Waiheke interlude

Brian and I spent two days on Waiheke Island, staying in a comfortable and spacious holiday home surrounded by native bush and overlooking the sea. Though New Zealand’s summer is nearly over, the weather was sunny and hot. Waiheke has a semitropical climate, lush vegetation, sandy beaches, boutique vineyards and olive groves, a friendly and somewhat bohemian vibe, and feels a world away from the mainland.

Huruhi Bay viewed from the balcony

Except during Auckland’s lockdown periods we have often made day trips to Waiheke. The 40-minute ferry ride from the city centre, across a calm blue sea flanked by other small islands, always induces a sense of relaxation. Parts of my novel Cardamine are set on Waiheke and this extract contains some references to the history and geography of the island.

Waiheke Island. Source: Wikipedia

Waiheke holds many memories for me, some bittersweet. Stonyridge Vineyard has been our usual venue for birthday and anniversary lunches. Our group of local Bach flower remedy practitioners, now depleted by the loss of key members, has held weekend gatherings in more modest settings such as the Quaker meeting house. The sad story of my first rescue cat, Orange Roughy, had a happy ending when he was successfully rehomed on the wild far reaches of the island.

During this recent short holiday we went swimming at Palm Beach, climbed up and down a steep track for coffee and galettes in Bisou cafe at Surfdale, dined at Vino Vino and The Courtyard in Oneroa.

Palm Beach

My Author Bio

I have just turned 75, and it feels like the right time to review my long and winding journey to becoming an author.

Writing was my first love and as a child growing up in Kent I produced a variety of short stories and plays. These early works have long since been thrown away and their content forgotten, though I think they usually featured cats and dogs. I did well in English at school and was expected to take a university degree in that subject, but in my teens I developed an idealistic wish to heal the sick. The medical courses at Leeds and Oxford, then life as a junior doctor, absorbed so much time and energy that I never even thought about writing fiction again till years later.

It was after many changes both professional and personal that I decided on a career in psychiatry, and when studying for the postgraduate qualifications I compiled my notes into what would turn out to be my first book. A senior colleague suggested sending it to a publisher. It was accepted, and without any marketing on my part sold well and continued into five editions; by far my greatest commercial success. I moved on to academic posts, involving opportunities for research, writing papers for journals, and medical books relevant to my specialty of the interface between psychiatry and cancer.

In my mid-30s, when finally settled into a contented domestic life, I wrote three novels inspired by my earlier work experience in general practice and in mental hospitals. I enjoyed this tremendously, and given my earlier success with the psychiatry book, I assumed that I would have no trouble getting them published. I was soon disillusioned. Some rejection letters were encouraging but others were not, and I was so upset by one damning verdict that I put the manuscripts aside for 20 years. An overreaction, and I now realise that you can’t please everyone and that even the best of books gets an occasional bad review. Knowing how devastating it can be for writers to receive harsh criticism of their work, I will only review a book myself if I can give an honest positive opinion.

Fast forward to my 50s when, after a rewarding career as consultant in psychological medicine in Oxford, I came to live in New Zealand. Alongside many new interests, I focused on writing and editing. Twenty years later I have a variety of titles, non-fiction and fiction in a variety of genres, some traditionally published and some under my independent imprint of Overcliff Books, listed on my Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk author pages. My current project is editing my husband’s autobiography. What, if anything, I will write next I don’t know.