Being a published author has many rewarding factors. One of the biggest one for me has been the connections I have made since publishing my two books. (Innocent Nurses Abroad and Back of Beyond.) Both books are autobiographies, recording two very special times in my younger life. It is understandable that people will recognise the characters or places in my books. However, it remains a very interesting side of publishing that I hadn’t expected and one I’m thoroughly delighted with.
A welcome connection came from an author talk at the Glen Innes Library in 2019. It was a freezing, cold, evening and I was thinking that no-one in their right mind would be venturing out to hear me speak. I’m sure I would prefer to be sitting by an open fire with a good book! Much to our delight and surprise these stoic locals began to arrive.
‘Hello Dick,’ someone bellowed. There were several old, deaf men who had been to boarding school with Rick, (who is also old and deaf!!). With a great deal of laughter and handshakes (it was pre-covid times when we could be affectionate,) more people arrived, including two of the ‘girls’ who had lived in the unit above us in London in 1968.
‘Hello Jen, do you know who I am?’ one elegant lady asked me.
‘No idea,’ I replied, hesitantly, not wanting to offend my guest.
‘It’s Bev and here’s Anne, from Ellerby Street London!’
It had been over fifty years since we had seen each other, but it was exciting, and no wonder I had not recognised them!.
Finally, we were called to attention for my presentation to begin. I had a wonderful, enthusiastic audience to share my stories with, and unbeknown to me there was an ex-boyfriend with his wife in the group. You can only imagine the chatter over hot soup supplied by the librarian, as we marvelled at the connections brought together by an author talk and my book.
One of my most rewarding presentations was when we had booked into a library in a large rural town on our Author Tour. Arriving early with my banners ready to set up for my power point presentation, we were greeted by an unenthusiastic person behind the desk who looked surprised at our presence, even though it had been arranged months beforehand. There had obviously been no pre-marketing of my visit. We were shown to a room which had not been prepared. They were not expecting anyone.
Rick & I set up and waited. On the allotted time we could hear quite a noise coming from down below and up the stairs. Yes, in they rolled, about sixty guests and most of them had connections with us, from school days, jackerooing, and the Gulf country. The library staff had to scramble to find more chairs and provide tea and coffee. It was such a fun presentation and many of us followed through with an hilarious lunch at a local restaurant. There was a great deal of reminiscing and laughter, with stories shared.
Recently, Rick and I were invited to spend a weekend with Bev and Peter Cory (the ones who came to the Glen Innes event.) We had the happiest time staying at their beautiful home set in acres of stunning garden in Grafton. Sitting on the wide, gracious veranda in the evening, sipping champagne with a French crooner singing in the background, I was reminded of times gone by. Bev and Peter had invited two other couples for a dinner party who hadn’t met socially before.
Well, what a night we had. The connections were ongoing. We all knew multiple people from different stages of our lives. One gentleman had written a book (we exchanged our books) about merino sheep breeding in my home country, but we had many friends in common. The retired doctor had done a locum in Deniliquin, my home town and on it went. All of them had read both my books so the conversation flowed. Bev and I had our stories from 1968 London days, featured in ‘Innocent Nurses Abroad.’
We looked back on our weekend and pondered times gone by. The times when we had lovely dinner parties with all the crystal, silver and linen set on elegant tables. Bev had presented a delicious meal with all of the above. Nobody wanted to move with animated conversation flowing until our exhausted hostess told everyone to go home! The joy of connecting with old friends and acquaintances, brought together by a published book. It was a reward I had not considered as an author, but one that has brought me great joy.
I recommend to everyone to leave a legacy and memories, keep a journal, or write a book! There is a book in everyone.
Thank you to the many, many connections that have come my way. I love and appreciate all of you.
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’ Facebook