Interview with Gail M Shell

I was surprised Whose War? was fiction
In the course of researching facts and personal experiences, apart from turning to many books and newspapers of the time, I interviewed a number of exPOWs, and often their wives, as well as relatives and friends who lived through the trauma of WW11. I was privileged to accumulate a wonderful plethora of stories and anecdotes. At that time, many years ago, I was not familiar with Creative Non-fiction as a genre. Hence I wrote in the genre of Fiction which enabled me to incorporate much of the relevant information that I had gathered. But, I do insist that if I am unable to substantiate any fact, I will not use it.
Are the characters in your story faithfully portrayed?
My main protagonists are, such as Tom and Annie, but because of early criticism that my characters were too similar, I made changes to some other characters. Under the ploy of writing fiction it is exciting to manipulate and create characters to suit their place in the overall story. In real life, Tom's mother, was nothing like the feisty and colorful woman, and nor was Bess like she was presented. Tom and his brother Fred have been portrayed reasonably faithfully, although Fred was not so much the rough-and-ready younger brother with a rattletrap for a bike. For my readers I add, Fred, in fact did suffer the horrific amputation, as did Tom, the torture.
Did you enjoy writing this novel?
I did. I see it primarily as a tribute to my parents and the many people who served in the war as well as those at home, working and coping with changes while fearing for the safety of their loved ones away from their homes. After the death of my father I worked on this novel for well over ten years. Much of the early time was spent gathering documents, and other paperwork. Sifting through personal letters written during the war I shed a tear many times. Of course there was also much information I gleaned from journals and books. During the war there were many changes in Australia, culturally, economically and politically and it was satisfying to expand my knowledge. There were complete breaks from writing during times of family responsibilities, and my own illnesses. However, I always returned to the computer determined to take advantage of the absence. Many a chapter was rewritten. Writing is all about rewriting, honing and chiselling to produce a book that will leave something worthwhile in the memory of readers.
Was there any moral edict you wished to deliver?
Well, what can one say when the novel is about war. It would be a wonderful world if there were no wars. However, if ever a reader questions, I as Betty, still cannot say I hate anyone. And my sister and I remember the excitement of finding the penny under the weeds spread over the path. My father never made his family suffer from the effects of what he had endured during the war. Perhaps as Tom said in the book as he left Singapore, 'What will I tell them at home? Nobody should know how bad it was.' My father died at 64 years of age.
Published 2015-02-27.
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Books by This Author

Whose War?
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 91,620. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Australia & New Zealand
(5.00 from 1 review)
A story of love and war written through the tapestry of history when WW11 reaches Australia.