Baby and a Backpack is a terrifically unique and refreshing memoir by fashion designer and author Jane Cornelius. Combining many elements - parenthood, travel, life choices and the search for a place to call home, Jane writes about a life lived large – with a baby in tow.
Jane dumped by her baby's father when she was five months pregnant and forced to ask the Social Services to help her, Jane gave birth to Poppy and she felt history was repeating itself. She too, had grown up in the countryside with a single mother on the dole and Jane decided to change her life and her daughter's destiny: she sold everything that had been given to her to survive and bought a round-the-world ticket with the money. When Poppy was 12 weeks old she flew off out of the country to find a better life and home for the two of them.
Memories of her own famous wrestler father (who co-starred with Joan Crawford in the cult 1970 movie Trog), her legally insane gypsy mother (who used to dance with Eartha Kitt), her Playboy Bunny stepmother and her love for her new baby motivated her to never give up until she finds what she is looking for – a place to call home.
Jane's memoir is a story of courage, love, adventure and bravery. Her sheer determination to carve a new life for herself, refusing to wallow in her circumstances is inspirational. The story is a testament that no matter what our circumstances may be – we all have choices in life, and what we physically do makes the difference to us and those we are responsible for. Jane's story is beautifully written, funny, poignant and one that will stay with you in the early hours of the morning when you are going through your own dark moments because it will remind you to -Never give up.'
Jane Cornelius worked for years in the fashion industry in design, sales and marketing working with labels such as Harrods, Liberty and Bébé. After living for ten years in China where she taught yoga, meditation and healthy cooking classes Jane has returned to Australian and now lives in Melbourne. She is also a qualified counsellor. Baby in a Backpack is her first book.
Baby and a Backpack
Five Mile Press
Author: Jane Cornelius
Question: What inspired you to write Baby and a Backpack?
Jane Cornelius: A power crochet class, I was rubbish at it so I slipped into a creative writing class instead and loved it so much I decided to give up my job and write a book instead. My motivation to never give up writing came from wanting to make my mother's life worthwhile. She was an amazing woman when I was a little girl, but sadly she died from an untreated food allergy and I think more people should know about how eating the wrong foods can make you nutty and in her case clinically insane.
Question: Was it difficult to relive certain aspects of your life when writing Baby and a Backpack?
Jane Cornelius: Yes, my husband would often pick me off the floor sobbing, but I found it really good therapy and I now feel at peace with my past.
Question: What did you learn about yourself, from your travel?
Jane Cornelius: I learnt what the word -home' really means to me (but you'll have to read the book to discover that) and being a single parent is one of the hardest things a person could ever do and we should all help them more.
Question: You now live in Melbourne, what made you choose Melbourne?
Jane Cornelius: I have just arrived in Melbourne from living in China for the past ten years. My daughter (who was the baby in the book) started University here and my husband who is a gorgeous man from Melbourne quit his job and wanted to come back here too; personally I love Melbourne because my sister and her family are here.
Question: What do you hope readers take from Baby and a Backpack?
Jane Cornelius: I hope readers are inspired to try and -live the life of their dreams' as they can always go back to doing what they did before if it doesn't work out for them. Also to be careful of what you eat.
Interview by Brooke Hunter