Wendy James is the author of six books, including The Mistake (2012) and Out of the Silence, which won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime fiction and was shortlisted for the Nita May Dobbie Award for women’s writing. James writes about women’s lives: their domestic and interior lives as well as the bigger picture – the intersection of the political and the personal. She currently lives in Newcastle, New South Wales, with her husband and two of their four children.
HOW I GOT PUBLISHED
I actually started out writing short stories, so my first published work was a story that was published in the lovely literary journal, Voices, which was put out by the National Library of Australia, back in the mid nineties. A few months before the story was accepted I’d won a university short fiction competition, quite unexpectedly, and that gave me the confidence to reach for the stars — publication. I was young and naive, and had no idea about the realities (and hard work!) of writing and publishing, and somehow imagined that everyone would be just as thrilled as I was … I remember feeling really silly when I asked the publisher’s assistant whether she’d enjoyed the story (who asks this?) and she replied rather tersely that she didn’t really know, as she was too busy typing up the damn manuscript to read it. This was back in the early-ish days of home computers, and my already outdated Mac didn’t have a word-processing doc that was compatible with the publisher’s computer. I’d written the story as a bit of an experiment – there’s a bit of playing around with language and technique – and to be honest, these days I find this story a little painful…
There’s not quite any feeling to match the exhilaration of that first publication, but even now, almost twenty years later, and with a quite a few stories and articles and novels out there, I still find it incredibly exciting to see my words in print, available for all the world to read. These days I do manage to resist the temptation to ask readers whether they enjoyed it …
HER LATEST BOOK
From the bestselling author of The Mistake comes a hauntingly powerful story about families and secrets and the dark shadows cast by the past.
Curl Curl, Sydney, January 1978.
Angie’s a looker. Or she’s going to be. She’s only fourteen, but already, heads turn wherever she goes. Male heads, mainly . . .
Jane worships her older cousin Angie. She spends her summer vying for Angie’s attention. Then Angie is murdered. Jane and her family are shattered. They withdraw into themselves, casting a veil of silence over Angie’s death.
Thirty years later, a journalist arrives with questions about the tragic event. Jane is relieved to finally talk about her adored cousin. And so is her family. But whose version of Angie’s story – whose version of Angie herself – is the real one? And can past wrongs ever be made right?
The shocking truth of Angie’s last days will force Jane to question everything she once believed. Because nothing – not the past or even the present –
is as she once imagined.
Read an extract from the novel here: