WRITE STUFF

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - SHAUN McMANUS

NEW Nor­folk author There­sia Van Den Berg is de­ter­mined to pub­lish her first novel — and she isn’t let­ting can­cer get in her way.

Mrs Van Den Berg, who turns 90 in Novem­ber, re­leased a re­vised edi­tion of her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Te­sha: A Colour­ful Life, late last year, and is work­ing on her first novel, ti­tled The Search.

“I’m faced with can­cer at the mo­ment, I have a large tu­mour in my chest and I don’t know how long I have to go, but I would like to have this book pub­lished,” Mrs Van Den Berg said.

“I think it refers to to­day’s prob­lems that we have with ac­cept­ing other peo­ple with dif­fer­ent points of view on re­li­gion and pol­i­tics and our ho­mo­sex­ual com­mu­nity.”

She only has one chap­ter to write be­fore The Search is com­pleted, and hopes to have to it pub­lished by her 90th birth­day.

“The Search is about a young woman who is try­ing to come to terms with her ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity ... and all her anx­i­ety and psy­cho­log­i­cal trou­bles she has to face and phys­i­cal prob­lems,” Mrs Van Den Berg said.

“It’s a very in­ter­est­ing story, it touches on quite a few things here and there — a bit of pol­i­tics, re­li­gion.”

Mrs Van Den Berg was born in Am­s­ter­dam and has lived at New Nor­folk for about 15 years.

In be­tween, she has lived a re­mark­able life, which is fleshed out in her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

“Te­sha re­ally refers to my life from when I was a child, and hav­ing gone through the trau­mas of World War II, and my move af­ter the war to In­done­sia where there was still fight­ing for in­de­pen­dence,” she said.

“I was ad­vised to write it by sev­eral of my friends be­cause it will be, I think, an en­cour­age­ment for other peo­ple.

“I want peo­ple to know that no mat­ter what you go through in your life, that there’s al­ways some­thing hap­pen­ing that will be worth­while to keep go­ing and not to give up.

“There have been times in my life that I thought I couldn’t man­age, but I got through it, and by get­ting through it, a whole lot of other things opened up.”

Mrs Van Den Berg said writ­ing had helped her deal with an­other dif­fi­cult time in her life.

“My imag­i­na­tion is good, and it has helped me, and es­pe­cially now be­ing con­fronted with can­cer. I find that get­ting my­self in­volved in imag­i­nary travel helps, it puts me into a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment for a lit­tle while, even though I’m still sit­ting in my chair,” she said.

Te­sha: A Colour­ful Life is avail­able from on­line re­tail­ers such as Ama­zon.

Pic­ture: MATT THOMP­SON

THE WRITE STUFF: There­sia Van Den Berg at her home with a copy of her book Te­sha.

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