When Philippa Cameron started her Instagram page What’s for Smoko about three years ago, she never expected it to take off the way it did, or for it to land her a book deal.
She started her Instagram page after moving to Otematata Station with her husband, Joe, five and a-half years ago, and found herself having to feed the farm workers. She now has more than 17,000 followers and counting
“At the time I didn’t have a large repertoire of recipes up my sleeve, and so I thought of it more as a way for people in a similar situation to mine to share and find recipes. I did not see this coming, obviously. ”
A High Country Life, Tales and Recipes from a New Zealand Sheep Station, was “sort of dreamt up” after publisher Allen & Unwin got in touch with Mrs Cameron, suggesting the book.
It has had an enthusiastic response, with 1000 copies being sold on pre-order, and copies selling out in stores since its official April 6 release. Oamaru Paper Plus was sold out, and could not access any more books until a reprint in May, Mrs Cameron said.
The former teacher enjoyed the book writing experience, and thought that was because it was not something she had ever really envisaged, although she admitted her first book was actually a school “learner reader” about a tractor.
“But writing a book like that was nothing that I ever really saw, and so I think that’s maybe why it was quite fun to do. I hadn’t over thought it.
“Because someone else told me the concept, it was quite easy to do.”
The book follows the life of Mrs Cameron and her family through the seasons, so it took just over a year to write, and then another “good three or four months” to edit.
Along with Mrs Cameron’s words, the book is brimming with beautiful photography of a high country life, and of course good country food, taken by Hakataramea Valley photographer Dana Johnston and fellow Kiwi photographer Lottie Hedley.
“It was four days of extreme food making, and some food that did not turn out, so we had to make it look very pretty for the photos, because I was not going to do it again,” Mrs Cameron said.
She said she hoped the book would help to support mothers and wives in a similar position to her, and help them realise their role was a valid one.
“I think there’s a lot of people who do a role like myself, who . . . don’t have a title for themselves, and they need to give themselves more credit, because they do a spectacular job, and so it’s sort of just to also offer that support that their role is vital and important to the running of the farm.
“They should feel proud to say that they’re a stay-at-home mum, or that they help on-farm by supplying meals, rather than it be because it’s more than that, so I hope that message does come out.”
As for book number two – there were ideas being floated around.
“[Lottie Hedley] and I did sort of sit and think about a few really great ideas, and if perhaps they wanted to go ahead and do a second book, then her and I would probably go ahead and get that off the ground,” Mrs Cameron said.