Today I welcome back Margaret Lynette Sharp to Book’d Out.
Although it seems like an eternity, it’s less than two years since I set out to write a book. I can’t recall the precise moment this idea popped into my head, although I can well recall thinking about it for a couple of weeks before actually sitting down at the computer and starting.
At that point, knowing next to nothing about computers, I was led by the hand by my husband Ronald, who is well known in pipe-organ circles as the creator of the Grand Organ in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, and the instruments at Knox Grammar School, Perth Concert Hall, and Wollongong Town Hall.
One of Ron’s great strengths is his ability to help others. He had already encouraged me in music, and praised my efforts in watercolour painting. And so, aware as he was of my earlier training in this subject, he steered me into trying my hand at writing, with himself as editor.
I chose to write Short Stories for several reasons. Sure, I’d studied the subject for four years, and therefore felt reasonably able to attempt a collection. Greater still was my own temperament which favours quick resolution. I don’t much like digression, either in written or spoken language, which I suppose is one reason that I lean towards this genre. Another potent, positive argument seemed to me to be today’s lifestyle of rush, which sometimes leaves readers with only snatches of time to fill.
My first effort, a two and a half thousand word tale, absorbed three days. I quickly discarded it. However, I’d gained a great deal from this attempt, and the next several tries produced results which have subsequently found praise. So, happily, I was on my way.
I finished the first book, ’25 Stories of Life and Love in Australia’, but declared that’s it: I’d never do it again: and sought out friends who’d like to see what we’d done. The icing on the cake was Ron’s attractively designed cover. I enjoyed observing our ‘baby’, re-reading tales at leisure.
In hindsight, I realize that leaving it at ‘one book’ was more than unlikely. Simply, it was never going to happen, since this fait accompli had instilled me with absolute confidence that I could do it again. And so, refreshed by a short break, ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’ was conceived and came to fruition, although I admit struggling to finish it. And again, overwhelmed by many non specific emotions, I decided that I couldn’t keep this up.
Even now, I believe that ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’ is special since it contains many of my favourite tales: among them, ‘The Girl Next Door’, ‘First Impressions’ and ‘The Blossoming’. I sometimes think that this volume could be construed as something a little different from a collection of short stories: to me, it’s a snapshot of Australian life and love, held in cohesion by first and last stories that are linked by the same characters, though years apart.
History repeated itself. Two other books in this series were forthcoming: ‘The Essence of Life and Love in Australia’ and ‘Reflections of Life and Love in Australia’. The former volume, particularly, has found friends and admirers.
Next came a book of a different genre: ’60 Questions, Insights and Reminiscences’: a series of short, lightly-written articles about life through the eyes of a female Australian baby boomer. Again, this book has won compliments, even congratulations; though at time of writing, no professional reviews.
And so, in 2012, we’ve produced our sixth: ‘Long and Short Australian Stories’, which was published in April. As the name implies, this is a collection of stories of mixed length: many, if not most, are romantic. I’m particularly drawn to writing stories of young love, set against a backdrop of family disapproval, often mingled with ambitions of the lovers. Someone recently observed to me that, despite the presence of conflict, my stories generally carry the golden thread of hope: a thread with which I trust readers will empathise, and recognize as an integral life-force.
I guess all writers draw on their own experiences, at least to some extent; and, although all my Short Stories are fictitious, the settings are generally familiar, local places such as beaches, parks, homes and clubs. I’ve aimed to create books that are distinctly Australian, without the ‘ocker’ tag. Some, at least, believe I’ve succeeded.
Enough about the books: now a bit about our life.
I live with my husband and friend Ron and our loving little Maltese Chicki-Rose, whom we adopted six months ago from the RSPCA, in a small, Federation brick house near the Georges River in Sydney. We like variety, and spend our time in creative pursuits, mostly literary and musical; going out to beaches, parks and dances; reading; and watching television. We are members of our local swimming club: Ron participates as a time-keeper, while I compete in events ranging from fifty metre sprints to one kilometre distances. The down-side of this is tangible evidence of the effects of aging! The up-side is the knowledge that one can still take part, and retain a level of fitness into the bargain.
Interestingly, it’s lately been noted that exercise aids in the cognitive processes. Perhaps I have swimming to thank for helping me create these six volumes.
Learn more about Margaret Lynette Sharp at
Margaret Lynette Sharp’s short story volumes are available to purchase