When Jacky Renouf sat down to write her first novel at the age of 70, she struggled to find her voice. Coastal Villas’ book club helped her find her way. Six years later, A World of Trouble: Fateful Decisions was published.
Jacky was already an experienced academic and political writer after a career working in Government departments, but writing a historical novel required a change in both thinking and style.
The support, enthusiasm and diverse opinions of her village book group – some of whom have written professionally – helped her on her way. “We all analyse the same book so ten interesting and varied opinions always get soundly debated.”
A trip to Guernsey also helped Jacky get a feel for the setting: the novel is based on the real-life experiences of Jacky’s ancestors, who came from the island – her mother was evacuated from Guernsey in June 1940.
I went to Guernsey to soak it up and that precipitated me to get on with it. It gave me a feel for the place and helped me complete the novel. I found my rhythm as a writer,” she told the New Zealand Herald.
Jacky’s ambitious project was also motivated by two strong beliefs – families need to know and understand their whakapapa; and the World War 2 experiences of the Channel Islands residents should be appreciated and understood.
As for completing her first novel in her seventies, she says age and experience certainly helped and has some sage advice for anyone hoping to follow in her footsteps: “Write your stories for your grandchildren. Their world is very different.”