Non-Fiction · HarperColins
Winner of the Varuna HarperCollins Award
Imagine you grew up in a stict Baptist home where cooking on Sunday was forbidden and where a woman was considered to have no future other than to be her husbands helpmeet. What if you refused to accept your God given place, and ran away with a heroin addict. Imagine just as you were found your one true love everything you had ever dreamt of could be snatched away.
“Her Story, which she thought would only be read by her kids is absolutely compelling” – Sunday Herald Sun
One of the best books of the year.
Neal’s narrative voice is neither pedestrian nor sensationalist. It is direct yet subtle and finely balanced. The voice is neither too niave nor too knowing. It is at once intimate and polished.
Her story which she orriginally thought would only be read by her kids is absolutely compelling.
I was told by a doctor at Peter Macullum Cancer Hospital that I had a 20 percent chance of surviving the next 3 months of my life. My baby was just three years old. I knew if I died she wouldn’t remember me.
We had just got our first ever computer. I hardly knew how to use it and there was much swearing as I lost paragraphs, chapters and struggled to find my way around the thing but inbetween chemo and surgeries and radiation I furiously wrote what I hoped would be an honest, raw account of my life so my children would know not so much what I did or who I met but who I was, why I was the way I was. I thought if I shared my story it might give them strength for the difficulties they may face in life and in some small way if I died I might still be there for them. I wanted my memoir to be interesting and fun to read – to be a story more than a memoir.
So I included how I ran off from my first marriage with a fluid gendered heroin addict who looked like Sting, liked to wear my clothes more than their own, who though riddled with their own pain was also kind and sweet in a way I had never before experienced from a man. I included the violence I grew up with and the strict religious environment of living with my grandparents.
When I began writing I never expected it to be read by anyone. In a spur of the moment thing I sent 12,000 words off to the Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Award and eventually Sunday Best was one of the winners – It was like winning Australian Literary Idol and my publishing and book writing journey began under the nurturing eyes of Linda Funnell who was the publisher at HarperCollins and Peter Bishop who was the director at the Varuna Writers Centre.