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Guest Post: Missing Christina by Meredith Whitford

The Blurb:

Christina Randall’s sudden death shatters her family. As they react in their various and sometimes shocking ways Jaques, her eldest son, an actor and narrator of the book, finds that his own grief is enough without having to take her place as the person everyone confides in and trusts to fix their troubles.
To distract himself, Jaques helps an Australian historian who is researching the 1967 disappearance of one of his mother’s childhood pen-friends. As the action moves from England to South Australia and back Jaques discovers a new love and the long shadows of old secrets. He has to keep family ties intact, but not everyone is being honest. Is there more than one mystery? And who is in danger?
With humour and unforgettable characters, Meredith Whitford uses her experiences as an adopted child, a writer, a publisher and a synaesthete to weave a heartfelt, gripping novel of the many different kinds of love.
Missing Christina is available in paperback and as an e-book from online and selected physical bookstores.

Guest Post ‘On Writing’ from the Author:

Missing Christina is my fourth published book, and another’s with an agent. My first two were historical novels: Treason, about Richard III, and Shakespeare’s Will, which I wrote because I was sick of (mostly male) biographers assuming Anne Shakespeare was an illiterate harpy whose husband would do anything to avoid her. Getting Treason published was difficult at first, for in the 1990s all I heard was “there’s no market for novels about Richard III”, and in Australia historical fiction had to be romance (“Is it like Jean Plaidy?” asked one publisher; who turned out never to have heard of any other writer of historical fiction), and Treason isn’t. An indie publisher took it on and it immediately won the 2002 International Eppie Award for Historical fiction – this was in the days when the concept of ebooks still needed promotion.
Then, without really meaning to, I found I was writing a biography of Esmond Romilly, Winston Churchill’s nephew, who married the ‛red’ one of the Mitford girls, Jessica. The Literature Board of the Australia Council gave me a research grant that enabled me to travel to the UK and USA to use various archives. (The experience of handling a letter written by someone who’d just taken tea with Hitler is better imagined than described.) Churchill’s Rebels: Jessica Mitford & Esmond Romilly was published in 2014.
Missing Christina was the only way I could write about my childhood as an adoptee – I had to distance the experience and tell the story as fiction through a narrator who’s as unlike me as possible. There’s a bit of mystery woven into the story, too.
I like writing historical fiction and non-fiction because I find plotting difficult, and need the structure of history. Missing Christina took me four years to get right – and, as with the fiction, I needed a ‛voice’ with which to tell the story. I don’t want to sound all mystical, but Treason only worked because its narrator strolled in one day and started telling me his version of the history. Shakespeare’s Will took off when one day, out of the blue, I ‛heard’ the first, bantering, rather sexy and punning scene between William S and Anne Hathaway. Most of the characters in Missing Christina changed completely during the writing, and again along came a helpful narrator, with his own jokes, to tell the story. I suppose this is just one way of trying to explain how writers’ minds and imaginations work, although when non-writers do look at me oddly when I try to explain it.
The fifth book, the one now doing the rounds with my agent, is a nice, amusing bit of fun about an Australian family, and with that one I didn’t need a narrator; I just had to eavesdrop of these characters arguing, teasing and making love.
At the moment I’m supposed to be writing a family biography, but Shakespeare’s daughters are talking to me…

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