Kaye Nutman Interview Published on: 14, Oct 2020

Where have you spent most of your childhood? Since how long have you been living in Melbourne?

I was born in Bedlington Station (the area - not the station itself) in a house belonging to my Railway worker grandfather). I lived in Bedlington, Northumberland for the first 8 years of my life then moved to Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire, where I spent 10 wonderful formative years. My husband, 5-year-old son and I moved to Melbourne, Australia at the very end of 1998 on what was supposed to be a 2 year secondment. Almost 22 years later, here we are, citizens and dual nationals of the UK and Australia.

Born in beautiful Northumberland, England; when was the last time you visited your birthplace?

I last visited Northumberland, where my sister still lives, in June of 2018 for a family wedding. Normally we go back every other Christmas and New Year, but the pandemic has put paid to that this year.

Which is your favorite place to visit in Melbourne, Australia?

The beach near our home in Brighton. It is a lovely place for walking and thinking, along with a take-away coffee. With the CoVid19 outbreak we are currently in Stage 4 lockdown and allowed to walk twice a day within a 5 km radius – so we are getting to know our local streets rather well!

What developed your passion for How has been your journey of teaching part-time Special Educational Needs kids?

I think I have always wanted to help underprivileged and underachieving kids. Whilst teaching full time I took on the responsibility for Special Education, particularly when I became Deputy Head Teacher. This was cemented after having my son, and only wanting part-time work after we moved from Kent to Hertfordshire.

What do you enjoy the most about volunteer work?

I’d thoroughly recommend volunteer work to anyone. You can usually set your own level of commitment from half a day to a few days a week, and this freedom makes it all the sweeter to give back to a community. My time in the Wig Room at Cabrini Day Oncology helped me put my own health woes into perspective. There’s a feeling of doing something useful and being appreciated that may not come from a paid job. I found it relaxing even during the busy times.

What inspired you to write biographies for patients in Palliative Care in the Home?

I was a fan of family history and even house histories (I volunteered at my local Historical Society for a while) and I just loved hearing other peoples stories. My first client said “I don’t know what you’ll write about. I’ve never done anything.” She then proceeded to tell me she’d had six children, one of whom was handicapped; had grown up on an outback farm with five siblings and had her wedding reception with almost the whole village present; had met her husband via the telephone network as a receptionist for the Navy during the war – he kept finding excuses to go through the switchboard just so he could talk to her, and so many more interesting facts. There is no such thing as a boring life – even if clients think that at first.

How would you describe your experience of working one day a week in a Day Oncology Wig Room?

I loved it, but am sadly no longer doing it. At one time we were doing two days a week for shorter hours but things changed as, like elsewhere in the hospital services, money became a challenge, as well as space. I am so glad I was able to have the experience however, and that is where the inspiration for my ‘Headscarves, Headwraps & More’ book came from. It was a coveted volunteer role and there were no shortages of people to take my place! In all I did nine and a half years volunteering with Cabrini before health issues put paid to it.

What challenges did you face while writing your book, Low Carb Lifestyle Workbook?

I’d already put the contents together as printable pages for sale on Etsy, so it was actually pretty easy – just a case of putting 16 weeks worth together in sections. It looks great as an 8” x 10” book, and I know from Etsy customers that it is a highly useful tool in their health care arsenal.

How much did you research while writing your book, "Headscarves, Head Wraps & More"?

Lots! I really enjoy research. I think it harks back to my teaching days. The book grew from a suggestion by a volunteer colleague who said I was so good at headscarf tying that I should write a book. “How do I tie a headscarf?” was the commonest questions we got at our wig fittings in Day Oncology. The research built up over the first six months, and then I had a fun day where I invited friends around, gave them the instructions and illustrations and got them to pick different scarves (charity shop finds among others) then my son took photographs. Even now I still find new ideas which I pin to my Pinterest page. I just can’t stop!

When did you start making your own planners?

Three years ago. My first (and still most popular) Planner was a Printable Medical Planner which I’d developed for myself after forgetting one too many things at doctor’s and specialist’s visits. It was challenging and enjoyable to make it look professional but fun. One of the great things with Planners is that the buyer can print off the pages they’ll use most as many times as they like. I’ve since branched out into making a digital Planner out of that too. I’d like to do it as a spiral bound book, though it is expensive to do that here in Australia, so more research is on the cards.

Have the kids in your family read your book, "Big Book of Blank Comic Strips for Kids"?

They were popularly received by my great nephews and nieces in the UK when I went over there. My own family, and nephews and nieces are now older than the age group they’re aimed at – though the Graphic Novel Comic Strip book suits any age - including adult cartoonists. I’ve since received photos of what they’ve drawn in them, which makes a lovely connection between us.

What are some things to keep in your mind while writing books for eight to eleven year olds?

I tried to remember when I was that age, when my son was that age, and all the kids I taught who were that age. I think listening to the language of children in the 8 – 11 old age group is vital to keep up with the current mannerisms and colloquial language, but was aware that I didn’t want things that would soon outdate. Reading around that age level varies a lot so I tried to make the subject fairly universal – one most kids could empathise with even if those things hadn’t happened to them.

What is so special about Northumberland that it still makes you feel like home?

When I see UK TV programmes that involve the areas my husband and I once lived in I feel a great deal of nostalgia, especially since the landscapes are often so different to those in Australia. The real thing that makes it still feel like home is my connection to my family over there. As I work on my family history (Ancestry) I love to find out about those who came before me, across the border from Scotland and into Northumberland in the 1700s. My roots are definitely in Northumberland and that can’t be changed by distance.

What are you currently working on? May we know when we can expect a new book?

Aside from new printable Planner pages (Diabetes next) and making other Planners into physical books, I am working on a children’s ‘Choose Your own Adventure’ story set around a Haunted House in the Woods.

How has your experience of being associated with AllAuthor been?

Fabulous! I’ve been with them a few years and look forward to receiving the weekly Social Media photos of my books. I think the service of them tweeting about the book on a regular basis is another great feature. It is such an effortless way to get marketing images and publicity for my featured book. The cost is so reasonable too.

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