Author Don Farmer signs a copy of his new book. PHOTO/BEVAN WILLS
Wairarapa readers now have a chance to experience Greytown of the 1950s through a child’s eyes after the launch of Walking back to happiness – A Wairarapa boy’s story.
Walking back to happiness is the debut book of former Times-Age chief reporter Don Farmer who said its genesis came after talking to an old classmate of his.
“I wrote it because for a long time I’d been thinking about writing a book, but I didn’t know what it would be.
“We were talking at a school reunion about things that happened, and a woman called Elizabeth Darke said to me, ‘You were a proper little brat.’
“I said, ‘No I wasn’t,’ and she said ‘Oh yes you were’.”
And from there, the idea was reinforced by speaking to another “chap” on the phone a few months later.
“He said to me, ‘You know the history of us as kids in Greytown is going to be lost forever, because we’re all getting older and it’s a different town.
“The book is about the decade of the 1950s, my time as a child there – but it’s not just going to be about me, it’ll be about other people in town such as some of the more quirky adults – for example, there’s the old bachelor character.”
Farmer started thinking about the book in November last year and said it took longer to think about writing than it did to write.
“Then along came the lockdown, and that was the best thing that happened to me because I sat down each day for four weeks and basically wrote the book in lockdown.
“But I’d had 40 years of being a journalist, so I was familiar with words.”
For him, the trickiest parts were not writing the book – it was all the things that followed the writing of it.
“How do you get it published? How do you get this or that done?”
The book has been published through the Wairarapa Times-Age.
“I wrote this for myself and anyone else who wanted to read it – mostly from the same age probably, but also anyone who has moved into Greytown.
“A lot of new people in Greytown have no idea about the town 60 years ago.”
He said there had been a “tremendous” amount of interest in the book – particularly in coming to the launch.
At about 220 pages, the book covers a period from Farmer’s birth in 1947 until he left Greytown Primary School at the end of 1959.
When asked about the writing process, Farmer referenced a Stephen King quote, which goes: Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.
“I agree with him on every point apart from making friends – I’ve made plenty of friends from writing this,” Farmer said.
The book was launched on Thursday, in the Greytown School hall, as part of Yarns in Barns.
- Books are $30 a copy and can be purchased from Wairarapa bookstores including Hedley’s Booksellers in Masterton, Paper Plus, and Take Note Carterton.