men.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
All the men that could have loved, had they been given the chance to show up as they are in relationships, in love, at work, at home. These are the men who inspire me. The people who want to be different, and create a safer world for women and girls.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
I definitely do not feel like I am in a position to give advice. I am still a novice! But one thing I will say is: be kind to yourself. This idea that we somehow wake up one day and write a masterpiece and then go on to get all of the accolades we deserve is a fallacy! Be kind, be consistent and continue to try your best and, of course, do the best you can.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
I love the expression. I love the time it takes to write. I love the time it gives me to think about what I am putting onto paper. It refines my thinking. It helps me articulate and regulate the jumbled up emotions and thoughts that manifest in my mind. It is the unweaving of the tangled knots that I enjoy.
List three interesting facts about yourself
One: I am the least interesting person you will ever meet.
Two: I cry at least three times a week. It’s cathartic.
Three: I love nature, as it represents life. I love life.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
Sending the proposal, and sending in the final draft!
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Share it on social media, send me snippets of your favourite bits, write reviews on Amazon, Bookshop.org, Goodreads – anywhere! Gift it to your male family members, friends and colleagues. Message me on Instagram (@byalexholmes) and show some love so I know where it’s reached and heading. Do anything that is comfortable for you.
What is your next project?
Ah, now that would be telling…wouldn’t it?
“Life is worth living. Life is worth fighting for. It’s time to talk.”
We are living through a mental-health and loneliness epidemic. Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 45 in the UK. Despite being digitally ‘connected’ in more ways than we have ever been before, many of us are feeling more emotionally disconnected – not only from those around us, but also from our own sense of self.
In Time To Talk, podcaster and mental health coach Alex Holmes explores how the expectations put on men through the lens of masculinity are silencing them – and how this impacts their mental health. He debunks commonly held ‘Real Man Myths’ and motivates us to move from ignoring to acknowledging – to break down the taboos about men being vulnerable and emotional, and to embrace an honest, open dialogue both within ourselves, and with those we love and trust.
Through his own experiences as a young Black British man and conversations on his podcast with mental health experts and friends, Alex inspires readers to open up and start talking about the things that really matter in life; how we’re really feeling, what makes us tick, our worries, fears and vulnerabilities and how we feel about the big things in life – like love, belonging and connection.
“To be a young man – in my case, a young Black man – in today’s world is to persistently hold your breath and hope you can come up for air sometime soon amid all the unspoken pressures of what we are, and aren’t, expected to be by those around us.”
TIME TO TALK How Men Think About Love, Belonging and Connection By Alex Holmes (Foreword by Charlotte Fox Weber) is Published 1st April 2021 by Welbeck £10.99, Paperback Original
Connect with Alex here: