When tragedy struck Sam Bunch, she never would have guessed it would lead to publishing her own book.
After the unexpected death of her mother in 2007, Sam decided to set herself a challenge.
Drawn to her late mother’s old diaries describing Lancashire life in all its glorious, rainy detail, Sam decided to interview 100 women about their lives.
“When my mum died, I was floored,” she said.
“I don’t know if it’s harder to lose someone when you’re six, 26, or 40, but I was certainly grieving.”
Sam only spoke to women between the ages of 30 and 95, opting to omit the younger generation in favour of sheer worldly experience.
“The chance of a 99-year-old reading this is slim to nil because they know everything,” she said.
“But I do hope that a younger woman can read this and take something from all this shared wisdom.”
Asking them all the same series of questions, she always began, ‘How are you?’
Of 19 questions, this answer took the longest, averaging an hour’s response time.
“It’s the first thing you say to somebody, but how many people actually listen to the answer?” she said.
Over the next four years, Sam interviewed women from all over the world – beginning with mothers at the school gates.
From Croydon to the Caribbean, everyone had a story to tell.
Every step of the process has been a learning curve, from how many commas to put in to when to use capital letters.
“This isn’t my background at all – my education was fun, but shit,” said Sam.
“I naively went into this process not knowing anything, so when I finished writing the book I didn’t know what to do.”
Friends pointed her in the direction of a professional editor, and Sam enlisted the services of an illustrator friend to design the book.
A chat at the bus stop revealed her neighbour of 25 years was a lifelong book printer.
“It’s been lovely working with a team rather than me on my own in a little room,” she said.
The result – a self-published, 220-page book – is the culmination of seven years of hard work, hundreds of cuppas and hours of conversations.
It will be available from March at www.collectingconversations.com.