I’m so pleased to welcome Glenice Whitting, author of Something Missing to Linda’s Book Bag today. As I’m in my 50s and have begun my first novel I’m intrigued to hear more from Glenice about her writing career which began at a similar age.
Something Missing is published by Madeglobal Publishing and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback online from your local Amazon site, Made Global Books, the Book Depository and directly from the author.
As well as my interview with Glenice I’m delighted to have a giveaway for Something Missing too.
Two women, two countries.
Serendipity, life, friendship.
Diane, a young Australian mother, meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is a story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever.
An Interview with Glenice Whitting
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Glenice. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi, Linda. It’s hard to know where to begin. I am an Australian author with two published novels. However, I didn’t start writing until I was in my fifties. I think you could call me a late bloomer. But I love writing anything and everything, including short stories, plays, film scripts, and of course novels. I discovered my passion for writing when I returned to study as a mature aged student. The journey took me many years from VCE to a PhD in creative writing. At the moment I look forward to teaching a group of women how to write their memoirs. We meet every second Wednesday at a Community House in Bentleigh, Australia. My second novel Something Missing has just been published by MadeGlobal Publishing.
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Something Missing?
The novel is based on my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. It is about two women, two countries, chance meetings, life and friendship. I think the best way to tell you about it is to give you the blurb…
Diane, a young Australian mother meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever.
So when did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I never dreamt of becoming a writer until I returned to study. To finish my literature major for my Bachelor of Arts I needed one last subject. The only class that fitted in with my day job was fiction writing. A story I wrote was highly commended in the Judah Waten Short Story Competition. It went straight to my head and I fell in love with writing. I guess the rest is history.
You’re a playwright as well as a novelist. How different or similar do you find writing in these two ways?
They are entirely different genres. I learnt how to write dialogue in Ray Mooney’s playwriting class when studying for a diploma for Professional Writing and Editing at TAFE (Technical and Further Education) college. Writing dialogue is so different from everyday speech. However, learning how to write engaging dialogue has helped me immensely when my characters speak for themselves in my novels. I feel that most writers benefit from courses that teach them how to write for different genres such as film scripts, playwriting, novels and non-fiction. Writing is a craft and it helps to know all the aspects of that craft.
You have a Ph.D. in Philosophy (Writing). How has this impacted on your style as a novelist?
When I finished the PhD I’m sure I sounded as if I’d swallowed a dictionary. Words like epistolarity and autoethnography were part of my vocabulary. I had to take my head out of the clouds and come down to earth. However, studying for my doctorate meant that I knew the rules of the craft of writing and I understood why I was breaking them. Something Missing is the third rewrite of the novel that was the artefact for my PhD. To publish I needed to turn it from literary fiction into popular fiction and I’m very happy with the outcome. I feel that all the courses I’ve taken have helped me improve my writing. And isn’t that our aim? To do whatever we can to be the best writers we can be.
(I think you’re absolutely right.)
Education is one of the themes of Something Missing. Why did you choose this theme?
I grew up in an Australian culture that educated the boys at a High School because they would be the bread winners of a family. Girls went to a Domestic Arts School to learn cooking and sewing. We were going to be a wife and mother . Our family lived by our golden rule. He who makes the gold makes the rules. I happily became a wife, mother of two boys and a hairdresser but I always felt there was something missing in my life. My well educated American penfriend’s letters constantly showed me the advantages of a good education. In her letters she recommended books to read, authors to admire and one day I decided to accept her challenge and go to TAFE.
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
I can’t put enough emphasis on the need to research every tiny part of your novel. Even though you may be writing fiction, dates of major events etc. must be correct or your reader will not believe in your story. You can’t have your biologist not know about her natural world. My main source of information is the internet. I source articles, journals, newspaper clippings, and always verify if the information is coming from a reliable source. There is a lot of misinformation out there For every writing project I always end up with at least three large files of printed research questions and answers. I’ve also discovered that a good editor will soon pick you up if you’ve made a mistake.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I love it all. I relish the struggles and the challenges as well as the joyous feeling when everything flows and falls into place.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I’m an early bird. I get up at 3am and write till 6am. At this time the house is quiet, the phone doesn’t ring and I can still slip back to bed before my husband wakes, unaware of my tapping. There is such joy in snuggling under the bedclothes knowing that I’ve completed another section of my work in progress. If possible, it pays to have a room of your own and mine is a bedroom converted into a study/writing room. It is lined with books of all shapes and sizes, plus all my research folders which I can’t bear to throw out. You never know, I may need them one day.
Female friendship is crucial to Something Missing. To what extent do you believe women need other women in their lives to be happy?
It is a wonderful experience to have someone in your life, woman or man who supports you and nourishes your soul. However a woman friend understands you and a good friend is willing to forgive your mistakes and still be there for you through good times and bad. It is wonderful to have a friend by your side to share your happiness. They cannot make you happy but are there to celebrate with you when you are. I have some amazing friends and I just can’t think of life without them.
Something Missing has a cover that suggests female friendship regardless of age to me. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey?
MadeGlobal sent me a cover design that featured two other women. My reaction was instant. They were too young and one had brown hair. They didn’t look anything like my mental picture of Maggie and Diane. One woman had to be young and blonde and the other older and grey. I then worked with MadeGlobal to choose the two photos currently on the cover, which to me, and thankfully to you, show the friendship of the women in spite of the age difference. Somehow the photos of these two women felt right and I always go by my gut feeling. I love the cover MadeGlobal have produced.
If you could choose to be a character from Something Missing, who would you be and why?
Diane. I based her on myself and through her I explored the second part of my life journey. I find this is a benefit of writing biographically based fiction. Or faction as one of my friends calls this style of writing. In my first book Pickle to Pie I dealt with my ancestry. In Something Missing I worked on understanding the second stage of my life. My third book has to be about two ageing hairdressers and one has multiple affairs. That would be fun.
If Something Missing became a film, who would you like to play Diane and Maggie and why would you choose them?
Meryl Streep for Maggie. Meryl is such a talented, older actress who I admire. She would be able to play the feisty, well educated Maggie with a subtle air of superiority.
Nicole Kidman would be perfect as the younger Diane. Nicole has amazing acting skills and would suit the physical appearance of Diane. She would also be able to convincingly portray the extent of Diane’s adulation for Maggie.
And when you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
Anything and everything. Mostly books written by fellow authors. I believe that writers support other writers and I try to do the same.
Finally, Glenice, if you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Something Missing should be their next read, what would you say?
I’d have to say they should read Something Missing next because…it’s a moving read about friendship, understanding ourselves, and the lies that lead to truth.
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.
Thank you, Linda for showcasing me on you blog site. It is greatly appreciated.
For your chance to win either an e-copy or paperback (the winner chooses) of Something Missing by Glenice Whitting, click here. Open internationally, the competition closes at UK Midnight on Thursday 2nd March 2017.
About Glenice Whitting
Glenice Whitting is an Australian author and playwright and has published two novels. She was a hairdresser for many years before she became a mature age student. It was during an English Literature Fiction Writing course that her great midlife adventure began. Rummaging through an old cardboard shoebox in the family home she found a pile of postcards dating back to the 19th century, many of them written in Old High German. The translated greetings from abroad introduced the hairdresser to her long hidden German heritage and started her on a life changing journey. She fell in love with the craft of writing and decided to pursue a writing career. Her Australian/German novel, Pickle to Pie, was short -listed for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. It co-won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest and was launched during The Age Melbourne Writers’ Festival.
Three years as an on-line editor and columnist at suite101.com introduced her to web writing and resulted in an ebook Inspiring Women. Glenice’s play Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow was produced during the Fertile Ground New Play Festival. Her published works include biographies, reviews, numerous short stories and two novels. Her latest novel, Something Missing, published by MadeGlobal Publishing is about two countries, two women and lies that lead to truth. She completed the journey from VCE to PhD when she gained her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2013. Along the way she was awarded entry into the Golden Key International Honour Society for academic excellence. She currently enjoys teaching Memoir Writing and encouraging other women to write their stories.
There’s more with these other bloggers too: