There is indeed no team like that of the writing one of the four ‘Alices’, authors of ‘The Shifting Light’. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Denise Tart, one of the lovely Alices. As well as a writer, Denise is also a civil celebrant and perhaps this is symbolised in the perfect melding or joining of the four authors to create a perfect marriage of writing talents.
‘The shifting light’ is the sequel to the first book written by the Alice’s ‘The painted sky’ but can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Denise and the other three ‘Alices’ originally met in a book club. The ladies had a wish to raise enough money to fund overseas travel, so they decided why not write a book?
The ladies get together to create their plot and outline what will occur in the novel, filling in the detail of how the novel with unravel. They also flesh out the characters feelings and opinions. Each lady is in charge of producing a chapter which they would complete and email to all the others. There would then be an opportunity for the rest of the team to provide their feedback and tips for improvement, these would then be voted for. A different member would rewrite the scene. This process allowed each author to become familiar with each other’s writing, strengths and weaknesses and so create an effortless merging of their styles into a seamless finished product.
The books are set in the 80s, are contemporary, and without making any overt kind of deliberate platform the Alice’s manage to give voice to a number of topical issues as seamlessly and subtly as they combine their writing including indigenous land rights, LGBT characters and farming sustainably.
Although the novel does also contain romance, Denise prefers to categorise it as ‘a family saga’.
The name of Alice was decided upon as it is quintessentially Australian, for example ‘A town like Alice’ ‘which was paraphrased in the title of this article. For the surname it was suggested it begin with an early letter so as to maximise its place near the top of the shelf.
‘The shifting light’ is out now published by Penguin Random House.