You never know what you can’t do until you try. I accidentally became an author because my sister went on a self-discovery tour via Ancestry.com. Life is indeed one big detour from where you thought you were going.
Using this modern computer tool, Ancestry.com, anyone with a keyboard, misplaced enthusiasm and a roaring internet can self-discover while collecting details of dead relatives. You can even occasionally locate a live cousin, like we did. But it takes time and patience.
You need to scroll through endless electoral rolls, censuses, ship manifests, birth, death and marriage entries, many hand-written not typed. In addition to this frustrating and time-consuming process, you come across many, many dead ends and bum steers and discover you were chasing the wrong great grandparent for weeks, or months on end. But you never know what you can do until you give it a go.
Every Family needs a Family Tree Enthusiast
This time-consuming hobby does not appeal to me at all. I would rather make up the story and all the dead relatives and cousins. But my older sister is a family tree enthusiast. Just as well, every family needs one member to keep track of us all.
My sister, Heather spent 15 years researching our lot, discovering in the process a lot of fascinating people, places and assorted facts. She calls it going ‘down the rabbit hole’. A bit like Alice, you pop down supposedly for a moment and emerge days later having learnt a lot. So, you never know what you can do until you try.
Grandmothers can be Surprising (at any age)
That is how my big sister Heather found a little, but unfortunately not a lot, about our maternal grandmother, Winifred. Most grannies born in the time of Queen Victoria did predictable things like stay in their hometown, marry and raise a bunch of kids. They were limited in what they could achieve, but not Winnie. She was an adventure granny.
No, she, as a young woman, took off from London supposedly alone to hop on a liner bound for Sydney just months after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. My sister located her name on the ship SS Rangatira’s manifold and traced her arrival in Sydney six weeks later.
When I read all these fascinating facts that my sister had unearthed, I was like in a ‘wow’ state. I was also on holidays at a beach resort where it rained for two weeks solid. Having finished the books and jig saw, I had brought along ‘just in case’ it rained, I came up with the idea of entertaining myself with a spot of writing.
A Spot of Writing Led to a Book
Having just finished reading Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden about a granddaughter exploring her grandmother’s past, I felt inspired to give my Nana a similar treatment. As most of the research was done by my big sis, how hard could it be to write it into some sort of story? Heather’s 70th birthday was looming and what can you get a gal who has a house and wardrobe full of stuff? A story, I decided. She likes stories and this one seemed a cracker, a bit of a mystery.
Although I am a math and science teacher, I have had to write a few things in my time. So, I started to write about Winifred one rainy February afternoon in 2019. I only had a school exercise book with me, no computer, so it was a little arduous and scribbly at first. But I kept going for the week, despite my husband’s lack of encouragement.
‘You’re writing a book?’ he scoffed.
‘Yep, sure am,’ I replied.
Undeterred, I wrote away and when we returned home, I kept writing and writing. I wrote in my spare moments for five whole months, filling in the gaps and silences of Winifred’s story with the magic of fiction. By the time Heather’s birthday came around, I could present her with a ‘book’, all wrapped up with a pink satin bow. It had no cover, just numbered typed pages printed off at the local Officeworks for $25.
And it became a Published Book
She was very surprised but delighted and read it in record time. Then she surprised me by sending it off to publishers unbeknown to me and by the time my birthday arrived she presented me with a letter of offer for a contract to publish my little book, Whispers Through Time. The sequel, Time, Heal my Heart is at the same publisher now awaiting publication this year. In the meantime, I wrote another book, The Last Hotel published March 2020. But that is another story for another day, found on another of my blogs.
I retired from teaching and now write full-time. You never know what you can do until you try!
We Even Found a Live Cousin
P.S Heather found us a live cousin we didn’t know about! He lives in Norway and always wondered who he was until we found him. He and his family came and spent Christmas with us in 2019. Just as well as the COVID broke out just a month later, or we would all still be waiting to meet each other, if he had not seized the moment to come to Australia. He looks just like our grandfather. Read all about our story and his in Time, Heal My Heart, released this year, 2022. But to prepare for this second installment read the first part, Whispers Through Time, first!
What Is It About?
The front cover is featured above and below is a peek at the blurb on the back cover, telling you a little of what it is about;
“This historical drama, part true, part fiction, is based on the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents, Walter and Winifred, mysterious lives spanning most of the twentieth century.
Encompassing the Boer Wars, the end of the Victorian age and the Titanic tragedy, the characters not only travel onward through these times but also to the colonial outposts of the British Empire.
As the first book of a trilogy, Whispers through Time, introduces the personalities, dreams and motivations of Winifred and her family. The mysteries that surround her life in the past intrigue her real-life grand-daughter, Heady, who tries to unravel them in the present day.
Why did young Winifred leave London alone on a ship to travel to Australia? Why especially in June 1912, just months after the Titanic tragedy?
Where did her brother, Oscar disappear to without a trace? And what happened to her beautiful younger sister, Francesca after her tragic love affair?
Time is an ever-present theme that waxes and wanes like a tide throughout lives”.
Joni Scott is an Australian author with two published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.