When I began my Australian family saga, The Currency Girls, my aim was to reconnect our immediate family with the story of their Australian forebears which had more or less been lost. All that remained once the previous generation had died were tall tales, mistruths, vague memories and a yearning to put the pieces back in place.
After years of research and writing, I had three books written, my best shot at describing a pioneering Australian family over 100 years. Yes, it was fictionalised but based on what I knew of the family through historical documents. Some things I did not, could not know, or thought I could never know.
I never set out to be an author. All I wanted was to write the story and fill in gaps. Along the way, I found other stories as members of our wider Australian family contacted me and told me of their recollections and more rumours. This was the enormous bonus to writing the books – we found the family we had been missing.
And then last week – the circle was completed. It came in the form of a comment on my Facebook Page. ‘Hello, I am Sadie’s granddaughter.’ Those few words arrived in my inbox tempered with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement that we had found the last missing link in the family and trepidation that this family would not approve of the liberties I took when writing Sadie’s Wars. Of all the books, this was the riskiest because I wanted it to be more than the rather tragic story I knew it to be. It also needed to be a love story and one with hope for the future.
What happened was that like the rest of the wider family, this lady has proven so generous that she shared with me her story and her photographs, both of Sadie herself and her sons. At last I have the images which before I could only imagine. She also told me that she loved the book. If nothing else, this writing journey has surpassed by far what I set out to do.
The story has been told and people around the world are reading about a family through all their successes, failures and adversity. It always was a tough story with a family battling against the odds. In the middle came huge wealth and success before more disaster. However, the family carries on now into the seventh generation and they will have my books to tell them how it all began. That’s enough for me.