Catching up with Author Andie Newton

Today I am very excited to welcome my friend and fellow author, Andie Newton, who is here to talk about her debut novel, The Girl I Left Behind, a taut, pacy, spy thriller set in Nazi Germany. Let’s talk to Andie!

Tell us what inspired you to write THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND? I wrote the first words of my debut novel, The Girl I Left Behind, just over ten years ago. I never thought I’d write a novel. Ever. One day I caught a documentary on the History Channel about Nuremberg’s historic Kunstbunker, a secret art bunker the townsfolk hid from Hitler, and I was instantly intrigued. More so, the documentary talked about the youth resistance. I have a degree in History, so I suppose you can say my thoughts are already in the past. In this case, I set out to learn more about the youth of the German Resistance. I tried to find a novel on the subject and couldn’t find one, and as corny as it sounds, set out to write the novel I wanted to read.

What research did you undertake when writing The Girl I Left Behind?

I read a lot. I read diaries, interviews and news articles about resistance members. I also contacted businesses in Germany and asked questions about their past. Yep. I did that too! One of the most interesting stories that came from these emails involved the Korn und Berg bookstore in Nuremberg. They wrote me a long email relaying a story about when Hitler came into their bookstore and demanded they change the shape of their windows because they weren’t modern enough. Oh, you better believe I wrote that into this book!

What was your favourite scene to write?

My favourite scene to write was the tea scene with Ella’s aunt and her Nazi friends. There’s so much going on here than just a group of gossiping women. I’d read that Hermann Göring’s family was elevated in status after his career in the Reich took off, so I wrote that into the scene with one of the ladies. Also, well… I don’t want to give anything away, but when Ella offers to serve her aunt’s guests…ooh, I love it!

What are you working on now?

My next book will be out this summer, THE GIRL FROM VICHY. It’s about a woman who joins the French Resistance (1942) and spies on her collaborator boyfriend—a gendarme in the Vichy police. This book is about a family that is politically divided, which was really interesting to write. This book, as with THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND, is very fast paced and full of suspense. My third book with Aria Fiction will be released in 2021. This book is still top secret, but what I can tell you is that it’s a WWII female-driven spy novel involving American women, and I absolutely love it.

When did you start writing seriously?

I started writing seriously the day I began my novel, October 3rd 2009. Really. I started with zero experience, armed only with my ideas. I think the number one thing that stops writers who have great ideas is not writing regularly. You don’t need to have years of writing experience or have longed to be an author your whole life. But you do need to sit down and write, AND then work at it every day (and hopefully get better at it). My first pages were awful. AWFUL. I just kept at it.

What do you love most about being an author?

This may shock people, but the part I love the most is also the part I hate the most: Structural edits. These are the changes my editor suggests in the form of an editorial letter. My first letter (for THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND) was 7 pages long, my second letter (for THE GIRL FROM VICHY) was five. I think the biggest misconception is that people think an editor actually changes your manuscript, or the publisher does. Oh no, I’ve written every single word. The edit letter consists of broad suggestions, followed by smaller points. It is up to the writer to figure out how to apply those suggestions to the story.

The reason I love and hate structural edits is simple. I have to write under a deadline, which is stressful, but I love it because I can see the manuscript changing into something wonderful and strong, much stronger than it was originally, and that is why I love it. For me, the last day of edits is usually bittersweet, as it is the last time I’m knee deep in my character’s lives. What follows are the copy edits and proofs, and at this point all story elements are done.

Here’s more about Andie

Andie Newton writes female-driven historical fiction set in WWII. She’s the author of The Girl I Left Behind (Aria 2019) and The Girl from Vichy (Aria 2020). Andie holds a Bachelor degree in History and a Master in Teaching. She would love to say she spends her free time gardening and cooking, but she’s killed everything she’s ever planted and set off more fire alarms than she cares to admit. Andie does, however, love spending time with her family, trail running, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Her next book, The Girl from Vichy, is coming in August this year.

You can find discussion questions for her novels on her website And you can follow her on:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Bookbub


A love letter to Australia

It is Australia Day 2020. January 26th is a contentious date, because it marks the arrival of the First Fleet―the first European settlers who arrived in Australia in 1788.

Of course, by commemorating this date, Australia ignores that in 1788 we were already populated by hundreds of nations of Indigenous Australians forming the world’s oldest civilisation. January 26th marks the date of an invasion and the beginning of a genocide.

This post isn’t about whether or not we should change the date of Australia Day, although we absolutely should. This post is a love letter to my home, my country, my Australia.

My Australia

My Australia is the person at the tram stop who sees that you’re lost and points you in the right direction with a smile. My Australia is the person at the party who draws the introverts into conversation, and makes sure everyone is heard. My Australia has a hearty sense of humour―often bawdy, always self-deprecating, and sometimes a defence mechanism.

My Australia has skin, eyes, and hair of every colour, and is all genders, faiths, and identities, for My Australia is all of us. We have lived here 60 000 years and 6 days. Our roots are deep and just starting to grow. What we share is beyond cosmetic; it is a connection―to each other, to our land, to our country.

My Australia bears scars―from when we went to wars and defended our shores, from being ravaged by fires, floods, cyclones, and drought, from dark times of hatred, anger, and entitlement, bearing those scars with humility, pride, or shame.

My Australia reaches out when someone is in need. We rally, we show up, we dig into our pockets―we care. We weep together, lean on each other, support and cajole each other. We extend our hands willingly, not afraid of the blisters or back-breaking pain we’ll incur as we rebuild.

My Australia is not the scurrilous and self-serving politicians who banter obscenities at each other and extol the virtues of ‘clean coal’. It is not the hatemongers or nationalists or the bigots. These people are the minority, one that is slowly dying out.

My Australia is adventurous and intrepid, both at home and abroad, with well-stamped passports and battered luggage, with postcards that loved ones have sent from the corners of the earth taped to the fridge, with plans for trips and getaways and long weekends and stay-cations. We must go, see, and do.

My Australia loves the sea, the sun, and the sand, we love the deserts and sunrises and sunsets, we love the rain forests and eucalypts, our native animals* and red, rocky monoliths. We love the bustle and energy of our cities with their sky-scraping towers, and the warm friendly welcome of our country towns, where the local pub feels like home.

My Australia is brilliant, with an intelligent mind, a creative spirit, grit, athleticism, and the ability to see the future. We are doctors, scientists, artists, teachers, communicators, technicians, builders, athletes, and change-makers. We are on the edge of the future, speaking up, taking risks, saving lives with medical breakthroughs and art that feeds the soul. We build, create, and solve. We are―as always―batting far above our average on the world stage, a tiny nation of 25 million achieving wondrous things. We also make the best wine and coffee in the world.

My Australia is home―my home, our home.

And though she is being ravaged as I write this, I have to believe she will recover, wearing her scars with pride as we come together and rebuild.

And on our current bushfire and climate crisis, this image by artist, Melina, evokes what I struggle to put into words.


*Except maybe the spiders―we have some really, scary spiders.

We the people…don’t always get it right

Two political posts in a row…


In the aftermath of Brexit, I am still reeling. As a dual Australian-British citizen, I can no longer dream about or plan an extended working stay or a semi-retirement in 27 European countries. There are dozens of political, economic and social implications still to be revealed. And most seem like they’ll have the power to adversely affect my young nephew, who lives in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire with his parents.

Watching Brexit from the sidelines of Australia, I wondered at the tactic to leave this critical and vastly-complex decision to the public. I keep asking myself, ‘What was Cameron thinking?’ The Stay and Leave campaigns both seemed to target emotion rather than providing information, with misinformation combated with fear-mongering.

So, how do you let an emotional public, or even worse, an ill-informed or indifferent public to make such an important decision, particularly when you’re not even compelling them to participate? Isn’t that the job – the complex and critical job – of elected officials? Are there some things that should not be left to the public to decide? Is this the ultimate SNAFU in the pursuit of democracy?

This isn’t ‘should we have Daylight Savings or not?’ This is the future of a country, of its people and its geographical neighbours. This was too important a decision to leave to the layperson.

And in the aftermath, we’ve seen a wave of ‘Bregret’ – people who voted Leave, but didn’t really understand the implications. Or even worse, we are seeing people publicly shamed for gross stupidity of the ‘extra sunlight from Daylight Savings will fade my curtains’ magnitude.

What did David Cameron do when he decided to ask the British people to vote???

On Saturday July 2, Australia goes to the polls for a federal election. Unlike our American cousins across the pond, our dominant political parties don’t stray too far from the middle. We have slightly left of centre (Labor), slightly left of that (the Greens), slightly right of centre (the oddly-named Liberals) and slight right of that (the Nationals, who form a Coalition with the Liberals). It’s essentially Shorten (Labor) vs Turnbull (Liberals) and politically speaking, they’re much of a muchness when compared with the Trump/Clinton dichotomy.

The biggest divides between the (slightly) left and (slightly) right are around Education – both parties believe it is important and will continue to throw buckets of money at it, but they have different ideas of how to spend the money and how many buckets full to throw – and Marriage Equality.

Both candidates believe that we should have Marriage Equality in Australia. In fact, when Turnbull ousted (idiot) Abbott, many Australians watched with bated breath to see him make history and call for a parliamentary vote on the matter. We knew that given the chance, parliament was very likely to pass a law allowing men and women to marry their same-sex partners. You know, a basic human right.

But he didn’t. He said he would, but he didn’t. His party didn’t want a parliamentary solution. And, I have to say, as much as I was relieved to see Turnbull take over from (idiot) Abbott, he wants to be PM more than he wants to do what he knows what is right, what he believes is right.

Instead, if elected, the Coalition will hold a plebiscite. I had to look up what a plebiscite is. Essentially, it is a non-compulsory ‘vote’ at the end of a lengthy (and often ugly) public debate, and the result does not compel the government to act on it – even if it is in favour of Marriage Equality, which is ultimately what the Prime Minster supports. Ridiculous.

So, why? Why are we going to the expense ($160m) so we can debate if a group of people can have a basic human right? Again, this isn’t whether or not we should have daylight savings – something that has gone to referendum in this country – a referendum being compulsory with a legally-binding result. Why are we treating a right with less importance than a preference?

I read this incredibly articulate article today by Brian Tobin called, “Australia doesn’t need a plebiscite on same-sex marriage – Ireland’s experience shows why.” Tobin makes this point:

“Placing the rights of a minority group in the hands of the majority seems almost ludicrous. A sizeable number of the electorate could simply vote against same-sex marriage without being properly informed in the way elected politicians would usually be when legislating.”

Penny Wong, a prominent Australian politician who has a daughter with her long-term same-sex partner, has spoken out repeatedly about the planned plebiscite. Ms Wong says, “A plebiscite designed to deny me and many other Australians a marriage certificate will instead license hate speech to those who need little encouragement…Mr Turnbull, and many commentators on this subject, don’t understand that for gay and lesbian Australians, hate speech is not abstract. It’s real. It’s part of our everyday life.”

I don’t always agree with political and social commentator Alan Jones, but I agree with his response to the question, ‘why should Australian be wary of a plebiscite?’ “Parliament. We select 150 in the House of Representatives to represent those 22 million people on critical issues such as this.”

And this  is a critical issue. This is a human rights issue and subjecting same-sex couples and their families to the type of scrutiny and bigotry that a plebiscite will most definitely bring, is a human rights violation – particularly when polls have told us that the majority of Australians either support Marriage Equality or are indifferent.

We elect representatives to parliament to represent us and to make decisions on our behalf. It’s their job. And that is why I cannot vote for the Liberals on Election Day. In the matter of ensuring a basic human right for all Australians, they simply will not do their job.