Jo looked around Verity’s office, there was a large shelf filled with books and many notebooks piled up on her desk.
“Wow, you have so many books, have you read them all?” asked Jo, squinting to try and read the spines of them.
“Ha. Yep I have read all of the ones that are there. Reading books makes me feel very peaceful, and it has always helped me to understand other people and how they experience things. It helps me to be more compassionate” answered Verity smiling.
“Yeah, we had some books, but not many, I read the same ones over and over again and then I used to make up my own stories, when I was sitting out at night looking at the stars” Jo said dreamily.
“Feel free to borrow any of them. I encourage everyone to read as much as possible. My only regret is that I will never be able to read all of the books I want to! What books did you read at home?” asked Verity.
“Mmmm. I read some Jane Austin books, The Secret Garden, a couple of Harry Potter books, the Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, The Life of Pi”.
“Wait, wait, wait. You have read some Harry Potter books – not all of them?”
“No, we didn’t have all of them, I was so upset when I couldn’t find out what happened next!”
“Well Jo, I have them all here! Please read them, they get better and better towards the end”.
“Oh, my, that should good. Thank you, so much. I can’t wait. Did you read those when you were a young girl?”
“No, I was older when they came out, and I wasn’t in the right place in my mind to read stuff like that. We had to read some of them for a university class on children’s fiction and I didn’t like them then. They were too innocent and not realistic enough for me. I was into violent movies and angry music at that point. I was going through my dark adult period! I read them all again later, and I loved them. I wish you could have seen the films, they were so good, a whole new world was created in those films they were brilliant!”
“Oh I would so much love to see the films, but that’s not likely to be possible anytime soon is it? What was the first book you remember reading when you were little?”
“Well I loved a writer called Roald Dahl, he had a lot of books for kids, one called the BFG and one I particularly loved, The Magic Finger. It was about this girl who had a magic finger that could make her fly at night time. I also loved nursery rhymes, we had this big heavy book filled with nursery rhymes that my mum used to read to us. She also used to read fairy stories to us and we had a big book about fairies and elves and pixies. I also loved a series of books called point horrors which were basically teenage ghost stories. Another author I liked was called Stephen King who had this book of short stories that were all quite weird and creepy – my gran bought me it for my birthday, I don’t think she knew how adult the book was, there was some things in it that I probably shouldn’t have been reading at such a young age.”
“Did you learn about books at school? What did schools make you read?”
“At school they made you read a lot yeah, especially secondary school. I read some Shakespeare plays, some poetry by Tennyson and Keats. I read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens which I adored, it was a love story, but also a story about class and how the people who come into your life can change it dramatically. Charles Dickens was a wonderful writer. He described characters so humorously. I remember him describing a man as having a mouth like a letterbox. I have some of his books up there too. We will be on the ship for a few months, so we can take them and you can read them and we can talk about them. I loved discussing them as much as reading them” Verity’s eyes had lit up, she was animated, clearly excited to talk to Jo about books.
“What are all those notebooks?” asked Jo.
“They are my journals and my writing” answered Verity.
“Wow, you write as well? Have you always done that?
“I started writing when I was about 10. I remember writing poems with my mum and writing a diary and some poems on my own. I distinctly remember lying in my bed one night looking at the moon out of my window and getting up because I had to write about it.”
“Do you show people your writing?”
“I used to have a blog and I was writing a book before the lights went out. I have been writing an account of everything that has happened since the lights went out, in case anyone needs it one day”.
“Is it all just a diary?”
“No, a lot of it is fiction as well, short stories, poems I write for people, thoughts I have about philosophies and theories and religion, anything that comes to me, I just write it down. I always carry a notebook around with me in case something comes to me. It’s so easy to forget all about it later”.
“So do you write every day at the same time, or just when you get an idea?”
“I try to write every day, the same way I try to meditate every day. I try to write something every day after dinner, just so that I am keeping up the practice, also so that I get better at just letting the thoughts come out onto the paper without too much disruption from my ego – it is more truthful that way”.
“Have you written your whole life then?”
Verity laughed, “Well, like I said, I started writing when I was very young, and then I stopped for a few years and I started again just before I came to Australia and I wrote because I really just felt like I had to and then every time I wrote, no matter what it was, it made me feel better. It felt like I was doing something right, things always happened when I wrote, things moved on in my life. It has now got to the point where, now, I have to write, I have to let the words come out, because there are too many to go wandering around and around in my head all of the time – it gets crowded in there and I need space to think of other things. It also makes time fly”.
“Did you want to be a writer?”
“I was a writer, I am a writer. I would have liked to have been able to write to make my living, and for that to have been my career, I was working on it, but then everything went wrong, and I got stuck here and the world went crazy and now I don’t know where everyone is and whether things will ever go back to the way they were. I think I will be long gone before they pay people to write books again. I am sure if we all survive though, some of the books written now will be profound and wonderful. I wish I could read them.”
“Your book might be one of them”.
“Well you never know Jo, you never know”.