The Art Deco Mansion in St Lucia

NEW BOOK CELEBRATES AN ICON AND THE MAN THAT BUILT IT.

The third book in The Midnight Sun to Southern Cross trilogy is at the printers! Many have been fascinated by photos of this magnificent mansion since it was built in the early 1950s.

I grew up as ‘a girl whose grandfather built an elevator in his house.’

 EARLY BIRD SPECIAL UNTIL 2 APRIL
That’s the Anniversary of WA Back’s death in 1974, just weeks after my wedding on 16 March. I little thought that, as we said our vows at Binna Burra, Granddad relived his own with Christina Hart. That vista across the valleys of the Lamington Plateau and the New South Wales border must have sparked in Grandad flashbacks of his early settler years and courtship just over eighty kilometres away. Just two weeks before, missing his soul mate of sixty–two years, he wrote us a reflective letter–which I quote in the book.

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If we were superstitious, the omens might have halted my marriage.

Read the story: 

The heavens opened, emptying out a deluge worthy of Noah’s time. Cyclone Pam, the third in three months, has crossed the coast at Coolangatta near Binna Burra, just where we planned to marry three days later on a mountain top in the open air—if all the road landslides were cleared. 

A torrent of water buffeted our little red Volkswagen. The windscreen wipers made frantic but futile swipes. Defiant of black skies, we pushed on in a car painted with hippy flowers, nostrils and nose hairs. We plodded north from Sydney to Brisbane, a city already sodden and putrid from its record–breaking floods of late January 1974. 

Brisbane had the stink of debris and mud piled up in battered houses. Mounds of riverweed and flotsam lay engorged on the riverbanks. We could implement Plan B: to hold the ceremony in a small wooden church at Beechmont. 

But joy came on the morning of the wedding. The road up the mountain was clear. Despite threatening skies, the sun sparkled on raindrops and the golden splashes of Regent bowerbirds’ wings. Rainbows shone blessings through mist in the first fine day since the floods. Breezes frolicked around ladies’ dresses—and threatened to steal the marriage certificate, held by a pebble on a table overlooking the cliff. 

We revelled in the surrounding richness for all the senses; beauty displayed in rainforest trees festooned with ferns, staghorns and orchids; the fragrance of rain on volcanic earth. Hopkins’ poetry extolled the grandeur of God. Music flowed from a string quartet, from recorder and tabor. Kookaburras and parrots laughed with us; brilliant kingfishersflashed from trees.

Granddad beamed in delight, encircled by his prolific family. 

(Excerpt from Burn My Letters)

A joyful outdoor wedding at Binna Burra on the first sunny day after the 1974 floods and cyclone.
A patron of the arts and generous philanthropist
As a patron of the arts, WA Back  sponsored the organ in a recently built St Lucia Presbyterian Church (opposite Ironside State School, where I endured culture shock after correspondence lessons in Western Queensland.) He enabled his niece Perry Hart to study violin in Holland soon after World War II. WA bought his wife a piano and lessons, encouraged Giuseppe (‘Charles’) Ive to branch beyond house painting and plastering, to paint murals. On his travels he bought glassware and sculpture, and took his family through galleries and museums, historical sites and landmarks.  

WA Back was thought a ‘soft touch’ to anyone telling a hard-luck story. Executors of his will struggled to cover all the bequests he donated to charity.

Grandad was an inspiration to his many descendants and to all who knew him. Read more of the life of a 16-year-old emigrant from Finland, who embraced the opportunities of his new life under the Southern Cross.
More details and Order here
We launched 'Midnight Sun to Southern Cross' in the St Lucia church where Grandad was an elder. The organ was in full voice.

Where better to launch Midnight Sun to Southern Cross than in this church and to hear again the organ that WA Back donated?

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR THE NEXT LAUNCH!

Novel way to publish books

How to hook a mainstream publisher? That question keeps authors too busy to write their next book. We spend disheartening time on pitching, proposing, publicity. All writers know the pain of rejection.

• Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling were rejected by a dozen publishers, including Penguin and HarperCollins.

• Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before publication.

• Orwell’s Animal Farm: “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

• To F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you got rid of that Gatsby character.”

TwoCovers

When some publishers are interested and enthusiastic, we’re buoyed and tread on clouds. Until we discover they’re academic or vanity press, offering little recompense for our hard work, intellectual property and writing skills. Even asking us to pay for the privilege of seeing our words between covers. Might as well self-publish.

Last year I swore I wouldn’t indie publish. Even though I have already published books for musicians and teachers through my Words and Music imprint. But I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for the last leg of a long journey.

Even print on demand needs outlay of funds. Thanks to my son Paul Bonetti who helped, having successfully crowd funded his second album. (You can hear my clarinet backing on a few tracks.) I’m encouraged by the successful campaign to reprint Brisbane Art Deco, which includes my contribution about my Granddad’s house in St Lucia, Brisbane. Back House main BCC-B54-1976

Granddad (W.A.Back) was a Finnish Swede who emigrated to Australia to escape conscription into the Russian army. When his black sheep brother fled in 1899, Russian military police searched for him in Suez. He dodged them and found refuge in Australia. But why did he write home to “Burn my letters?” A decade’s research found answers to such questions. 

Letter KJ Back 1899:2

A treasure trove of archival letters

I’m blessed that my relatives gifted me with illuminating archival letters. These helped me piece together the story of my forebears.

What an inspiring, empowering story!

There’s a degree of memoir as the books cover:

  • Growing up in the Australian outback
  • Schooling in Brisbane: at Ironside State School, Somerville House and University of Queensland.
  • (Granddad led a consortium that developed St Lucia)
  • Studies, research and work in London, Sweden, Finland and more during 7 years in Europe.
  • My musical and life journey

My books that tell their stories and my own journey to discover heritage are ready to go. But I need help to afford printing. Please support my crowd funding campaign so I can put my books between covers.

https://pozible.com/burnmyletters
It’s going well, but not quite safe yet!

Many thanks in anticipation!

Inspiring words

My grandfather, W.A.Back (Wilhelm Anders) died on 2 April 1974. He attended my wedding two weeks before, and wrote a personal letter to me that inspired me through our marriage and to write his story.

He wrote:

“As I look back now on our marriage at Mooball on the 4th November 1908, I can remember it as plain as if it were yesterday. The wedding was in our new home that I had finished only a few days before, and the Minister from Byron Bay came by train to perform the ceremony…”

“Just do it!”

Granddad’s advice has helped me keep going to bring his story to publication.  

A man of enterprise

Granddad was an entrepreneur, the Migrant Made Good. So I think he would have approved of my crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to publish my book.

Would you please support it? Click the above link, choose an amount and reward (books or goodies). Your account won’t be accessed until after the campaign.

 

A man of faith

He wrote that he surprised his bride with a gift of a piano—the Hart family were musical. Then they knelt at the bedside and asked God to protect, guide and bless them through their lives.
“We asked for some material blessings that in the eyes of the Lord were very small and he blessed us with very much more than ever we contemplated or asked for. If you take God into your partnership I am sure it will be even better than what you anticipate.”

Good advice, Granddad. I keep faith that this gift for my sons to know their heritage, and for family and the Finnish community, will come to fruition.

Thank you!