I believe I started scribbling notes in Nepal that I hoped might become a travel memoir in 1994. I thought it might be fun to write something along the lines of A Year in Provence, but with a title more like The memsahib messes up. I wanted it to be funny. I wanted to celebrate the wisdom of my neighbours. I wanted people to laugh at me and my ridiculous situation, and at all the stupid mistakes I made.
Four years later, I left Nepal with a shambles of a book.
I joined Cambridge Writers hoping that they would help me turn it into a story that others wanted to hear. I read out fascinating discourses on the anthropology and zoology of the Himalayan foothills. My audiences’ heads would start to nod. I thought them parochial for not being interested in my words. Some writers say they have works in progress in a drawer. I wasn't that organised: when I stopped work on my memoir, my scribbled-on typescript languished, gathering dust, in a heap of papers, bills and medical bumph.
It took me quite a while to recognise that my memoir wasn't a story at all, but it was part
learnéd essay, part rant, part history, part family saga. It needed a heart and it needed a hero. A literary agent recognised that and it was only years into my struggle to write this book that David came to its centre and the book started to take shape. It became harder to write as I recounted some of the worst events of my life but it felt more worth the effort and energy.
Then my friends at Cambridge Writers started to laugh at the scenes that were supposed to be funny and they were angry with me when I recounted injustices and cruelty. I saw how the typescript had slowly become a book and was almost ready to share with the world. Even so it took a while to find a publisher. My new agent did some excellent editorial work on the book and secured a deal in Australia. Then there was more work to do, with the publisher’s editor, and finally the book was launched in Australia and New Zealand in 2007.
|The Australian edition|
It begins at the start of wee David's life in a stark clinical Cambridge hospital, skims through his first stormy month until the family escape to their beloved Nepal. Here they return to the real world of vibrant colours, sunshine, spice, incense, gongs, spirituality, straightforward baby-loving people, exotic wildlife and the spectacular Himalayas. Here the family learn how to live for the moment, relish each small victory and savour life.
|The new edition co-launched by Bradt and Globe Pequot|
|My first took two years to publication|