Tag Archives: England

Interview by Michelle/Share Your Story

Meet Hazel Barker

cid_51fe7125-5349-43b4-a204-6928db78fd26

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.

IMG_3207 Gecko
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.

hazel-barkers-book-launch-1

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.

sides of heaven_front

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Australian author, Australian literature, author, Author Interviews, Hazel Barker, Hazel Barker author, Uncategorized

Christian Writers Down Under

Meet our Members 

Today’s interview is with Hazel Barker

Question 1: Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from.
1. I was born in Burma of an Iranian Muslim father and an English Catholic mother, and have lived in Australia for 50 years.
2. I’ve always loved reading – especially the classics.
3. As a teenager, I dreamed of freedom, travel and love.
Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?
. I write memoirs and historical novels, and wanted to be a writer from an early age, after reading Little Women. But my writing journey only commenced in 2013, when my short story, ‘Hunger’ was selected for publication in the Redlitzer Anthology.
. 2016 saw the publication of my memoir, Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child, Armour Books, and my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie, Rhiza Books.
. Part 2 of my memoirs, The Sides of Heaven, Armour Books, was released in February this year. I’m now working on Part 3, Count Your Blessings.
. My historical novel, The Soprano is in the pipeline.
Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
. My memoirs have mainly attracted female readers, but my novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie is popular with both sexes. This is probably because of the war theme and romantic scenes, but particularly due to the message of PEACE.
. I’d love all those who wish to give glory to the Lord by witnessing his message and forgiveness, to read my books.
Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
. My greatest challenge is the lack of time. I usually spend my mornings writing, but I can’t hold back the clock, and my age is against me. I ask myself, ‘Will I be able to complete Part 3 of my memoirs and finish my novel? How long will the Lord give me the health and strength to continue writing?
. My husband Colin helps me the most. He encourages me and takes me to writers’ meetings, conferences and workshops. He’s most understanding and considerate. God Bless him!
Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
. My favourite writing craft book is K.M. Weiland’s, Structuring Your Novel.
. It was recommended to me by Iola Goulton when she did a sample edit of my work. It helps keep my writing on track. Thanks Iola.
Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
If I were to give a shout for a CWD writer, it would be Paula Vince. I met Paula when I first joined Omega Writers at an Omega Conference in Brisbane, and was struck by her kind and gentle ways. I enjoyed the fellowship, the encouragement and the workshops. I love her books on Divine Healing. Her romantic suspense novels. I enjoyed reading her books, particularly Picking up the Pieces and The Risky Way home.
Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
. My writing goals for this year are:
. to polish Count Your Blessings and to revise my historical novel, The Soprano.
Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
. My faith and my writing go hand-in-hand. My faith is like a candle that lights up my work. My faith rules my life, and hopefully, my writing will strengthen my readers’ faith, hope and trust in the Lord. My faith and prayers too, may lead the despairing to hope, the sinner not to despair of the Lord’s mercy and the prodigal to return to the Fold.

sides of heaven_front

 

3 Comments

Filed under Australian author, Uncategorized

Author Talk at Logan Hyperdrome Library

Chocolate Soldier: the Story of a Conchie by Hazel Barker

chocolatesoldieres

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Power of Books by Hazel Barker

heaven tempers the wind coverBooks are a powerful weapon. There have been many instances of book-burnings throughout history. Some of the better known conflagrations are the burning of Catholic theological works by Martin Luther in 1520, and the incinerating of English Monastic Libraries during the Dissolution of Monasteries from 1536-1541. Thousands of books were burned by the Communists in Russia. Books by Jewish authors and anti-Nazi books were 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.

Books open our minds to knowledge, to understanding and to joy. There are millions to choose from, and were we to spend our whole lives consuming book after book, we could only read a fraction of them. For this reason, we need to be selective in what we read.

I strongly recommend Writing Memoirs. Tips from an editor on writing life stories by Kathy Steward to all those who contemplate writing a memoir. Had I read Writing Memoirs before embarking on my memoirs, it would have saved me endless time and worry.

I enjoy reading memoirs and historical fiction. From memoirs I may learn how to avoid the mistakes others have made, or be encouraged to follow their examples.  Reading historical fiction teaches me about the past, and I read them, bearing in mind the adage ‘History repeats itself.’

Books give me pleasure. Few joys give greater joy than relaxing with a good book. Ever since I learned to read from the age of four, I loved books. Later, even before I reached my teens, I longed to write – to be an author someday.

Now that dream has been fulfilled. Book One of my memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child  is just hot off the press. Published by Armour Books it will be available in all good bookstores. I assure you that men and women of all ages will enjoy reading it and will look forward to the sequel. Happy reading!

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, 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, will be released by Rhizza Press in 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind was released by Armour Books this year. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter in Burma.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

More holidays in the UK and the Republic of Ireland

We could not keep away long from the land of Colin’s birth. We thought of the beauty of England, of the winding roads and hedgerows with its verdant fields and returned two years later.

I was enchanted with the green planes, buses and letter boxes. I had attended a school run by Irish nuns and loved their sense of humour. The speech of the Irish people I met, reminded me of my days with the missionary sisters.

We’ve always associated St. Patrick’s Day with green clothing, leprechauns and shamrocks. However, we never saw a leprechaun.

In a half-day tour of Dublin we viewed the Book of Kells at Trinity College, visited the crystal factory at Waterford and Kilkenny Castle, staying overnight at Killarney. In Cork we toured Blarney Castle, kissing the Blarney Stone and buying souvenirs from the Woollen Mills. Despite kissing the famous stone, neither of us obtained the gift of the gab, and we remained bashful and quiet as we always were.

‘Famine walls’ and ‘famine houses’, relics of the Potato Famine, were dotted all over Ireland.

The coach drive through the Ring of Kerry reminded us of the Snowy Mountains in Australia. We went on to Limerick, home of Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis. Colin recalled his own poverty during his early days in Portland when his Dad worked for the Cockies and we lived in a shack with hessian bags as walls.

We travelled to Galway Bay and on to Knock, where we stopped at the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock.

We returned to Dublin after a week, and flew back to England.

Uncle Clarence looked slightly thinner, but still held himself tall and straight. He picked us up from our hotel and took us to meet my youngest cousin, Matthew, born since our last visit.

Using Nottingham as our base, we travelled to Matlock by rail and walked along the Limestone Trail to Abraham’s Heights. Returning via the Derwent Valley Walk on the Derbyshire Downs, we listened to the chatter of chaffinch. Bluetit and blackbirds regaled us.

While dining at the Magna Carta Hotel, Uncle Clarence, who was usually reserved about his past, spoke to us of his work in China during World War II.

‘When hostilities broke out in 1939, I registered as a conscientious objector and joined the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, a Quaker organisation. I was based in the city of Kunming, in Yunnan province, near the Burmese border,’ he said.

He was still a pacifist and, although over eighty years old, he and his son, Paul, worked as ministers in the Church of Christ. The epitome of kindness, Clarence was always ready to do good for others. It was a pleasure to meet him each time we returned to England.

With regret, we said goodbye, little knowing he’d pass away in less than a year. Paul wrote, informing us of his death. In his e-mail, he attached the first few pages of Clarence’s unfinished memoir.

When I read it, I said, ‘I must complete his book for him.’

The result is my manuscript, The Chocolate Soldier: story of a conchie.

Our adventures took us to many points of interest in England before we boarded a plane at Heathrow to enjoy a wonderful week touring Italy.

I felt a tug at my heartstrings when we left for Brisbane, Australia. As the aircraft circled over the approach to the city I gave a contented sigh of relief and, looking down at the vast, open spaces, thought of our home—our Arcadia, our piece of heaven

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Holiday in the UK

A few months after our trip to Thailand, we took off for a six-week holiday in the U.K. Colin longed to see more of his English heritage and now that I had retired from teaching, we could travel during the off-peak season. We bought a Brit Rail Pass, and had a glorious time touring England.
At Kew Gardens, we stood enchanted, reluctant to leave our charming surroundings. We drank in the beauty of acres and acres of daffodils. Their fragrance wafted towards us and brought back memories of Portland, Victoria, as a child when wandering round Daffodil Farm.
We spent April Fool’s Day visiting Penzance and St. Ives on the Cornish Coast but as the tide was high at Penzance, we were unable to visit St. Michael’s Mount.
The stunning scenery of Cornwall was a hiker’s paradise with trails scaling rugged cliffs and descending to isolated sandy beaches. The silence was only broken by the roar of waves or the shrill cries of the birds.
At St. Ives we climbed steep slopes, stopping to taste Cornwall’s famed clotted cream. The plaintive cries of seagulls filled the air as we looked down at the colourful fishing boats sheltering within the harbour. Ghosts of coastguards still patrolled the area on dark stormy nights and smugglers’ caves beckoned us to explore their depths. I stood motionless and Colin recalled his misadventures at sea, shivering visibly, remembering when he and his Dad were swept out into the ocean at Portland.
The following week, at the Salisbury Plains, Stonehenge with all its hidden history and mystery left us strangely silent and speculative.
At Exeter, we boarded the train to Ivybridge, a quaint little village not far from Dartmoor National Park, where the walking tracks were well sign-posted.
As we hiked across the moors, the wind whistled through the hilly tussocks.
The bleak conditions conjured up the deep baying of the Baskerville hound in the distance. Dartmoor looked forbidding.
At Eggleston, we rambled in forests of beech and larch.
The sheds on the Liverpool dockside housed a market, filled with craft stalls. The docks were much larger than the one at Portland, where Colin used to wander about as a child. We sheltered from the cold wind and peered out at the Liver Building and the two metal birds perched on top of the twin clock towers like watchful guardians. They glinted in the sunlight—a beacon guiding ships into the harbour. Legend has it that if they flew off, the city would cease to exist. The edifice still stood, though buildings just across the river were razed to the ground by the Luftwaffe during World War II.
After wandering around the craft markets, we went on a sightseeing cruise of the Albert, Victoria and Gladstone Docks. The swell of the water rocked the boat. Seaweed clung precariously to the side of the pier, dancing to the tune of the wind that whistled past, sweeping away leaves and paper in fierce gusts. Barnacles shut their mouths against the air.
The rhythm of the rocking boat, and the sights and smells on the dockside, made us think of the war. The navy had stationed the Liverpool Escort Force at the Gladstone dock and destroyers, sloops and corvettes had docked there. Scarcely able to control our excitement, our thoughts turned to the Compass Rose, made alive by Nicholas Monsarrat in his book, The Cruel Sea. I visualised it steaming in, battle-scarred and belching smoke, still smarting from encounters with Nazi submarines and planes. It was freezing even where we sat protected from the winds. Fifty years ago without air-conditioned cabins, the cold would have been unbearable.
We disembarked, my head filled with thoughts of war. The gale drove us to the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Beatles’ Museum—a magnet to all Beatles’ fans. Anything connected with the sea attracted Colin, so we spent hours there.
Excerpt from my memoirs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized