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The First Stories

Being in Covid ‘Delta Lockdown’ mode I was spending time cruising some archeology sites when a picture of ancient bones brought to mind our cave dwelling ancestors telling stories around the fire (an easy mind shift to those of us who love to read historical fiction and, more especially those of us who write historic fiction).

Storytelling comes to us as naturally as breathing and is the oldest art form – even before drawing on the cave walls. It is recognised as one of the earliest forms of human activity. Those early words “tell us a story” came about at the same time as “pass the Dinosaur bones”.

Stories are important to every person, culture and age throughout the world. Give up our storytelling and stories and we give up our art, our education and our communication.

Storytelling is an important tool for modern times. So keep writing those stories.

The Book Reviews

After the hard work of writing and publishing “The Chartreuse Dress” I am thrilled to receive good reviews. See some below:

“From page one I was gripped by “The Chartreuse Dress”. It starts in Auckland, in 1907, with the heroine, Bella, being soundly admonished by her dominating father, a major.  She longs to remain New Zealand when her family returns to London in a few months’ time. The major totally forbids it. His decision is final.  And yet… by the next page, Bella is waving goodbye to her parents and younger sister as they sail back to England.

Bella is not a sulky young woman, who stamps her feet to get her own way. In just two pages, I became an admirer of her level-headedness and her quiet determination to succeed against her bullying father and sobbing mother.  How did she pull it off?  Why was she so determined to remain?  It is all revealed as we are drawn into Bella’s new life.

That’s one of the many things I love about this book – believable characters, who behave realistically for the times and for all the right reasons… or reasons that seemed right to each of them at the time.  

As well as engaging characters, the author, Kay Mills, captures the spirit and authenticity of Edwardian Auckland in the lead up to the 1st World War and its aftermath. The pace of the story is perfect as it doesn’t miss a beat. Kay is a master at superb, flowing storytelling that will have you gripped to the end. I can’t wait for the sequel.”

Jocelyn Watkin, Tai Chi Chuan Instructor, Writer and Adventurer, Auckland

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Photograph

What is your opinion of this photograph?

When looking at a photograph, especially an old one, have you ever had the feeling it was trying to tell you something?

This is a photograph of my grandmother (who died before I was born) taken in London, 1906 when she was nineteen years old.

I’ve spent a lot of time studying it and trying to decide what kind of woman she was. So what do her features say about her?

She has a strong chin which is supposed to indicate strength of character. Yet she seems wistful, almost sad. I feel she has the look of someone yearning to know what her future holds; a burning desire to hope her future will be better than her present.

With little know about her, I felt it was up to me to create a fictional account of her life. So I went ahead and wrote “The Chartreuse Dress”.

STEP BY STEP – or – ONE STEP AT A TIME

Like many things in life, a writer can move things along one step at a time.

Some writers, like my friend Ronwyn, write with amazing speed and achieve 3,000-4,000 words a day. Others (like me) struggle to reach a quarter of that. Don’t despair. Whatever your daily word count – every word counts!

A few years back I was urged to take ‘baby steps’ to get myself out of a writing dilemma. Good advice, for at the time I was considering consigning my barely started narrative to the scrap heap. I took the advice and instead of continuing to be frustrated that my writing seemed stalled, I wrote several small ‘test’ scenes. Before long I was away again.

I took it slowly – one step at a time.