Serena’s story went to some very dark places; her life had been lived fighting against so many injustices… And yet, throughout all the time we worked together, Serena’s love for life, her humanity and her humour made for a deeply fascinating journey.
She had already written a complete manuscript, but Serena knew it wasn’t right. It told a version of her story, but it felt cold, and it was too far removed from her experiences. She scrapped the whole thing, and asked me to start from scratch.
I interviewed Serena over the course of several months, and we explored a couple of different ways of telling her story. Towards the end of the process I felt as if I knew Serena’s story better than she did; she was always amused when I corrected her on the order in which things had happened to her!
We laughed a lot, we pontificated on this, that, and everything else, and we worked on her book until it said everything she needed to say. The manuscript told her story without compromise. It didn’t shirk from the realities of the things she had experienced, but it told her story with her trademark warmth. We were both very proud of it.
Sadly, Serena died before her book could be published. But thanks to the wonderful efforts of so many people, Up To Me was published by Big White Shed.
I’m so glad we could honour one of her last wishes, and I think any reader that finds her book, not quite knowing what to expect, is going to love it.
Up To Me was published by Big White Shed in Summer 2022