It’s been five years in the making, and now today, 29 May, my book, “The Good Life on Te Muna Road”, published by Random House, $40, goes on sale. You can buy it on line (Google it, or from Hedleys in Masterton who will deliver all over New Zealand or overseas http://www.booksonline.co.nz/ ) or from good bookshops.
This task started when I was at a book launch for all round good guy and celebrity chef Martin Bosley, who had just written his second lovely book. Nicola Legat, then publishing director of Random emailed me the next day suggesting I write a book about going back to live in the country. “Eeek,” I replied. “I’m not sure I can manage that. I am scared.”
Well, I’m still scared, but I’ve done it. Nicola was marvelous. My first drafts were utter rubbish (she didn’t say so in as many words, but I knew that’s what she meant) but when I “found my voice” as it were, I was away.
Then I had to map out the chapters, and write. Writing is five per cent talent and 95 per cent discipline. Within that discipline is a lot of faffing around. By faffing around, I mean finding jobs which desperately need seeing to – the ironing, gardening, mowing the lawns. Finally, on 31 December 2013 I made a New Year resolution that I would finish this book and I did. The first drafts were followed by about five more drafts, and a contract with Random House. There followed rigorous editing, proof-reading, selection of photos and here we have the final product.
I am very pleased with the way it looks. The dogs – Hawk and Whetu – have been photographed so many times they are demanding their own agents (one each) and those directors’ chairs with their names on the back rests. This cover photograph (which my photo here hasn’t done justice to) was taken by Jane Ussher.
The book is a tribute to small town New Zealand. When I started to write about returning to the country, to Martinborough, I had to explain that I had lived here before, so then I described what that was like, in the late 1970s living in a large old wooden homestead where poets, artists, photographers – numerous political activists and protestors would visit and stay, and generally create mayhem.
So it’s a sort of memoir, but really I am just the vehicle for a narrative of why tight communities are so important in terms of keeping us happy; healing us, and restoring our trust in humanity. The book also gives some history of where I have lived, both European and pre-European.
I love Martinborough. I was brought up on a farm, not in Wairarapa, but in Hawke’s Bay, and I always wanted to return to the land, be surrounded by animals and a big garden. My dreams have come true, thanks to Colin Carruthers, my husband. This book is a tribute Martinborough and it’s people through my lens.