The inspiration to publish my book of my mothers diaries started not long after she died in 2017. At her thanksgiving service I read extracts from her early life diaries in 1948.
Most of her friends were amazed and told me that they were not aware of her adventures before they knew her in the UK from 1960 onwards. They all told me how influential she had been in their lives and how her faith shone out of her, not particularly a religion as such, but an unwavering faith and strength of character.
‘You must write a book’, they exclaimed!! If only I had the time…….
So a year later in February 2018, after a trip to Costa Rica, I was struck down with Guillain Barre syndrome. After eventual diagnosis and treatment I was released from hospital in March 2018 and realised I would be in recovery for many months with a life in slow motion….. so what did I now have? TIME!
I had already organised her diaries and simply needed to find a publisher to help me.
The Self-Publishing Partnership set up a meeting at the office in Bath. I took all the original diaries complete with little black and white pictures and met with Douglas Walker. He agreed that the diaries could be transposed into the book as they were by OCR, which not only meant it was all mothers words but saved me an enormous amount of time. I prepared a word document, again from her own notes from when she was 13, embellished them slightly, to infill the periods inbetween the diaries. The support, advice and guidance I received from Douglas and Charlotte de Gray, my editor was always helpful.
I started the process in with SPP in July 2018 and knew I had a deadline of 31 October for promoting the book. Could this be possible?
The funniest thing was that mother used many Indian words in her diaries and the OCR machine sent me a list of these to verify the spellings! I had no idea, so we agreed to leave them as she had written them – I think this added to the authenticity hopefully.
There was to be a reunion in London of the organisation mother worked with in 1948 in India, Dr Grahams Homes, a mission school in Kalimpong. Many old teachers, pupils (now in their 70’s and 80’s) and sponsors would be there and I could showcase the book. The book was produced the week before and I had 200 copies sent to me and the rest on Amazon, all taken care of by SPP. My family and I carted them off to London very excited.
Meeting these folk was overwhelming and very emotional as they recounted fond memories of mother and my father teaching them (and by 1956 us as 4 small children quite wild and bohemian, running around barefoot in the surrounding hills with magnificent views of Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas). The book launch was a great success and we left with all the books we had taken sold.
The book has also reached many pupils in the UK she taught who have been fascinated, they never knew what she did before she taught them or after she retired.
Several books were also despatched via the Post Office to folk she helped in India who had no access to Amazon for example – Bhutan, Shillong, Tamil Nadu to name a few.
Having now nearly recovered from GBS, having had a book published, all I can say is 2018 was an amazing journey with wonderful memories to treasure. To finally have had the time to leave mothers legacy for all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren is so special.
I am so grateful to all who encouraged me and helped me on that journey.
SPP, many thanks.
So to summarise, if there is someone or something you want to write about – JUST DO IT! Who knows what will happen next.
India Diaries of Dorothy Berry: A life of unwavering faith is available now on Amazon here.