If life had been different, perhaps she might have liked to
have been a journalist. Photo by Marjorie Cook.
If Fiona Rowley harbours a regret, it is that she did not
start writing diaries sooner.
The Lake Hawea mother-of-six and farmer's wife recently
self-published Fiona Elizabeth Rowley: Her Book and
tomorrow launches a second, expanded edition.
The book is based on taped conversations with friend Devon
Hotop, memories, and screeds of documents and photographs she
has squirrelled away through the years.
A keen writer since the age of 19, Mrs Rowley (92) only
started "proper diaries" in the 1960s, when she began
"I always tell people to put everything down, even if they
don't do anything with it," Mrs Rowley said in an interview
with the Otago Daily Times.
She said her book came about because of the "dogged
determination" of Mrs Hotop, who participated in many taped
interviews dealing chronologically with Mrs Rowley's life.
Mrs Hotop balked at typing it up and suggested Mrs Rowley
might like to write a book instead.
Mrs Rowley said she agreed without hesitation but admitted
she needed continual prodding from her friend.
"She's caught me at some pretty moody times. She would say
'Come on!' And then at the 11th hour, Prue Wallis came on
board as well," Mrs Rowley recalled.
Despite wishing she had started writing a diary earlier, Mrs
Rowley despaired at the wealth of material already at her
disposal; after all, she had kept everything.
Mrs Wallis, who helped design the book, rescued her.
"I was delighted when Prue vanished with armloads of
photographs and documents. I was so relieved and thought,
`Now I can throw the rest of them out'," Mrs Rowley said.
Mrs Rowley believes in the importance of an inquiring mind.
"Questions: they bring people alive. I think people love
talking about themselves. You might not hear a word out of
them for years and then they explode ... But there are an
awful lot of people who don't listen, even in my own family.
They are too busy thinking ahead to what they might say
next," she said.
Mrs Rowley reflected that if life had been different, she
might have liked to have been a journalist - but for having
to report on Iraq and Iran.