20180223 Hazel Barker A3 poster (A2820473) (1)
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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.
The sequel of Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child will be out shortly.
Set in a turbulent period of history, the story continues to unfold the struggles and sufferings of mother and children until death steals another three more of them.
Join the family in their journey to faith and freedom from the land of pagodas to the world of koalas and kangaroos.
To be released within the next few weeks by Armour Books.
Rebecca Oakes is just thirteen when her mother passes away, and she is left to care for her ageing father. However, it is not only family that stands in the way of Rebecca’s dream.
She will have to fight the Australian society – a society where it is difficult for a woman to get an education, where women can’t own property, have no vote and no voice. Will she be thwarted by a man who is determined to stand in her way?
Review by Hazel Barker
Rebecca’s Dream is a sequel to Suzannah’s Gold and opens in the autumn of 1873. Her mother has just died and thirteen-year-old Rebecca is left to look after her ageing father, who suffers from depression and dementia. She dreams of studying to be a teacher and entering a convent but her desires are thwarted when she takes on the burdens of others and cares for them.
The story rambles on with births and deaths until the evocative scene of John’s attack of typhoid and her sister Mary’s helplessness in Chapter 4. Rebecca’s Aunt Mary Anne and her Uncle Bill prove a source of comfort to her. Her friend Sarah gives her the moral support she needs, and Sister Catherine’s words of encouragement help Rebecca to keep her faith in God. Sarah’s brother Herbert, however, is a constant source of annoyance to Mary.
Despite all drawbacks, Rebecca displays astonishing strength of spirit and selflessness. She also shows righteous anger over the restriction of women especially in regard to education and the laws of inheritance. Her Catholic religion and her views on women’s rights cause dissention within her family but the budding love between Sarah and William bring a touch of romance to the otherwise sorrowful tale.
Although the misuse of the word ‘laying’ on page 234 and elsewhere in the book rob the novel of much of its true worth, the story is a good read.
Rebecca’s Dream depicts the religious bigotry and injustice towards women during the early days of Australian settlement. The author brilliantly captures the fire scene in Chapter 4. Chapter 17 in which the rape occurs is eloquently described too, and the final pages add suspense when family secrets hover like shadows over the story.
Suzannah Casey was just twelve years old when she was transported to the Australian colony from Ireland. Though devastated by her circumstances, she was grateful to be given an opportunity to start a new life on the Goulburn Plains with ex-convict, George Oakes. However, Suzannah could never have imagined the trauma and loss that lay ahead of her. She must find the faith and courage to overcome abuse, abandonment, religious bigotry and her own yearnings in order to discover what is more precious than gold.
Review by Hazel Barker
Suzannah’s Gold is a smorgasbord of women’s fiction, family saga and historical fiction. The author uses excellent dialogue and vivid characterization. She delves into the main characters’ minds and we get a sense of their deep loyalties or hostilities and hatred.
Mary Anne springs to life with her Irish accent, her flirtatious behaviour, her bigotry and hypocritical ways. Adversity brings out the best in her and the reader sees remarkable character growth.
The protagonist, Suzannah, on the other hand, follows her conscience regardless of the consequences on her own happiness. She is intrinsically good: long-suffering, kind and forgiving, and faces no spiritual struggles. I found her too good to be true even though she was based on the author’s great-great-grandmother.
The book has been well-researched and its 309 pages are crammed with descriptions of drought, fires and floods. The description of the fire sets the scene realistically. It is vivid and quickens the pace. Although faithfully mirroring the early history of Australia, the frequency of births, sicknesses and deaths is repetitious. The number of characters causes confusion.
There are two rape scenes in the story—the first from the point of view of a child-witness. The second rape scene is well-written and depicted in all its horror without being offensive to the reader. Unfortunately, errors in the grammatical use of the word ‘lay’ interrupt the story and diminish the pleasure of reading. Readers should, however, add to their knowledge of Australian history and better understand the sufferings and strength the pioneers experienced.
Suzannah’s Gold with its theme of Christian charity, faith and forgiveness delivers a message with a strong ending:
‘Come to Me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’