HAYWIRE by Claire Saxby + Some Writing Secrets

Today, the wonderful and talented Claire Saxby is visiting DeeScribe Writing to talk about her first historical fiction, Haywire, published by Scholastic Australia and she’s sharing some secrets about her writing process.

Claire  writes award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children. Her books include ‘Bird to Bird’ and ‘Dingo’, ‘Seadog’ and ‘There Was an Old Sailor’. Her books and poetry are published in Australia and internationally.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ HAYWIRE

In 1939, 14-year-old Tom lives in Hay where his family runs the local bakery. Max Gruber is nearly fourteen-years-old. He is sent to his Uncle Ferdy in London, but is then interred and shipped to Australia aboard the Dunera. He arrives in Hay and meets Tom. The two boys become friends and find their lives and their friendship influenced by a far-away conflict in Europe. (from the publisher – Scholastic Australia)

Born on opposite sides of the world, Tom and Max live very different lives that both long to escape. In this compelling tale of an unlikely friendship, the two boys have been brought together by war.

Max’s frightening voyage on the Dunera keeps us spell bound and even once he arrives in Australia, life doesn’t get much easier for him after he finds himself in the Hay internment camp, shunned by most of the outside world as an ‘enemy alien’.

In her novel, HAYWIRE, Claire Saxby documents a little known passage of the Australian WW11 experience.

Tom and Max are both well crafted and relatable characters and readers can connect with their vulnerabilities and the fear and uncertainty that war brings.

Tom’s family life is authentically Australian and rich in the detail and experiences of the time in which the story is set.

Although HAYWIRE is set in a time of great tragedy and fear, we are left with hope and a belief that life for both Tom and Max will turn out okay in spite of the situation and war that their countries have thrust them into.

This well researched work of historical fiction is for readers aged 9 to 12 and has been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Young People’s History Prize. Congratulations Claire.

HAYWIRE – THE WRITING PROCESS

  1. What inspired you to write this book?

I knew about the Dunera, the ship that brought so many internees to Australia in 1940, but I didn’t know much. I did know that a substantial number of the internees elected to stay in Australia rather than return to England once the British government acknowledged their wrongful internment. I did know that this was an extraordinary group of men, who contributed enormously to Australia. But I knew nothing about how they came to be in Hay and what the locals thought. And I wanted to.

  1. Who/what inspired the characters of Tom and Max?

Max came first. I had this sense of a teenage boy picked up by a tidal wave and swept from his world to the world of war, where he is judged purely by his heritage, his accent. No one asked how he felt, what he wanted. And the size of the wave that carried him on allowed little time for him to even consider more than surviving. Until he reaches Hay. Tom’s life looks simple in comparison, but he too is caught up in the war at home and it tears at his life, his security too. He, like Max, has little time to really process what’s going on, and what he really wants. I wanted to show that the quiet ones are as ripped apart by war as those who shout loudly.

  1. Can you talk us through the research process?

Research took a very long time and continued throughout writing and redrafting! There were two main reasons for this. The first is that it’s all fascinating and it’s so easy to disappear down paths that may well lead to more interesting information, but which don’t necessarily contribute directly to the novel. The second reason is because in order to represent both 1939/1940 Europe and Hay, NSW accurately I needed to know so much! I needed the timeline to WWII in Germany and England, in Australia in general, and Hay in particular. Then I needed to know what life was like in Hay at the time (and that involved spending a lot – A LOT – of time on Trove, reading the twice-weekly regional newspaper.

Each reading exposed holes in my knowledge and let to more research. I thought I’d done enough research and was somewhere in the middle of drafting (tenth draft?) when I had the chance to visit Hay (It’s on the way from Melbourne to Canberra, right?). Much of what I’d researched was right, but there were several fundamental errors on my part – and each of those meant that if I wanted the story to be as close to real as I could make it, I needed to rewrite a number of key scenes. Aggh! But ultimately it was worth it.

  1. What Surprising Things Did you discover through the research process?

So many. There were so many things that I just hadn’t thought about, eg why did they chose Hay for the internment camps? (criteria included being far from the coast, having transport access, being built on sand to prevent escape attempts). Surprises were big and small and ranged from fathers being rounded up for internment in England, even when sons were employed by the army (and vice versa) to the camp having their own currency.

I met a man who had been a child at the time the internees arrived and he told me that there’d been Gatling guns set up inside the station, trained on the disembarking men. The same man told me about his father setting up on the chimney of their house, armed with several weapons and prepared to shoot if any of the men appeared on the street. Another surprise was that around 20 % of the internees were under 20 years-old.

  1. Writing tips

Claire’s latest release, Kookaburra

I use an A4 workbook for my research, in addition to online research. I write notes in it, on only one side of the page, with reference notes (reference book details and page number or online reference details etc). Sometimes I print out pages too, glue them in and highlight relevant information.

Don’t have too many characters. After writing mostly picture books, I thought, here is my chance to have lots of characters, and it is, but beware of having so many that it becomes confusing. Tom had many more siblings, reflecting family sizes of the time, but not all of them had enough of a role to justify their existence. Some had to go.

Research broadly, from multiple sources. Trove was a … treasure trove! It allowed me access to several regional newspapers, each with their own focus. All were helpful. The internet is wonderful and so are books. Each provides some of the same information, which is useful for corroboration, but each also provides different information, which helps to flesh out the historical world I was entering.

You can find out more about Claire and her work at https://clairesaxby.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

A New Fun Crocodile Book for Kids – and how to write one!

Much loved children’s author, Katrina Germain and illustrator, Tom Jellett have a wonderful new book due out next month!

Shoo You Crocodile! is a fun, raucous tale for imaginative young readers and small, brave adventurers. The story offers space for discussion around play, real and imagined stories and families can use the book to play their own make-believe monster games and learn about rhyming words. The book also teaches young readers about working together, being brave, facing challenges and problem solving. (from the publisher) Little Book Press 

Katrina says, The story was super fun to write. Escaping invisible crocodiles is like dodging molten lava; it’s an imaginary game that is played universally by children. I had the idea for this story while watching a group of children play in the sandpit. They were pretending that crocodiles were coming to get them. The book has noise and action with themes of imagination, teamwork and courage. The rhythm and rhyme is lively and there are crocodiles on the loose! What could be more fun than that?

As with every picture book I write, I want to appeal to both adults and children but my primary focus is the kids. Hopefully, young children will love this one because it’s playful with amusing elements of danger. As it was inspired by pre-schoolers exploring ideas together (creating a game about overcoming danger) it’s not about what adults want to tell children; it’s about what children want to tell themselves. There’s also something about crocodiles that intrigues young readers and always draws everyone in.

If educators and parents would like to use the book for other learning experiences there are opportunities to explore language and rhyming words. The main themes include working together, being brave and facing challenges with friends. The illustrator, Tom Jellett, has set the story in a museum, which adds additional, rich layers of meaning to the story. Families could spend ages examining the pictures and pondering the artefacts in the artwork. The book would be great to read before or after a visit to the museum.

THE WRITING PROCESS

What were the challenges of writing a story like this featuring a scary creature in a book for young children?

Great question! Books and play are wonderful ways for children to explore scary situations in a safe manner that makes them feel powerful. (There’s always a happy outcome at the end!) Tom Jellett’s entertaining art perfectly creates the right atmosphere. The crocodiles are running around on their two back legs so they’re not overly lifelike. The story is dramatic and suspenseful but the crocodiles never actually catch the characters or touch them; the children in the story successfully frighten the crocodiles away. The book has a child narrator and the tone is upbeat and energetic. I think all those thing help.

Can you give us 5 tips on how you wrote this book?

I tend to use different processes for different books but this one went something like this…

  1. Let children be the inspiration.

Observe and listen to children. Think about what’s important to them and what ideas they’d like to explore.

  1. Make it fun!

Do this through the use of captivating characters, action and drama and interesting language; use onomatopoeia, rhyme and colloquialisms.

  1. Edit and polish.

Rewrite and rewrite till your story is tight. (SHOO YOU CROCODILE is just under 200 words.)

  1. Trust the illustrator.

Don’t attempt to explain every aspect of the story in the written text. The illustrator will create a visual narrative that completes the story.

  1. Trust the readers.

Don’t spell out themes and messages in a boring, laborious way. Tell an engaging story and let readers discover aspects that interest them. If your book is authentic, layered and interesting readers will find ways to enjoy it.

Thanks Katrina for sharing these great tips.

Katrina Germein is a best-selling picture book author. Published worldwide, Katrina’s book Big Rain Coming has remained continuously in print since it was first published in 1999. Her popular title My Dad Thinks He’s Funny was Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Thunderstorm Dancing is among many of Katrina’s CBCA Notable Books to have featured on children’s television programs such as Play School. In 2019 Katrina received the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award for Let’s Go Strolling. Katrina is an ambassador for Raising Literacy Australia, a Books in Homes Role Model and a Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassador. New titles in 2020 include Tell ’em! and Shoo You Crocodile! Katrina holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She continues to teach part time.

You can find out more about Katrina at her website.

Happy Book Day – Breaking Storm

Vikki Holstein is the author of Breaking Storm, the first book in her romantic suspense series, White Wattle Creek.
A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, her writing reflects the courage it takes to trust again, and the struggle to forgive ourselves on the journey to finding love, peace, and happiness.
Now a wife, mother, and storyteller, she lives in central Victoria with her husband and herd of animals. When not writing, she spends time with her horses, helping her husband on his latest renovation project, or gardening.
ABOUT BREAKING STORM
Kelsey’s sole purpose in life is to keep four-year-old Pipa safe. Conceived in a violent, drug-induced rampage, Pipa is being hunted by the man responsible. He wants her dead, and no matter how far Kelsey and Pipa run, the brewing storm is never far behind.
 
Protection lies in Kelsey’s hometown of White Wattle Creek in the form of Ethan, the man who’d always been her safe place. The one she loved. And the one who broke her heart. But she not only has Ethan to face when she returns. The emotional abuse of her past and the truth surrounding Pipa’s existence both rain down on her from the clouds gathering overhead.
 
When Kelsey finally opens her heart to Ethan, her nightmares tip over into reality, and with Pipa’s future hanging in the balance, Kelsey must find the strength within to fight for their right to happiness … before the storm breaks.
VIKKI’S WRITING TIPS
1. Switch off the self editing for the first draft.
2. Listen to your gut. I’ve found trying to force the characters to keep to the outline blocks the process. Trust them to go where they are going.
3. Join a writer’s group. The support and contact with other writers helps with motivation, and the friends you make are wonderful.
4. Doing the mundane can help when the writing is stuck. I don’t know how many times I’ve come up with the answer to a stalled scene while I’m washing dishes.
5. Be proud of whatever genre you write in.
Breaking Storm started as a vivid scene in my head, and I knew this was the story I would pursue to publication. Kelsey spoke loud and clear about her part in it. Ethan was more reticent at first, but told his part in the end. And Pipa evolved from a minor character into my favorite four year old (other than when my own kids were four, oF course.
WHERE TO FIND VIKKI ONLINE
WHERE TO BUY BREAKING DAWN
Congratulations Vikki on the release of Breaking Storm!

Happy Book Day – Drowning in the Shallows

Drowning in the Shallows is an hilarious new adult comedy written by Dan Kaufman and published by Melbourne Books.
ABOUT DROWNING IN SHALLOWS
David’s journalism students petrify him. Then again, so does his cat.
His girlfriend broke up with him, he writes about bars for a shrinking newspaper that’s abandoned news reporting for lifestyle articles, and he’s desperately searching for meaning amongst the backdrop of Sydney’s shallow social scene.
Then he meets a young woman who just might be the answer. The only problem is, she’s a friend of one of his students.
Drowning in the Shallows is a comedy about heartache, a satire of Sydney society, a coming-of-age tale about a man in his 30s who is only now growing up, and a love story about a man and his beloved evil cat.
WHERE THE INSPIRATION CAME FROM
The setting and background details all came straight from my own life: from the main character’s job (he’s a journo and I used to be one too) right through to the world he used to inhabit (Sydney bars and social parties).
However, on a deeper level I was inspired by the men I knew who would have good intentions and genuinely not wish anyone any harm – but who would also often act in a sleazy way and not even realise it. I was struck by how I saw them act and how the women in their lives saw them completely differently.
I wanted to parody and ridicule male behaviour (including my own when I was younger) to show how it comes about and to make men rethink the way they behave. The best way I can put this is that if I had read this novel when I was younger, I’d like to think it would have changed the way I had acted – and thought.
DAN’S WRITING TIPS
1) Write about what you know. In my case, I used to be a journo for the Sydney Morning Herald who had to write about Sydney’s nightlife at one point – and it was such a ridiculous world that I thought it would be the perfect backdrop for a book about a heartbroken child man who needs to grow up.
2) Embrace rejection. I received countless rejections – and I mean thousands, not hundreds – before this book was picked up by a local publisher.
3) If in doubt, cut it out. I originally wrote my novel many years ago, but after a few years I reread it and thought that half of it was crap. As such, I took a deep breath, cut everything that didn’t make me laugh, think or that didn’t move the novel along briskly – and reworked the book. It was a tough decision, but I am so glad I made it.
4) Be true to yourself and write what you’re passionate about. I know this sounds like a hippy thing to say – but if your writing isn’t authentic, then it’s not going to work. People might love or hate my book – but at least I wrote what I truly wanted to, rather than what I thought would sell, even though some people told me there’d be no market for my book.
5) Fall in love with your characters. Your characters have to be complete, living breathing beings who are so real to you tha tyou would instantly know what they would say or do in any given situation. If not, then you need to develop them further.
WHERE TO FIND DAN ONLINE
WHERE TO BUY DROWNING IN THE SHALLOWS
Book purchase link:
Readers can order the book direct from the publisher (and read the first three chapters for free) at: https://www.melbournebooks.com.au/products/drowning-in-the-shallows-preview

Happy Book Day – The Long Shadow

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has thirty years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry, including forensic work. She is the author of three psychological thrillers, Medea’s Curse, Dangerous to Know, and This I Would Kill For, with tart noir heroine, psychiatrist Natalie King, and a new stand alone rural thriller, The Long Shadow. She has been married to Graeme Simsion for thirty years and they have two children, and a joint romantic comedy-feel-good mid-age novel, Two Steps Forward, and a sequel in progress, Two Steps Onwards.

ABOUT THE LONG SHADOW

Old Sins Cast Long Shadows…sometimes you have to deal with the past before you can face the future

Issy Harris has never heard of Riley, a town on the edge of the outback, much less want to end up there. But her husband Dean is the Red Adair of hospital stuff ups, and Riley is where they and their two year old son need to go. A psychologist, at least she gets a job running the mother-baby postnatal group to keep her occupied.

From the first group, Issy knows something is wrong. Badly wrong. Pulled into the politics of a company town where a culture of corruption is putting the viability of the hospital at risk, Issy is forced to make sense of a threats made against her and her son if she is to protect him. Nursing her own secret and struggling to keep her marriage together, Issy is pitted against the local union boss, the politician patriarch and his family as she tries to work out how they are tied into a twenty five year old tragedy – the kidnapping and murder of the older brother of one of the women in her group.  A desperate race against time and the unpredictable elements of nature results in a breathtaking climax where Issy is forced to choose what it is that she really values.

A story about mothers, attachment and the things that get in the way of being the parent you want to be.

ANNE’S INSPIRATION

For six years I ran an attachment therapy group. Clinically it was probably the most exhilarating time of my career as a psychiatrist; it felt a little like psychotherapy on speed. Women really wanted to let go of the ties that were keeping them stuck—and the lightbulb moments got them there. I wanted to use some of this experience and the work I have done over the last thirty years to highlight the tensions and anxieties becoming a mother can elicit—and use it to drive a pacey page turner with twists and turns.

ANNE’S WRITING TIPS

  1. Plan; my husband and I always plot our books together
  2. Researched the geography—drove up through central NSW and stayed around Dubbo and Nyngan
  3. Worked and reworked the characters
  4. Had two Indigenous women read and give feedback on my most challenging (Indigenous) character (and one of them made me watch Rugby!)
  5. Rewrote—took out 16,000 words

WHERE TO FIND ANNE ONLINE

Website blog https://www.annebuist.com/blog/

Twitter: @anneebuist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anneebuist

WHERE TO BUY THE LONG SHADOW

https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/the-long-shadow

https://www.amazon.com.au/s?k=buist&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

Congratulations Anne on the release of The Long Shadow.

Happy Book Day – Love the Foods That Set You Free

When Sarah Glass received a terrible medical diagnosis, she decided to do her own research into how to stay well.  In the process she discovered a wealth of information about gut health and how good gut health affects your immune system and thus every aspect of your health.

“How very topical right now – though I had no idea this virus was around the corner when I wrote it.”

“My friends who saw me transform to a much lower weight and a much healthier me, asked me to give a talk about what I had done to change my health status so dramatically, so I did, a year ago.  After the talk they all said, you need to write a book about this, everyone needs to know this stuff!!!  So here we are.  I hope the book in engaging, full of information but written in a style to be easy to read and understand.” 

Sarah had never written before, and her daughter Jessica helped her with both content and design.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Love the Foods That Set You Free is about health and wellness and covers many common chronic ailments and includes weight issues, all affected by gut health.  It is published by Busybird Publishing in Melbourne.

“Our book is about how to improve your gut health and thus your overall health and immunity through some lifestyle changes. It is based on Sarah’s story and describes her research and accidental discoveries along the way, including that gut health is at the core of most of our health issues, including the majority of chronic ailments – physical and mental, excess weight and autoimmunity.

What better time to improve your health and boost your immunity? This is an easy to read guide with scientific explanations, an overall plan and many resources to follow if you want to. Actioning some or all of the suggestions in this book will put you on a road to better overall health and immunity. A must read for anyone wanting to take control of their own health and future well-being.”

FIND SARAH AND JESSICA ONLINE

We have a website: https://www.lovethefoodsthatsetyoufree.com and a Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/lovethefoodsthatsetyoufree/

The book can be bought on the website here: https://www.lovethefoodsthatsetyoufree.com/shop-landing-page

Happy Book Day Sarah and Jessica.

 

 

HAPPY BOOK DAY – THE JOY OF MONEY

Authors Julia Newbould and Kate McCallum want money to be a joy to women by helping them to feel confident to make positive decisions today and for a better tomorrow. Julia Newbould has a background in economics and journalism, leading editorial teams for financial services publications. She also founded and ran the Stella Network for BT from 2013 to 2019, supporting women in financial planning. She is currently editor-at-large for Money magazine. Kate McCallum is a financial adviser and director of award-winning firm, Multiforte Financial Services. She is Chair of FINSIA’s NSW Council and National Chair of the Association of Financial Advisers’ (AFA), Inspire Women’s Community, and the winner of AFA’s 2014 Female Excellence in Advice Award.

THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE JOY OF MONEY

“Our inspiration came from the women around us who were all smart and sassy but had a limited financial knowledge and confidence to make decisions with their money. We felt that money is something at the heart of every decision we make. I wanted to change jobs, other friends wanted to move cities, others wanted to change careers or relationships – but all were affected by our money and so we wanted to make sure that women were doing enough with their money to give more choices when they needed.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

“This book is a welcome addition to women’s bookshelves as we all want to know how to better manage our money, avoid bad debt, put something aside for the future, and make sure the money we work so hard to earn will be there when we need it most. I’ve never paid much attention to money until now; I’m at an age where I wonder what will happen if I’m no longer working and earning money. I would imagine that is the same for many women.

                                                                                         Kate Ceberano, AM 

Money isn’t just about money. It’s about security. It’s about choices – to live your best life. It’s about everything money enables you to do and just as importantly what it allows you not to do. Women know that they need to be smart about money, but are often stopped short: they don’t know where to go, how to start, or who to trust. They want expert guidance about money that explains the detail and the big picture, which is why Julia and Kate wrote The Joy of Money.

The Joy of Money will help women navigate money related issues in their lives. Money is about choices and the options you give yourself by the way you manage money – today, tomorrow and the day after. The book covers setting goals, investing, superannuation, money and relationships, property, money and kids, your career, insurance and retirement. It sets out to create financial independence for women of all ages, because unless you have financial independence, your choices are very limited.

It gives some simple rules of thumb to make decisions and track your progress.
It also has some case studies of how others have managed their money and why they are in the positions they are in today and how they intend to make it to the future they desire.
FIVE TIPS ABOUT WRITING THIS BOOK
My co-writer, Kate McCallum and I talked about our friends and colleagues who needed help with their finances and after talking to each other about areas people didn’t know enough about and could really benefit from good advice we set about writing a simple money book – and by simple – I mean without jargon but not talking down in concepts – that would help women gain confidence to take more control of their finances and thus futures.
  1. Choose an audience – women, colleagues and friends we saw needed something like this, we saw the gap in the market and thought we’d fill it.
  2. We chose to be partners in this which helped us in getting it written, to a tight deadline, and on track in what we believed the book should be about
  3. We talked to many many women about where the gaps were in their financial knowledge was
  4. We are passionate about our subject – helping women gain independence and make the best of their financial positions which were affected by the gender pay gap and lack of super etc,
  5. We love teaching others and imparting the knowledge we have learned to help others avoid mistakes and make better decisions.

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

 

 

Happy Book Day – Call Me Kismet

PJ Mayhem is a Sydney based writer and dachshund wrangler, who swore she’d never write a romance—yet here we are! In her time as a copywriter for a natural therapies college, she didn’t once hear anyone utter the words ‘Oh my Buddha’, but there was much talk of signs. Her favourite thing to do is laugh out loud, and that’s what she hopes her writing will make people do.

ABOUT THE BOOK

PJ’s new book, Call Me Kismet was published in February this year. It’s an adult humorous chick lit that also appeals to me who have given it some great reviews.

Kismet’s destined to fall in love … but that’s not the future she had in mind. With all signs pointing to the one person who isn’t interested, fate is going to need a helping hand—if she’s to trust it at all …

Fiona Johnson has embraced spirituality, taken on the name Kismet and considers her love life to be a past life. Or she did … until her Energetic and Spiritual Healer throws everything into disarray when she sees a soul mate in Kismet’s aura, launching Kismet on a mission to fulfil her romantic destiny. Enter the Singing Fruitologist.

It’s going to take a lot more than affirmations and Lovers Oracle cards to force the hand of fate and deal with the havoc that Situation Singing Fruitologist causes in Kismet’s life—it’s going to take an entire Spiritual Support Pit Crew… And even then, is it really written in the stars or can she create her own destiny?

Call Me Kismet is a delightful and hilarious romantic comedy about faith, friendship and finding yourself.

 THIS INSPIRATION FOR CALL ME KISMET

I’d tried to write another novel but through a writing group at Writing NSW I really found my voice and learnt to embrace my style and love of quirky characters. Call Me Kismet marries this, my love of music and my many years’ experience working for a natural therapies college, I realised I had to write what I knew, what I loved and what made me laugh. It really stemmed from there.

PJ’S FIVE FABULOUS WRITING TIPS

  1. I’ve often heard it said that the book we think we’re writing isn’t the book we end up writing, and that is very true of Call Me Kismet. Approach your story as you would a mystery tour!
  2. As writers our lives are a collection of incidents, experiences and observations waiting to be turned into stories. I thought about what unique experiences I’d had and the environments I’d been in and how these could be used to layer into a novel.
  3. I really wanted to write something fun and different, so tried to write a story that had quite a few qualities /aspects that I’d not ever seen in other stories (but I think this is what all authors try to achieve).
  4. My imagination has a natural groove that it runs down – in my case quirky humour. My tip is to find what you’re drawn to and work with that. It makes your writing more real and enjoyable for you as the writer and ultimately the reader.
  5. Not really advice I’d give but one reason I came to write it – I was in a job I couldn’t stand, so much so that I put everything I had into writing the story, welcoming it as a complete distraction at the end of the day no matter how exhausted I was and spent every lunch time immersed in it.

FIND PJ ONLINE

Twitter
Facebook

BUY CALL ME KISMET

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

Present Tense – Happy Book Day!

Natalie Conyer was born and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. She lives in Sydney with Henry, the world’s most affable cat; and she gave up a perfectly respectable career to write crime fiction.

Her short stories have won several awards in the annual Scarlet Stiletto competition run by Sisters in Crime Australia.

Present Tense is Natalie’s first novel. It was the Pick of the Week in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, in January this year.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Present Tense is a police procedural crime fiction published by Clan Destine Press. It takes you to Cape Town, to the thrilling and dangerous new South Africa.

Veteran cop Schalk Lourens wants a quiet life. Like the rest of the country, he’s trying to put the past behind him. But the past has a way of hanging on, and when Schalk’s old boss, retired police captain Piet Pieterse is murdered, Schalk must confront old demons.

Pieterse has been necklaced. A tyre was placed over his head, doused in petrol, and set alight. Necklacing is a throwback to apartheid, an execution generally reserved for collaborators. Who would target Pieterse this way, and why now, 25 years after apartheid ended?

Meanwhile, it’s an election year and people are pinning their hopes on charismatic candidate Gideon Radebe. But there’s opposition, and this volatile country’s on a knife edge. A wrong move could generate a catastrophe.

Schalk is drawn in to a world he no longer knows, where shadowy forces call the shots. He must tread a path between the new regime and the old, the personal and the professional, justice and revenge.

The investigation will change his life, and could alter his country’s future.

THE INSPIRATION FOR PRESENT TENSE

when I left Cape Town many years ago, the terrible apartheid regime was in place. When I returned, apartheid had gone and everything had changed. I wondered how people felt about their new society and decided to explore this by writing a crime novel. My central character, policeman Schalk Lourens, is an ordinary citizen trying to reconcile the past with the present.

NATALIE’S FABULOUS WRITING TIPS

  • Write every day, and at the same time if possible (wish I practiced this more rigorously)
  • Ignore the voice in your head that says it’s terrible. Just keep going.
  • Get feedback: friends whose opinion you trust, your writing workshop. You need someone to point out what you’ve missed.
  • Read, read, read. The more you read, the better you write
  • Reading drafts out loud helps show you what works and what doesn’t.

WHERE TO FIND NATALIE

You can find Natalie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Congratulations Natalie and Happy Book Day!

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share this post on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

 

No Small Shame – Happy Book Day

Christine Bell is a Melbourne fiction writer. Her debut historical novel No Small Shame was published by Ventura Press (Impact) April 2020.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Website:             https://christinebell.com.au
Twitter:                https://twitter.com/chrisbellwrites
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/chris.bell.77377
Instagram:           https://www.instagram.com/christinembell

The Swing Tree is available where all good books are sold.

Congratulations Christine and Happy Book Day.

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!