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 the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever.
Published by Madeglobal Publishing.
About the Author
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 Her Australian/German novel, Pickle to Pie, was short -listed for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.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. Glenice’s blog Writers and Their Journey can be found at her website, www.glenicewhitting.com
Getting to Know Author Glenice Whitting
What inspires you?
Other people’s life stories.
I’m interested in how people cope with life situations and love to hear other people’s stories. One of the benefits of being older is that people sit next to you on public transport and talk about their lives. I think it is because you look safe and comfortable with the time and interest to actually listen to them. This is of course coupled with the fact that they possibly will never see you again. And I love people. I find them and their stories fascinating.
Often when I’m sitting in front of my computer working on my latest project a snippet of conversation pops into my mind and I’m off writing again, weaving it into the story. I will take a situation, a relationship, a particular longing, a moment of insight and work on it, change the gender or the class or make the characters older or younger.
Out of respect for the people I meet I disguise them completely and they would never see themselves in any of my work. However, when MadeGlobal asked what my next novel would be about I immediately thought of a conversation I had with a grandmotherly woman on the train who excitedly revealed she was having an affair with a widow in the same retirement village. My reply to MadeGlobal Publishing was, ‘It will be about two elderly women hairdressers and one has multiple affairs’. Already during my Memoir Writing class at a local Community House, in our stream of conscious writing time I’m jotting down the bones of this story.
What books have most influenced you?
The only book in our household when I was growing up was the Bible.
My parents believed in the Protestant work ethic. We were told not to loll around reading but to ‘Go outside and do something useful.’ How amazing that books have become my life.
When writing my first novel I doubted my ability and questioned whether I could write well enough for people to want to read about a deliberately concealed German heritage. I was constantly told, ‘Not another immigrant story’. At this time I read Sally Morgan’s My Place. Here was a down to earth, simple story about a girl struggling to come to terms with her aboriginal ancestry where Curly the dog was determined to nuzzle the visiting inspector’s private parts. I was inspired. If Sally could write about her life so simply so could I.
The same thing happened when I was struggling with Something Missing. My American pen-friend sent me a copy of Helen Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road. Written entirely in letter format this powerful little book is about the love of books and words and reminded me of my pen-friend. I started out writing a similar book using our correspondence as the basis of the story. However, this was very limiting and I wanted to write with a broader stroke. It was then that I read Australian author, Elizabeth Jolley’s Miss Peabody’s Inheritance and loved it. Elizabeth Jolley has a wry sense of humour. Why couldn’t I write something that was somewhere between the two books I loved? After that, during my time at Swinburne University I researched a long list of epistolary letter based novels. Here are several thought-provoking books I found helpful.
Adelaide, D 2008, The household guide to dying, Picadore: Pan Macmillan, Sydney
Balint, C 2004, Ophelia’s fan, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest.
Behn, A 1684, Love letters between a nobleman and his sister, Randal Taylor, London
Shriver, L 2004, We need to talk about Kevin, Harper Perennial, New York
Turner N 1999, These is my words: the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901, Harper Collins New York.
Turner, N 2005, Sarah’s quilt: a novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, Thomas Dunne Books, New York
Turner, N 2007, The Star Garden: a novel of Sarah Agnes Prine, Thomas Dunne Books
Are you a morning or night person
Definitely morning, although I have been known to burn the midnight oil.
Most of my writing is done between the hours of 3am to 6am. The house is quiet, the telephone doesn’t ring and I am free to write uninterrupted to my heart’s content. My husband is snoring oblivious to my tapping and I slip back to bed before he wakes, content that I’ve done my word count for the day. When writing a novel I live, eat and breathe with the characters. I relate to both Maggie and Diane, understand them, empathise with them and have mental conversations with them.
When I think about it I’m really quite scatty when I have my teeth sunk into a novel. Thank goodness for an understanding family. They know I’m weird and accept it.
What is your favourite food
A slab of old fashioned boiled fruitcake.
In Something Missing, when Diane and the well educated American, Maggie meet for the first time in Outback Australia, Diane dives into the campervan and produces a boiled fruitcake, wrapped in Alfoil, kept for just such an occasion. That is the beauty of this fruitcake. It keeps indefinitely. It became a symbol of Diane and Maggie’s friendship; rich, fruity and totally satisfying. As a matter of fact it is 4am and I have two cooking in the oven at the moment. From tomorrow there will be a steady stream of visitors and I must be ready to provide lots of coffee breaks. There is nothing better than a slab of fruitcake with your coffee.
Here is my mother’s recipe from her old, handwritten and food stained cookbook. At the top of the page, she always put the name of the person who gave her the recipe.
Boiled Fruit Cake (Miss Day)
Two elderly sisters, both called Miss Day lived two doors down from us.
1 teas mixed spice
1/4 lb butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lb mixed fruit
1 level teas carb soda
Put into large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Take off and let cool, then beat in 1 large egg and add 1 cup Self Raising flour and 1 cup plain flour sifted together.
Cook mod oven (300-325) for ½ to 2 hrs.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
What is your idea of perfect happiness
I can think of many things; my wedding day, the birth of my boys, grandchildren and just being alive. Many people don’t get the privilege. However, on a very personal satisfaction level I must say the moment when you hold your book in your hand. To flip through to the acknowledgement page and see where you’ve been able to formally thank everyone who has helped you along the way and proved their faith in you was justified. There is no other feeling like it. It is unique, very special and something you hug around you when life gets tough.
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