EMOTIONAL TUG OF WAR – WRITING FICTION BASED ON A TRUE STORY
BY NOELLE CLARK
Stone of Heaven and Earth is based on the real lives of my grandparents in China, and spans the years 1914 to 1929.
I never met my Grandfather, but was lucky to live with my grandmother until I was thirteen. I clearly remember as a child being told their story often. Their life together was one of the most amazing, adventurous, happy and sad stories I ever heard and it never failed to make me cry when my Nana described her years in China.
About eight years ago I travelled to China to walk in the footsteps of my grandparents. With all the changes brought about by cultural change and civil wars, China is a very different place now from in the early years of the twentieth century. It was very difficult to find exact addresses and places, however I did form an appreciation for the city of Shanghai and its inhabitants. I visited landmarks that I knew they had been to, places they had lived, and of course the buildings along The Bund are still there.
The only way to do it justice was to write fiction based on real life. Memoirs are written by people who were there, and so I had no choice but to add meat to the skeleton. Apart from my grandmother telling her story, I was able to draw on two memoirs written by my mother and my aunt. But their memory was almost hearsay, as they were both quite young at the time. I also had a couple of letters, but the actual details were lost over the years. I have only a handful of photos of their life in China, so while I knew the bare bones very well, there was an awful lot I didn’t know.
I set out to find out what I needed. I had two tools: Research and Imagination.
The result is a story about four people whose lives were changed forever in the years from June 1914 until March 1929 whilst living in China. Yes, it contains all the elements of the true story, but I’ve enriched it with details gleaned from research, and character development based on traits I knew they possessed.
Stone of Heaven and Earth is very dear to my heart, and it will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading about adventure, adversity, hope, and triumph of the human spirit.
Out now as an ebook. A few weeks later for print version.
It’s 1914, and while clouds of war gather over Europe, Australians are signing up in their thousands to help the Allies. In sleepy Brisbane, two women set sail on a passenger steamer for Shanghai to fulfil a promise.
Spanning the years 1914 to 1929, Stone of Heaven and Earth is an epic tale of love and loss, extravagant expatriate lifestyles, intense danger, heroic acts, and the hideous effects of a cruel and barbaric civil war. The complex and volatile politics in China is played out in the intimate story of two intrepid couples, foreigners who embarked on the adventure of a lifetime and made their home in China.
Based on the author’s true family history, this work of fiction is interwoven with real stories gleaned from memoirs, photographs, and from growing up hearing the stories from those who were there. Extensive research, which included a month spent in China tracing the footsteps of the characters in this book, has resulted in a captivating account of foreigners in China during some of the most violent and devastating times.
An Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. Noelle lives in Queensland, Australia. Visit her website at http://www.noelleclark.net
Noelle Clark – Author
Contemporary and Historical Fiction – Adventure / Romance