Tuesday, 28 April 2015
In Conversation with Marg Beattie - A special ANZAC day tribute.
Today I feel so privileged to share with you an interview with Margaret Beattie. Mrs. Beattie, as she is known to many of us, is one of the most generous people I know. This interview shows what a labour of love can achieve.
Quick Plug …
Mt Cole.Warrak –The War Years 1914 -1918
How did this writing project come about?
It began with a visit to the Warrak Hall (near Ararat) to look at the Honour Boards for the 1st World War. I soon realised how little I knew about these fifty young men who served with 13 not returning. I also realised that many of the names were no longer part of the district so the questions began to develop in my mind. Who were these young men and what was their tie to the district? Did they work on the orchards, the farms, the sawmills?
What did you enjoy most about this writing journey?
The best part was talking to descendants of the soldiers, especially those who were sons or daughters of the soldiers, looking st the memorabilia they had, the diaries, the photos, the postcards and letters. I listened to the stories they told about their fathers or for some of them that their fathers did not talk about the war at all. Personal anecdotes were wonderful. I was also fortunate that the local newspaper "The Ararat Advertiser" included letters sent home from soldiers and these were very detailed.
What is the hardest aspect of researching?
Probably the hardest part was finding the details of the soldiers on the World War 1 web site especially when the name was a common one eg Arthur Smith. Ensuring dates and other details were correct was also an issue. I also had to track down tqo of the local soldiers who enlisted in New Zealand and find details about them. This involved costs.
Why was this book so important for you to publish?
Firstly it was to satisfy my curiosity about the soldiers in the district where my family have lived since 1868 and continue to farm there. Secondly I realised that the sons and daughters of these soldiers were all aged in their 80’s and 90’s and it was important to get information from them while they were still able to give it. It was more of a coincidence that after 2 ½ years of research I was able to publish this document before the 100 years of ANZAC.
Tell us about your publication/s.
This is the 3rd book I have written. The first was the history of my family, the second was a history of Mt Cole/Warrak district written in collaboration with a friend. My focus and love of writing revolves around research and local history. This was an extremely popular history book and more than a thousand copies have been sold.
How did you find the publishing process?
I put the book together with the writing and photographs. I took it to a desk top publisher who structured and enhanced the publication, organised and helped design the cover, printed it and sent it to be bound. It worked well and we had regular meetings to ensure the end product was what I hoped it would be.
Other than writing what else do you love?
I do patchwork and quilting. I also do volunteer work and look after my grandchildren. I often do research for other people who might need help. And travelling overseas is high on my agenda.
Five words that sum you up.
Interested, happy, generous, inquisitive, caring.
How can we learn more?
This book is available from Margaret Beattie for $35
Marg rang me just before this interview was posted. In the book she writes about the Dead Man’s Penny. This was presented to more than 60,000 Australian families in memory of those who died in WW1. Families often decided not keep them as they thought them bad luck.
A lady from South Australia has just tracked down Marg. This lady has had in her possession for the last 50 years a Dead Man’s Penny. Inscribed is the name of one of Margaret’s family members. It was in fact presented to her family all those years ago. Somehow it made its way to SA and was found in a nondescript box that was bought at a clearance sale by the woman’s husband. Next month Marg will meet this woman who wants to return it to the rightful family.
Lest We Forget