Words have always been important to Susan, so when she and her husband Stuart made a daring decision to buy their own tumble-down farmhouse in South West France 3 years ago, Susan began recording each step of the renovation adventure.
After Susan had sent a 10 page email to friends back home describing her photos of their little house in France, it came to her that perhaps she had the beginnings of something that others would find interesting and enjoyable to read.
Susan worked on her memoir early in the morning and when she got home from a day teaching at Corrimal High. She said that she used notes that she had taken while they were working on the house; whenever she could snatch a minute from scooping gravel or peeling wall paper, she would record her thoughts. They worked so constantly that this was often at lunch or over a quick cup of tea.
Susan and Stuart have a love of both renovating and finding second-hand treasure to furnish and decorate houses. Even so, in France they were challenged by the language, shopping hours and initial lack of contacts in the village. All they had in the kitchen to begin with was a sink and a wood- burning stove.
Susan says that their hard work on the house won their neighbours over and now they have made great friends in the village. Jean-Claude, a neighbour and retired English teacher, who Susan says, "is the star of the book", has acted as a mentor, guide and friend and keeps an eye on their little old farmhouse when they are home again in Australia.
Susan says that the students at Corrimal High have encouraged her and have been delighted by her success. The memoir ‘Our House is Not in Paris' will be released as an ebook on December 23rd. It is significant and exciting for her school and students that it is the first ebook that Melbourne Books will publish. As an award-winning teacher librarian, this is another significant achievement – to be at the forefront of reading and technology. Susan believes that her experience shows others that "ordinary people can achieve their dreams." She is certainly doing that!
Photo by Ryan Camps