Old Portsmouth author Fiona Ballard shares the story of her life in new novel
FOR FIRST-TIME novelist Fiona, holding her newly-published book in her hands was an ‘overwhelming’ experience.
The Old Portsmouth resident had spent nine months over lockdown carefully crafting the semi-autobiographical Taking the Bandage as a way to pass on her legacy to her grandson Malachi.
Coming from a naval family Fiona Ballard, now 62, lived in several different countries and cities as a child providing her with a wealth of material.
Speaking at the official launch of Taking the Bandage, held at the Jack House Gallery in Portsmouth on Saturday, she said: ‘The book is about the art of survival and about adapting to new situations and circumstances, as well as learning to accept people.’
The story, which has been partly fictionalised in places, begins with Fiona’s 10-week stay at the Odstock Hospital in Salisbury where she had an operation to remove a tumour over her eyelid aged just nine months old.
From there it charts her life in the Far East, Paris and then Devon where she met her husband Mike.
Fiona, who took up writing around three years ago, said: ‘It was a cathartic feeling to complete the book and to see my life presented in that way.
‘I wanted a way to share my legacy with my grandson. The title “Taking the Bandage” comes from him, as he would say that instead of “taking advantage.”’
After being entered into a short story competition a few years ago – and winning – former NHS worker Fiona was able to expand on her skills by joining the Portsmouth Writers’ Hub, which has helped workshop her ideas.
She added: ‘There’s a brilliant writing scene in Portsmouth, it’s the perfect place to write.
‘I took part in a course with the writers’ hub and am going to take up their proof editing course too.’
Around the same time she self-published Taking the Bandage, her other novel – which she was writing alongside it – was accepted by a publisher.
The fiction story written for adults focuses on two women who live opposite lives, where one loses nothing after a fire and the other loses everything.
Taking the Bandage is currently available to buy on Amazon and Fiona hopes it will also be sold in local bookstores soon.
Any extra money donated on top of the sale of the book will be given to the Rowans Hospice.