Tell Us Your Backstory with Vanda Vadas
Have you kept any books from your childhood? Perhaps one, maybe two that resonated so deeply with you that the stories are, to this day, still embedded in your brain? Books that won’t let you let them go?
For The Love of Books! Step back in time with me when I was aged between nine and eleven. A time when my family returned to the country of my birth, New Guinea. A time (insert here a very dramatic drum roll) . . . when we had no television. Gasp! (Internet and video games hadn’t been invented as yet). What were my brothers and I to do with our spare time? Solution: Good old fashioned child’s play including going to the local creek to catch guppies, chase toads, gorge ourselves on fallen mangoes from a garden tree, play tag and hide and seek, ride our bikes, engage with our friends, join swim club and . . . read!
Apart from devouring books from the school library, our parents would give each of us, on a weekly basis, the princely sum of fifteen cents to buy a comic of our choice from the general store. My favourite was Little Dot and Richie Rich. My brothers would choose The Phantom. Between us, we gathered quite a collection.
Back to books . . . I have three in particular from my childhood that take pride of place on my bookshelf. Books that have been preciously packed, unpacked and repacked in boxes every time my life has moved to a different country or state.
In preparing for this article I reached for those books, two of which I’d received during this last stint in New Guinea and the other when we lived in Sydney. So strong were the memories of the books’ characters that it was like an emotional reunion with dear old friends. Thumbing through the pages also triggered memories of events in my life around the time of receiving and reading those books. Memories of my (now deceased) aunt and uncle in England who’d posted two of the books to me as birthday and Christmas gifts. One is titled, The Gypsy’s Grand-daughter by Margaret Dunnett. The other is An Exciting Term by Angela Brazil.
The third book I’ve held on to is titled, A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was given to me as a birthday gift from my friend and inside the cover she wrote, To Dear Vanda. From Anne. I was seven years old. Anne and I used to chase rabbits that lived around a local swimming pool.
Can you imagine the domino effect of one memory tripping over the next, just from holding those three books, from sighting and touching the covers and re-reading random paragraphs and poems? In fact, I made a rather startling personal discovery! An epiphany if you will. One that I simply must tie in with my AusRomToday article, MEET MY MUSE and my current release titled, THE PIRATE LORD.
You see, until I recently flipped through the pages of the book Anne had given me, I was unable to attribute from where, exactly, my long-held fascination of pirates and pirate history might have originated. Yet there, on page 23 of A Child’s Garden of Verses, is a poem titled, Pirate Story.
Thank you Anne, wherever you are today, for gifting me with such an inspiring collection of verses when I celebrated my seventh birthday. Now I can perhaps credit Robert Louis Stevenson as being the catalyst and inspiration for my first ever published book, THE PIRATE LORD.
The Pirate Lord
A family tragedy steeped in deceit and betrayal saw Lady Eloise Blakely vow never to fall victim to a man’s charms, let alone invite him into her bed. Until fate swept her aboard a pirate’s ship and into its captain’s embrace.
Yet when he reveals a dark secret, her lover becomes her enemy…
Ten years ago, Miles Zachary Fenton was framed for murder. For so long he has fought to clear his name and reclaim his dukedom. Now, when both appear to be just within reach, he is forced to abduct a meddling beauty, one who wreaks havoc with his emotions and complicates his plans…