Mon 20th Feb – mylittlebookspace.blogspot.co.uk – blog post.
Tues 21st Feb – https://novelgossip.com –
Weds 22nd Feb – https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com – video looked great.
Thurs 23rd Feb – / http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/ –
Fri 24th Feb – https://lindasbookbag.com/ – interview questions.
Sat 25th Feb – https://kirstyes.co.uk/ – an article on friendship.
independent of Book Tour
Mon 27th Feb https://tinyurl.com/PMPGlenicewhitting
Good friends, food and wine.
Wendy Dunn and Swinburne University have kindly arranged to launch my latest novel, ‘Something Missing’ published by MadeGlobal Publishing at 3pm Sunday 11th December at Swinburne University, Hawthorn Victoria Australia.
This is a free event, but to ascertain numbers for catering and room capacity, please obtain your ticket for the launch via this link:
Writers often dream of being published and getting their work ‘out there’. I am no exception. However, when asked by friends if I am delighted that my second novel will be published in December 2016 by MadeGlobal I always wonder which version they mean. This manuscript has had at least three reincarnations with a change of title each time. Each has its own merit and has taught me something valuable about the craft of writing.
The novel, ‘Something Missing’ began life as ‘Hens Lay, People Lie’: my artefact for my PhD at Swinburne University.
I had just completed my Masters of Creative Writing at Melbourne Uni as a mature aged student when my first novel, Pickle to Pie co-won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest. This meant a cash advance, plus publication and I was beside myself with excitement.
Pickle to Pie was the story of a boy, a great-hearted German Grossmutter and a man caught between two worlds. It was a record of my father’s life. In his late eighties he would sit for hours telling me, or whoever would listen, the stories of his early life. In 1906 he was the first child born in Australia to his family of German immigrants and he had survived the problems associated with living through two world wars and a depression. After he died, writing his stories was a labour of love. Pinned to my study wall was,
There is no greater tribute than to lovingly record a life
I had promised myself, if Pickle to Pie was ever published that I would give up my day job. Hairdressing had always augmented the family income through good times and bad.
After the book launch I stuck to my promise, sold the salon and walked away to a life of poverty. I knew I was not a J K Rowlings, but I was happy.
I had often toyed with the idea of studying for my PhD but never dreamt it could happen. However, to be awarded an APA scholarship meant the opportunity to study at Swinburne University. I grabbed it with both hands. With the help of two supervisors I could learn the craft of writing and understand all the rules. I would then know why I was breaking them. This was my chance to spread my writing wings and fly to the moon.
Did I follow on from the German Australian story? Did I build on the shoe-box of old postcards written in High German found in the bottom of dad’s wardrobe after he died? Or the bookcase filled with A4 folders containing years of German/Australian research? Of course not. Instead, I decided to do what so many writers do. I chose to write something close to my heart. Something entirely different. This time it would be a women’s story based on my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. It would be a story about two women, a life changing pen-friendship and the lies they tell each other.
I wrote in my journal,
‘I am writing an epistolary, autoethnographic novel grounded in both feminism and post modernist paradigms with the aim of revealing women’s hidden stories in the hope of instigating social change. I believe this embedded story of the journey of self discovery and friendship will carry with it the possibility of nothing less than the restoration of faith in human kind.’
What lofty aims, but here was a chance to use our letters, interspersed with text, to explore the influence this elderly poet had on a young woman who left school at fourteen to become a hairdresser: a woman who unconsciously yearned for the education given to her brother and denied to her. My journey into epistolary fiction using letter, diary and journal extracts, plus snippets of poetry, had begun.
I commenced writing ‘Hen’s Lay, People Lie’ using an older American woman’s voice in first person narration; an elderly Australian woman in second person; and the young Australian mum in third person. The story would have embedded dialogue, following author, Debra Adelaide’s example, where only the formatting and actions of the characters, rather than dialogue marks, reveal to the reader who is speaking at that time. The overarching elderly Australian woman would reveal the pitfalls and joys of writing a novel in a humorous, tongue in cheek, vein.
For four years I am caught up in a world where my mind keeps bouncing backwards and forwards between my creative writing of this novel and the formal academic exegesis. I try to remain true to my research title; Hens Lay, People Lie. A Novel and an Exegesis Beyond Epistolarity: The Warp, the Weft and the Loom.
Friends warned me that I would have a meltdown post PhD, but I was convinced that would not happen to me. I was too strong, too resilient. That sort of breakdown only happened to other people. The wail of the ambulance soon bought me back to earth with a thud. I asked my adult son what section of hospital I was in. He replied, ‘The resuscitation room, mum.’ Two weeks later, just home from hospital and feeling weak and tired, I had resigned myself to missing my already paid for graduation ceremony at the Melbourne Convention Centre. My son hired a wheelchair, determined I would make it.
There were only three PhD degrees awarded that night. I waited in the wings for all the BA’s, Masters and double degrees to be awarded before my son wheeled me over to join the queue waiting for their turn to hear their name called and to climb the stairs to the stage. Determined to walk under my own steam, doubts filled my mind. What if I couldn’t manage the stairs? What if I fainted, collapsed, or worse still, threw up when the chancellor, in all his finery handed me my much sort after certificate. What if…
To leave my wheelchair and walk on stage wearing the hired floppy Tudor bonnet and colourful gown was a highlight in my life. I had an overwhelming feeling of achievement and self worth that no one could take away from me. Afterwards I thankfully joined my peers on the stage and proudly marched out with the academic procession only to flop into the wheelchair waiting by the door.
The mature aged student journey from VCE to PhD had required passion, dogged determination and guts, but it had also been the most exciting, exhilarating time in my life. I knew I would miss it and all the friends I’d made along the way.
Using my recently gained title of Dr Glenice Whitting I sent my edited and, according to me, perfect manuscript out to publishers and waited for the offers to come rolling in. Nothing happened. Slowly, relentlessly, one after the other a stream of rejections arrived. ‘Thank you for sending Hen’s Lay People Lie, however…’
I was caught in a catch 22 situation. To get a publisher I needed an agent but to get an agent I needed a publisher. I also took a long hard look at what I’d written, and following the suggestions of American author/editor, Cindy Vallar, I inserted quotation marks to all the dialogue and renamed the manuscript ‘What Time is it There?’ Still the rejections arrived. It was ‘too academic’ too many voices, too literary, too hard to read etc. Had I, over the years of study, begun to sound as if I’d swallowed a dictionary? I knew I had to, once again, rewrite the manuscript. It took a huge leap of faith to take it from literary fiction into popular fiction.
The third reincarnation is the one that is being published. It was an invaluable lesson. To be a writer I had to be myself and write the way I really wanted to write, from the heart. I took out the overarching second person narrating character, made both Maggie and Diane third person narration, threw in a handful of suspense and Voilà …’Something Missing’ was born. It had gone beyond academia, beyond epistolarity into what is now called, popular fiction. I was over the moon with excitement the day I received the email that Tim Ridgway and Melanie V Taylor of MadeGlobal Publishing loved the story and would I sign the contract etc.
It is every writer’s dream to hold their book in their hand. It gives them a chance to thank all the people who have helped along the way. There have been so many people I could list who have patiently and painstakingly worked with me through all three versions. However, there is an indescribable joy in being able to finally thank them formally, via the acknowledgment page, in the soon to be published last reincarnation of the manuscript, ‘Something Missing’.
When academic friends say, ‘Congratulations on getting ‘Hens Lay, People Lie’ published’ I simply smile and reply with a heartfelt ‘Thank you’.