• Sheryl Gwyther

The story behind SWEET ADVERSITY ... the dream begins

Authors are funny animals. Everyday, we inhabit storybook worlds. We reside in our characters’ heads. And there’s nothing quite like the excitement of fictional characters coming to life in a real book.

Adversity McAllister is someone you won’t know yet, but one day, you will. She’s the 12-going-on-13- year old protagonist in my manuscript, SWEET ADVERSITY. Over the next year, I'll be blogging about this story's journey to publication ... because, dear reader ...

SWEET ADVERSITY is to be published by the wonderful team at HarperCollins under the guiding hand of publisher, Lisa Berryman!! Due out in July 2018.

SWEET ADVERSITY is a 60,000-word historical adventure for young readers (and the young at heart). Set in Australia during the Great Depression, this story belongs to Adversity (fondly known as Addie).

Addie took over my life around eight years ago after a dream of a young girl running away from an outback orphanage with a Shakespearean-quoting bird called Macbeth. The dream ended before I knew what she was running from – all I knew was she was angrier than a box of bees, and she was scared. That dream girl stayed with me for days ... I even remembered how she looked (I dream in colour).

The only child of travelling Shakespearean actors, Addie McAllister is feisty and loyal, funny, talented and at times opinionated - not a good thing when you live in an orphanage under Matron Maddock’s iron rule. Addie dreams of becoming a great actor one day – if she survives the dangers ahead.

When is the story set?

I set this story during Australia's Great Depression. Did you know that in 1930, because of its huge unpaid monetary debt to Britain after WWI, Australia’s economy was much worse than in any other country in the developed world? Ordinary people suffered; children even more so.

Addie lives in the countryside where people could at least grow food. Even in the country, life in an orphanage in those days was bleak – especially one run by the likes of Matron Maddock. And that was all before Addie received the worst news of her life. And, before she fled for her life.

What sets this story apart from others?

There aren't many children’s novels set in Australia's Great Depression – so this fascinating, life-changing era is ripe and ready for young readers. The Hard Times were filled with turmoil. Life in the cities was a daily fight over lumps of stale bread; for a homemade remedy to cure illness that likely lead to death. Some children fled to live in children’s camps in the bush.

It was a time when unwanted children disappeared and nobody asked questions. Corrupt and unscrupulous people got away with their bad deeds, but there would've been brave souls who stood up for themselves and for others less able to ... people like Adversity McAllister.

Addie adores performing, whether in song or with the drama and language of the Bard’s plays – and even though her parents are gone, she continues to dream of what could be. One day.

This next stage of SWEET ADVERSITY's journey will be new territory for me. I invite you to share the journey with me. After all, my blog is called In Search of Story.

It should prove interesting to be 'a fly on my wall' - whether you're already published or still working towards it; or whether you just love reading terrific stories about feisty girls.

Or whether you're my family and friends who breathe sighs of relief that finally Sheryl's Addie is on her way to being immortalised in a real novel.

#Shakespeare #HarperCollinsAustralia #TheGreatDepression