GEORGE NEWS - At age 87 the lively Anne Greening is not resigned to letting her age prevent her from taking on a challenge and try something new.
This sharp, witty lady, a resident at Bergville Retirement Village, has just made her debut as a novel writer, and her first book is a steamy romance at that.
Titled Bitter-Sweet Harvest, it is a story set in beautiful Tuscany where an ambitious photo-journalist, April Lennox, is on her first major assignment for 'Wine and Travel' magazine. She literally falls into the arms of Rico Falcone while photographing workers harvesting grapes on his wine farm.
Instant magnetism sparks between them and as time goes by, love takes hold. But April has to return to London, and she discovers that Rico is living a lie ...
In response to surprise at an octogenarian practising amorous writing, Greening naughtily says, "I admit to being somewhat out of practice, but I have a vivid imagination and my excellent memory serves me well."
She has been widowed twice and has happy recollections of both marriages.
She says her writing experience includes running business writing courses for embryo managers, and a stint as a newspaper theatre critic, but she had never tried her hand at fiction until a friend in George started a writing group.
"We only wrote very short stories - flash fiction - but I loved it. When the U3A started their writers' circle, I joined that and I now actually convene it.
"One day I saw a challenge on Facebook by National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to write a book of at least 50 000 words during the month of November. It sounded like great fun, so I sat down at my computer at six o'clock in the morning on 1 November two years ago, and I started writing. I did not stop except to eat and sleep for 23 days. After 23 days I had a first draft of a novel of just over 50 000 words."
Anne thought she could actually sell her story, but realised how little she knew about romance writing when she joined Rosa (Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa). So she began learning through the internet, but also found a mentor in another Rosa writer in George, Tanya Wilde.
After chiselling at her novel with her newly acquired skills, she was finally satisfied with her manuscript. She published online because the process of having a book accepted and published by a publishing company would take a few years, and, she says, "At my age, I don't even buy green bananas!"
Anne says her varied life experiences and interests in music, travel, wine, cars and photography feed her creativity. Apart from once being a police officer in Kenya, she also worked as an industrial training officer in Kwazulu-Natal, and, together with her second husband Andy, worked their smallholding at Harkerville.
She keeps on producing short stories and already has an idea for a second book. Her pen name is Andie Patrick.
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