In October 2019, Christine was awarded the inaugural Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) Colleen McCullough Residency for an Established Writer. She is a Varuna fellow and holds a Master of Creative Writing (RMIT). Christine has had 35 short fiction works published for children. No Small Shame is her first adult novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Published by Ventura Press on 1 April, No Small Shame is the story of a young Catholic immigrant torn between love and duty at a time when there were high expectations but little agency for women.
Australia, 1914. The world is erupting in war. Jobs are scarce and immigrants unwelcome. For young Catholic Mary O’Donnell, this is not the new life she imagined. When one foolish night of passion leads to an unexpected pregnancy and a loveless marriage, Mary’s reluctant husband Liam escapes to the trenches. With her overbearing mother attempting to control her every decision, Mary flees to Melbourne determined to build a life for herself and her child. There, she forms an unlikely friendship with Protestant army reject Tom Robbins.
But as a shattering betrayal is revealed, Mary must make an impossible choice. Does she embrace the path fate has set for her, or follow the one she longs to take? From the harshness of a pit village in Scotland to the upheaval of wartime Australia, No Small Shame tells the moving story of love and duty, loyalty and betrayal, and confronting the past before you can seek a future.
CHRISTINE’S FIVE FABULOUS WRITING TIPS
- Track your research on a spreadsheet, every single fact, resource, book, website and contact. It will prove invaluable when it comes time to double check that obscure bit of information that you’ve long forgotten its origins.
- Walk the ground of your story whenever possible. Though one of my settings, a pit village in Scotland, had long been demolished, I was able to visit the site, see the light, feel the breeze, smell the local foliage. I travelled down a disused coal mine capturing that degree of darkness and sulphury smell as well as visited a reconstructed tenement row replicating the miner’s housing of 1910. Invaluable fodder, detail and inspiration for my story.
- Explore primary resources. I found the original design specifications and floor plans of the miners cottages in Wonthaggi. The descriptions, dimensions and specific detail helped me to reconstruct another of my character’s houses. I found these gems in the correspondence files of the State Coal Mine in the Public Records Office Victoria (PROV)
- Once your characters are fully formed and living on the page, let them make natural choices in keeping with their character. They can lead the way to the inevitable conclusion of your story.
- Give your story air time between drafts. It’s amazing the insights and revelations a break can reveal when you return to your manuscript with fresh eyes. I had a break of over two years between the first fully edited draft and the complete rewrite.
No Small Shame began as a passion project after I visited the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi (Victoria) to explore my family history. My great-grandparents’ journey to Australia from a tiny pit village in Scotland cried out as a backdrop in need of a story; and so began a love affair that has taken me to my ancestors’ birthplace, down a Lanarkshire coal mine and onto the battlefields of France.
WHERE TO FIND CHRISTINE ONLINE
The Swing Tree is available where all good books are sold.
WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK
Only open to Australia residents.
All you have to do is:
- In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
- Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’