Nanna Von’s book debut

Yvonne Williams has achieved something she never thought possible – she has persevered against all odds and become a published author.

At 77, Yvonne decided to write the ultimate children’s book, complete with poems and verses to music.

Over the next three years, she wrote The tales of Cleo and Oscar form the comfort of her Geelong Uniting AgeWell independent living unit where she has lived for almost a decade.

She endured one of the loneliest, most challenging periods of her life but refused to give in.

“I wrote the book for my grandchildren and used the penname ‘Nanna Von’ because that’s what they call me,” she said.

“My oldest grandchild, Georgia, was the most beautiful girl and at one stage she thought she might illustrate the book.

“Georgie had type-one diabetes and when I was coming to the end of writing it last May, she died unexpectedly at just 22.  When she died, I thought I couldn’t go on with the book.”

Yvonne did find the strength to continue and last August, on her 80th birthday, she launched her book in memory of Georgia.

“I’m very satisfied and my grandchildren love it,” she said.  

“I look back on it and think it’s quite a nice story.”

The story is about two cats – Oscar and Cleo – and their owner Mrs Wimmy.  The pair go on adventures across the country from Queensland to Winchelsea; meeting cane toads, kangaroos and a retired swagman, and getting into mischief.

“I wanted it to contain a lot of Australiana and I thought of it as a timeless or classic-type book,” she said.

“The adventures are all things that cats would do – no matter where they are in the world.”

Yvonne’s Uniting AgeWell home care package, which includes cleaning, gardening, shopping and allied health and therapy services, ensures she has the energy and time to dedicate to achieving her goals.

“I have a magnificent package,” she said.  “Uniting AgeWell is very, very good to me.  It’s absolutely brilliant.”

With time up her sleeve, Yvonne plans to print another 100 copies of her book – bringing the total to 300 – and sell them at the Queenscliff Market.  She also plans to connect with film companies and pitch the book as a potential children’s animation.

The tales of Cleo and Oscar is a true blue Australian production – printed in Melbourne, proofread in NSW, typeset in Queensland and illustrated by Geelong artist John Hughson.

It is available to buy online on Book Depository and Amazon, or to borrow from the Geelong Regional Library Corporation, National Library of Australia and State Library Victoria.

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