Meet the Author: Hazel Barker

Hazel’s top tip for aspiring authors: My top tip is to avoid the mistakes I made. Don’t be in a hurry to send in your work to a publisher. Revise, revise and revise again and again.

hazel-barkerHazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Many of her short stories and book reviews have been published in magazines and anthologies.

Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier, was released by Rhiza Press in September 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind, was released by Armour Books in August this year. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East, the latter in Burma.

Visit Hazel’s website here.


 Why do you write? I write because it gives me pleasure and satisfaction. It’s not what I earn or don’t earn. It’s like going on a journey.

 What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve retired now. If I was still working, I’d be teaching, as I am a teacher, but now that I’ve retired, if I wasn’t writing, I’d be immersed in orchids and helping my husband with his hobby.

 What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? My toughest obstacle was impatience – sending my manuscripts to publishers before they were polished to perfection.

 How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? Last year I had two books published. My first book was a memoir Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child. My publisher was Armour Books. A month later, Rhiza Press published my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie. Both publishers asked me what I had in mind for the covers. As my memoir was set in Burma, during World War Two, I wanted a setting with pagodas in the background and planes flying overhead.

My novel, Chocolate Soldier was not what I’d asked for, but my publisher sent me several covers to choose from, and I selected the one I liked.

 What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect of my writing life is the joy of writing and getting my work published. I’ve made so many friends within my writing groups and met so many wonderful people since I commenced my writing career. I guess that makes three. But it was difficult to stop …

 —the worst? The worst is the lack of time – having to sacrifice being with my husband or participating in other pleasures together.

 What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would join a writing group ASAP, instead of struggling on my own, and hold back from sending in my work too soon to publishers.

 What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told that writing styles have changed over the years and that I should not take my favourite classical authors as my model.

 What’s the best advice you were ever given? The best ever given to me was by Jean Briggs, who used to help so many aspiring authors. She told me not to write in the passive voice. She also said I had a good academic style of writing suitable for a thesis, but not for a novel.


chocolatesoldieresChocolate Soldier: The Story of a Conchie

London. 1940.

When World War II breaks out and men over eighteen are conscripted, Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector, refuses to go rather than compromise his principles.  Instead he joins the Friend’s Ambulance Unit.  From the London Blitz to the far reaches of Asia the war tests Clarence in the crucible of suffering.  In the end, will he be able to hold his head up as proudly as the rest and say, to save lives I risked my own?

One man will stand as God’s soldier, not the war’s soldier.

heaventempersthewindHeaven Tempers the Wind

Story of a War Child

Hazel’s idyllic childhood is torn apart by the bombing of Rangoon. The Japanese armies overrun Burma, forcing the family to move from one refuge to another. Hazel’s father, a Muslim, and her mother, a Catholic, fears for her children. Told through a child’s eyes, this story tells of a family’s travails during the darkest days of enemy occupation.

The book is available from Armour Books.


Meet the Author: Lynne Stringer

Lynne’s top tip for aspiring authors: Make sure you get all your books professionally edited and take your editor’s comments seriously.

lynne1-editedLynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels.

Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a young adult science fiction romance series released in 2013. Her latest novel, released in October 2016, is Once Confronted, a contemporary drama.

Find out more by visiting Lynne’s website.

She is also on Facebook and Twitter and has an Amazon author page.


Why do you write? I write because the ideas in my head knock on the inside of my skull, demanding release. There is no peace for me until they’re out.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would be a professional editor, which is actually my day job. It’s nice that I get to help other people make their books better.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Overcoming the thought that anything I wrote would be terrible just because I wrote it. When I first got a contract to have my debut novel published, my default reply if anybody asked me about my book was to say, ‘Yes, I’ve written a book but you probably wouldn’t like it.’ I had to get out of that habit pretty quickly, let me tell you! However, it took a while for me to realise that my stories were worth something and deserved to be printed and read.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? I’m fortunate that my traditional publisher—Wombat Books/Rhiza Press—allowed me to have a significant level of involvement. My publisher asked my opinion and took my ideas seriously, resulting in what I feel are the best covers for my books.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? When someone contacts me to ask me for more information about one of my characters, you know, that background stuff that doesn’t make it into the book but that people can obsess about if they love the people I have created. Nothing beats the joy I feel satisfying that desire for them.

—the worst? Having to go and ask for signings in bookstores or anywhere where I know it’s likely I’ll get a knockback. Also, seeing the places where unknown authors can place their books diminishing as small, independent bookstores close down and the big boys, who won’t play with unknown authors, getting all the sales.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would have tried to learn a lot more prior to putting pen to paper … or fingers to keyboard! While I learn best on the job, I think I could have been a bit more prepared beforehand. But then, as I said, I tend to learn best that way.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That it would be hard and that it would probably take years and at least six books before I got anywhere and even then, getting ‘somewhere’ wouldn’t mean it got any easier.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make sure you get all your books professionally edited and take your editor’s comments seriously. You don’t have to accept them all but don’t just disregard them because they’ve requested changes. That’s their job.


theheir_cover-silver-award-500x750The Heir, the first book in the Verindon Trilogy

Sarah hates the prestigious high school she attends. Most of the other students ignore her. School is only made tolerable by the presence of Dan Bradfield, the boy she adores. Dan is the heir to his father’s multinational computer company, but he is dating Sarah’s best friend, Jillian.

When tragedy strikes, Dan is the one who is there for Sarah, but she can’t shake the feeling there is something strange about him. Is he protecting her from something? Is there something going on that she doesn’t know about?

And did she really see a monster in the bushes?

Sarah is desperate to uncover the truth, but it could take her to another galaxy, and change everything she believes about who she is. Will it bring Dan and Sarah closer together or tear them apart?

The Heir is available on Amazon.

onceconfrontedhigh500x770Once Confronted

After a normal day turns disastrous, Madison Craig tries to put her life back together. She’s jumping at shadows and finds even familiar places terrifying. Can she forgive the men who hurt her?

Her friend Evan Mansfield sees no need to do anything but hate their assailants. He struggles with bitterness, but Maddy wants to move on. But what will she do when one of the men asks for forgiveness? Is it the only way forward for her?

Once Confronted is available on Amazon