An accidental book

Getting to the crux of the story

I’d love to write a book.

The problem is, the plot is yet to come. I’m waiting. Ideally, my book would be fiction – a damn good yarn with all the elements that make an engaging story. A little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance, a little bit of sex and lots of intrigue.

I have already written a book without even intending to do so. This is how it came about.

In 2007 I made the long awaited trip to Poland, a journey I’d been longing to make for years and years. You see, my father was from there.

At one time, back in 1978, I was very very close to getting there when I received a heavily accented phone call from home:

“Don’t go to bloody Poland!”

To give you an extra bit of context, Russia had just invaded Afghanistan, and he was fearful of me entering unstable territory. He was like that.

In 2007 I finally got there on a three day whistle-stop trip. I had friends working in  the New Zealand Embassy in Warsaw, and with their help had organized a day’s excursion 60-70 km south-west of the city – equipped with a map from Google Earth –  to try and find my father’s farm. Our interpreter was scathing about whether a map from Google Earth was going to be of any use.

That day was the most extraordinary and emotional day of my life. Thank you Google Earth!

When we returned to Pene and Mike’s home, they urged me to sit down straight away and write and email home recounting all the details of the day. I did this through huge sobs.

Back home in  New Zealand many weeks later, I documented the story in more detail and with pictures to send to family overseas. I wrote it in InDesign, converted it to PDF and off it went.

In the ensuing weeks, a design friend had been suggesting we meet for coffee. He was keen to hear about my trip to Poland. It was difficult finding time to meet, so I told him I’d written up the story and perhaps he’d like to read it. I duly sent it.

A week later I received a call. He and his colleagues had all read the story, were incredibly moved by it, and really really wanted  to turn it into a book. They made it very clear that they were offering to do it for nothing. How amazing is that!

The rest is history as they say. The manuscript went to one of New Zealand’s top editors who was a friend of theirs – and an old primary school friend of mine – and was then crafted into the most beautiful little linen-bound book. So much time and thought went into the design. Delicate features were added to enhance the appearance and the poignancy. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.

I had 50 copies of ‘Looking for Braki’ printed and when I sent copies to family and friends  I wrapped each one with as much care as had been taken in its creation.

I treasure my little book and am  eternally grateful to all those who made it happen.


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