Two of my pieces have been published in Every Family Has A Story, the anthology of stories from the 2022 EM Fletcher Writing Competition, by Family History ACT. I received my copy this week – it is a satisfyingly fat volume, chock full with writing of all genres, with the common theme of family history.
One of my pieces, ‘Slander’, is a short story based on a famous court case in the 1890s and the subsequent imprisonment of a husband and wife convicted of slander. The case was even debated in the NSW Parliament at the time! I was intrigued by the details of the matter as it was reported in newspapers, and I began wondering what had caused Caroline, the woman at the centre of the case, to accuse another man as she did – and why she refused to apologise.
My second piece, ‘A Quiet Hero’, is non-fiction. It is all about my grandfather Harold Uebel, who lied about his age in 1940, dropping it by ten years so that he could enlist in the Australian Army. He did so not because of hotheaded patriotism, but so that he could send his wife and three children money for rent and food. They had been victims of the Depression and experienced abject poverty. He fulfilled his wartime duties to the best of his ability despite suffering with illness and injuries received while on active service. To me, he was one of the many men and women who ‘did their bit’ for their families and country under very difficult circumstances – the quiet heroes of wartime.
My writing and research have taken me further into family history during the past few Covid years. Being at home during multiple lockdowns made online research and diving down interesting rabbit holes very enticing. As a result, I have now a folder for each of the main families on my family tree for which I have worthwhile data, and several stories in draft form.
These are the stories of my ancestors: generally, beginning with the tale of how they came to be in Australia from the various parts of England and Ireland from where they originated.
This year I am lucky to have the opportunity of taking a ‘heritage tour’: a self-curated tour around England, visiting as many as possible of the towns and villages in England that appear in my family history. There are a few I’ll miss, simply because of time constraints.
On my blog, I’ll be tracing the journey and my impressions and findings in a series of posts called Travels With My Ancestors. There is an introductory post already up on the blog: check it out here.
In-person ZineWest launch returns in 2022!
How wonderful to be able to attend a real-life, in-person launch of ZineWest 2022, after two years of pandemic induced virtual events. ZineWest is an annual anthology of prose, poetry and art by Western Sydney creatives, published by New Writers’ Group Inc. I was pleased to have a short story, ‘The Tree Huggers’, included this year. Thank you to New Writers’ Group for the event and their continued support of writing and creating in Western Sydney.
My novel manuscript has been on hold for a little while now. In the meantime I’ve been writing some short stories. Two were published in 2019: in ZineWest 2019 and in FourW Thirty: Pearl, the anthology of the Booranga Writers’ Centre.
My draft of my first novel is now with its first ‘beta reader’ for feedback. While I’m waiting for this, I’m beginning to send out tendrils to begin background research and thinking for my second project. That is shaping up to be another novel set in colonial Australia, this time moving back in time a little, to the days of the Second and Third Fleets, and likely involving the Hawkesbury, the river and its townships.
My current project is a novel: historical fiction set in convict and colonial era New South Wales.
I have a first draft completed and now embarking on the editing and rewriting phase.
One of the joys of getting the first draft done has been the research: in books, libraries and online, of course; but also wandering around places and buildings to absorb sights, sounds,and flavours.
I’ve been onto and inside the replica of The Endeavour at the Sydney Maritime Museum, climbed the staircase of the Parramatta Orphan School, walked around the sad remains of the convict ‘Female Factory’ at Parramatta, stepped through the halls of Elizabeth Farm House and Experiment Farm, and searched for an ancestor’s grave site at St Mary’s.
I love seeing places with new eyes, trying to imagine my characters in these settings.
Where are your favourite places for ideas, inspiration and information?