The Next Big Thing – The Grey Silk Purse

The Grey Silk Purse Notebooks

Here are four of my six notebooks for my current work in progress.

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?
My current work in progress is entitled The Grey Silk Purse and is set in 1917/1918 Serbia and Mayfield, Newcastle in 1920/1930.

2) Where did the idea come from?
Several years ago whilst doing book talks for Tomaree, a bookseller showed me a card advertising a New Year’s Eve party at the Trades Hall, Newcastle for 1930 run by The New Moon Dance Club. Whilst searching for more info about the mysterious club I came across a November, 1922 ad: “Lost yesterday Lady’s handbag between Elizabeth & Henry Streets, Tighes Hill along Port Waratah tramline or left in 6.42pm Port Waratah tram from Newcastle, contains 6 pounds, metal season railway ticket, keys etc. Finder handsomely rewarded on return to Miss Summerville, Room 5, Carrrington Chambers, Watt Street.”
I kept the name Miss Summerville but couldn’t find Carrington Chambers. Somehow I made the jump from there to my current project.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Historical fiction

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Strangely I have no idea for this one. I cast Crossing Paths though. The main characters were played (in my head) by Rose Byrne, John Cusack, Rupert Penryn-Jones, Miriam Margoyles and Helen Mirren (in an uncharacteristically timid role).

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It is January 1920 and Miss Summerville living in a beautiful house in Mayfield, Newcastle begins a diary detailing how, after a long illness, she has woken up and can’t remember the last two years of her life.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope to finish the manuscript very soon. (I’m on the second last draft now.) I’m determined to find an agent and a mainstream publisher and that is my goal for 2013.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Much longer than Tomaree. Approximately two and a half years.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Winter of the World by Carol Ann Lee
The Soldier’s Song by Alan Monaghan
Armistice by Nick Stafford

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Heroic Australian women from both world wars, including Olive Kelso King, Alice Kitchen, Vivien Bullwinkel and Nancy Wake.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Hopefully the wonderful Scottish Women’s Hospitals who ran 14 field hospitals during WWI. Many of their doctors, nurses and orderlies were Australian, including Stella Miles Franklin who worked at the Ostrovo Unit in Serbia, the unit featured in The Grey Silk Purse.
I’m now tagging three people to keep this meme going. They are:
Matthew Glenn Ward @ Matthew Glenn Ward
Anthony Wood @ Want For Words
Janna G. Noelle @ The Rules of Engagement
Happy writing!

25 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing – The Grey Silk Purse

    • That’s good! That’s what I hope for. Also for the reader to keep guessing for the first 60 pages and from there I will have them interested enough to keep reading to the end.


    • Thanks Dale. I do both actually. The six folders are all research but contain some odd scenes if I’m not near laptop. Also write in my laptop of course. Do you use notebooks exclusively?


      • Always for first drafts. by the time I get to the computer it’s into draft 2. I find I think better with pen in hand instead of keyboard in front of me.


      • How is your writing going at the moment? To answer your question, Debbie. It’s not going great at the moment. Life is getting in the way though I did just submit a few poems to a lit mag and have written an article which is being published so that’s something.


      • Yes, that’s life, isn’t it? I lost two weeks of editing because my laptop died. Now on a mac and still having trouble doing the odd thing as it’s a new system.
        Congratulations on the article! What was it about?


      • Hi Debbie, Sorry for the delay. Coming back to your question from days ago, the article was one I was asked to write about Goodreads for a newsletter called Words with Wings. It was only 500 words or thereabouts.


      • Sorry Dale, I’ve just discovered your comment. A rare breed of writer who still writes with a pen. You are in good company with Paul Auster!


  1. Generally about my fourth or fifth draft I actually print out and do a draft on the pages and then input on the computer as a final draft. I got a third of the way through my fourth draft when my laptop died. Have a new Mac Air but haven’t loaded Pages on it yet to get back to The Grey Silk Purse. Hope to do that next week.


  2. Pingback: Don’t Talk About Fight Club: A writer’s paranoia in discussing a WIP | The Rules of Engagement

  3. Hi Debbie, I am interested of progress with your book as coincidently I found same story about Ms King fascinating and of great interest. I am of Serbian origin living in Australia last 26 years and would love to learn and read more about this heroine. Could you get in touch with me at earliest convenience please?


    • Hi Serge,
      Lovely to hear from you! My book is fiction but I did quite a bit of research on Olive Kelso King so I can recommend some reading for you. Email me at lakelady2282 at hotmail dot com


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