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/

 

 

 

 

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 – The Decision They Made

Maria P Frino’s The Decision They Made is an historical family saga set in Italy, Russia and Australia. Although it’s historical fiction, it was inspired by her own family members’ brave decision to come to a country they knew very little about.

Maria says, “Amelia and Simona, the two women who make the decision are based on my grandmothers.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two women make a decision during WWII. They keep this decision secret for 40 years. When Larissa and Alexey uncover the secret there are consequences for all the family.

Maria says, “I wrote this book 25 years ago and then shelved it to look after our two children. The story comes from stories I heard growing up from my parents, aunts and uncles and their friends of how harsh it was living during WWII. The book is fictional, however, there is a basement under my grandmother’s house in Southern Italy.”

WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK

The Decision They Made is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle and as a print book on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will be available at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt  (where she was to launch the book) twill be available to buy from Berkelouw Books in the next month.
Maria is  donating 50% of her book sales to The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.
You can find Maria on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook under Marie Giunta

WIN A COPY OF THE DECISION THEY MADE

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!

 

Mentone Public Library – A Hidden Gem

Last weekend, I had the most wonderful visit to the Mentone Public Library.

I had been asked to talk about my writing journey by Julia Reichstein, a volunteer at Mentone Public Library, and also at the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Elsternwick, which provided so much support and assistance with my research for Beyond Belief.

Earlier this year, when I mentioned to a Mentone resident at a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) meeting that I was going to be speaking at her library, she looked at me bewildered, and said, “You must mean Cheltenham. Mentone doesn’t have a library.”

But it does!

Mentone Public Library is situated in a quaint little building in the middle of the Coles Car Park, not easy to find unless you are ‘in the know’. Thanks to Julia’s efficiency in making sure that everything was perfect for my visit, I was able to find my way. She had given me great directions explaining exactly where to go.The library has been running since 1925, just prior to the beginning of the Great Depression. It was started by a group of people seeking to lift flagging spirits and provide community support for locals who had fallen on hard times.

Today, the library is still run by volunteers, and going strong. It collects and preserves works by local historians, and is an enthusiastic supporter of local (and visiting) authors and their works. It is funded by annual subscriptions, and is an intimate and inspiring space with an eclectic collection.

I received a warm welcome from Julia, and President, Tony, and a room full of book lovers and writers.

It was so much fun to talk books and writing with such an enthusiastic group of all ages.

Afterwards, there were book sales and signings, followed by lunch at a quaint Mentone Cafe.

Thanks Julia and Tony for inviting me to visit your fascinating library. I enjoyed becoming part of its history.

Photos courtesy of Julia Reichstein.