Alison was born in Melbourne, brought up in Sydney and lives in Canberra. She has worked in the UK and in Australia as a professor as well as a novelist.
Her new novel, The Philosopher’s Daughters, is set in the 1890s in London and Australia. Her previous novels include A Perfect Marriage, a work of contemporary fiction, while her first three novels (Stillwater Creek, The Indigo Sky, and A Distant Land) are historical fiction spanning the decades 1950s through to the early 1970s.
Alison’s work has been translated into French and has also been published by Reader’s Digest Select Editions in both Asia and Europe. Stillwater Creek was Highly Commended in the ACT Book of the Year Award in 2011 and A Perfect Marriage was Highly Commended in the 2019 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards.
The Philosopher’s Daughters is published by RedDoor Press and paperback and e-book editions are available from today. April 2020. The large print edition and the audiobook will be available form early July.
ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHER’S DAUGHTERS
London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters’ lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life’s work or to devote herself to painting.
When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life. Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand who is seeking revenge.
ALISON’S FABULOUS TIPS ON WRITING
To understand history, we rely on the reports of others. And when we read those words we might ask ourselves whose stories are missing. Typically, it will be the stories of those who were losers, of those who had no power at the time; for example. the disenfranchised, the dispossessed, the defeated. And this is where writers of historical fiction can present different perspectives of the past to those that are found in standard straight historical texts. The fiction writer can tell a story that includes the marginal voices that history left aside. This was one of my goals.
As with all my novels, at the first-draft stage I try to work consistently every day on the manuscript. Not for long, maybe an hour or so each day. Once the draft is complete, I put it away for a while, and return later for further drafting. At the redraft stage I try to set aside weeks to work on it, until it drives me mad and I put it to one side again. The Philosopher’s Daughters took many years to write, not only because of the research required but also because my thinking evolved over its writing.
My plotting is largely done at the start. This might seem very constraining to some people, but it allows me to keep track of where I am. And while much of this detailed preplanning goes out the door as the novel proceeds, it’s very helpful at the beginning.
Before beginning a novel, I also decide whose viewpoint I want to write from, and if there will be one or multiple viewpoints. As the sisters in The Philosopher’s Daughters are very different in spite of their common upbringing, I chose to tell the story from each of their viewpoints. This allowed the narrative to be more nuanced than if I’d been writing from the perspective of one of the sisters.
In the second half of the 19th century, my ancestors sailed from England and Scotland to the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. It’s always struck me how brave they were, and I grew up fascinated by the thought that Australia once comprised such small colonies teetering on the edge of a vast continent. In this novel I wanted to travel back in time to view it through the eyes of two well-educated young women.
WHERE THE INSPIRATION FOR THE PHILOSOPHER’S DAUGHTERS CAME FROM
For years the idea for my new novel, The Philosopher’s Daughters, just wouldn’t let me alone. I kept imagining 1890s London and two strong young women, the daughters of a moral philosopher. Someone like John Stuart Mill, a great advocate for the emancipation of women. Someone who gives the girls a relatively modern upbringing. Then I thought of altering the sisters’ circumstances so that they separately choose to journey into remote and wild Australia. What might happen to them? How might they see life at the ‘frontier’ once they are confronted with the brutal dispossession of the Indigenous population? How would their characters develop as they faced danger?
See also https://www.alisonbooth.net/
You can find out more about Alison and her work at her website, www.alisonbooth.net and her Facebook page iat www.facebook.com/AlisonBoothAuthor/ . Her Twitter handle is @booth_alison and her Instagram account name is alisonboothauthor9723
Her Facebook page is at https:// www.facebook.com/AlisonBoothAuthor/ . Her Twitter handle is @booth_alison and her Instagram account name is alisonboothauthor9723
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’