At Madeline's Tea Salon, the cosy hub of the Avalon community, six women find their memories are shaping their future. Here you'll meet Connie Colls, fiercely independent and full of promise longing for a past she's never had, Bettie Shelton, the founder and president of the Avalon Scrapbooking Society and Ava Catalina whose hurting past won't leave her yet. There's also Isabel Kidd, still paralysed by the consequences of her late husband's love affair, Yvonne Tate and Frances Latham who both have demons of their own. The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a poignant and heartwarming story, celebrating the friendship of six women born from their love of scrapbooking. As their memories are preserved and the dreams of both their pasts and presents are shared, surprising truths are revealed.
Darien Gee lives in Hawaii with her husband and three children. She is the bestselling author of three previous novels written under the name Mia King. Darien's first Avalon novel, Friendship bread, was published in 2011.
Needless to say, this is the perfect book to snuggle up with as the nights gets cooler and a fitting gift for the special women in your life. A novel about heart, family and finding ourselves in places where we least expect.
The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Allen and Unwin
Author: Darien Gee
Question: What inspired the story of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society?
Darien Gee: I knew I wanted the book to be about memories - happy memories (Yvonne and Ava), sad memories (Isabel), lost memories (Bettie), and those memories waiting to be made (Frances). Bettie was really the driver in this book - the rest of the characters (author included) just gathered around her when it was clear this was the direction we were going (I mean, come on. Just try and say "no" to Bettie!). Bettie actually has a short cameo in Friendship Bread, but I didn't know anything about her at the time, just that she was president of some scrapbooking club. I was playing with a bunch of book ideas, but Bettie was very persistent and of course she was totally right. Isabel came next, and that's when I knew I had a book. Ava and Yvonne showed up after (Ava was more peripheral at first, but I knew it was important to tell her story, too). Frances was the last to join the party.
Question: Are you a scrapbooker?
Darien Gee: I have always been an avid journaler, and I always journal with photos, images and found objects (Becky Higgins' Project Life is very similar to what I've been doing for decades). I can't put a photo album together without using journal cards and other memorabilia. I use Moleksines and love the concept behind K&Company Smash books, but I only have a couple 12" x 12" albums. That format is a bit too unwieldy for me and I don't like it when I have to buy into a format or system - when I started a 12 x 12 album I had to buy 12 x 12 paper, page protectors, containers to hold the 12 x 12 format. Argh! I also prefer to digital scrapbook and printers don't generate 12 x 12 pages. I also tend to prefer a blank page to a pre-printed one. I love all sorts of embellishments and incorporating cloth and fibers into my journals and albums. I'm still in love with washi tape and baker's twine -- I think I have almost every colour under the sun.
Question: Is there a member of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society who you share personality traits with?
Darien Gee: I have a lot in common with Isabel. She has this wry, cynical side, and it's so easy for her to feel stuck. She knows it's time to move forward but can't, because she's still holding onto the past or doesn't feel comfortable with the unknown. But, at the end of the day, she steps up and does what needs to be done. Once you've earned her trust, you're a keeper in her book.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Darien Gee: For me, fictional characters are always a composite of imagination and inspiration. Imagination in that I do have some creative freedom and play, and inspiration in that I might see a stranger walking down the street or pick up a T-shirt that sums up a character perfectly and then see their story unfold. I don't ever consciously base a character on anyone I know, but I also don't think that's really possible, either. The characters for my novels tend to "show up" - they resist being told who or what they are. I don't always know or understand my characters right away, but it's more a process of me learning about them, like you would a real person, rather than me creating them just because I feel like it.
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Bettie Shelton?
Darien Gee: I love Bettie because she has no social filter - in other words, she is driven by her heart, speaks her mind, and doesn't give a hoot if something is socially "acceptable" or not. She speaks her truth, does the best she can, and doesn't easily take offense or hold a grudge. She knows better than anyone about loss and how life is too short, but she never feels sorry for herself. She loves scrapbooking, but at her core she loves helping others - that's really what this is all about. She lives life on her own terms, even if that means others might think she's odd, or different, or even annoying. I also don't feel like I created Bettie so much as she showed up pounding on my front door. Isabel and I have that in common!
Interview by Brooke Hunter