Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Memoirs provide book inspiration

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Etheljoy Smith has written a children's story after trying to write some memoirs about living in Africa. Photo / George Novak
Etheljoy Smith has written a children's story after trying to write some memoirs about living in Africa. Photo / George Novak

A Tauranga retiree has published a novel for children while trying to write her memoirs about living in Africa.

Mount Maunganui resident Etheljoy Smith has finally written about the characters she pushed aside many years ago.

Rob to the Rescue, aimed at 7 to 11-year-old readers, is the story of a famous prize winning cat, Alicia, who longs for freedom.

When I was writing for this publisher in Wales, the characters were coming to me. They really did say to me and you will think I am crazy - "you have got to write our story now"
Etheljoy Smith, author

Mrs Smith said she started writing when she was 6 or 7 years old. Her first published work was a limerick for a local newspaper in Scotland.

During high school, although good at English, she did not contribute to the school magazine.

"I didn't think I was good enough to do that."

Once married, Mrs Smith and her husband Vernon ended up moving to Malawi, Africa after World War II. They lived there for five years.

She was recently asked by a publisher in Wales to write about her time in the African bush. However, the characters of Rob to the Rescue would jump out at her, although she could not recall when she first got the idea for the book.

"One day I was just scribbling it down but I thought it was nonsense, I shoved it in a draw and completely forgot about it. I didn't think it was worthy or know why I had written it.

"When I was writing for this publisher in Wales, the characters were coming to me. They really did say to me and you will think I am crazy - "you have got to write our story now".

"I said to the air, 'I am far too busy I don't want to write a novel'.

"They honestly wouldn't leave me alone. So I dragged out my original story which I called something daft, like the Princess Who Played with Apples, and sat down at the computer and all the characters came to me.

"It was probably the easiest thing I have ever written."

She had trained as a nurse after World War II.

"I was always very idealistic. I wanted to do something different, but I became a nurse because I grew up in World War II and I wanted to do something to help."

Over the years she has won prizes within the Scottish Association of Writers and has been a freelance journalist and writer for many years in the United Kingdom, the West Indies, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand.

Her first publication was about her husband's work, ship-building in Central Africa.

Book launch:

* Rob to the Rescue will be launched at Papamoa Library in the Aihe Room on Gravatt Rd on July 16 from 10am to 1pm. On the day the book will be discounted to $20.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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