Most authors live with a passion to write and hope, one day, to be published. It is not something I considered.
In my working life I wrote promotional material and historical narratives but never considered myself a writer.
I guess you could call me an accidental author.
So, this is how I came to be an author and write about two remarkably diverse topics.
My first book is titled Angel with Drumsticks.
He rarely spoke about his life in Italy except to mention he had been a drummer and a singer in a rock band. He talked very little about his experience but over the years his sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter memories unfolded.
I was convinced his story needed to be told.
In 1964 he formed a rock band called Angel and the Brains. They took their lead from The Beatles and other new wave British bands.
They created music with a strong beat to appeal to Italian teenagers and their success with the new sound credited them as one of the leading proponents of Italian Beat music.
Their talent was noticed by a Catholic priest who invited them, along with two other bands, to play in the first rock mass in Rome (Messa Dei Giovani) on 27th April 1966.
Angel with Drumsticks tells how initially their career rocketed with a huge following of teenage music lovers. But it also tells how, after performing in the mass their fledgling careers were destroyed by powers within the Vatican.
Many articles written since the event are wrong in the descriptions of what happened following “La Messa” and falsely acclaim the event as being a successful innovation of the Catholic Church at the time.
My current project is a very different story.
As tourism manager for the Macarthur region in NSW I got to know Berenice Walters, founder and driving force behind the Merigal Dingo Sanctuary and the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society.
I became involved with the Sanctuary in Arina Rd Bargo, not only as an enthusiastic supporter but also Dingo handler, sponsor, promotions officer and Board member.
Berenice was known as the Dingo Lady. She dedicated her adult life to studying the dingo. – over 40 years.
She campaigned to improve its image and gain acknowledgement of its important environmental role as an apex predator.
She believed education through introducing the public to dingoes was the way to achieve her goals.
Her daughter, Christine, worked with me at the Macarthur Country Visitor Information Centre and we became close friends.
Berenice passed away in 2002 and Christine, concerned her mother’s records and memory of her achievements would be lost asked if I would help sort through, and digitise, her mother’s papers and other records AND write her biography. It was an honour to be asked.
It has been a long project spanning more than five years, but hopefully the biography will be published next year.
Once I started researching and writing the biography, I realised her whole life was an interesting story.
She was an insecure young woman due to her upbringing and lacked confidence. She always worried she would be seen as showing off – except when with her beloved horse Gai
Berenice spent her childhood in Maroubra during the war and the Depression, she was a gifted horsewoman and later, along with her husband, the leading Australian Cattle dog breeder in Australia.
As I learnt more about her personality, insecurities, her dreams and nightmares, it amazed me how this shy country woman could stand so steadfast against the laws of the day in her fight for the dingo.
I had to focus on HER story.
BUT, there were too many wonderful dingo stories that can’t be included in the biography and still needed to be told - stories to educate the reader about dingoes and tell of Berenice’s love for them.
The first book of dingo stories was For the Love of a Dingo.
Berenice’s reputation is still well known in the dingo world and they love to read dingo stories so the second book, Merigal Dingoes, was compiled
The stories in this book are about her first three Dingoes; Dora, Napoleon (Dora’s son) and Snowgoose.
They tell how she acquired Dora, eluded being arrested and Dora destroyed, then successfully obedience training her Dingoes.
One of the myths about dingoes was (and still is) they are untrainable. Berenice was the first to prove them wrong.
When Dora had a litter of pups the so-called experts warned Berenice Dora would revert to the wild and be savage. It didn’t happen. Even with a stranger in the room filming the whole event Dora remained calm and loving as long as Berenice stroked her head.
Dora also proved the experts wrong when she played the part of a wild dingo for an episode of A Big Country. To achieve the results Berenice worked her on 400 metre recalls.
In 1976 newspaper headlines screamed DINGO TOPS THE CLASS AT TRAINING SCHOOL.
Napoleon had graduated in off lead work topping his class of over 40 dogs with 92 points out of 100.
Snowgoose later did better with 98 points
While the dingoes made headlines in the Sunday newspapers, their owner was not divulged – it was still illegal to keep a dingo.
Napoleon was known as “Chair Dingo”. His story tells of the love experienced between a dingo and a human. It is an emotional story and a funny one.
Snowgoose again became famous in 1980 when her photo was selected for the design of the 20c stamp as part of Australia Post’s Australian Dogs series.
The pup on the stamp was also from Merigal and taken from a separate photo.
Ironically, at the time, the Dingo was still regarded as vermin by all state governments and still had a bounty on its head in Victoria.
However, Berenice was heartened it was a sign of change in attitude towards the Dingo when the image was chosen for the 20c stamp. 20c was the cost of a standard letter, making it the most common of the stamps in circulation.
These are just snippets from the book telling how she proved the so-called experts wrong about the Dingo but mostly they tell of her love and dedication for the most falsely maligned of Australian native animals.
Merigal Dingoes is a collection of heart-warming stories demonstrating how Berenice’s dingoes taught her about their personality, behaviour and antics with a large dose of reciprocated love, and humour.
The stories are based on Berenice’s records and my own experience.
There is so much to learn about dingoes from these stories
There are examples of the mischief they can get up to –the Marijuana eater, the scone thief, plug thief and the escape artists.
How Berenice learnt about dingo communities:
- Understanding the pecking order
- The impact of the loss of the pack leader
- The behaviour of the alpha male in the breeding season
- Building a den
- Sibling behaviour
- The role of both parents in raising pups
There are the stories of:
- Boorooma who joined the army and Wellington (aka Boots) who joined the air force
- Humpty Snowman, the first dingo to be legally exported.
- Donna, the Hearing Dingo.
- Kadoka, the New Guinea Singing Dog.
- Sheila, Berenice’s constant companion, and her last dingo
- There is even a story about Margaret Fulton’s special dingo, Kalang.
The stories tell of:
· The role the public relations dingoes played in getting a dingo a better name and the consummate love dingoes have for their special humans. There are over 30 stories and 100 photos and, I believe, it would valuable for anyone wanting to learn more about the Dingo.
Writing can be a lonely occupation, but no author is alone in their achievements.
My family is supportive, but they also put up with my constant talk about dingoes AND my creative and research frustrations.
These books would not be here at all without the assistance of my husband Angelo who prepared the books for publication and my stepson, Carlo, who did the cover designs and photo corrections.
As a self-published author, marketing of my books falls on my shoulders. Indie Authors must promote their own profile not just their books.
One of the ways I do this is through my website, Blogs as well as Facebook and other Social media.