Last week’s guest speaker was Mary Farr, an author and wife of Rotarian Andrew Whitehead, who happened to be the chairman of the night and therefore well placed to introduce her! Mary said she realized that she had a gift for writing when she was quite young and has been writing books for as long as she can remember. She worked for many years as a social worker and then had a sea-change and became a masseuse. During her working life, writing books became a part-time activity, but since retirement, she has had much more time to devote to it. As a child, Mary said she wrote stories and poetry. Her first novel was entitled ‘Harrison’s Way’ and the narrative was very much based on her mother’s life experience. Mary said she had to learn the art of writing for other people, rather than just for personal pleasure. Mary stressed that our lives are enriched by reading. Reading takes us to places to which we would not otherwise go. Mary spoke about the process of putting a novel together.  This includes developing the plot, which Mary said sometimes changes as the novel develops, and  also constructing the characters in the story. Mary said that she has proved the adage that time flies when you are enjoying what you do, in her case, writing books. How to get started in writing a book? Mary said that in her case it starts with an idea, often sparked by something she has observed—a unused railway for example, and develops from there. Mary likes writing detective novels, for which she said a vivid imagination is required. Observing people helps also and keeping the narrative light-hearted is an advantage. Mary writes in short bursts, rather than long sessions in front of the computer. Getting a book accepted for publishing by a major publisher is not easy and rejection is extremely disappointing and deflating, particularly if an author has put considerable effort into a book and feels it is worthy of publication. Mary said she has suffered the pain of rejection and consequently now self-publishes her books, using a printer in Queensland.  A selection of Mary’ s books were on display for perusal and purchase at the conclusion of the club meeting.