Publishing her memoir Two Slices of Bread is the climax of an 18-year writing and research journey for Village Baptist Church attendee Ingrid (Addy) Coles.

The book traces her and her family’s harrowing time imprisoned by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, during World War II. Her father died in prison camp, aged just 43.

At the age of 16, Ingrid migrated to New Zealand, alone, to train as a nurse. Apart from long letters to family and friends back home in the Netherlands, she says she knew little about writing at the time. Her journey to becoming an author began in 1999 when she started writing short stories in longhand.

“My friend Joy Graham gradually taught me to master the computer. In the meantime, I joined NZ Christian Writers, where competition judge and author Bartha Hill taught me further writing skills. Bartha, having also grown up in the Netherlands, helped me overcome the tendency to mix Dutch and English language structure in the same sentences.” 

In 2004 Ingrid completed a home-study freelance writing course. This was followed in 2007 with a family history course. Both were through NZ Christian Writers. She then finally began her family’s story. 

Writing and perfecting the book took 11 years. Despite the long slog, Ingrid was motivated by the thought of her grandchildren not knowing what her family had endured during the war years. She wanted them to understand how those experiences had impacted Ingrid, her mother and her three siblings.

“Most of all, I’d like people to know the value of true forgiveness. Even when in our own strength we are unable to forgive, by humbly asking God for help, he will enable us. Bitterness leads to hate, and hate leads to more wars and heartache. Peace is obtainable through self-control and true forgiveness.” 

Ingrid says writing a sequel to Two Slices of Bread has crossed her mind, but first she plans to spend quality time with her husband and family.

Read a review of Ingrid’s book.