Monthly Archives: April 2016

What Elise Wrote-Interview

How lucky am I? I was invited to discuss Castle of Dreams and my approach to research and my love of historical novels on M K Todd’s wonderful history blog ‘A Writer of History’ which recently made it onto the Reader’s Digest’s list of 101 best blogs for writers!
I’ve followed Mary’s popular blog and have downloaded and read her own historical books: ‘Unravelled’ and ‘Lies told in Silence’. We began our friendship through our respective blogs and emails and when she invited me to be on of her blog I was thrilled!
At the moment Mary and her husband are in Paris where she is researching her next novel…any excuse is good enough to stay for weeks at a time in Paris!
You can read the interview at: https://awriterofhistory.com/

 

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What Elise Wrote-Publication Day

Publication day today! Castle of Dreams is finally winging its way out into the world. I can’t tell you how much the characters in the story mean to me. If they walked through my door right now I’d know them.

I am so happy to have Allen and Unwin as my publisher and Cappelen Damm as my Norwegian publisher.

Wine and chocolates have arrived all the way from my dear friend Bernie in Perth, WA and lots of wonderful messages of congratulations from family and friends.

1940’s era

Vivien

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Tony nodded. ‘I noticed her beauty, of course–what man wouldn’t notice a beautiful woman?–but what I fell for was her ability to make anyone she spoke to feel special, as though you were of the utmost importance to her.’ He paused, looking slightly embarrassed. ‘What I mean is that Viv had the quality of grace.’

Rose

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I tried to picture the two sisters as they must have been: Rose in a swing-skirt, her copper-coloured hair, shot through with gold, in waves over her shoulders; Vivien stretched out on the lawn reading a magazine, wearing a lilac-coloured dress and a gardenia in her dark hair. The world they’d inhabited in those distant days at Castillo de Suenos was no more, but I could see them as clearly as if it were today.

Robert Shine

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As her eyes become accustomed to the dark she glanced to her left and noticed the American looking at her. She felt herself colouring up and wished William had sat in the back seat with him instead of her.

The American smiled. ‘It sure feels good to be safe, ma’am.’

Then, William turned around, his expression impassive. ‘Vivien, you’ll have to make up the guest room with clean sheets when we arrive home.’

‘Yes, of course,’ she said, quickly.

‘Thank you both for your help,’ said the American.

When Vivien looked at him he held her gaze, she blushed again, but she didn’t turn away.

Ruby (the mother of Vivien and Rose)

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Her mother picked up Vivien’s cup and offered to read her tea-leaves. Vivien laughed. ‘Oh, go on then. It’s been a while, Ma.’

Ruby inspected the tea-leaves. A slight frown flickered across her face, and she glanced at her elder daughter. Seeing Vivien watching her, she smiled. ‘You’ve always had a fortunate future, Viv.’

Vivien sniffed. ‘Ma, you always leave out the bad parts when you read my cup. Come on, what can you see?’

Her mother laughed uncomfortably, turned the cup around. ‘I see two parrots–surely that’s lucky.’

Contemporary era

Stella (Rose’s granddaughter)

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These days I travelled Australia and the world taking photographs, always looking forward to my next assignment, yet on my last morning in Vietnam I’d walked the streets, breathing in the smell of piquant spices, the sounds of traffic and voices all around me, wishing I could stay longer.

‘Your old school friend Jack rang us when you were in Vietnam. He’s a pleasant chap,’ said my father interuppting my thoughts. Turning onto the highway, he drove steadily, past cane fields, paddocks speckled with grazing cattle, and a little country cemetery enclosed within an iron-railed fence.

Jack

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At school, Jack and I had been good mates. Not long after I’d moved to Sydney, I’d visited him in his flat in an old subdivided mansion in King’s Cross. My eyes ran over the piles of books and the reproduction Renaissance Madonnas in gilt frames he’d started to collect.

There are other characters in Castle of Dreams: William, Tony, Harry, Margaret, Florence, Maggie, Edie and others but  Castillo de Suenos the Castle of Dreams is of course another character.

Castillo de Suenos (aka Paronella Park)

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What Elise Wrote – Book Trailer

 

Shared from Allen & Unwin

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda Book Trailer

Published on Nov 20, 2014
The iconic song about the Battle of Gallipoli, written by Eric Bogle in 1972 at the height of the anti-war movement. And now Bruce Whatley’s evocative illustrations bring a heart-rending sense of reality to the tale.

This book trailer is particularly poignant for me because I am one of many who lost a relative to war. My work-in-progress has a backdrop of WW1 and while my story is not set on the battlefield but on the homefront this video is one I will watch to give me inspiration.

It’s lovely to see the younger generation embracing Anzac Day by visiting the Gallipoli Peninsular and also the many who attended services held around Australia yesterday.

Elise

 

 

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Three days until Castle of Dreams is published.

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Allen & Unwin sold the Norwegian rights to Cappelen Damm recently and my Norwegian editor is Jorid Mathiassen.

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Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are very close sisters. But during World War II their relationship becomes strained when they each fall in love with the same dashing but enigmatic American soldier. Rose’s daughter, Linda, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past, but Rose has always resisted Linda’s questions, preferring to focus on the present. Years later Rose’s granddaughter, Stella, also becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s life. Intent on unraveling the truth, she visits the now-ruined castle where Rose and Vivien grew up to see if she can find out more. Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is about love, secrets, lies—and the perils of delving into the past.

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Short Excerpt (1942):

It was a warm summer evening with a storm threatening. Vivien stepped out of the taxi in front of a two-storey house set back from the road behind a wrought-iron fence. In a wealthy suburb a mere four miles from the city, the house had an understated grace Vivien found appealing.

She unlatched the gate and walked up the path. Light spilled from the diamond-paned  windows across a square patch of lawn. Virginia creeper had rambled up to the first floor and feathered the window frames.

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Vivien (aka Gene Tierney)

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Good writing and reading

Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Harold and Maude

I like dark humour. The cult movie Harold and Maude (1971) is my favourite movie of all time.

Director Hal Ashby has made an optimistic film about an old lady and the recurring suicidal tendencies of a confused young man in this film. It has a unique charm and hits upon a universal nerve. The inevitability of life can be disconcerting but Harold and Maude find little pieces of joy in the most obscure places that make living all the more worthwhile.

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What Elise Wrote-Anzac Day

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The 25th of April was officially named Anzac Day in 1916. ‘ANZAC’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula.

A series of serendipitious happenings have led me to have a great interest in war and also the homefront where so many stories lay waiting to be discovered.

My uncle, William Lucas was killed in a later war on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea. I never met Bill but his wedding photo, on display in the lounge room of my childhood home, was all the more poignant because his young bride Ethel had predeceased him.

In the school I attended as a young child a painting of the Gallipoli Landing hung in the stairwell. I climbed those stairs every school day and always paused a moment to look at the painting.  I can still see the desperation in the young soldiers’ faces as they climbed towards the unseen enemy on the hill.

I have written about the lost thoughts of soldiers and Dave Sabben MG who was a commander at the Battle of Long Tan has been a true friend in sharing his thoughts on war and its aftermath.

My first novel is set partly in WW2 and Book 2 in WW1.  In both stories I write about the  impact war has on soldiers and also on family and friends left behind on the homefront.

This Anzac day, while I will remember Bill and his final sacrifice, I’ll also remember my family and especially my grandmother who lost her only son.

 

Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick with his donkey

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The will of a Gallipoli hero, Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, was recently discovered by the State Records Office (SRO) in Western Australia and is now on display to mark Anzac Day.

Simpson and his donkey became symbols of the Anzac spirit, famed for transporting wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli to safety in 1915.

According to the Australian War Memorial website (a wonderful source of information for a novelist), Simpson was born in England in 1892, joined the merchant marines at 17 and eventually made his way to Australia.

In August 1914, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and started training at Blackboy Hill camp near Perth.

Simpson disembarked for training in Egypt and it was there, just weeks before his death, he pencilled a will on April 6, 1915.

‘In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother Sarah Simpson,’ he wrote.

Simpson was posted to the 3rd Field Ambulance and landed in Gallipoli on April 25.

As a stretcher bearer he decided he would enlist the help of a donkey to carry the wounded.

Only three weeks after landing Simpson was killed by a Turkish bullet during a journey up Monash Valley to help wounded soldiers and became a national symbol of sacrifice and courage.

In the photo of Simpson he has a cheeky grin. I’d liked to have known him.

Elise

 

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What Elise Wrote-For the Love of Writing

It’s only a week now until Castle of Dreams is published by Allen & Unwin. I have a Norwegian publisher, Cappelen Damm, and my Norwegian editor is Jorid Mathiassen who wrote to me:

‘I am your Norwegian editor and I love your book, it’s such a wonderful story!’

Wonderful, that one day I will hold a copy of my novel translated into Norwegian.

To be a storyteller is magical. I’m often asked about the process of writing and the simplest answer I can give you is to read. When I was four years old I read picture books with text to my younger cousins and because I couldn’t understand many of the words  I made them up to match the story. The art of storytelling is a long one in history. Think of Scheherazade, a legendary Arabic queen and the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights and of times past when before the written word stories were told around fires at night.

Have you heard the maxim ‘read everything’?   I don’t agree. Read only what interests you and read good writers of fiction. How else will you learn to write? If you read everything you certainly won’t have time write a novel. If you read rubbish it will creep into your narrative. Join a library if you can’t afford to buy new books and study  the structure of the novels you read.

Stop watching television if you don’t have time to write a novel. It’s amazing how many hours can be spent watching television each week; enough time in which to write a novel.

If you work during the day perhaps get up an hour earlier. A page a day is a novel in a year. Time to write should be a right and not a privilege.

Don’t treat writing like a hobby but rather as the job you love best in all the world.

Have a lovely day,

Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Pablo Neruda

Perhaps one of Neruda’s most beautiful love poems Poema 20 comes to life with classic footage of Rudolph Valentino.

Pablo Neruda has always been my favourite poet. He had the soul of an angel.

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One of 21 video poems in Four Seasons Productions newly released Moving Poetry Series – Three innovative new films – RANT * RAVE * RIFF. Poema 20 was written in 1924 by Pablo Neruda. The poem is recited in its native Spanish by Carlos Alfaro and includes English subtitles translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin.

 

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What Elise Wrote: Castle of Dreams

Thrilled to let you know the rights for Castle of Dreams have been sold by Allen&Unwin to Norwegian publisher, CappelenDamm. The publisher is very well known and extremely reputable.

I loved writing Castle of Dreams a story set in Australia and weaving the two storylines together. I felt immersed in the story from the start. It is set in two time periods: WW2 and contemporary times. I had visited Paronella Park some years previously and never forgot the sense of mystery and decided the castle would be the thread to hold my story together.

After three novels in the bottom drawer, a memoir, and a lost romance novel I was thrilled when Louise Thurtell from Allen&Unwin’s innovative Friday Pitch made me an offer to publish Castle of Dreams. I can’t speak more highly of the support I received from the whole team at Allen&Unwin and they did enjoy the cake my daughter and grandchildren delivered to their office in Crows Nest in Sydney!

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Like a lot of writers I had trouble thinking of a name for my story. When Castle of Dreams was finally selected from various other titles that had been suggested I didn’t realise what an intriguing title it was: the stuff of legends and myths. Now I have a link from my story to a fairytale world.

Think of King Arthur’s Camelot and the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty castles. Vivien and Rose the two sisters in my story grew up in a castle in the rainforest in far north Queensland.

Real world castles are just as magical and most often are linked with stories and fairytales of their own. I have a board on Pinterest called ‘castles’ but I must admit I haven’t added any to it for some time now. Busy with writing Book 2 and the publicity for Castle of Dreams.

Bran Castle can be found in a ghostly and remote corner of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. It sits high upon craggy peaks within Transylvania, bringing vampires to mind.

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More to my liking are fairytale castles from the movies of Walt Disney.

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And this is the castle that was the inspiration for Castle of Dreams.

Paronella Park in far north Queensland.

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Have a lovely Sunday

Good writing, Elise

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