An East Cholderton woman is looking forward to bringing her globe-trotting adventures to life ahead of the launch of her first book.

Kim Whatmore is launching Tabitha Goes East on August 8, a novel which blends stories from her life with the wildlife of India. After a struggle finding a publisher, the 59-year-old is looking forward to getting her book out into the world, even if she feels “torn”.

“I’ve always wanted to do write a novel,” she told the Advertiser, but it’s so nerve-wracking that somebody will read it. I don’t know what they’ll think and I’ve written so many versions of it I’ve slightly forgotten which is this one!”

Kim began her career following a degree in Anthropology from UCL, working for charities such as Action Aid in overseas development. Following this, she worked in an independent research unit, which looked at the best ways of communicating health information on diseases such as HIV. In the mid-1990’s, she decided she needed a change.

“In my early 30’s I decided to retrain as a garden designer as the work was quite emotionally draining, and I needed a therapeutic change,” Kim said.

From 1995 onwards, she took up her new career, while also taking the opportunity to build on her love of travel.

“I always loved travel journalism, and I’d done a bit when I went to Mongolia and rode on horseback across the steppe, which was broadcast on Radio Four’s Four Corners Programme,” she said. “Then in 1999, I went to Antarctca, and I wrote a novel about that but it will remain unpublished – it was a practice run!”

However, the story of Tabitha goes back to another time in her life – when she travelled to India on a meditative journey.

“I had an extraordinary adventure,” she said. “I drew on my experiences there for the novel, such as having an affair with the tour guide. One of the other things I came across in India was a book called The Wildlife of India by E.P Gee, who was an early conservationist and documented the animals he encountered before publishing his book in 1964.

“It has a range of animals including the glang, a Yak/Cow hybrid, which I used to come up with the idea of the animals going on tour.”

Alongside her burgeoning garden design career, Kim began work on what would eventually becomes Tabitha Goes East. The stories come from her diaries of her travels, with a narrator describing a group of animals, led by Tabitha the Tiger, going to India on a journey. Drawing on her own experiences, Tabitha falls in love with her human guide, and the novel explores what happens next.

“It’s difficult to describe the genre,” Kim said. “It made it hard to publish as it doesn’t easily fall into categories. A teen target was identified initially, but the romantic themes changed that to a general adult readership.”

The unconventional nature of the novel made it “incredibly difficult” to find a publisher or literary agent, so Kim attempted to self-publish the book.

“I spoke to a friend about self-publishing who did a lot of proof-reading and editing for me, but I’m not au fait with tech so when I went to Kindle Direct Publishing I couldn’t set up an account!”

Fortunately for her, she was introduced by her writing coach to Silverwood Books, which provide ‘assisted self-publishing’. With their edits having gained Kim’s approval, the book is now ready to be launched in Kim’s garden on Sunday. However, this didn’t initially go as planned.

“I sent out ‘save the date’ cards to friends with Tabitha Goes East on it, but I didn’t explain it was a book,” she said. “As a result, I had one friend in the village who thought I had a daughter heading to India!”

Kim is in two minds about the publication, but is ultimately very pleased to see her work released at last.

“I feel very torn in my own way,” she said. “I’m excited about the party, and having 100 friends to come and give me support, but I’m incredibly shy and retiring so my speech will be short. That said, I’m even looking forward to that!”

Tabitha Goes East will be available from retailers including Amazon and Waterstones, as well as being able to order directly from Kim herself. Copies can be ordered by emailing