In April this year we met international best-selling author Heather Morris when she visited senior English students at her old school Te Awamutu College to talk about The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Now, with her second book on the shelves, Heather is home once more and will give a public address this Monday at the Te Awamutu RSA Club.
The event is a collaboration between Te Awamutu Courier, Waipā District Council, Paper Plus Te Awamutu and Te Awamutu RSA.
I was fortunate to be invited to hear Heather speak to the college students, and to interview her for the story on her first book.
Not only is she an inspirational and passionate author and speaker, she is a down-to-earth Kiwi at heart who is a pleasure to get to know.
We also broke the news of the first of a number of planned sequels, so I have been communicating with Heather with the view that next time she is home, everyone should have a chance to meet and hear her.
When Cilka's Journey was launched, Heather was pleased to be able to include Te Awamutu on her launch tour in New Zealand and her team made sure it could happen.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an historic novel which has topped sales around the world since its release last year - including 20 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list.
It has been translated into about 50 languages and well over two million copies have been sold into about 50 countries - and counting.
Recently it re-entered the New York Times bestselling list.
Heather grew up in Pirongia with her parents Jock and Joyce Williamson and four brothers.
She attended Pirongia School and Te Awamutu College, worked in town for a couple of years and at 18 headed across the Tasman.
Heather met her future husband, Aussie Steve Morris, and for a while they moved to Christchurch where they had family.
Steve worked in IT and was headhunted back to Australia in 1987, where they have lived since. Heather worked in social services within the medical profession - mostly at Melbourne's Monash Medical Centre.
The couple have three children.
She has always been a keen reader, and a movie lover, but nothing prepared her for the journey of more than a dozen years that led her to international fame.
It started in 2003 over coffee with a friend, who said "My friend Gary, whose mother has just died, asked me to find someone his father can tell a story to."
The only criteria was it had to be a non-Jew.
Heather says she was immediately interested.
"I'd had been doing some writing and preferred reading stories based on real people, so I said yes," she says.
A week later Heather was at the home of Lale Sokolov - the tattooist of Auschwitz.
She says he was an elderly gentleman, still grief-stricken over the death of his wife Gita who he had met in the prison camp.
They had been married 60 years.
It was his story of love and survival that formed the basis of the historic novel she was about to write - albeit that it did not hit the shelves until 15 years later.
Heather would go to Lale's home regularly over the next three years and listen to his stories.
The two formed a bond, they met each other's families and sometimes socialised.
They remained close friends until Lale's death in 2006 - and as she came to grips with her grief, Heather began to write.
Her Australian publishers wanted a ghost writer, but she refused so they said they would give her a chance.
Heather locked herself away, wrote a book and sent in the manuscript. Their reply was "Yeah. So you don't know what you are doing, do you?"
Heather started again, took some advice and eventually came up with her novel.
The story told in The Tattooist of Auschwitz describes how the camp guards gave Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew fluent in five languages, the horrific job of tattooing numbers on the arm of every person who arrived at Auschwitz.
His ability to communicate made the long lines of doomed prisoners move more quickly. One day he tattooed a beautiful young woman, Gita.
The two fell in love and somehow managed to survive the horrors of Auschwitz until its liberation in 1945.
Even then they were parted, and it was only determination on Lale's part that brought them back together.
When I spoke to Heather in April she said the information she had from Lale gave her enough material to research and write seven or eight historic novels.
The first is Cilka's Journey - the story of Gita's friend who featured strongly in The Tattooist.
Readers were introduced to Cilka Klein in The Tattooist. She was Gita's sixteen-year-old friend and she saved Lale's life.
Lale called her 'the bravest person he ever knew'.
After liberation, the Soviets charged Cilka as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sentenced her to 15 years hard labour.
Based on extensive research, Cilka's Journey imagines and recreates the story of this remarkable woman as she travels from Auschwitz-Birkenau to a Soviet gulag, and, finally, to freedom, in a novel of survival, hope, and love.
Cilka's Journey bears witness to the atrocities and violence women endure during wartime.
It's also a reminder that, even during the darkest of times, the power of the human spirit to overcome hate and injustice remains strong.
MEET HEATHER MORRIS
The public event is on Monday, December 2 from 6pm at the Te Awamutu RSA Club and the club and Waipā District Council welcome the public. Children and young adults can attend the event with a parent or supervisor.
Paper Plus Te Awamutu will have The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka's Journey available for sale, and there will be an opportunity to get books signed following the address by Heather.
Cilka's Journey is at the special price of $29.99 and The Tattooist of Auschwitz is $32.99. Cash or credit card is preferred - the club's cash out eftpos facilities will be available.