Retirees in Taupō are already spoilt for choice when it comes to filling their time, with golf, fishing and cafes right on the doorstep, but one couple has bucked the trend by taking on the notoriously stressful mission of writing their first books.
Richard Parish, a former teacher and forestry contractor, took on the challenge after friends at a reunion in Katikati, where he used to live, enquired how he would use his free time.
“When I retired at 70, they said ‘What are you going to do with yourself?’ and I said I’d write a book.
“They said ‘But you’ve got no experience’ and I said ‘I’ll give it a go’.”
With a couple of years of creative writing study under his belt, he set to his task, but it soon became apparent he had a bigger story to tell.
“When I started writing the book, I realised it wasn’t going to end, so it needed to be a trilogy.”
Even with three books’ worth of space to play with, Parish found there were times he’d over-explain or come unstuck on a detail.
Enter his wife, Maureen, a retired pharmacy technician, who methodically worked through the books and gave him feedback.
“I’m the one with the red pen, and I go through it.
“He’s actually very good with his writing and I’ve helped him out with a few ideas.”
Richard said it felt like a natural choice to add Maureen’s name alongside his own on the books’ covers.
“That’s the reason why Maureen is a co-author; she has been my rock and she has read every page of the books.
“She has given her opinions and she’s a very avid reader.
“The book became part of our life, it became our family.”
The result is The Guernsey Saga, a historical fiction account of the lives of an extended family, beginning in the early 1800s.
The final book in the trilogy is due for release soon via Amazon Australia.
Like all good historical books, it has a grounding in reality; in this case, Parish looked to his own family history for inspiration.
“I was always sad for my mother; she came from a family of five boys and she was the only girl.
“It’s the same in this story.
“My grandfather was Roman Catholic and my grandmother was Anglican.
“They had a deal where any boys they had would be Roman Catholic and the girls would be Anglican, and it’s the same in this story.”
He also aimed for historical accuracy wherever possible, which his background as a teacher helped him with.
“The history that I put into the story is New Zealand or whatever country the characters are in at the time.”
However, the resulting novels are strictly for adults only, with graphic scenes throughout adding to the realism that the Parishes were striving for.
- The first two books of The Guernsey Saga by Richard and Maureen Parish are available now in paperback and eBook editions via Amazon Australia.
Milly Fullick is a journalist based in Taupō. She joined the Taupō and Tūrangi Herald team in 2022.
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