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Reflect upon my acclaimed 'Taste of Life' cookbooks, and perhaps you'll find yourself pondering: How does a seasoned author of healthy-eating cookbooks seamlessly transition from penning 22 culinary success stories, amassing a readership of millions worldwide, then, quite unexpectedly, weave a narrative that effortlessly melds the realms of fiction and non-fiction, drawing from the tapestry of her own life experiences?

The revelation of my debut novel may be met with surprise, and rightly so. Life's journey, enriched by the passage of years, is a canvas upon which transformations unfold. With the gift of time, one learns, evolves, and confronts unforeseen crises, unexpected twists, the poignant loss of cherished ones, all coalescing to prompt a redefinition of self. Inevitably, you infuse more life into the life you presently inhabit, crafting a narrative that defies expectations.


... Delving into the profound idea that unexplainable synchronistic moments in one's life may be the defining instances guiding us toward the life we were always destined to live. Julie skillfully navigates through those serendipitous occurrences that transcend mere coincidence, unraveling the tapestry of existence. This captivating exploration invites contemplation on those moments often dismissed as mere happenstance. Julie prompts readers to ponder whether these are truly coincidences or, rather, instances so remarkably synchronous that they demand acknowledgement. She artfully guides readers to consider the whispers of their hearts when discerning the significance of these moments in their lives.

Drawing from her own experiences, Julie illuminates a path where she faced a coincidence too compelling to be ignored. In that pivotal moment, she chose to heed the wisdom carried by the whispers of her heart, and in doing so, altered the trajectory of her life. It is within this realm of profound intuition and guided decision-making that Julie suggests one may uncover the life they were inherently meant to live...

‘Seagulls on the Ganges’ explores the power of synchronicities - those meaningful coincidences of two or more events that line up, where something other than the probability of chance is involved that move us forward to in a direction that feels like we were always destined to travel.


I was first introduced to Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity when I majored in psychology at Teachers College, in the '70s. The idea of his theory sat comfortably with me but it would only become relevant after my husband's passing, in 2006. I came to understand Jung's assumption that synchronicity was a law operating in the Universe to move humans towards greater growth in consciousness. When I trusted in moments that were simply 'too coincidental' to ignore, and then I listened to what my heart wanted to make of these moments, I found myself embarking on a journey of greater conscious awareness. I traveled to Dubrovnik Croatia, to Paris, and finally to Varanasi where I found the last piece of my conscious growth in my understanding of how to fully and unconditionally let a loved one go so that I might move on in my life to fulfill all that was possible for me.


The story begins ...

Just days after her husband, Michael passes, when grief does its best to defeat Ellie Buckley, she puts all her faith in a disorientated seagull that she discovers resting on her beach house balcony. Her heart whispers to her that this seagull just might be the spirit of her late husband in no hurry to leave their beach house until he knows that Ellie will be okay.  These same heart whispers will call Ellie to travel to Dubrovnik where in bowls of silky threads of homemade pasta, seasoned with just the right amount of garlic and chili, and embraced by the charms and wisdom of a most unlikely restaurateur, Ellie will begin to unwind her sadness and take steps forward to rebuild her life. Returning to her beach house, in Australia, when Ellie's heart whispers invade her dreams and call her to travel to Paris, Ellie doesn't hesitate.


In Paris, she finds herself embracing a French woman’s way, buying 'sets' of silky, sexy lingerie. A random meeting with the handsome Marcel Bellamy, at the famous Buddha Bar, will transform Ellie in ways she could never have imagined before Paris.  


Ellie will meet the artist of her husband’s painting called ‘The Storm’, in Paris. She had always pictured the two birds in Michael’s painting as doves, but the day after Michael passed, when she looked at the painting, the birds were indisputably seagulls! For Ellie, it was a sign that her husband was still very much in her life, communicating with her through seagulls. Ellie had desperately tried finding the artist of Michael's painting to ask him had he painted doves or seagulls, to know for certain, but the artist was no longer located in the Melbourne gallery where Michael had purchased the painting. The artist had moved to Paris. Their meeting in Paris was a coincidence seemingly just too coincidental, yet it happened, reminding Ellie of the power of synchronicities - where two or more things lined up for a reason.


An affair transpires; Ellie’s question about the birds in Michael’s painting is answered; and by the time she arrives in Varanasi, and takes a boat out onto the holy river, to see the seagulls flying low on the Ganges, to decide for herself whether or not seagulls carry the spirits of those passed from one lifetime into another (like her good friend, Rahul, the Indian taxi driver had told her) she knew she was right to trust in the whispers of her heart that brought her so far beyond the sadness and confines of her grief. Because Ellie persevered through the journey of grief, the universe conspired to give her the answers that she would need to write new chapters for her life, going forward, after Michael.



I’m certain 'Seagulls on the Ganges' was always resting in me, just waiting for me to fall in love, live my experiences and meet with the lessons that would chart a new course for me.

I've so loved writing it. I hope my story reminds you not to ignore coincidences too coincidental that make you stop and wonder. 


I wish you a brave life and may that life always warm your heart.

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 "I'm changed forever because of the inspiration of Ellie Buckley..." Susan
Julie Stafford's debut novel

...not quite a memoir, but close ...

Full of optimism and bravery, Ellie Buckley teaches us how to trust in the whispers of our heart as she navigates new life after loss ...
 ... If you paid more attention to coincidences seemingly just too coincidental to consider, that make you stop and wonder, and then you listened to what your heart wanted to make of such coincidences ... would you be BRAVE TO FOLLOW where your heart wanted to lead you?

 Ellie could no longer ignore the coincidences ... all involving a seagull ... for Ellie some moments were just too coincidental to ignore ... and so, she let her heart lead the way ...


" 'Seagulls on the Ganges' is Julie Stafford's autobiographical saga of cosmic connectivity and meaningful coincidences ... only those who have felt love in such a sublime form and manner can understand Stafford's  (she is Ellie in her story) celestial togetherness with her soulmate, husband, Bruce (Michael) or Michael's longings and cravings to hold onto Ellie from the realms of afterlife. Here, in Stafford's story ... love reaches DIVINITY. "  Sumit Paul (Journalist, The Free Press Journal)

The Free Press Journal is one of the oldest English Daily newspapers from Mumbai with a heritage of more than 88 years. And yet, The Free Press Journal is a contemporary paper and rooted in current urban realities. In keeping with the international trend, it has reinvented itself in terms of design, get up and content. 

" Ellie’s journey has sparked a decision in me to throw caution to the wind and to break free from my acceptance of having a mediocre life. Instead there is a little voice urging me to take a leap of faith and to declare boldly (even just to myself) that I am heading for an extraordinary life. Like Ellie, I have no clue at all as to how this might unfold, but if I can adopt her strategy and trust the words uttered in my heart rather than listening to the irritating voice that would prefer I stay small, well who knows where life will take me. Ellie encourages us to be brave and bold. She wants us to be still, to be in the moment so that we can find those signposts, the meaningful coincidences that will light our way and help us to move forward when we feel hopelessly stuck..." Debbie South Australia

"There are some books that get under your skin. You feel as if the characters are your friends and there is a sense of loss as you come to the end. Days and even weeks after, you catch yourself thinking about those characters and wondering how they are, what they might be doing… and hoping for a sequel. ‘Seagulls on the Ganges’ was such a book for me. In the midst of heart crushing loss, Ellie’s courage and spirit shone like a beacon..." Lisa Victoria

People come into our lives
for a reason, a season or a lifetime ...
believing in seagulls ...

 ... There were hundreds of seagulls, all chasing after the boats, flying low, and then ascending to great heights. It was like watching Rahul’s story, about why seagulls fly low on the Ganges come to life, right before Ellie's eyes.  Was it possible that the seagulls were really collecting the souls of the deceased as their ashes were being scattered on the Ganges and delivering them into their next lifetime? Of course, Ellie would never know the answer but she loved that her heart was open to the possibility of it...


 ... In delicate threads of homemade pasta, seasoned with just the right amount of "garlic and chili",  generous portions of lobster, fish and clams, all fresh from the Adriatic, the least likely restaurateur bullied Ellie back to life with 'Posip' (Croatia's most famous white wine usually served at banquets); a night at the 'Lindo' (Croatia's popular dance) and he gave Ellie a most profound lesson hidden in an inconsequential stone set firm in the walls of the Franciscan Church on Stradun (Dubrovnik's famous main street). And then, Ellie was stunned to learn that Croatia's most famous love song was a song about a seagull ...

 ... In Paris, Ellie discovered sets of sleek, silky, sexy lingerie and how it felt against her curves. She even allowed herself an affair with the handsome Marcel Bellamy as the mystery of whether the birds in Michael's painting were doves or seagulls was resolved ... 

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At 53, trusting in synchronicities and the whispers of her heart,  Ellie Buckley  teaches us that life begins when you let go and you trust in your journey.
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