it was great this week to catch up again with Hilarie Lindsay. I called her about midday the other day and it was as if she was sitting there waiting for me to ring so she could fill me in on all that had happened since we last spoke about six years ago.
Hilarie at the age of 93, is so full of life. Though she has had some eyesight problems lately so she has asked someone to look at her latest novel for some editorial assistance. Still going strong. She is the author of a popular novel The Washerwomans Dream, a story about the early Australian writer, Winifred Steger, also the basis of Hilarie’s PhD thesis she completed at University of Sydney in the 1990s.
I attended the monthly meeting of the Sydney Branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers from 1990 to 1998 after which time I left to work overseas. Hilarie chaired these meetings month in and month out. This was a wonderful place for writers to meet and workshop their poetry, short stories and novel extracts, while more general writing issues were discussed over dinner afterwards at a nearby cafe (Cappriccio’s).
One great initiative of the Sydney City FAW was the publication of the annual anthology of the best work of each member workshopped during the previous year. I had the privilege of being the co-editor with Hilarie for a few years in a row. There were initially titled Inprint 1,2 and3 and then Sydney Life 95, 96 and 97. The works had a freshness and energy often characteristic of emerging writers.
Hilarie has always been supportive to budding writers. In our conversation, she reminded me of her success with one of her first books. Hilarie and her husband Phil ran a toy factory out at Leichhardt. Hilarie decided to write a book One hundred and one toys to make at home. She told me how she put the proposal to a publisher from London who said a book like that wouldn’t sell because it had been done before. So in 1972 Hilarie took a risk and self published. She arranged to have her books printed in Hong Kong for one dollar per book. She went on to sell 77,000 copies.
I hope Hilarie’s eye’s recover soon and she is able to place her latest novel with a publisher.