Colourful Memories is a touching tale about sharing memories and moments with your family. What inspired you to write this story?
There were several things that inspired me to write this story, but at the end of the day if I had to pinpoint one thing, it was my own memories of my dad sharing his own childhood stories with me and my brother and sister when we were children. He grew up in Germany during WWII – he was 11 when the war ended. Dad was the second of five children and they didn’t have a lot, but my grandparents worked hard and they were happy. My dad had lots of adventures – funny and exciting – and he wove them into the most magical stories that had me completely enthralled.
What’s a cherished memory you can remember your grandparents sharing with you?
So many – but whenever I visited my Australian grandma, who lived in Sydney, the first thing I’d do was pester her to show me “the dancer in the bottle’’. It was a wedding present to my grandparents and one of her treasured items – they were only married about 14 years before my grandpa died. It was a special liqueur, that had real gold flecks in it. There was a music box in the base and a dainty ballerina that spins around. She’d carefully remove it from the sideboard, wind it up and we’d sit and watch the ballerina dance while she told me about their wedding day. After my grandma died and her house was packed up, my aunty sent me the bottle!
My German grandparents kept chickens in their back garden and when I visited them, we’d go out early in the morning to look for eggs – still warm in the nesting boxes. I remember the smell of the straw, my oma tucking a hen under her arm and letting me pat it. She also had newly-hatched, fluffy, yellow chicks, which she kept in her kitchen where it was warm and toasty. I used to hand feed them and play with them for hours!
Do you keep photo albums for your kids? Do you ever find the time to remember moments and photos with them?
I have loads of photos – some in albums and others in boxes. I also like to have framed family photos around the house of special moments and events. With everyone being so busy these days with school and sports, we don’t always find the time to sit and look at albums together. But we often share our memories of special moments, holidays, funny things that have happened and milestone times in their lives – “firsts”, birthdays, Christmas and school events.
There’s a certain nostalgia in this book about bygone times. Do you think the times our grandparents and parents experienced were simpler?
Yes, in some ways I do. My grandparents and parents experienced war in different ways in Europe and Australia and that was definitely a struggle and time of worry for them. But as my dad would sometimes quote “we were too poor to have problems”. This means beyond their basic needs, there was no pressure to have “stuff” – the latest this or that, the newest, biggest, shiniest thing. And of course there was no technology which can be as much a hassle in our lives, as a help.
Do you have any tips about sharing memories with grandchildren and children?
I think that when you’re sharing a wonderful moment – whether it’s doing something spectacular, like taking a trip somewhere; or something simple like walking the dog or making a cake together – live in that moment and enjoy it but then talk about it later as a way of re-living it and etching it on your hearts and in your minds.
Colourful Memories with Wombat Books is out the 15th of July 2018.