“The (almost) true story of a man called Jack” has its launch

Circa Theatre, Wellington

I’ve been tardy with my posts but with good reason: totally absorbed with organising the launch of my book – The (almost) true story of a man called Jack. Last week saw me driving down to Wellington, where I had hired a venue; a convenient site for family and friends from around that region, as that is where my family is from, and the story was set. After messed up flight bookings we ended up driving the length of the island; not a long trip if you compare NZ with say, Australia or the US. But long for me, with the boxes of books in the back seat, tired, a bit anxious, but as keen as mustard to release my book to those who knew me well.

Reading from my book

The following day couldn’t have been better; sun shining through the windows of the Circa Theatre foyer where the launch was held. Such fun seeing who entered the room, as I’d invited people I’d not seen for donkey’s years. It was a great mix of old and new friends, and lots of laughter as people recognised each other. Everyone was asked to take their seats (Covid regulations) and drinks served to those who wished to imbibe. My daughter was MC and did a super job (she’s an actress), letting everyone know what was happening when. I was somewhat nervous before I stood to talk and read, as my siblings and other family members sat in the front seats. This was a book, however fictional I’d made it, that did feature us all as youngsters.

Family photo early-1950s

Food and drinks were on offer as I sat signing books. I was thrilled with the response, as I truly had no idea how others would find the intimacies of a slightly odd family from back in the day, with a father that would try his hand at anything. Sewing, sign-writing, singing, acting and art, were just some of the things he had a go at. Then there was the pickling onions stint, and the attempt at play-writing – and they were just some of his hobbies, all the while working several jobs, including running book stalls, a bookstore and a travelling library service. 

Me signing books

The next day I went to the area where Dad had run most of his businesses – Naenae in the Hutt Valley. I gave a talk at the Library there, just a stone’s throw from the railway yards his bookstall had been positioned. It seems people like to reminisce about ‘the good old days’ and it was lovely swapping stories with some locals. 

Dad’s bookstall at Naenae railway yards (circa 1950s)

But what happened next was totally unexpected. I was contacted by Hutt FM Radio and asked if I would like to be interviewed on their Monday night arts programme. OMG. Was I nervous as I walked into the studio? (of course I’d agreed to take part). But Lottie was such a fantastic interviewer, so relaxed and friendly, she would have made a rabid dog feel at ease. And it was a really enjoyable experience. I now know how close to sit to the mic, how not to turn my head while speaking, and be ‘myself’ while having big fluffy earphones attached to my head. 

One more talk at a Unity Books Wellington on the Tuesday, and my jaunt to Wellington to flaunt my book was done. I was exhausted, although pleased with the way everything had gone. But there was one thing I was seriously panicking about – I had no books left, and another launch arranged in Devonport, less than two weeks away. Yikes! With a pleading phone call to the printery to please fill my order post haste, I left Wellington with my husband and flew home. And then the ‘What ifs?’ crowded in on me, causing many sleepless nights: what if the delivery did not arrive in time?…

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