The story began as the artefact for my PhD at Swinburne University. I used this story (working title Hen’s Lay, People Lie) to learn the craft of writing a novel.
It had embedded dialogue, where the following action and formatting, instead of dialogue marks, revealed who was speaking. I also had three voices. The older American woman’s voice was first person narration (I). An elderly Diane writing a novel was in second person (you) and a young Diane was in third person narration (she). All interesting, great to learn the craft of writing but it did not make for easy reading. The reader really had to work hard when ploughing through all the technical hurdles to get to the heart of the story.
Later, after finishing the PhD, at the recommendation of both judges of the PhD I decided, for the readers sake, to put both Maggie’s voice (older American poet) and Diane (younger Australian mother) into 3rd person narration, to leave out the overarching voice of the older Diane writing the novel, and put back the quotation marks.
Madeglobal Publishing picked it up and did all the work providing a cover, formatting and an English editor who asked, ‘What is a lamington?’ I changed it to ‘home-made cakes’. She also asked, ‘What was a Doona?’ I changed it to ‘Continental Quilt’. I paid Cindy Vallar to check out all the American words for me and also to edit the novel. She did a great job. The working title also changed to Something Missing. It was launched at Swinburne University with Wendy Dunn’s edited and supervised Backstory and Other Terrain.
When the opportunity came to self publish I found that I could put in anything that I liked, I decided to leave the two voices 3rd person and to put back the 2nd person voice of the older Diane.
Diane’s Journal: Australia.
Reliving your first meeting and ensuing pen-friendship,
and Maggie’s prompting, planted the thought to write a
longer version of your story. It would be an opportunity to
publish her poetry, limericks and double dactyls. A mark
of respect for someone who was the catalyst for your
writing journey. The thought ‘There is no greater tribute
than to lovingly record a life’ jumps into your mind.
Maybe it could be like 84 Charing Cross Road? You like
the simplicity of the letter format and understanding how
powerful it can be. It could be a small intimate book so
different from the epic proportions of your mother’s story
That covered two world wars and a depression.
This would be an uplifting little tale of two women, who,
in spite of differences in age, culture and countries, formed
a lasting friendship. A common story. True, but one that in
troubled times reinforced the good in human nature.
And underlying all these lofty aims was the thought
that it would give Maggie a lift when she needed it most.
I also knew that I had to pay Luke Harris from workingtype for a new cover for, as I liked to now call it, What time is it there? and David, from Distant Mirror, for formatting. Both forprint on demand and for Amazon Kindle
Dr Wendy Dunn had formed a Publishing Company called Posey Quill for her fascinating Tudor England book, All Manner of Things, plus her other Tudor books and offered to hold my hand and walk me through this new experience. She even gave me an ISBN number and launched the book at the Eltham Library during a Historical Women’s Month on the 14th March 2020 (just before Corona-virus hit Victoria). What would I do without you, Wendy.
It has been such a joyous ride and I’ve loved every minute, even during lock-down. I won’t say it hasn’t been difficult sometimes but I always knew the sun would shine again.
As my mum used to say, ‘These things are meant to try us’and ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’.
What am I working on now? My third novel. I’ve tentatively called it Dyed Pretty. It’s about a woman who has multiple affairs and lives to tell the tale. I have a rough idea of how it will go and how I want to write it.
Who will publish it is unknown. I have to write it first.