Monday 6 June 2022

With bare feet and sandy toes

Being watched as I write

I have just sent my third book to the printers and am waiting for my author copy to be delivered. When it gets to me, I will have that moment of awe, amazement and pride, then I will proof it ... again. How do I feel? A little lost, to be honest. My days, nights, dreams and conversations have been consumed with this project. What is interesting is that, when I talk with other writers, this after-writing time is almost universally hard. For fiction writers, their characters become part of their lives: they create, communicate and live with their characters for months and it is hard for them, ultimately, to say good-bye to that closeness and familiarity. It struck me that, as a memoir writer, the same applies to me. Perhaps it is even more difficult. After all, each time I write, I reconnect with a person from my past and that person happens to be me. And during those months that we are together, I reminisce, I cringe, I puff up with pride and I laugh. I cry too. 

Let me share the title of my latest book: With bare feet and sandy toes: Growing up in Australia in the 1960s and 70s. In a divergence from my previous memoirs, I don't head back to France. I go further back than that.

My cover is special, but I want to wait just a little longer before I share it, and its story, with you. In the meantime, here is the quote that I use in my front matter, which gives a little taste of the story it precedes.

Overhead in the Paris sky
Two airplanes fought it out one day

And one of them was my whole youth
The other was my days to come

Guillaume Apollinaire

In yesterday's Instagram post, I reflected on being a writer. Ali, whom I met serendipitously, posted a photo of the street in her French village that inspired the cover of But you are in France, Madame. I commented that connections like the one that I have with her have been the most surprising and rewarding aspect of my publication journey.

And, to demonstrate more completely how fulfilling and global my conversations have become, I want to share a beautiful e-card that was sent to me on French Mother's Day by a friend whom I have met through my books. I was so touched by the thought and today happens to be a most appropriate day to look at it again. It is Noah's birthday but, for the first time, I am not by his side to give him a cuddle and celebrate. He is studying for exams at university in Canberra and I miss him⏤and my most cherished role: Mum.

I cannot get the link to work, so let me describe it for you. Music plays in the background as an empty vase fills with flowers, each with its own little gift (see below*):

The message at the end reads:

Hello, Catherine, 

Reading your second book now, and I am once again so impressed with your honesty, your determination, and your love for your amazing husband and children. So universal, and at the same time so personal for those of us who are all French at heart! 

This is partly why I write but if you'd like to throw a little bit of luck and self-belief my way as I step out once again on this solo memoir-writing path, I'll look out for it. 

And if you'd like to dip into my first two books before number three is released, here are the links:

Tulip: there is sunshine in your smile
Cosmos: harmony, peace
Lily of the valley: return of happiness, humility 
Allium: unity, humility, patience 
Lilac: first love 
Lily: birth 
Poppy: pleasure 
Jasmin: grace, elegance, modesty 
Rose: love, simplicity, happiness


  1. Im going to get your first book today Catherine…being that I am a true Francophile, and also loved my layovers in Australia, I loved your posts from the first one! Read! I can only imagine how much I’m going to enjoy your books😍

    1. Thank you. I am so pleased that you are enjoying my posts. Bonne lecture.

  2. Greetings from across the Tasman Catherine 👋
    Iris ( so appropriate so French) is the flower for hope, faith, trust and bravery.
    An Iris too you and to all those that read this.
    Relish your books-
    Helen Jurie Wellington NZ ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Helen. I think that I have finally worked out how to comment on my site ... I love the idea of receiving your bunch of irises. Bonne journée

  3. Your third book sounds as marvelous as the first two. Memoir writing is really a special art, and those who do it best, as you do, know how much to reveal and how much to hold back until the right moment.
    Delighted to know you enjoyed the ecard so much, and chuffed to see you mention it on your blog. I did not know you have such a handsome dog. You must write about him/her sometime as well! Ellen A. (Google is making us post as Anonymous unless we enable third party cookies - ah, well)

    1. Bonjour Ellen, I might just have figured out how to respond on this site. Thank you as always for accompanying me on this writing journey. It is good to have you alongside. Poppy is our dog and, yes, she is a bit of a star!