Folks we Love with Kate Ritchie, actor and author of "I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You"
I’d love to start by asking what made you decide to give children’s book writing a go?
I have always enjoyed writing and written many things over the years that rarely ever made it to the self editing stage. There are exercise books full of ideas and unfinished paragraphs littering my home office drawers so it wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice to focus on children’s book writing – it was the fact that this was the first idea that really sang to me.
How did you come up with the story?
Put simply, I fell pregnant with my first child! I Just Couldn’t Wait To Meet You didn’t begin life as a book.. It began as a series of scribbled notes on loose pieces of paper. An exercise in quietening the inner dialogue that came with feelings of excitement, anxiety, worry and my fear of the unknown whilst pregnant. It really was my own private therapy which gradually evolved into a love letter of sorts, to my unborn child.
I realised that if I was traveling on this weird and wonderful emotional roller coaster surely many other mothers were too. The words presented themselves so beautifully as a book and that is when I decided to share it.
I’d like to think it is a celebration of the incredible anticipation felt whilst waiting for a baby to arrive and the beginning of life together as a family unit.
Why did the idea resonate with you?
Because I was living every emotion that found itself on the page at that very moment. When I read it to my daughter Mae I am always transported straight back there. She loves the book (and is fascinated with Hannah’s gorgeous illustrations of babes and their extended families) but I also get a lot out of reading it to her. It’s a lovely way to reminisce and share those feelings together.
What were the challenges you faced?
Time management.. But that is nothing new!
How long was the process and what did you find most rewarding?
From the moment I began scrawling down my thoughts to the time of release was, from memory, well over two years. That had a lot to do with me not delivering my final work until I was on maternity leave!
I’d have to say, the most rewarding part of the journey has been the generous feedback I have received. Not from the publisher but from parents and people who have even purchased the book throughout their IVF journey. Having me sign a copy in the hope that one day they will be reading it to the child they ‘just can’t wait to meet’ one day. Those moments have made me realise, more than ever, what a blessing a healthy baby is.
I was actually contacted by a nurse not that long ago who said she works with young mothers who are finding it difficult to bond with their baby and commit to the journey ahead. She expressed her gratitude in me providing a tool that she has seen useful in helping them to do so. I Just Couldn’t Wait To Meet You is less of a lecture and more of a gentle nudge I imagine.. That really made my day and has made the process all the more worthwhile.
As a successful actress, radio personality, mama bear and now author how do you strike the balance between these important parts of your life?
I don’t successfully strike that balance a lot of the time but I am getting better at it. From the age of 8 years old I was brought up (and sought security) in a strict television filming/school attending schedule so bringing a baby into my world has taught me the very important lesson of relinquishing control a little! Not everything is going to get done and feelings of guilt are pointless.
I have learnt to delegate and to allow myself to enjoy my work and the things that don’t involve my daughter. If I focus wholeheartedly on those things when they arise then I am a much more present, focused and happy Mumma when we are together.
It’s also important to point out that this is how I feel today.. Ask me tomorrow and it could be a completely different story!
ABOUT KATE/Kate Ritchie is a much-loved actor, presenter and author. Millions of Australians and Britons grew up with Kate as she played Sally Fletcher in the hit series Home and Away between 1987 and 2007.
Kate has continued to act in Australian film and television, including Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in 2009, Cops: LAC, Mr & Mrs Murder and It’s A Date. She has hosted live television events including the annual Carols in the Domain and Australia Day Celebrations. After being invited back as a guest to help celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary in 2013, Kate briefly reprised her role of Sally on the Seven Network’s Home and Away. Her acting has earned her numerous nominations and awards, including two Gold Logies.
In 2008 Kate took on the challenge of live radio. She currently co-hosts Kate, Tim & Marty, the number one rating national drive show, on Nova.
Acting aside, Kate relishes the opportunity to donate her time to a number of causes, including the Australia Day Council of New South Wales, the Australian Red Cross and Ovarian Cancer Australia.
Kate lives in Sydney with her husband, Stuart, and daughter, Mae. Her first book, I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You, was inspired by her joy and excitement at anticipating Mae’s arrival.