Maree Schaefer’s stories of pelicans, platypuses, green tree frogs and other Australian animals became a welcome respite from COVID lockdowns for her grandchildren living in Germany. Now Maree’s gift for writing has blossomed, with eleven books published and more on the way.
It was in early 2020, as the impact of the COVID pandemic was being felt worldwide, that Maree and her husband Brian, both members at Pasadena Lutheran Church, agreed to help their German-based family with their homeschooling.
“We became ‘Skype babysitters’ for our grandchildren during their lockdown,” says Maree. “As you can imagine it was rather challenging! To help keep them amused and occupied after they had finished their schoolwork, I began writing these Australian stories for them, and would read them out to them.”
Although she had no previous writing experience, Maree says she drew on her childhood memories of life on a farm as inspiration for many of her stories. A knowledge of German culture also helped to shape the books, with the aim of making them as engaging as possible for her young audience.
“From our many visits to Germany I was aware that they are fascinated with our native birds and animals, and in particular our snakes and spiders.”
The resulting stories included ‘Molly and her pet green tree frog, ‘How the platypus was made’ and ‘Percy the Murray Magpie’ – to name just a few.
Maree’s six grandchildren, aged from seven to 12, were instantly taken with the stories, and with encouragement from friends and family she looked in to publishing them as books. Now Maree has sold copies to customers all over the world, including in the USA, Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Indonesia and of course within Australia.
Maree is thankful for the circumstances that led to the discovery of her writing gift.
“As a child I vividly recall being taught that we all have God-given gifts, and at that stage I didn’t consider that I had any because I felt I was no different from anybody else,” she says.
“My journey through the COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be a very positive journey and I thank God for that. My God-given gift was unveiled.”
Maree enjoys sharing her journey as an author with clubs and groups as a guest speaker, and now has more stories in the works. She considers the stories a legacy she can leave for her grandchildren, with some of them now involved in brainstorming and planning new books with her.
Maree’s books are available on the Openbook Howden website https://www.openbookhowden.com.au/bookshop/
Photos above: Maree’s six grandchildren who are based in Germany; Maree (inset) holds up one of her books, On My Way in Coffin Bay.
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