Now retired from the paid workforce, Winfreda is able to indulge a life-long ambition to write fiction. Although she enjoyed her later work-life writing (research reports, policy documents, academic theses), the joy of allowing imagination to run is liberating. Farewell to the constraints of facts and statistics.
Another ambition is to stay healthy for long enough to tap out the myriad fancies itching to take shape.
Winfreda calls on experiences from a long working life and a fascination with family dynamics to fashion characters and plots. But as she writes, some alchemy happens to merge the temperaments and personalities of the characters with unforeseen events that often surprise her.
Most of all Winfreda is interested in the rich and hidden stories of everyday people's lives - happy stories, sad stories, people in danger, exhilarating tales, ambitious exploits, self-sabotage and workplace skulduggery. Other incidents that weave into the fictions explode from our shared environment of tension, violence, and the increasing streams of news reports and documentaries of our times.
Since 2013 Winfreda has published the first three books of The Long Shadows Series. This family and friendship saga traces the lives of young Freya Dunbar and Alexander Marcou, played out in the late twentieth century, against the legacies that World War II laid on both their families. Past Imperfect (Book One) begins the story with settings in Scotland and Australia. Present Tense (Book Two) and Future Hope (Book Three) follow the trials and adventures of the young lovers in Europe and Africa. The fourth story in the series, Tides of Time is still incubating (for publication at the end of 2015 or early 2016).
Winfreda is also working on a short story assortment and possibly a memoir-ish collection of reflections.
Where to find Winfreda Donald online
Where to buy in print
Miscellany: Where is Home and Other Stories
by Winfreda Donald
In this collection of seven spare tales, while some of the stories feature flashes from other dimensions, they are all about families. Daughters, mothers, husbands, children, babies – coping with challenges at different life stages. Might you have done things differently?
by Winfreda Donald
In 1998, Freya travels to the rugged north-west of the Scotland, seeking emotional healing after a stressful volunteering mission in famine-affected southern Sudan. As her health and energy is restored she is guided into unexpected journeys by a prophecy that reveals family history and family secrets, and the story of betrayal that culminated in the loss of her first love.
by Winfreda Donald
Lost love, new love, and lingering secrets from World War II still affect Freya as she adjusts to marriage and her return to Australia following thirteen years in Scotland. After a spate of complicated family matters resolve, she embarks on a risky challenge as an aid volunteer during a period of extreme famine in Africa. Emotionally scarred she leaves on furlough to recover in Wester Ross.
by Winfreda Donald
A resourceful fourteen year-old, Freya Dunbar accepts responsibilities beyond the norm. Family is paramount. She has no regrets – she’d do anything for Mama, but she frets at being the odd-one-out in every part of her life. Always alert for clues about family mysteries she yearns for a sense of belonging until she meets soul-mate Alexander Marcou. Identity issues matter less then.
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Smashwords book reviews by Winfreda Donald
- Dark Visions
on May 05, 2015
Review of Dark Visions
Amateur sleuths on the job
Dark Visions is a one-sitting read. The overlapping threads of mystery within a family and a neighbourhood draw the reader in.
The Pilleys are a regular, affectionate and newly-retired couple.
Meg has her children, her friends and a good relationship with her sister-in-law. She plays with the Tarot and gives ‘for fun’ readings over coffee and cake, and enjoys playing bowls.
Retirement isn’t suiting Clyde. He has changed from easy-going to negative - is bored and a little bit testy, starts eating too heartily and resists joining Meg at the Bowls Club even though police mate Ross Delaney is a member - bowls is for old people. And he really dislikes his sister-in-law Enid, because in looking to better themselves Clyde feels she puts undue strain on his brother Mick.
It takes a while before Clyde succumbs to Meg’s encouragement to get out and about, but it works. He strikes up a friendship with a fine younger man who seems to epitomise strong family and ethical values; and as Clyde gets around the neighbourhood his health improves.
Meantime Meg is uneasy that her developing psychic skills could be taking her out of her depth. But continuing encounters seem to confirm the accuracy of what she sees and feels, even if some of the interpretations are in hindsight. Because Clyde is openly cynical and critical of Meg’s flirtation with the occult, she tends to downplay what is happening at first. Quietly though, Clyde is not so sure after a few creepy events and some dark situations turn out as Meg predicted.
Chapter by chapter, readers become aware of a menacing presence that seems to be pulling many strings under the radar.
When Clyde crosses paths with their new and mysterious neighbours he becomes suspicious because of their rudeness and undue efforts to maintain privacy. Ross Delaney tells him in confidence that the men are under surveillance and warns him to keep clear.
From there, life becomes complicated for the Pilleys - each having their own worrying experiences and only sharing some of them.
But Clyde turns amateur sleuth and discovers a number of puzzling connections in the neighbourhood. He worries about his brother’s activities, especially when he and Enid set off on an expensive overseas jaunt. Is a criminal manipulating them?
Meg has concerns about the tarot readings for some of her neighbours, but has to make a dash for the Gold Coast when her daughter’s relationship is in strife. After seeing one of Mick’s acquaintances there, and suspecting criminal connections, Meg wants the comfort of familiar surroundings and to seek more information from her unseen connection. This need increases when she learns that Clyde has been violently attacked and landed at the hospital emergency department. It is high priority to know more - from the spirit world or Clyde - it doesn’t matter.
After this Meg and Clyde share information and experiences, determined to help family and neighbours. But everything becomes complicated as they don’t know who they can trust - Clyde even has minor reservations about Ross Delaney who has personal problems and is about to retire.
A photo mysteriously falls from a wall, there are premonitions of death, strange objects in the garage next door, a woman’s story of abuse, snakes hidden in a glass container, Meg’s nightmare nap of being trapped. Does it all fit together - and if so, how?
Against time, and sometimes in danger, the two civilian detectives solve it all in cahoots with Ross Delaney. Justice appears to be done.
And Clyde takes on the bowling after all. Safer?
An enjoyable set of puzzles for anyone who enjoys pulling the clues together.
I suspect more mysteries will come the Pilley’s way.