founded and run by Amy Doak
Bryley Savage: Today we are talking to Amy Doak of Of The World Books. She is a particularly clever woman – a mum of two and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Amy started Bendigo Magazine, a publication many local people would be familiar with, and today we are going to have a chat with her about her latest project.
The Of The World series of books let you inside the lives and homes of people all around the globe and as their share their hobbies, their stories and their houses, you will discover that even though we are all very different, we are also very much the same. The people Of The World Books profile have one thing in common: they are all living beautiful lives, by their own definition. Lives that are full and the kind of lives they dreamed of, which are really the best kind, don’t you think?
By reading titles by Of The World Books, Amy and her team of creatives hope to inspire you and teach you a little more about your new friends and neighbours from around the globe.
B: Amy, how many titles do you have right now?
Amy: Nine as of right now, but there a few more in the works.
B: Wow, and when did you start?
A: About a year and a half ago – April 2016.
B: Goodness me, you don’t muck around, do you? How did you get into publishing books?
A: A little bit by accident actually. Initially it was magazines, which I also got into publishing by accident, starting around 11 or 12 years ago. First Bendigo Magazine and then international titles, Little One Baby and Little One Kids, which were all sold along the way. About three years ago I did some work for a publisher in Melbourne creating content for some books. It was work that I really enjoyed, but some of the content that I was keen to produce was a little different to what the publisher was looking for. So, I started looking to do something on my own. Mainly because I really wanted to create something in particular and so Of The World Books kind of just, happened.
B: That’s so great. Do you have a particular title that’s one of your favourites?
A: Every time I say one is my favourite, I change my mind. I do, however, have a soft spot for Island Homes Of The World. I really wanted to create that, mainly because there’s a few people I’d met over the years who are living these amazing and interesting lives. Lives that are so different from anyone in regional Victoria. It’s such a contrast to what I am used to and I think that was really appealing to me and I also love the idea of living by the water. I found it really interesting that these people had kind of picked up their normal life and created something really amazing that is now their new normal.
B: I know, there’s some really good stories in there. You’ve met some really interesting people along the way.
A: Absolutely! Someone who was a flight attendant for 25 years and now she teaches fly fishing in The Faroe Islands and has this old 250-year-old barn that she’s restored. Another woman from the Netherlands who was restored old homes in Italy and then went to Djerba in Tunisia and created this amazing paradise in the centre of the island there. These really incredible people who just said ‘hey, let’s give it a go’. Actually, one of those people said to me at the time: ‘just do it. You can always go back to what you were doing before. You may as well give it a go.’ It’s such fantastic advice.
B: That’s great. It’s so interesting. I know when I was reading Family Homes Of The World, it was so fascinating to read about these people all over the world but how they were also so similar to us.
A: Yes. I think everywhere, media in particular, focus on the differences between people and countries and cultures. What I have discovered though, is that people are more alike than different and so even though someone – like in Family Homes Of The World, for example – are living in Brazil and riding a horse to school each day…those kids still have their fights and their hobbies after school. They still have a really normal life. It’s just a different way of doing the same things.
B: Yes, it’s a great snapshot of people’s lives. The Artist Spaces series…tell us about that?
A: Well, Lauren Mitchell, who is a really talented local Bendigo writer and someone that I’ve been lucky to work with over the years, had a bit of a concept that she wanted to explore – checking out how artists live. I think that anyone who’s not an artist is really curious about artist’s lives and artist’s spaces. I have such admiration for people who have that skill and I love to see how they make their life work. We thought that the format of the book really worked for that concept, so we went on a bit of a journey and met some artists around Bendigo who are creating incredible things and living in interesting homes or work out of great studios. The eighth title was the ‘sister’ to Artist Spaces Of The Victorian Goldfields and that’s Artist Spaces Of The Northern Rivers. That covers the Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Bangalow area. Another pocket of Australia that’s renowned for artist’s living in unique spaces and creating great work.
B: It’s great to get the background story when you see that beautiful art. I think you love those artists even more when you read about their story and journey. That’s really wonderful. Have you found any particularly inspiring people along the way?
A: Definitely. I think we all buy into being in the rat race a little – wanting to do the next best thing or the next biggest thing. You need to earn more money and buy a bigger house and have more stuff. A lot of us fall into that trap of more, more, more. So to meet these artists and they’re just like ‘hey, I want to make my art and have a roof over my head and a nice cup of tea and do what I love’ and that’s their priority and that’s what they work towards, it’s a real shift in what’s important. All of them have proven that you can live in that really simple way and absolutely love your life and adore what you do. I think that’s so inspiring…
B: …and worth reading about!
A: Absolutely! There’s no such thing as a perfect life. It’s just what’s perfect for you and they’ve really reinforced that belief.
B: Awesome! We’ve talked earlier about pleasing a certain market. Can you talk more about that?
A: Sure. I think, thanks to glossy magazines and social media, there seems to be a trend or a ‘thing’ that many people aspire to and people tend to think that because a kitchen looks a certain way, or because a lounge room has a certain rug, that is what makes it beautiful. What I’ve discovered through – meeting these people – is that what makes a home beautiful is filling it with things that mean something to you, and that are important to you. Things that are beautiful to you…other people resonate with that. It’s fine to have all of these lovely things that are ‘trendy’, but five years time you’ll want to replace it all. A lot of the homes I’ve discovered are filled with things people have collected over the years because they mean something special to that person. That object is something they really love and they’ll live with it until the day they die because it has meaning and they adore it. This fast fashion that’s happening in homes is almost a little sad. One of the things I wanted to achieve with these books is that you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to buy into that. Make what you live with more about what is important to you as a family, or as a person.
B: That’s great. I know, looking through your instagram feed there’s lots of snapshots of people’s houses and mementos of travel. When you look at something like that it evokes a memory.
A: Absolutely. It would be lovely if people filled their homes with something that made them ‘feel’ every time they looked at it. That’s awesome, isn’t it?
B: Yes! Definitely. You achieved so much in your first 18-24 months, what’s next?
A: Perhaps not quite so much! This year has been a little slower. We’ve had a few food titles too. I think food, like home, was frustrating me. That overly styled food in cookbooks was created with cardboard and pins and hairspray and not actual real food, just to make it look a certain way. I’m not exactly a whiz in the kitchen and if I make a lasagna, I want it to look like it does in the picture! If the lasagna in the picture isn’t even actual lasagna, then what hope do I have? We wanted to create some real food options. We’ve got My Vegetarian Lunchbox by Renae Westley, which is a really gorgeous vegetarian book that shows seasonally what you can create for lunch with some great recipes. We’ve also got Simple Cooking For Allergies and Intolerances, which is especially for people who want to eat normal food but they’re dealing with food issues. Following on from both of those we’ve got a Classic Cooking book coming up which is all those old school recipes your grandma used to make.
Our most recent title though is by Sonia Anthony from Masons of Bendigo with A Sense Of Place. Sonia is so passionate about homegrown food and local fare and we interviewed some fantastic local producers. They talk about ways you can support your local food network and how they are working to make the environment and the community a better place, and Sonia – of course – is using that food to share some of her incredible recipes.
The next Homes Of The World book ties in with all that – it will be Country Homes Of The World, looking at people around the globe who live in regional areas.
B: That’s so fantastic! I think we need to chat with you again soon and find out what else you’ve got happening. Thanks so much for chatting with us today.
A: Thank you Bryley.
Amy’s books can be purchased on her website and throughout Bendigo at select outlets. Get all Amy’s details at her Bendigo Made Listing http://www.bendigomade.com.au/by/of-the-world-books/