Decima Wraxall has published short stories, poems, articles and won prizes for essays. Her novel/memoir, Black Stockings, White Veil, A Tale of Adversity, Triumph and Romance at RPAH, was a Finalist in the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Historical Fiction.
She was one of the editors of Our Women’s Work, an anthology from the Women Writer’s Network of the NSW Writers’ Centre. This anthology was named a Finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Womens’ Issues.
How much research did you find yourself having to do for your historical novel, Black Stockings, White Veil?
All historical works require quite a bit of research. I needed to verify details I already knew and confirm other information as questions arose. It was ongoing during the writing process.
How has being a part of the Women’s Writers’ Network been valuable to you as a writer?
Being a member of a Critique Group is invaluable for one’s development as a writer. Members advise when to cut back here, or give more detail there. They help to pick up inconsistencies which may arise, and keep the timeline of events in mind.
They often suggest ways to enrich the text, or if more dialogue is needed, or when something is not clear to my reader. They pick up telling not showing and in a hundred other ways help to improve the quality of my prose.
Can you tell us a little about your own writing process?
I mostly compose directly onto the computer. Other times I write scenes or notes out by hand and then type them into the story.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have been given?
That the best writing is rewriting. Editing is an especially important part of the creative process.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m re-reading one of my favourite books, A Story Dreamt Long Ago , a memoir By Phyllis Mcduff
As the blurb says: When Bettina Mendll arrived in Sydney in 1939 from Vienna she was on the run. In her homeland of Austria she was wanted by Hitler’s SS, and in Australia she was an enemy alien. Fearing internment, Bettina fled the city for the vast open spaces of the Australian outback.
Excerpt from Black Stockings, White Veil, A Tale of Adversity, Triumph and Romance at RPAH
Queen Mary Nurses’ Home glittered like a grand hotel. Girls in satin gowns and fur stoles descended the marble stairs. Guys in tuxedos held open the doors of MG sports cars.
Motors roared to life, a peal of laughter tinkled on the chill night air. I’d have killed for an ounce of their glamour and shivered in my home-made suit.
Hopes and plans and dreams had brought me to Sydney, away from the misty mountains of home. Away from the mud and muck of the milking-yard.
Away from the plovers that screamed in the rushes when a fox crept up to steal their eggs.
The balding cab driver dumped my pasteboard suitcases on the pavement. ‘There you go, luv. Good luck.’ My heart sank as those red tail-lights disappeared from Grose Street. Luck? I’d need a miracle.