An Interview with Dan Klefstad, Author of Shepherd and the Professor

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I’m pleased to welcome Dan Klefstad, author of Shepherd and the Professor, to Linda’s Book Bag today. As Dan frequently interviews other authors for the radio, I thought I’d turn the tables and get him to tell me all about his writing.

Shepherd and the Professor is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

Shepherd and the Professor

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Most people take comfort knowing their family and friends will remember them after they die. For Susan Shepherd, “remembering” is bullshit. She wants an eternal shrine to her sacrifice: a book that never goes out of print.

Shepherd served her country in the Gulf War, got shot while serving her community as a cop, raised an ungrateful daughter by herself — and for what? A diagnosis of terminal cancer and she isn’t even fifty. If you were in her shoes, you might agree that nothing short of national perpetual acknowledgement will do.

She’s glad you feel that way; she just wrote a memoir and sent a flurry of query letters, hoping a publisher will memorialize her with a best-seller. After hitting Send, she waits not-at-all patiently for an editor to decide if her story will sell enough copies — that is, if her life really mattered.

An Interview With Dan Klefstad

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Dan. 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?

I’m the morning newscaster and book series editor for NPR station WNIJ. When my on-air shift ends at 9 o’clock, I interview other authors from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin – mainly novelists, short story writers, poets and memoirists. At WNIJ, we want to be the gathering place for discussion about regional literature, so we’re about to change the series from a seasonal to a monthly one. My archive is here.

And explain a bit about your writing and Shepherd & the Professor.  

While writing Shepherd & the Professor, I experimented with a couple of story techniques. First, I blend a fictional memoir with a publishing query letter. Let me explain: Protagonist Susan Shepherd is a Gulf War vet, cop and single mom who has cancer when we meet her. She feels she made extraordinary sacrifices, and is terrified people will forget about her after she succumbs. So she writes a memoir which nearly every publisher rejects. As a last resort, she converts her memoir into a letter to one final publishing editor or intern who’ll decide whether to send her manuscript up the chain. My other technique is having Susan Shepherd speak in present tense — even when she’s referring to past events. I find this reveals something about Susan’s fiery personality, but also her stressed emotional state. I hope this, combined with the memoir’s first-person POV, will engage the reader in an immediate, personal way. You might not always like Susan, but you’ll find it hard to ignore her.

You’ve also just written a short story The Caretaker that is featured in the literary journal Crack the Spine. What were the similarities and differences of writing that compared with Shepherd and the Professor?

The Caretaker is the story of a man who’s about to retire after decades of working for a vampire. Like Shepherd, it’s a fictional memoir and letter to one person – in this case, the man who will succeed the protagonist. This is also written in “first-present.” I’m expanding it into a larger work, but it will differ from Shepherd in that it’ll be a series of linked stories that’ll read like chapters in a novel. Ideally, this would allow me to publish each chapter in journals, and get a sense of how readers react to each story.

When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

I was 16 when I saw the TV miniseries Reilly: Ace of Spies starring Sam Neill. I was totally absorbed by this story about a British spy operating in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution. So I wrote a novel based on similar characters in the same period. And it was awful. Lamely derivative, heavy on exposition, and filled with spelling errors. Fortunately, my mother encouraged me to keep writing.

How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?

Actually, I start like I imagine a playwright starts. I imagine a scene with two characters, each with a specific motivation, and have them interact. Then I create another scene with two characters, and try to link these scenes together. This explains why my stories are heavy on dialog and action, and lighter on narration. After I get a draft, I do basic research on the “furniture” in the scene, such as a car or gun. But I try not to get bogged down in detail. I want to the reader to have enough information to imagine details on their own. Also, research can lead you down a rabbit hole that might consume an entire day, and you might not even use what you learn. So I urge caution there.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

Well, starting is the most difficult. Staring at a blank Word .doc, trying to create order from the chaos of my imagination. What’s the easiest part? Explaining what I wrote after I finished. I actually enjoy doing public readings and answering questions about my work. I guess my radio background helps there!

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I usually write and edit in my den. I live in a Victorian-style home in Illinois, but also have a small place in Wisconsin where a good hike in the woods helps clear my head after a long work week. If you’re looking for The Muse, I spotted her once or twice in the Kishwauketoe Nature preserve in Williams Bay. Now I need to go looking for her again.

You’re a book editor at NPR station WNIJ. How does this influence the way in which you write?

I’ve interviewed dozens of authors and each conversation was a master class in storytelling, and the creative process. One author, Robert Hellenga, mostly uses first-person female narrators. He gave me the courage to write from a woman’s point of view (in Shepherd). Another, poet Amy Newman, inspired the query letter aspect of my novel.

Susan in Shepherd and the Professor is a complex character. How did you create her?

I borrow two aspects from my wife, also named Susan. She was a cop in a small village in the 1980s. Also, she’s fiery and passionate, and sometimes words fly past her lips without her knowing it. I love this about her because it shows how nakedly honest she is. I wanted to give Susan Shepherd this trait because I want the reader to trust her, even during those moments of intense pressure when she goes off the rails. The other traits – cancer, survivor of war, gunshots, abuse, and a difficult relationship with her daughter – are things I added.

To what extent do you think that we all want to be remembered as does Susan?

Maybe it’s symbolic of a midlife crisis, but I began to ponder this question in my mid-40s. My wife and I are childless (by choice) and I don’t have millions of dollars to endow a building or scholarship. So who will remember me when I’m gone, and why does this matter to me? I’m still searching for the answer, but feel much more comfortable leaving a book or two as a legacy. Something that tells the story – however fictional – of the place I come from, with characters that preserve traits from most of the people I know.

If you could choose to be a character from Shepherd and the Professor, who would you be and why?

Oooh, that’s a tough one because nearly every character other than Susan is unlikeable. I’ll admit I share some aspects of Susan’s onetime lover, Daniel, and radio reporter Guy Severson. And I was a little like Chris Leifheit when I was a student. I guess I’ll go with Guy because, well, he’s a colleague J

If Shepherd and the Professor became a film, who would you like to play Susan and why would you choose them?

Whoever it is must have fire in her eyes and channel someone with very few filters. Also my model for Susan is 5-foot-3 so…Is Charlize Theron too tall? Maybe Natalie Portman. Yes, she’d be great if she’d be willing to go blonde.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I find poetry gives back a lot in exchange for relatively little time. I’m reading Susan Porterfield’s book Dirt, Root, Silk again (this is one of my featured authors for February). I love how she puts so much meaning into every word – which is an important lesson for every writer. Porterfield’s poem, Chicago Killings Fall, is a punch in the gut – but one I’d be willing to take repeatedly. It’s a truth bomb in 57 words.

If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?

I was a drummer for many years, so I guess I’d be in some jazz or blues combo. In a divey club with dim lighting and poor ventilation. Yeah, that’d be all right.

What can we expect next from Dan Klefstad?

I’m keeping my radio job, but I plan to keep writing and publishing long after they move me into the old folks’ home. I have a grand-dad who lived to 91 so that gives me 41 years to make my mark in literature. Guess I’d better hurry!

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Shepherd and the Professor should be their next read, what would you say?

Looking for different? Try a fictional memoir that’s also a publishing query letter. Flawed narrator.

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

Thank you, Linda, for the opportunity to speak with you and your readers.

About Dan Klefstad

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Dan Klefstad is a writer and broadcaster. He works on WNIJ providing the latest news, weather and other information, with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR’s Morning Edition.

Dan is especially interested in literature from the WNIJ area, and interviews writers for Morning Edition and records them reading excerpts.

You can follow Dan on Twitter and find him on Facebook. You’ll find much more on Dan’s YouTube channel here.

A Publication Day Interview with Kerry Fisher, Author of The Silent Wife

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What better way to celebrate publication day for The Silent Wife than to have an interview with Kerry Fisher, an author whose writing I love (you can read my review of The Island Escape here) and I’ve met and found to be so lovely.

The Silent Wife is published today 24th February 2017 by Bookouture and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

The Silent Wife

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Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything Massimo has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.

Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. The one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife Caitlin. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

An Interview with Kerry Fisher

Hi Kerry. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing  and your latest novel The Silent Wife. Firstly, please could you tell us a little about yourself?

Can I say first of all THANK YOU for having me and for all your support, I appreciate it very much indeed.

I write contemporary women’s fiction about real women, women you could imagine having coffee with, bumping into at the school gates or having as a sister-in-law or best friend. When I’m not doing that, I’m either doing Pilates to undo all the evil that sitting at a computer for hours on end causes, or running after my ridiculously friendly Lab/Giant Schnauzer who feels that the world is just awaiting her arrival to make everyone’s day complete. Home life is two teenagers and a remarkably tolerant husband. My son is learning to drive at the moment so I’m ageing in five year chunks every time I go out with him.

And tell us a bit about The Silent Wife (without spoiling the plot of course!)

It’s the story of two women, both second wives, married to two brothers from the same Italian family. The two women couldn’t be more different but their tricky circumstances lead to them forming an unlikely friendship. Maggie is living under the shadow of the ‘perfect’ first wife who died, leaving Maggie with an angry thirteen-year-old stepdaughter to win round. The other, Lara, is living a lie, pretending to have the perfect home and a marriage to envy but longing to escape. Then Maggie discovers a secret about her husband’s first wife and faces a terrible dilemma – keep silent and protect her new husband and her own marriage – or blow the family apart?

The Silent Wife is out today (congratulations). How do you celebrate publication day?

I always have a bit of fizz on publication day…any excuse! But I’ll probably do what I always do, walk the dog, write more of book five, then have a better than average dinner with my family. I’d love to sound more exotic and exciting but actually, unlike my restless 20-year-old self, I like nothing more than snuggling up with the dog and the family to watch a film (with a simple plot!), with an open fire. Bliss.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

I find coming up with an idea that sustains my interest for the six months/year it takes to write the book the most difficult. Sometimes I think I’ll never have a good idea again. I love writing the scenes where the villain finally gets his or her comeuppance. I do like a bit of fictional fighting!

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

It’s so not glamorous but I write in Starbucks most mornings…have to get away from the dog sitting there looking so doleful because I’m not moving towards the front door to walk. Cutting off from the whole domestic scene with an endless to-do list is essential for creative headspace.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I love JoJo Moyes, Liane Moriarty and Suzanne Bugler. Recently I read Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft – I don’t normally read historicals but the essence of the novel was the most amazing love story. I was completely bereft when I’d finished. I’ve just started A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart, which is funny and sad. I’m really enjoying it.

I love your writing as I feel it represents real women like me so effectively. Do you have a particular reader profile in mind as you write?

I find it so flattering that you say that! Thank you. Actually, this sounds so vain, but I write the books I’d like to read… to paraphrase Maggie in The Silent Wife – ‘I’ve lived long enough not to expect the fairytale!’ I am fascinated by family dynamics and how messy they can become, how, even in middle age, women still have friendship issues, get jealous, restless, dissatisfied. I love to write about real women who don’t always get it right, whose children – or husbands – might sometimes behave terribly but unlike real life where you can’t always dictate the outcome, I do like a happy ending. Or at least a note of hope!

Your love of travel impacts on your writing. How do you research the settings for your writing?

I had terrible wanderlust in my youth, so I lived in Corsica, Spain and Italy before coming back to England in my late twenties.  I write the settings from experience. I still love nothing more than turning up in a place I’ve never visited before and knowing that it’s all to discover.

On your website you encourage your readers to get in touch to tell you about themselves. Are you genuinely interested, or naturally nosy and how likely are these readers to find themselves in a future book?

I am genuinely interested! I love hearing from readers and it makes my day when they get in touch – I think there’s somehow an idea that authors will be too busy to read or respond to readers who send messages but the reverse is true, for me, at least – I am always delighted to hear from them. I am also naturally nosy though – earwigging on conversations on the train, listening in cafes – I talk to anyone and everyone – it’s astonishing the stories people tell me – and you never know where a germ of an idea is going to spring from. That said, all my characters are genuinely fictional – it’s too constraining to base a character on someone real, because you tend to want to stick to the truth rather than what makes the best story.

You use humour in your writing and, having met you, I know you’re a vivacious and humorous person in real life. How do you manage the balance between the comedy and pathos as you write?

Oooh, what a good question! I suppose a lot of my humour comes from a desire to pick away at pretension or snobbery. Even in horrid circumstances, there’s often a humorous side to things. In The Silent Wife, Maggie is invited to the anniversary gathering at the first wife’s graveside. Obviously that makes her feel awkward but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she says, ‘‘I could think of things I’d rather do. Like sniff chilli up my nose, mistake Deep Heat for Canesten, sever a limb with a cheese wire.’ No one wants to read about someone whining about their terrible lot all the time, so I try and balance their unhappiness at their situation with a bit of internal humour.

Much of your writing explores identity and truth.  Why are these themes so important to you?

I was brought up with my father’s mantra: ‘Don’t lie and you won’t ever have to remember what you’ve said.’ It’s a fantastic philosophy to live by and apart from the odd white lie to save someone’s feelings, I manage pretty well. I can’t stand a liar or a cheat, but by the same token, I’m not sure everyone appreciates my honesty always either! People often change their identities to fit in and that fascinates me – some people take on the opinions of the stronger personalities around them, like a chameleon, to the point that they forget who they were originally.

There’s a secret at the heart of The Silent Wife. Have you got a secret of your own you’d like to confess?

I don’t think I have a single secret that someone doesn’t know – I’m incredibly open, which sometimes gets me into trouble. I don’t take myself too seriously but obviously there are embarrassing things I prefer people not to know about me. Like the fact that this year I didn’t get round to taking my Christmas tree down until February. And the year before I left it up all year…

If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?

I would have loved to have been an actress but was too shy when I was younger. I was fascinated by foreign languages from an early age and speak fluent French, Spanish and Italian, so I thought I might become an interpreter at some point.

Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?

I am a big socialiser – I love cooking – nothing gives me greater pleasure than having a houseful, with everyone sitting round drinking and eating. My ideas always come from ordinary conversations with people I know – listening to what they worry about, what offends them, what makes them angry.

If you could choose to be a character from The Silent Wife, who would you be and why?

I’d definitely be Beryl, Maggie’s outspoken, but warm-hearted mother. I’m often far too polite to give people both barrels when they are being rude and arrogant – usually I fume internally, try harder to make them like me and offer them a cup of tea. In my next life, I’m not going to let them get away with it.

If The Silent Wife became a film, who would you like to play Maggie and why would you choose them?

I’m useless at choosing actors/actresses because I never watch TV and for someone who relies on plot for a living, I can barely follow a film if there’s more than one twist in it. My son gets enraged at having to pause it and explain what is going on. Can I say the ideal would be a young Julie Walters – funny, feisty and ultimately kind? And a ‘young’ Julie Walters, not because she isn’t brilliant as she is but because Maggie is only thirty-five…

Thanks again Kerry for your time in answering my questions.

About Kerry Fisher

Kerry Fisher Author image

Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to ‘getting a proper job’ and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University. After two years working in the features department at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton. She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame), two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy. Kerry can often be seen trailing across the Surrey Hills whistling and waving pieces of chicken while the dog practises her ‘talk to the tail’.

Kerry has spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candis magazine reviewing other people’s but it wasn’t until she took some online courses with the UCLA (University of California) that the dream started to morph into reality, culminating in the publishing of The Class Ceiling. The Avon imprint of HarperCollins picked it up and retitled it The School Gate Survival Guide, published summer 2014. Her second book, The Island Escape, came out in May 2015. It won first prize at the York Festival of Writing for the opening line: ‘I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell’.

There’s more about Kerry on her website or Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

An Interview with Glenice Whitting, Author of Something Missing

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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.

Something Missing

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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.

Giveaway

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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

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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.

You can visit Glenice’s blog Writers and Their Journey here and can follow Glenice on Twitter.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Extract and Giveaway: The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner In Six Days by Juliet Conlin

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I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin, bringing you a wonderful extract from the book as well as a chance to win your own signed copy.

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days is published today, 23rd February 2017, by Black and White and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here and directly from the publisher.

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days

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Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.

An Extract from The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days

The forest air was warm and drowsy and smelt of dusk and moss. Alfred knew that later on, after sunset, the forest would lose its sluggishness and be transformed into a wondrous strange and busy place, alive with crisp rustles and sporadic skirls: quick sharp movements as prey evaded predator, or else succumbed to claw and beak and tooth. But for now, at the end of a long, hot summer’s day, the forest was listless and quiet. Alfred began to feel sleepy and he closed his eyes.

Then he heard a voice. It was a whisper – hissskkss, shhhhts, psstss – coming from somewhere above him to the left. Alfred had spent enough of his young life in the forest to know that this was no bird or other creature, or any other sound the windless forest could produce. It was a human voice, a woman’s voice. It was too low for him to make out the words, but something in the inflection made him recognise it was a question. A moment later, another voice, slightly to the right. And although this too was a whisper, or perhaps more of a sigh, he could tell that this was a different voice and that it was answering the first. He opened his eyes and lifted his head to the boughs above him. He did this out of curiosity, not because he was afraid, being, developmentally, on the cusp of leaving a world in which hearing voices could still quite easily be reconciled with the stark objective realities of life.

However, with his eyes open, the voices seemed to dim. He shut his eyes again, opening his hearing to its most sensitive, and then:

OF COURSE HE’S NOT AFRAID, ARE YOU, ALFRED?

Alfred fell from his nook and hit the ground hard. He fell, not just because of the loudness and suddenness of the voice, but because he realised at once that the voice had not come from outside, but from inside his head.

Giveaway

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For your chance to win one of two signed paperback copies of The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days, click here. Open internationally. Giveaway closes at UK Midnight on Wednesday 1st March 2017.

About Juliet Conlin

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Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her husband and four children in Berlin. She writes in both English and German.
You can visit Juliet’s website and follow her on Twitter. There’s also a launch tonight in Edinburgh if you can make it:
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There’s more too with these other bloggers:
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The Saturday Secret by Linda Huber

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Earlier this month, to celebrate the launch of The Saturday Secret, Linda Huber was kind enough to provide a guest post for Linda’s Book Bag that you can read here. She also kindly sent me a copy of The Saturday Secret in return for an honest review.

The Saturday Secret was published by Fabrian Books on 15th February 2017 and is available in e-book and paperback here. Profits from The Saturday Secret will be going to charity.

The Saturday Secret

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The Saturday Secret and other Stories is a collection of fifteen tales of life, love, and family – perfect for a coffee-break! Previously published in UK national magazines, the stories are about relationships within the family and without – some are humorous, some bittersweet; all are upbeat and emotional.

The Party Partners   Belinda and Phillip have fun at weddings, engagement parties and all sorts of celebrations. But anything more personal was out of the question – or was it?

Family Matters   Gary shares Sharon’s dream of having children – but as far as he’s concerned, it’s something for the future.

Corinna’s Big Day   It was the most important day in baby Corinna’s life, but for Madge, it was one of the saddest…

Lucky for Some   You might say drawing number 13 in the cycle rally was bad luck. You might say falling off was bad luck, too. But Hilary knew better!

Patiently Waiting   Mike woke up after his operation and saw the girl of his dreams. The problem was the engagement ring she wore on a chain round her neck…

The Saturday Secret   What was she up to? The whole family wanted to know! But Gran wasn’t telling…

My Review of The Saturday Secret

The Saturday Secret contains 15 stories that can each be read in under 15 minutes.

What a delightful selection of stories this is. There’s no violence or cynicism, just pure entertainment. Reading The Saturday Secret was rather like slipping into comfortable slippers after a day in heels, or sinking into a blissful bubble bath to ease away the strains of the day and I really enjoyed the read.

I particularly enjoyed the uplifting nature of the stories. Even though each takes only 10 minutes or so to read, Linda Huber manages to introduce realistic and human characters facing tough choices, difficult problems or challenging situations. Given that The Saturday Secret stories were originally written for women’s magazines, it comes as no surprise that each is resolved with a happy ending, but this added to the appeal for me. I had just read a very intense book followed by a very graphic one and these stories were the perfect antidote, being light, entertaining and positive.

I also really appreciated the variety of story. Writing with an effortless grace, Linda Huber conveys both male and female perspectives equally well and covers a huge range of themes from the need for a child in an infertile couple to the impact an animal can make in a life. The reader encounters love in many forms.

With the profits from The Saturday Secret going to charity, the lovely quality of the writing and the entertaining nature of the stories, I heartily recommend The Saturday Secret.

About Linda Huber

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Linda grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years being a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.

Linda’s writing career began in the nineties, and since then she’s had over fifty short stories and articles published, as well as five psychological suspense novels. Her books are set in places she knows well – Cornwall (childhood holidays), The Isle of Arran (teenage summers), Yorkshire (visiting family), as well as Bedford and Manchester (visiting friends).

After spending large chunks of the current decade moving house, she has now settled in a beautiful flat on the banks of Lake Constance in north-east Switzerland, where she’s working on another suspense novel.

You can visit Linda’s web site, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Bloggers Blast 2017: The Big Bash Competition

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Last year I was thrilled when Linda’s Book Bag won the award for the Best Review Blog in the first Bloggers’ Bash Awards and you can read my thoughts about that here.

This year the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards have grown so much that there’s a raft of new elements, one of which is a writing competition with the theme ‘Connections’. Perhaps stupidly, I’ve decided to give it a go!

If you’d like to enter, time is running out as you have until March 1st. More details can be found here.

So, with a knowledge this is very sentimental (but which is based on my parents and the events of last year) with sharp intake of embarrassed breath here’s my effort!

Almost Time

It was almost time.

He looked at her lying there shrunken in the bed and felt sorrowfully glad they’d won the fight to move her to the peace of the hospice away from the clamorous and impersonal ward of the local hospital.

Her thinning hair left a smudge of brown dye on the pillow from a failed last ditch attempt to stay young and cover the downy grey. Once it was a sheen of chestnut. Her skin, wrinkled in lines across her face like the road map of their lives, remained silky and soft to his cautious touch. He wanted so much to touch her one last time. His hand, still large, but gnarled now, navigated the tubes and wires and he brushed the pad of his thumb across her cheek. A precious contact.

It was almost time.

She opened her hazel eyes and looked at him steadily. The fading light in them was still a blazing beacon to him. Sucking in air with effort,  her voice was wispy like smoke although the memory was strong. ‘Do you remember,’ she asked, ‘Our first walk along the brook at dusk. The bats were circling and I was so afraid. You laughed at me and I was cross. Our first tiff on our first walk.’ Her lips curved upwards and his heart soared to see the smile he’d known for almost seventy years.’ I’m not afraid now.’

‘I remember,’ he said, the corners of his eyes crinkling at the recollection. ‘I’d waited weeks to pluck up the courage to ask you to walk out with me and when I finally did you laughed and asked me what took me so long.’

She smiled. ‘We’ve laughed a lot over the years haven’t we?’ But he still noticed the wince of pain that speech caused her. ‘I’ve loved you every minute of our time together.’ With effort she moved her arm and clasped his hand in hers. The connection seared his skin with memory.

It was almost time.

‘And I’ve loved you too.’ He was fighting the urge to weep, not wanting her last memory to be a sad one.

‘I know,’ she told him. ‘I always knew.’ Gazing steadfastly into his eyes she allowed her lids to close slowly. The pain in her face seemed to smooth away and he was aware of a silence in the room. He realised the sound of her wheezing breath had stopped.

It was time.

Creating Character, A Guest Post by Anna Franklin Osborne, Author of Walking Wounded

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I’m delighted to welcome Anna Franklin Osborne, author of Walking Wounded to Linda’s Book Bag today in association with Emma Mitchell PR. Anna’s story Walking Wounded hinges around people from her own family and it’s wonderful to find out more about them today.

Walking Wounded is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here. I’m also sharing a link to a giveaway to enter to win one of two signed copied of Walking Wounded.

Walking Wounded

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Born at the end of the First World War, a young girl struggles to find her own identity in her big family and is pushed into a stormy marriage through a terrible misunderstanding from which her pride refuses to let her back down. As her own personal world begins to crumble, the foundation of the world around her is shaken as Germany once again declares war and her brothers and young husband sign up with the first wave of volunteers.
Walking Wounded tells the story of those left behind in a Blitz-ravaged London, and of the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shapes the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as the war draws to a close.
Spanning the period from the Armistice of the First World War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, Walking Wounded is a family saga whose internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set.

Creating Character

A Guest Post by Anna Franklin Osborne

Most, but not all of my characters were inspired by family legend and folk lore. Some were real and I knew them very well, some were dead long before I was born and their characteristics were invented by me to ‘fill in the gaps’ which were never talked about within the family.

I loved writing about May but also found it quite traumatic because she was so blind to help herself. I felt she was such a complex person – her main character trait of always believing the best of everyone was also her main downfall. She always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt, always believing that they would ‘come good,’ ironically failing to protect her only child as a result. This refusal to see the truth before her eyes was also aided and abetted by those around her, even her sister wondered if one violent outburst by Jimmy had been provoked by his little girl not being cooperative and loving enough. This collusion in violence intrigued me, and it is interesting to hear the debates on Radio 4 because of last year’s Archer’s story line, discussing how so many people do not see what is happening to their family although the signs are clearly there to be read. It would seem that it is more comfortable to see what we want to see rather than what is actually visible…

I have no further plans for these characters – I have been asked about a sequel but I prefer to start afresh. I love history and want to go back, not forwards!

Most of my reviewers to date have loved Stanley. He was actually my favourite character too – honourable and brave, artistic and sensitive. I wish I had known the real Stanley. The letter he wrote to his wife showed how he had truly reflected on why he was fighting his own war, not just because of any social pressure or being called up, but because of what it had done to his family and country in the past. He needed to see an end.

I mixed truth, rumour and conjecture in this story, and created characters that meant the world to me. I need to get my teeth into my next novel now to get to know some more.

Giveaway

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Click here to enter to win one of two signed copies of Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne. This giveaway is independent from Linda’s Book Bag.

About Anna Franklin Osborne

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Anna has always worked in health care, and more recently in education, and like so many other parents, hit a tiny crisis a few years ago when she felt that her purpose in life had narrowed to not an awful lot more than dashing between her two jobs and being a mummy taxi.

She managed to find time to begin singing with a choir, and that helped her feel that she might have a more creative side to herself. One evening, her husband was out and, quite suddenly, she decided to Start Writing.

After several short stories and RSI Anna was walking along a D-Day beach for no other grander reason than her ferry home from France being late, and she began telling her children about her three great-uncles who were part of that day, and her grandmother who sewed parachutes for the paratroopers jumping over Normandy. Anna’s husband looked at her and smiled and said, ‘you do actually have a story there, you know….’

You can follow Anna on Twitter and there’s more with these other bloggers:

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