Sunday, May 26, 2024

Once-upon-a-time…. An author named Hydie

Hydie Balle-Hands talks to FARIDA MASTER on her debut children’s story book that started off with babysitting her nephew. Even as the enchanting children’s picture book has Andy making three wishes that take him on a big adventure….the local author shares her story behind the adventures of publishing Andy & The Little Rimu Tree.

Oh, to have child-like wonder and a sense of imagination!

It was while playing with her little nephew that Hydie Balle-Hands had a spark of an idea that sat happily in the deep recesses of her heart and mind.

“Some years ago, I was looking after my nephew and we were playing a game of pirates. While immersed in playing he told me ‘he was going on an important pirate business’.
It was little things he said that got her smiling. Like the time he mentioned ‘he’d caught some meat fish fingers!’

Someday I’m going to write a children’s story book, Hydie told herself as her streak of creativity was patiently waiting to be explored.

Having graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History, followed by a Graduate diploma in Teaching (Primary), life had other plans for Hydie. Though she was keen to follow a career in visual arts, she found herself working with numbers, helping with payroll in her parent’s family business.

“It is very soul-satisfying.”

Finally, after years of living up to everyone’s expectations of a suitable career, Hydie felt she was ready to take the leap of faith.

“A lot of artistic people are not always able to pursue their dream and do what they enjoy. We are always trying to play it safe,” she says.

Shifting gears, Hydie plucked up the courage to go full throttle as an author. It was a steep learning curve.

“It wasn’t a perfect cookie-cutter experience,” she admits.

As every creative, who works for months and years painstakingly chipping away on their labour of love, the process is long and arduous.

“I had to spend a lot of time learning and work on my skill as a writer. Developing fortitude to not give up whilst juggling the circumstances of life was important as well.”

Besides, crafting the perfect story is never enough. Finding the right publisher is often a big hurdle.

“For over a year I tried to get my book published, the traditional way but with no success,” says the Howick resident.

“I did get positive feedback from Bateman Books which encouraged me to keep pursuing my dream of being an author,” but it was not enough to achieve her goal.

Eventually, it was a coffee date, with her sister-in-law that changed the course of things to come.

“She told me I should self-publish. I thought it over for a while and decided to go ahead and do it. The rest, as they say, is history.

“So here I am, with my debut picture book Andy & The Little Rimu Tree with beautiful illustrations by Nhat Hao Nguyen, aimed at 3-7-year-olds.

“We at Beau Books love children. To help spread this love, Beau Books will donate a portion of the proceeds of Andy & The Little Rimu Tree to Orphans Aid International.”

Now that she is on the roll, Hydie is currently working on another picture story book. It will be launched in July/August.

“This next story is aimed at slightly older children as well and is jam-packed with adventure.”

To anyone out there thinking about self-publishing, she says, “Go for it, it is very soul-satisfying.

“I have had a lot of local business wrap-around support – thanks to Tony from Poppies Howick, Chris from Book Printing NZ in East Tamaki, Sarah from Howick Village Market and Hanna from Village Wholefoods Café,” she says with gratitude.

Andy & The Little Rimu Tree available for sale at Poppies Howick and at the Howick Village Market, Haydie is now excited about sharing her stories with the curious little people and their families, looking for happily-ever-after endings.

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