Millwater author sees decades-old dream realised

A novel that sat unfinished for 20 years, and then languished unpublished for as long again, has finally come to life for its Millwater-based author.

Anna Hendry’s The Locket, a post-war romance touched by a life of travel that included childhood years in Singapore and a teenaged foray through swinging 60s London, is now on the shelves.

It’s the story of a young woman raised in England by her grandparents and believing herself to be an orphan until “her mother’s old locket, a faded memory, and a mysterious bank account lead Emma to the colourful, exotic world of Singapore in search of answers to her past”.

The daughter of an army officer, Anna’s early life took her from Wellington to Auckland, Victoria, Waiouru and Christchurch before the family moved to Malaya, where aged 11 she began two years of boarding school in Singapore.

Very different from today’s modern metropolis, it was a place she quickly grew to love, and it was little surprise that when, much later, she began formulating ideas for a novel, it would be set partially in that part of the world.

From Malaya the family returned to Wellington before Anna spent a year in London in 1967. “I just loved it – the miniskirts and boots – it was absolutely fabulous.”

She secured a job in radio, where she worked as a copywriter and voice-over artist in Wellington and Auckland before getting married and taking time off to start a family. In 1979, she decided it was time to start working on a story she had long been thinking about.

“I’d always thought that one day I’d love to write a book, so I sat down to write it, but when you’ve got a three-year-old and a little baby, there’s not a lot of time.”

Using a borrowed typewriter, she wrote chapter one, quickly realising that it would be very different from writing a 30-second, 75-word radio commercial. When the typewriter was reclaimed, “I put it aside in a manila folder, in a drawer, and there it sat.”

Anna returned to work, and a full life which among other things saw her scoring cricket matches for New Zealand. Twenty years passed before she picked up the project again, this time using a computer at her North Shore home.

“While gardening, I’d be working mentally on The Locket – the perfect way to write a book.”

The novel was finished in 2000, but then Anna’s life took an unexpected jolt when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease put her in a wheelchair.

Over the following years, Anna looked into the possibility of self-publishing, but then her husband Allan said to her, “This book is good enough – you should be able to get it published.”

While she was looking online for literary agents, up popped an ad for a UK-based publisher, looking for new authors. Twenty months and a lot of work later, a package containing the first 25 copies of her freshly-minted novel arrived at her home.

Her reaction on first picking up the book? “Yay! It’s real. A dream that had been in my head for so long, and suddenly there it was!”

Anna has meanwhile completed a second novel, and is eight chapters into a third, set in Devon.

She loves Millwater, where she has lived for nine years.

“Of  all the places that I’ve lived in the world, and all the homes I’ve had, I wouldn’t leave here for anything.”

Book giveaway
Hibiscus Matters has one copy of The Locket to give away. To go into the draw, ‘like’ Hibiscus Matters on Facebook and message us your name and phone number with The Locket in the message. Please note we are unable to take postal entries this time, as our office is closed due to refurbishment. Entries close on Friday, November 3. The Locket (Pegasus, Elliot, MacKenzie) is available locally through PaperPlus and Mighty Ape, and at online booksellers.