Friday, 20 March 2020

New Release Spotlight and Author Guest Post: All the Beautiful Liars by Sylvia Petter

All the Beautiful Liars by Sylvia Petter

Dear Lynn,
I hope Ellesea won´t mind us having a chat on her blog. It´s about books and writing and how it´s never too late to publish.
It´s never too late – on publishing as an older writer
I never wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a vet, but was lousy at maths, so did languages instead – French, German – and took off to see the world. It was halfway through an international telecoms policy career when MBAs were just taking off, that I decided to try out one module that happened to be Planning and Managing Change. I was in my early 40s. I would have finished the MBA online at 50 and would have had to retire at 60. I wanted something I could do for the rest of my life. Write. But I didn´t think I had the right to write, not having a clue about English literature. But since childhood I had been a voracious reader – Mum said I ate books – anything from horses to saints to spies and back. By this time, I was based in Geneva via Helsinki and Vienna and Brussels, was trilingual and had mislaid my mother tongue.
I joined the fledgling Geneva Writers’ Group whose leader, Susan Tiberghien, gave me the “right to write” in that she blew away all my hang-ups with free-writing exercises. Then I went online. This was in the pre-web days. No photos, no chatting, just stories and reading in a small group called Boot Camp run by what some called a madman, but was super teacher, Alex Keegan. More than 50 stories came from my three years there. Reading, reading, reading. Writing, writing, writing. Submitting, submitting, submitting. REJECTIONS. Rejections are so important. Alex would say they were like purple hearts.
I was in my early forties and hooked on writing. I attended international writing conferences and workshops, started a novel, won a mentorship in Australia, saved up for another in Canada. Learning, learning. The novel languished. Stories got published. A collection won a prize, which was publication. The novel kept knocking at my door. It ballooned to 110K, I cut it back, it went up, got cut back, in a sort of cantilevering as taught by Peter Carey on 20 pages of another novel through another paid mentorship. I had almost given up on the novel that now had become All the Beautiful Liars, but my Canadian mentor, Timothy Findley, had told me that it might take 20 years and he also had one like that in the works (Pilgrim).
I have a banner on my blog that really says it all: Touch just one person and it´s all been worthwhile.
I submitted the novel to the Yeovil Novel Prize in 2016 because the judge, Jason Goodwin, had written novels set in Turkey. A long shot, but maybe he would understand what I was trying to do. I think he did, and the novel placed third. But the rejections started all over again.
After having the novel looked at again by UK editor Zoe King and a couple of trusted beta readers in Vienna, I submitted the manuscript to Eye and Lightning Books in the UK. They had brought out the work of an Australian writer, Ryan O´Neill, whose work I loved, and I thought, wouldn´t it be great to be in the same stable? If they reject it, I´ll selfpublish.
When the email came, I was ready for another rejection.
All the Beautiful Liars will be launched on 16 March. I am 70 years old and still have lots in my archives to work on.
I hope there is something in my story that can inspire you to keep at it. It´s the best activity in the world and you can do it forever.

How true are the family histories that tell us who we are and where we come from? Who knows how much all the beautiful liars have embargoed or embellished the truth?

During a long flight from Europe to Sydney to bury her mother, Australian expat Katrina Klain reviews the fading narrative of her family and her long quest to understand her true origins. This has already taken her to Vienna, where she met her Uncle Harald who embezzled the Austrian government out of millions, as well as Carl Sokorny, the godson of one of Hitler's most notorious generals, and then on to Geneva and Berlin. Not only were her family caught up with the Nazis, they also turn out to have been involved with the Stasi in post-war East Germany.

It's a lot to come to terms with, but there are more revelations in store. After the funeral, she finds letters that reveal a dramatic twist which means her own identity must take a radical shift. Will these discoveries enable her to complete the puzzle of her family’s past?

Inspired by her own life story, Sylvia Petter’s enthralling fictional memoir set between the new world and the old is a powerful tale about making peace with the past and finding closure for the future.

For a limited time, All the Beautiful Liars will be available for only 99p.

Sylvia Petter was born in Vienna but grew up in Australia, which makes her Austr(al)ian.
She started writing fiction in 1993 and has published three story collections, The Past Present, Back Burning and Mercury Blobs. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales.
After living for 25 years in Switzerland, where she was a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, she now lives in Vienna once more.

Social Media Links @EyeAndLightning @SylviaAPetter