Describe how the idea for your book first came to you. Where were you? Who was the first person you told? How did they respond?
My first book was an autobiography and, although many people had suggested I write an account of my early life, it wasn’t something I never seriously intended to write – not at that time anyway. I was going to write fiction and with some successes with short stories under my belt, I was about to write my first novel. Knowing my proclivity toward procrastination, I decided to enrol in a year long longitudinal writing course run by Robyn Friend, a writer I had admiration for and whose style I liked. I thought having regular contact with other writers embarking on longer works might help me stay on track when creativity waned.
During the first session participants introduced their intended writing project and I was surprised to hear some were writing nonfiction. One in particular, Peter Hewitt, hepatobiliary surgeon at the Launceston General Hospital, impressed me with both his writing and the intended content – an autobiography written from the perspective of a healer dealing with his own terminal illness. A delightful, intelligent and brave man.
This meeting altered the course of my writing as I decided to set aside the novel I was working on (not a wise choice as to this day it remains unfinished) and set about writing my story, first published as, The Little Mongrel- free to a
good home, Fixwrite, 2007. A revised edition of this was
published this year and re-titled, TheScent of my Mother’s Kiss.
Peter probably wasn’t the first person I told about my plan to write this book, as I needed to speak with others who had shared my childhood with me, growing up in the same household, but I certainly discussed it with him and the group in general, sharing some of my writing to gauge response.
Peter was a valuable writing partner, although I couldn’t match his skill as a writer at that time, and a serendipitous mentor. He gave me something to aspire to and the meticulous feedback he gave me on the early chapters was gratefully appreciated. I didn't always take his advice although later, when simple errors screamed at me from the page, I wished I had. More so, since he was still practicing at that time, while undergoing various forms of treatment for his own cancer.
Sadly, Peter died before he’d completed his own book, which is a shame as it was a story of promise and hope and so beautifully written.
RIP Peter Macdonald Hewitt (1959-2008)