Category Archives: Allen & Unwin

What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

With Castle of Dreams now in book stores across Australia in time for Christmas I’d like to share a few of my favourite excerpts with you (no spoilers):

Castillo de Suenos  (aka Paronella Park far north Queensland)

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Rose nodded in silent agreement. Castillo de Suenos had no dramatic history, no portraits of ancestors hung on the walls or white busts on plinths, no remote eerie rooms forgotten and uninhabited for centuries, but it was beautiful, largely because of its spectacular rainforest setting: drifts of butterflies flew in through open windows and landed on ornate vases; this morning she’d found a butterfly feasting on a sliced orange someone had left on the kitchen bench. Plants clambered up the walls and swayed through the windows with the breezes; brilliant light flooded through the hummingbird stained-glass window at the front of the castle.

On a night when stars sheltered Castillo de Suenos a ball was held:

The band played on, a Glenn Miller tune now; young couples jived across the black-bean floor and back again. A GI held his girl so low that when she kicked her leg high, her long blonde hair swept the floor.

When the song finished there was a break in the music, and the main lights came back on. The crowd threw back drinks and lit up cigarettes and headed for the buffet.

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I wonder who Tom is talking to?

She smiled. ‘What have you come to tell me, Tom?’

‘It’s a long story and one you are entitled to know,’ said Tom. ‘The past can be complicated. People then were the same as people today. They had their secrets, things the believed no one would ever discover . . .’

‘Please, go on, you’ve come a long way to tell me.’

Tom looked relieved, as though he’d been waiting to unlock the past and now the time had come.

One of my favourite scenes in Castle of Dreams:

He told her about mushrooms called hen of the woods and boletes, both much sought after in late summer and fall, and others with folk names: witch’s butter, shaggy mane and bear’s head, and amanita, a white-spotted red mushroom, written about in fairytales , and deadly, he added. ‘Winter brings hedgehogs, also known as sweet-tooth–and, and for those who know how to find them, crops of truffles.’

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Seasons Greetings to All

Elise

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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-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: 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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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

It’s now only five weeks to the launch of Castle of Dreams. I can’t believe it’s so close. I’ve spoken in the past about the inspiration behind my story but I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about my first visit to the castle ruins at Paronella Park.

A fortunate stroke of serendipity.

I was staying in Mission Beach and went with my daughter and grandchildren to visit a local tourist attraction in the rainforest: Paronella Park.

Jose Paronella was a Spanish immigrant, who came to Australia from Catalonia in 1913. Jose was born in the small village of La Vall de Santa Creu in Catalonia on 26th February 1887. Like many Southern Europeans, he worked in the north Queensland cane fields. He eventually saved enough money to buy his own farm and by buying and selling farms and other investments he became a wealthy man. Jose’s grandmother had often told him night time stories about Spanish castles and  his dream was to one day build his own castle.

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The natural swimming pool under the falls at Paronella Park.

It was some years after my visit that I decided I needed to do a little research on Jose Paronella and his castle of dreams. I wanted to know more about the Catalonian immigrant and what brought him to Australia.  And when I discovered that the castle had hosted Australian and American servicemen during the Pacific War I knew I’d found the key to my story.

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Castle of Dreams (still standing structure after the cylonic flood washed away most of the castle)

Robert Shine the fictional American soldier in Castle of Dreams is not based on any particular American soldier but after researching the Americans in wartime Brisbane I created a soldier who comes from a place in Northern California called Paradise.

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A photo of Jose and Margarita Paronella at the castle

Unknown-2 Jose as a young man

I then emailed Luke Evans who does the publicity for Paronella Park. With Luke’s knowledge and love of the park and his enthusiasm for my project he gave me endless help with my many questions about the history of the castle and its eventually loss during a cyclonic flood.

Here is the link to Goodreads giveaway for Castle of Dreams:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/180331-castle-of-dreams

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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I have received the proof copy of Castle of Dreams! I can’t wait now to see the final version which will have embossing on the cover and be printed on fine quality paper and have the final text.

The cover was designed by the talented Kirby Armstrong and when it was sent to me I knew it was perfect for my story.

The woman on the cover of Castle of Dreams is just how imagined Vivien in my story would look like.

Here is an excerpt.

PROLOGUE
Castillo de Sueños, 1935
Vivien and Rose Blake rushed out through the heavy front doors of Castillo de Sueños, yelling to their mother they’d be home before dark. Too late Vivien remembered she’d promised to help Ma in the propagating shed with the orchids and lacy maidenhair ferns, but all day the rich scent of wild honey-suckle climbing over the loggia had drifted through the open windows, and now that lessons were over, outdoors beckoned irresistibly. Feet barely touching the mosaic tiles, the girls ran across the loggia, down the wide stone steps, and across the lawn towards the rainforest.

Vivien had spent her childhood exploring the rainforest with her younger sister. Both girls had been born in Ireland, the cold, rainy place of their mother’s stories. Vivien was three years old and Rose only a baby when they’d left, their mother fleeing her violent, drunken husband. The only home either girl had ever known was this castle in the rainforest. They knew every ancient tree, the names of every flower and bird. They had learned to swim in the natural pool under Mena Creek Falls. Together they’d hurry down the staircase from the castle to the patio, and dive from the board into the cool water. The creek rose in the mountains, flowed down from the high country and wound its way through virgin rainforest before plunging over the falls to the pool below. No matter how far the girls roamed they never lost their way, because every path eventually led back to Castillo de Sueños.

Some months ago I went to a local shopping centre that I don’t normally visit and met a lovely Spanish lady called Maribel and it was her who told me how the Spanish word for castle should be written (the last word in the excerpt above). From what I could source online it’s called a tilde (~) pronounced: tilday it turns the “n” into a “n-ya”. And Maribel (what a beautiful name) is coming along to the launch of Castle of Dreams. It was indeed a serendipitous happening when I met Maribel.

Castle of Dreams is a dual narrative story and Chapter One is set in Babinda in far north Queensland in 2008 and we visit the farm where Stella the granddaughter of Rose grew up. Rose is an old lady now and never talks about her past. Stella knows her grandmother has secrets and when Rose becomes ill Stella determines to find out what they are before it’s too late. But there are perils in visiting the past .  . .

Castle of Dreams is a story about love, betrayal and secrets. It will be published on 27th April, 2016.

Have a lovely day, Elise

 

 

 

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