I read ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins as a teenager 70+ years ago, so when I came to think of a title for my memoir that would suggest that among my several professions were some in which I would wear a doctor’s white coat, his title never crossed my mind.
Now retired, I have been in turn a Harley Street dentist, an entrepreneur (co-owner of Conran-group designed educational toyshops), the director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital, as well as a wife and mother of four children.
I was first reminded of Wilkie Collins’ book when I saw my memoir for sale on Amazon and now I see that BBC 1 is about to air a serialized version starting tonight – the last was in 1997. Be interesting to see what the BBC makes of it.
It was lovely to be invited by the librarian of Askew Road library to give a talk and reading from my memoir Woman in a White Coat. The occasion was one of the Wednesday coffee mornings that have been running in the library for many years.
The library is on one floor and in a light friendly open space. To one side, towards the back, is a gaily coloured children’s area with carpeting so the children can read and play on the floor.
The chairs for the participants were arranged in a large semicircle. Louise was in the UK with her family for Easter and she came with Josh so I had an audience of at least two plus the librarians. But when I sat at the table at the front, the expanse of empty chairs looked enormous. Louise and Josh were lost at one end.
However, to my surprise and delight, by the time we started at 11am, not only were all the chairs filled but some latecomers had to fetch extra seating.
Most of the audience – mainly women with one man – were seniors who remembered life pre-WW2 and my story of life in a cold water tenement resonated with them, as did the medical episodes. They laughed and caught their breath in all the right places.
What a lovely responsive audience and welcoming library staff. I felt very lucky to have been given this invitation and have promised to return – perhaps with my sequel ’25 houses’
So pleased that after a fairly horrendous experience with a company putting my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon, my memoir is available for pre-order at £9.99 from Amazon or from your local bookstore. Had a wonderful trio of professionals – Nathan Burton Cover designer, M Rules Typesetters and Clays the Printers.
The cover designer, Nathan Burton, produced lots of possible designs for the cover. I could have chosen any one – they were so great. I chose the blue and turquoise version of this design but nearly picked this one instead.
it’s bright and cheerful but I felt the colourway I chose had more gravitas!!
This was the most striking design but I didn’t want to use a picture of me. I chose to write my memoir under the pseudonym of Dr Abby J Waterman and so I didn’t pick this one.
The original photograph is of me with a ‘phantom head’ – a metal skull into which plaster casts are fixed bearing real teeth that have ben extracted for reasons such as periodontal disease.
We practiced cutting cavities and inserting fillings and crowns on them. We gave them names and got quite fond of them!!
What a great experience!! As I am now an 86-year-old, I expected some difficulty, but it couldn’t have been easier. And they were fantastic at answering my queries by email.
I didn’t use them for Amazon because while they offer 70% royalties to US authors they only offer 41% to those in the UK. If I write another book, I might consider using them for Amazon too – though as I pointed out to Pronoun, it seems most unfair that authors on this side of the pond will earn so much less!!
I emailed all my friends with the good news that my memoir Woman in a White Coat was finally on Kindle and the response has been amazing. Thank you all. I was expecting you to just use the ‘Look Inside’ feature or get a free sample, but you’ve been buying it. I might yet get to be a millionaire!!
Thank you all especially the first and the last of my Writing Circles, all the Creative Writing tutors at the Mary Ward Centre, Morley College and CityLit, the literary agents who wrote encouragingly but didn’t take me on because I’m not a celebrity, my various mentors except the one that discouraged me so much I stopped writing for a year and everyone else who ploughed their way through my many drafts.
Meet 85-year old Dr Abby Waterman, the unwelcome third daughter of Orthodox Jews who desperately wanted a son. She survives rat-infested cold-water tenements in London’s East End, the Great Depression, WW2 and the Blitz. Despite poverty, sexual harassment and discrimination, she becomes in turn a Harley Street dentist, a doctor, an entrepreneur, a consultant pathologist and director of a cancer research laboratory, as well as the mother of four.
Behind the scenes in a busy NHS hospital, you witness the tears doctors shed that patients never see. Step into Abby’s shoes as an 18-year-old dissecting her first body and later, as a mother of young children, carrying out an autopsy on a four-year-old. Discover why Abby ventures into the business world and why she leaves it. She undergoes surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer, only to be told her cancer has recurred and spread to her spine. She describes her weird hallucinations while on a ventilator following a heart attack and learns that Do Not Resuscitate is written into her notes.
Dr Abby J Waterman is a pseudonym. The names of friends, family, colleagues and patients have been changed as have the names of places and hospitals, although all the events in this memoir are true to reality.
I hope you enjoy it.
Did you grow up in a disadvantaged situation and make good? I’d love to hear from you here or at email@example.com