1 Where did you get the idea for Secrets?
From a short story I wrote years ago. Secrets dominated my writing life for two years at least. I just couldn’t think of anything else. I tried writing in the third person and it wouldn’t gell until I tried the first person and it finally fell into place. I also originally wrote Secrets with a prologue but cut it out when writer friends told me it spoiled the suspense.
2 What have you found most rewarding bout your writing?
I guess it’s the kick you get when a scene, a chapter, a sentence gives you a spine tingling thrill. The feeling of achievement when you write “The End.” The thrill when someone says “Gee I enjoyed your book.”
3 How did you start writing?
I started trying to write a play, then short stories, then a Mills &Boon until finally I discovered what I really liked to write.
4 What would you say has helped you most?
The critique’s from my friends in the writers group and the feedback from competitions by Romance Writers of Australia. Critiquing is invaluable. Exposing your story to other eyes can reveal problems as well as kudos.
5 What are you working on at the moment?
I’m editing a novel entitled “Never Look Back.” This is a suspense story about a woman who is being stalked by a psychopath.
6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Take up lawn bowling or Macrame! Seriously, just keep slogging away, enter competitions, accept advice and opinions from other writers but stick to your guns if you have the conviction that it’s right. Write, write and write. Never waste time wondering what it must be like to be JR.Rowling.
7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?
I love anything by Daphne DuMaurier, Ken Follett, Patricia Cornwell, Martina Cole, Kathy Reichs Frederick Forsyth, Kate Morton, Jane Austen, James Patterson, Sarah Rayne and heaps of others!
Thanks so much, Angela. I loved Secrets with its Second World War theme
Secrets is available through Amazon.com. (print or ebook and Kindle)
Print copies are available from Authorsonline.co.uk
Rosemary’s Romance Books Adelaide Street Brisbane.
Price: approx. $15
This excerpt from “Secrets” is from Chapter Three when Helen and Annie are still new VAD’s in the hospital.
One morning Matron sent for Annie. She was on duty in the sluice room at the time. When I took over, she said, ‘I’ll be in trouble for sure, someone’s reported me. I’ll just bet it was that rotten Sister Marshall. I know she hates me.’
‘You haven’t done anything really bad lately. Unless someone found out it was you who pencilled the moustache on the picture of Florence Nightingale in the staff room.’
I grinned at her. One of the VADs who wanted to pep the place up from the routine and gloom had dared someone to do it. It sure did that. Outrage was the only way to describe Sister’s reaction when she clapped eyes on the defaced portrait.
The rest of us were rigid with the effort to contain our laughter.
‘Why does she want to see me? Is my veil straight? Do I look presentable?’ Annie fiddled with her veil.
She could not abide that square of starched white linen. Every bit of hair had to be covered and with her mane, it wasn’t easy, strands would escape here and there. Sister was always telling her off for sloppiness.
‘You look fine. Don’t worry, go on quickly or you will be in trouble,’ I said, and Annie left while I concentrated on the steriliser.
She was often in trouble with the Sisters and Staff Nurses because she joked with the lads. We referred to them as lads because many were only around the same age as we were, nineteen or twenty. As we were not fully trained, we had the initials NA on the front of our apron. They stood for Nursing Auxiliary.
One bright spark, a cheeky lad from Yorkshire named Joe Causey, asked Annie, ‘Hey Nurse, what does that NA on your apron stand for?’
Quick as a flash she replied, ‘Naughty Annie, of course.’ After that, they all called us Naughty Annie. Joe was always ready with a quick quip. Later we discovered he had interpreted the initials VAD as Virgins Awaiting Destruction. We missed him after he was discharged.
After her encounter with Matron, Annie came back to the ward bubbling over with the news. ‘Matron has agreed to have a concert for the patients who are convalescent,’ she said. ‘Isn’t it exciting? She wants me to play the flute. I have no idea where she heard about me being a flautist. We can have our own little entertainment unit right here, a sort of local ENSA just for our hospital.’
‘I mentioned it to Squadron Leader Wilson,’ I said, and told her the story. He had kept his promise to tell Matron some talented musicians were working on the wards.
‘Thanks so much, Hellie. You’re such a love. Let’s celebrate,’ Annie cried, and she did a soft shoe shuffle, before grabbing me and giggling together, we whirled around. There wasn’t much room and in our enthusiasm, we came a bit too close to an instrument trolley. As we danced past it, I bumped the corner with my hip and knocked an enamel bowl off, and it went clattering across the floor.
‘Stop this nonsense at once,’ snapped an outraged voice from the door.
It was Sister Marshall.
She was absolutely the worst sister that I ever had the misfortune to work with. Sister Marshall was just plain mean. She was thin and angular. Her legs were so skinny it was a wonder they supported her. Her bulbous blue eyes could freeze you to death with one glance. An incipient moustache made looking at her directly in the face, awkward, because no matter how you tried, your eyes always drifted towards that line of hair on her top lip.
‘You girls are an absolute disgrace. I should to send you to Matron but there’s too much to be done. You can both go on to floor polishing duty for the next week. Mind you behave yourselves or I will send you to her,’ she threatened.
We believed her.
Sister left the sluice room bristling with indignation, and even her pristine starched apron and cap seemed to be quivering in mute accusation of our silly antics. We stared at each other. ‘Oh lord that’s torn it, we’ll have to behave ourselves for the next goodness knows how long,’ I said. ‘She’s going to be after us like a bloodhound from now on.’
‘Actually,’ Annie said. ‘I’m surprised she let us off so lightly. She must be going soft.’
‘You mean she didn’t put us on bread and water.’
‘It’d be a change from Bully Beef and Woolton Pie,’ she quipped.
‘Oh heavens, I hate that dish, it tastes like nothing and makes you burp. Just loads of vegetables all dowsed in that awful white sauce made with margarine and canned milk. I tell you what Annie; I bet Lord flippin’ Woolton doesn’t eat it.’
We laughed at the idea of the Minister for Food eating his pie.
‘Oh, Hellie, remember the apple pies my mum used to make?’ Annie said her face alight with memories.
Visions of pies bursting with fruit and dripping with cream floated before my eyes.
‘Oh, yes, and Sunday lunch at home with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.’
‘I know, masses of crisp roast potatoes and…’Annie stopped. ‘Oh lord it’s making my mouth water.’
Although we laughed it off, polishing the floors in the wards was tough penalty for a small misdemeanour but that was Sister Marshall. I was sure she was the reincarnation of Charles Dickens character, Madam Defarge. In A Tale of Two Cities she sat by the guillotine knitting as the severed heads rolled into the basket.
This chore had an unexpected bonus. We were able to have a little time with Will who, by now, knew the routine. ‘Hey girls,’ he said, the first morning we worked around his bed. ‘What have you been doing wrong to get this job?’
‘We danced in the sluice room,’ Annie whispered.
‘Sister Marshall caught us in the act.’ I chipped in.
‘Fair dinkum! She’s a terror that one. Tell you what: I’ll take you dancing when I can walk again.’
‘Is that a promise?’ I asked as the thought of being so close to him made me go quite shivery.
‘We’ll hold you to that,’ Annie said, in a severe tone.
‘You can bank on it,’ he replied and his merry blue eyes twinkled.
My insides just went haywire.
‘Shush, here she comes,’ Annie muttered.
I put my head down, and polished frantically, thinking, oh God; this is worse than school when the headmistress was on the warpath.