Wednesday 23 October 2019

Friends in Deed: An Interview with Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes and Martin Baker

I want to tell stories that convey personality and place. I like writing about artists, writers and performers who take risks with their work and are persistent in their passions. I’m curious about their motivations, inspirations and dreams.

— Bob Keyes

Fran and I recently had the pleasure to meet with award-winning arts writer and storyteller Bob Keyes when he interviewed us for the Maine Sunday Telegram. Given the distances involved we held the interview online using Skype. Bob and Fran were in Portland, Maine; I was three thousand miles away in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The set-up was perfectly in keeping with the international nature of my friendship with Fran and our key message that no one is too far away to be cared for or to care. It was a novelty for Bob, though; he said it was the first time he had interviewed anyone this way.

We talked about how Fran and I first met, how we “do” our international, mutually supportive friendship, and our work in the mental health community including our two books High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder and No One is Too Far Away: Notes from a Transatlantic Friendship.

A couple of weeks later we had a photo shoot with photojournalist Derek Davis. I was visiting our friend Aimee Wilson at the time. Aimee has been interviewed many times here in the UK about her lived experience and her hugely successful mental health blog I’m NOT Disordered. She was delighted for us and fascinated to be involved behind the scenes.

It was a lot of fun pretending to have a regular Skype call with Fran, with Aimee off camera at my end with her cat Emmy and rabbit Pixie (which wasn’t at all distracting, honest!) and Derek moving around Fran’s room to capture her talking to me on her laptop.

It’s fair to say Fran and I were both excited — and a little nervous — as publication day drew nearer. How would the photos come out? What would the title be? Did we cover everything we wanted to? We needn’t have worried!

The article was published in both print and online editions of the Maine Sunday Telegram on October 20, 2019, as “Friends in Deed: Overseas confidants co-write books about being a supportive friend.”

You can read the article in full here.

Among many generous comments, this by Tl Adams stands out for us:

What an excellent article! I think you both are extraordinary. An amazing example of what a true friendship is and should be. As others have commented, you both deserve a lot of attention for how you have helped others, like me, in learning about having a good relationship/friendship with someone who struggles with mental illness. You guys are awesome! I hope this article will be seen all over the world. SO many people need to read it and read your books.

We are grateful to Bob, Derek, and the Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram for the opportunity to share something of our lives, our friendship, and our message of hope to a new audience. We hope everyone who reads it feels Bob met his aim to write about people “who take risks with their work and are persistent in their passions.”


You can find Bob Keyes on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Derek Davis is showcased at the Portland Press Herald. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

Aimee Wilson blogs at I’m NOT Disordered. You can also find her on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


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