A pioneering spirit

A seated, older lady displays the first book she wrote on her lap.

Valerie Kennedy of Riverside is living a life in which her pioneering spirit is never far from the surface.

Valerie emigrated alone from Birmingham in the UK to Queensland in 1957 when she was just 18 years old. During the next four years she worked as the secretary to the Chief Geologist of Mount Isa Mines. Valerie married a local man and they travelled the world together, before settling in Brisbane where they raised four children. The family moved to Tasmania in 1976.

Valerie has received a cleaning service from Anglicare for the past 10 years.

It’s a wonderful service that gives me the time to do what I love best – writing.

Valerie had dabbled in short story writing over the years but the demands of her roles as a parent and shorthand writer often made it hard to finish what she’d started.

“It wasn’t until my husband died that I decided that I really wanted to write fiction. My children were living on the mainland and the last of my grandchildren had left, too. How was I going to fill my time? Joining the Launceston School for Seniors Writing Circle opened up the world for me. The best part of any day is walking into my library, knowing I’ve a whole day to write. I like to be at my desk by 8 a.m. I write until lunchtime, have a nap and then spend the afternoon checking my work. My television never goes on until 6 p.m.”

Valerie’s first novel, One Corner of an Ancient Land, was published in 2017 when she was 78 years old. It’s an anthology of events and people in north-west Queensland in the 1800s.

“The book was based on stories told to me by my husband’s grandfather,” she says. “It’s where my second book, The Shorthand Writer, is set. The outback is never far from my thoughts.”

Writing a wartime romance called The Owl and the Pussycat kept Valerie sane during lockdown.

“This was a new genre for me and I quite enjoyed it. In no time at all I got to 65,000 words,” she said.

Her next project, an anthology titled A Century of Conflict, is already underway. Valerie’s first two books are published under the name V. Parker Kennedy and can be ordered from Amazon and Booktopia. The Owl and the Pussycat is written under Val Kennedy and is currently only available as an e-book from Amazon.

More information on Anglicare’s aged and home care services is available here.

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