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Q&A: Spartacus and Me with Vashti Whitfield

December 13, 2016

A poignant and searingly honest memoir about love, loss and life.

Spartacus and Me is a heartbreaking but uplifting biography by Vashti Whitfield about life with her actor husband Andy, known for his role as Spartacus in the Hollywood television series, who lost his battle with cancer five years ago. Vashti revisits her time with Andy in a way that feels as though she’s sitting right across from you, retelling their story. From their first encounter to his big break in Hollywood, the birth of their children to months by his bedside, and every crazy, hilarious, angry, and sad moment in-between, Spartacus and Me can be claimed as nothing else but extraordinary. You will be sobbing into a pile of tissues as you read this book, but their outlook through the ordeal and the legacy they create together will leave you feeling inspired.

Hello Vashti, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Your book Spartacus and Me is raw, heart breaking, inspiring and at times, hilarious. How did you go about putting your life and experience to paper? What was your writing process?

I flew into writing this book with what I would describe as unconscious incompetence, something a little like, ignorant bliss. I jumped in with the same determination and excitement that a teen does, when embarking on learning to drive; learning very quickly and in moments, rather harshly that this was not quite going to be the free flow of creativity that I had thought it would be. I also learned that my style of writing, is in complete contrast to the way I speak and that for so many who have followed our story so far; or who have worked with me, when reading my biography, they wanted to feel as thought they were sitting across the table from me. So after throwing out my first draft and any attachments I had to how I wanted it to sound, I began to re write it in the most honest and authentic way I could; often typing away through snot and tears, or falling off my chair giggling at moments that I’d completely forgotten about, having to trust that although me ego read pages of what I saw as clumsy writing, that the authentic story and facts alone, would in fact make the most difference. Writing a biography can be like stirring up the bottom of a murky pond, from an emotional perspective and so for me having a very clear trajectory to follow, some rather strict deadlines to be constantly met and lots of back forth, asking me to fill in any obvious gaps, helped and very much inspired me to write this book in a remarkably short time.

Andy and yourself used to write notes in books to each other (this and the knowledge you got married in a bookstore is something our Better Reading community would love) . Do you have a favourite book he wrote in?

One of my favourite books that he gave me for Valentines day in 2008 is The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein

It is all about a ‘thing’ searching for its missing piece and the adventures it travels on searching for the piece of itself that it is believes to be missing. Once it finds its missing piece, it begins to role too fast and far away from the simple things that it most loved along ….

Now when I read it, it has a whole different meaning….

You now dedicate yourself to Andy’s legacy with Maybe McQueen studio where you do online coaching, see private clients as well as do International Speaking, Facilitation and Motivation. As you said, MMQ was put aside while you finished Be Here Now. What is the next stage for Maybe McQueen?

I am in the rather huge process of building the Legacy program which will hopefully be kicking off in March 2017, with live events, quarterly workshops and online programs. There will be a merging of Vashti Whitfield and the Be Here Now film, to forge a unique offering; to inspire, support and facilitate a better quality of life, leadership and legacy for those wanting support, clarity and long term change. Watch this space closely…..

Be Here Now, a documentary based on your family’s journey was released April this year and it’s limited for individual screening with the sole purpose of generating funds towards cancer treatment. Will we be able to watch the heart-rending journey you and Andy wanted to take us on in the future years as a stand-alone film?

This film was produced to support, guide and inspire thinking

The film was premiered as a stand alone film in the USA, Australia and NZ, along with 100 screenings around the world, championed by those who strongly believed in the impact of the film and those who also raised awareness and funds for specific causes. You are still able to host your own screening if you visit www.beherenowfilm.com It will also be available for commercial release world wide later in 2017.

One thing that stood out was the absolute awe-inspiring outlook both Andy and yourself had through such a difficult time. While it was heartbreaking, you don’t leave feeling sad but rather, uplifted. Was this one of your aims for the book?

My absolute belief is that everything in life happens for a reason, regardless of whether or not it is clear as to why, until far later. Writing the book was about sharing life’s adventure, the ups and downs, funny and sad and strange fortuitous meetings that can change our life forever. I wanted to share in the hope that you would not only feel completely inspired by the adventures that we chose but that, however tough life can feel, there is always in choice in how you respond to your experience. Life Happens for you, not to you. ~ Byron Katie

Now Spartacus and Me has had such success, do you have any plans to write future books about the philosophy/ legacy you and Andy created together?

Yes I do, yes I am – I am currently drafting a very experiential learning tool as I call it, with the intention to publish at the end of 2017.

What is next for Vashti and her cubs?

A whole new chapter…. want to come along?

You can purchase a copy of Spartacus and Me here!


Comments

  1. Jamie Wallen

    I’ve been following Vashti and Andy’s journey since I watched the movie in 2010. I look for her instagram posts daily as she has this way of always cutting through the bull***t and getting on with life. I need these reminders daily. She and Andy have been such a blessing in my life. I continue to wish Vashti and their “cubs” all the best in this world. They truly are remarkable. Thank you as always! I have recommended this book to everyone and anyone!

    1. Terri

      Dear Jamie, your words are mine. I’ve done and continue to do the exact same thing as your comment. Vashti is such an inspiration to so many.

  2. Teresa Bailey

    Incredible story Vashti. So much love. An extraordinary man, husband and father who’s time was way to short here. He left an amazing imprint on all of us, and a precious, beautiful legacy with you, as Well as in his children. Thank you for always sharing your stories and your cubs with all of us. You will always have our respect and love. Your an awesome inspiration yourself in so many ways. We wish your family nothing but the best of everything this beautiful life has to offer. Teresa B. Phoenix AZ

  3. Kerry Bryant

    Vashti, I wish to thank you and acknowledge you and your family for the wonderful documentary you made.

    I lost my brother in law 18 months ago and although the outcome was the same the journey our family experienced was the exact opposite to the one you and your family gave to Andy.

    My brother in law’s family “competed” through out his journey and did not respect “his choices” (he chose not to do chemo) and to this day it seems to be a “competition” to see “who is grieving more.”

    I watched this last night with my husband and I think he saw how it “could have been.”

    Much love
    Kerry

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