I first met author Christine Wells at a book signing for her first dual timeline novel ‘The Wife’s Tale’. We clicked straight away and after attending some of Christine’s author talks, her success as a local Brisbane author have inspired me to keep pursuing my own writing dream.
Christine is a former lawyer and best selling author of ten novels for New York publishers. She has just released her latest historical fiction novel, ‘The Traitor’s Girl’, a story set in Paris, London and Seville which is full of passion, intrigue and betrayal. Christine’s historical novels are published by Penguin Random House Australia. I caught up with Christine at her recent book launch and asked her to share her inspiring story.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a surgeon. Having undergone a serious operation when I was two years old, I was so grateful to the surgeon for saving my life. I thought it would be a wonderful thing to do and even disgusted my brother by insisting on watching when he had stitches in his foot once. Later, my love of English and the humanities won out and I decided to choose a different path, becoming first a lawyer and then a novelist.
What are you most proud of ?
Professionally speaking, I’m proud of finishing the damned book – twelve times! Fourteen – if I count the ones under the bed. There have been other proud moments, such as writing or being nominated for awards and increasing sales, but in any creative endeavour, you learn that awards and sales are external events that have only a small amount to do with you. What you can and should be proud of is the hard graft and skill you put into the work.
Who inspires you?
Staying with the theme of novelists there are two who inspire me. Margaret Atwood, whose books say important things in such an absorbing and entertaining way-no mean feat-and who is so creatively flexible and willing to try new media to convey her stories. One other who inspires me is Nora Roberts, whose work ethic is an example to all writers.
What has been a life changing moment for you?
Giving up my legal career to write full-time changed my life in so many ways. Certainly it led to a large decrease in income! But it has been wonderful to have a rewarding, flexible career that has allowed me to be with my children so much.
What drives you?
Fear and desperation! That is meant as a joke, but in a way it is true. I have spent the past ten years working to deadlines and the fear of letting my publisher down is a major driving force. However, the knowledge that people read and love my books and are waiting for the next one is great motivation.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in life?
In life, I’ve learnt not to worry so much what other people think. It’s probably not until most women reach their forties that they begin to realise that this constant effort to please others at the expense of your own health and wellbeing is a tragic waste of time and energy. I would wish better for younger generations of women coming through now.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Dr Seuss said (though not to me) that those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter. He was full of good advice.
What’s next for Christine Wells?
At the moment I’m working on a novel about a British agent in World War II who was parachuted into occupied France and captured by Nazis. After the war, she is hailed as a heroine but a dark secret torments her.
What’s your greatest regret?
That I didn’t go and live and work in England when I was admitted as a solicitor in my twenties. I’ve always loved England and written about it but I’d need years to explore all the places I long to visit. However, many wonderful things happened on the path I chose to travel.
What is the key to your happiness?
Professionally, I am happiest when I’m writing every day and the words are flowing. Personally I am happiest when my children are happy and when I’m eating well and exercising and keeping on top of my domestic duties and spending quality time with friends and family, and…. and….. I have never actually achieved all of these things at the one time, so the key to happiness for me is to prioritise and not let myself get too stressed about whatever is out of balance at that particular time.