Rosaleen Moorhead-Murphy, author of The Mayflower and the Thistle, released her book in May 2018. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating her since she was published.
Did you always dream of becoming an author?
I loved reading and, as long as I remember, I wrote stories in notebooks that I hoarded in case they would one day be turned into a book. I hated disposing of them although, as my maturity grew, I did use my discernment in what did survive!
What was your first job?
I became a teacher – in primary schools at first and later in high school. I shared my passion for reading, writing and illustrating stories with my classes and often extended this into history, making the events and context come alive. Research became exciting for the children – before access to computers – and because I obviously enjoyed it myself they responded. The subsequent arrival of computers in the classroom gave us access to more professional outcomes for our ‘books’.
How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
No. My first book was a book of plays, published by Geoffrey Chapman and was a development from my drama work in school. Working with young children I was acutely aware of how keen children were to act, but lost interest in watching others beyond the first or second performance. I therefore wrote a ‘Mystery’ play for an Easter production. Each class in the school had their own playlet linked by psalms. It was a great success and was sold as far as Australia BUT, as there were no copyright restrictions, at that time for schools, it was photocopied scene by scene!
I always wrote children’s stories and illustrated them.
When we moved to the Scottish Borders, I visited the magnificent castle of the Dukes of Roxburghe where I heard the story of 8th Duke and his American bride who overturned the practice of being married off into nobility by the ambitious manoeuvrings of their mammas by refusing 16 eligible dukes/lords & 3 Princes until she met someone she loved. This was ‘Kelso’, the above Duke.
I couldn’t believe that this story had not been written before so I contacted the present Duke, his grandson for permission. Not only did he agree but he gave me access to – and even lent me - priceless documents and allowed me into the castle archives to study when necessary.
Among the things he lent me there was a diary, handwritten by his grandfather when he accompanied the future George V, as an Aide, on the Commonwealth Tour in 1901 just after Victoria died. The main purpose of this tour was to open the 1st Federal Parliament in Australia. The diary began the day they embarked and ended when they returned. We showed this to the Duke as he had never seen it before (!) and we asked him if we could produce it. He was delighted.
As we had access to newspaper coverage of the Australia/New Zealand part of the tour, but not the rest, we asked if Pat, my husband who is a professional artist could provide period drawings to illustrate the rest. We copied Kelso’s words in a suitable blue script and I researched details or gossip on the events described. It was well received but, as the Castle was its only outlet it didn’t have massive sales. (We hold full rights to it, however.)
As you can see, The Mayflower and the Thistle is the product of all this!
What was your life like before you became an author?
Early on, busy! 4 Children; teaching; helping in the studio and gallery when necessary eg helping to prepare for and help set up exhibitions in various places when required. At this time I did write articles and such while continuing with the extensive research which I now know has paid off!
Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
As explained above, my life was so busy. I did try a few publishers with a precis of this book, but on reflection, I’m glad none picked up because I had time to develop and my writing has improved immensely through these years.
Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
Not yet except for the wonderful feeling that I have, at last, my work is being appreciated.
Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
At this point, finding ways of promoting the book myself! Also planning how I will present myself when interviewed.
What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
Each time it is when I receive the first copy of my book.
In a few words, how would you review your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
Excellent. Prompt responses; good support and very friendly, personal contact when necessary. It flowed.
Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
I loved the name and when I brought it up on the screen, I found the information clear and prompt.
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