3 September 2017

Book Launch Guest Post by Michelle Saftich, Author of Wanderers No More (Port of No Return Book 2)

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The war may be over, but the fight to belong is just beginning. Left homeless, starving, and almost killed by the Second World War, the Saforo family are refugees fleeing Italy for a better life. The shores of Australia are calling to them and they head off, packing dreams of jobs, a home and … soccer. But from the moment they get off the boat, adapting to the Australian way of life is harder than it seems. Their family doesn’t speak right, eat right or even look right. As they struggle to build a simple life against the backdrop of 1950s racism, they start to wonder if they will be outsiders forever.

When I set out to write Port of No Return and its subsequent sequel, Wanderers No More, I was embarking on taking my father’s true family story and turning it into a fiction. 

Writing a fiction novel inspired by true people and events is a challenging exercise. It certainly made for a wonderful experience of writing from the heart and personal understanding while at the same time reaching for entertaining plotlines and a chance to include the more interesting aspects of history.

Port of No Return focuses on my grandparents. Wanderers No More picks up the story from my father’s perspective, starting with him being a six-year-old child. For the sequel, I had to put myself in the shoes of not only a child, not only a different gender to my own, but in the shoes of my father. This was very challenging. And it became harder as my character grew up and I had to write from the viewpoint of a young man, including romantic interludes.

I found I had to distance myself from the personal relationship with my father and remind myself that I was working with a character, my fictional character; even though in my mind, I was seeing my father as I know him from photos at various stages of his life. I was seeing him, being guided by what I know of him and yet creating him at the same time.

How alike are my characters to the real people? How much truth and how much fiction is in the novel? I think readers would be surprised to find out what is real and what is made up. They do say fact is stranger than fiction. But I found the characters are perhaps more glorified versions of the real people, focusing on their more appealing qualities so readers can support them all the way. Not so for my villain, Monte, who is fictional, so I had full licence to make him truly terrible; though the school bullies and interactions with the strict teachers and nuns are based on real events!

I did not show my father the draft manuscript. He did not ask to see it. He said he didn’t want to interfere with the creative process and, as it was a fiction, he was happy to let it be my work.

So, the real moment of truth for me was a few weeks ago, when the book was released and I gave him a copy. He read it the very next day, in a day. I was pacing. I was nervous. It takes bravery to take someone’s life and enhance and embellish and have fun with it. Especially, when it is someone close to you.

And the verdict… he loved it. He thought I had got carried away in parts… which makes me smile. My father always “gets carried away” when he tells stories of his memories. I am his daughter after all. Now I hope readers can get carried away to another place and time and enjoy some history too. Hopefully, there is enough truth in the story to give it credibility and enough fiction to keep readers turning the page. That is the beauty of historical fiction.

Michelle Saftich in Trieste, Italy;
the setting of her first novel.

Wanderers No More can be read as a standalone novel, but for those who like to become involved in a family saga, reading the novels as a series will make for a deeper and more enjoyable read. Port of No Return and Wanderers No More are available through online stores as e-books and in paperback.

Michelle Saftich
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About the author

Michelle Saftich resides in Brisbane, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Business / Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management, media relations and marketing. She spent 10 years living in Sydney and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English. She is married with two children. She also has a cat, who sits with her while she writes. In 2016, she visited Italy with her family and walked the streets of Trieste, the north-eastern city which features strongly in her novel Port of No Return. Find out more at Michelle's website michellesaftich.com and follow her on Twitter @MichelleSaftich.

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