Tag Archives: Asia

Interview by Michelle/Share Your Story

Meet Hazel Barker

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Hazel 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 in Burma, 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. Her short stories have won awards and been published in magazines and anthologies.
Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier was released by Rhiza Press in October, 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind was published by Armour Books in August, 2016. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter in Burma.
Part 2 of her memoirs, The Sides of Heaven, was released in February, 2018.

What has your background been before you starting writing?
I taught English and History at high schools in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane.

How were you introduced to writing?
I literally started writing at three when my mother held my hands to form the first words of the alphabet. Mum used to read to me even before I went to school and I grew to love books. I wanted to be an author ever since I read ‘Little Women’ at the age of eight. My love of books led to my love of writing.

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I’ve always been a bashful child. Becoming an author has made me love talking. I love to speak to others who have the same taste for books and I’m no longer embarrassed when giving talks about my books.

How is your writing making a difference for you right now?
Right now, writing occupies a large part of my time. However, I try to divide my time between my other loves – my husband Colin and my hobbies.

As a child, what was your relationship with books?
As a child of two, Mum gave me picture books. I remember them being made of cloth so I couldn’t tear them accidently as I turned the pages and they were washable too. Later, I moved from picture books with large letters to fairy tales, then on to adventure stories, the classics and romance.

What is the most important thing about what you want to do?
I want to enjoy a healthy life with my husband and get the rest of my manuscripts published.

Do you believe books can change the world?
I have no doubt that books can change the world. This is the reason why thousands of books were burned by the Communists in Russia and China. Books by Jewish authors and anti-Nazi books were also burned by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. The latest burnings to date have been those by ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Fear of their influence on people led to such destruction.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing?
I hope that my readers will realise the value of faith, hope and prayer and that they will learn from my mistakes.

What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to please the Lord and live a blissful life with my dear husband.

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Has Share Your Story helped you in any way?
I have only joined Share Your Story for a few months, and I’m already reaping the benefits of joining by being able to share my stories with others.

What results have you experienced, good or bad, about being a part of the publishing industry?
I’ll start with the bad. I was too impatient to get my books published and sent my manuscripts to publishers too early, with the result that I had so many reject ions at first. The good is that since 2013, when my short story was included in the Redlitzer Anthology and I received a trophy from the mayor, my writing career went ahead by leaps and bounds. After that, many other short stories have been selected for publication in anthologies. In 2016 Part One of my memoir, Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child was published by Armour Books, and my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie was taken up by Rhiza Press. In 2018, Part 2 of my memoir, The Sides of Heaven was published by Armour Books.

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If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Peace. Peace in the world through the love of God.

Contact Hazel
https://hazelmbarker.wordpress.com

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Author Talk at Logan Hyperdrome Library

Chocolate Soldier: the Story of a Conchie by Hazel Barker

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Event Type: Adult Literacy
Age Group(s): Adults
Date: 22/11/2017
Start Time: 10:00 AM
End Time: 11:30 AM
Description:
Local author Hazel Barker speaks about her journey to publication and her debut novel Chocolate Soldier: The Story of a Conchie, which tells the story of Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector during World War II. You will learn how to avoid the mistakes the author has made on her writing journey.
Library: Logan Hyperdome Library

Location: Meeting Room

Phone: 34124120 to book a seat

Refreshments provided

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Book Review: The Monsoon Bride by Michelle Aung Thin

Publisher: Text Publishing
Publisher’s Summary
Burma, 1930.
At their final marriage lesson, when the priest had talked on and on, Desmond bent his head to hers and whispered, ‘Our world is newer, faster and better—you will see.’ She took his hand in hers then and squeezed it. His skin had a peppery, meaty sweetness, a smell that seemed to stick to her dress, her hair and skin. She named it ‘the scent of men’. Beside her, he snored gently in his sleep, his face no more than an outline, rising and falling in the dim light. She decided that she liked the sound.

Winsome is just married and filled with anticipation. Her new husband is a stranger—one of the suitors chosen for her and the other mixed-race girls from the men who apply to the orphanage. But as the night train rattles towards her new home she sees possibility in this uncertain destiny. She knows she is headed for a new life in the metropolis.

She does not know about Rangoon, this city cradled in the arms of rivers. That it is about to be torn apart in the struggle between its ancient owners and new masters. That it will seduce her, possess her senses and change utterly her notion of what kind of woman she can be. When she meets Jonathan—when the monsoon comes—she begins to find out.

Review by Hazel Barker
I enjoyed reading The Monsoon Bride. The author has created vivid and strong settings and rightly depicts the mood and atmosphere current during that period of history. I particularly liked the way Michelle Aung Thin wove history into the narrative.

The opening chapter grabbed my attention. I found both male characters, Desmond and Jonathon, true to life, and as the story progressed, my sympathy went out to them. The story gripped me, making me eager to read on and discover whether Winsome could return to Desmond as the repentant sinner.

Winsome’s behaviour, however, is so unlike a girl who had been brought up in a convent. The distinction between social classes in Burma were too rigid at the time, and when she wandered alone in dangerous areas and showed sympathy for a coolie who had been wounded during the riots, I found her attitude more like that of a contemporary female than that of a girl in the 1930s.

I would also like to point out an error in the story. In 1930, an Indian bearer would never have addressed anyone as Thakin, but as Sahib; not even a Eurasian.

Despite these discrepancies, The Monsoon Bride held my attention to the end, and took me back to my childhood days as I read the familiar names of streets and places in Rangoon.

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