Hamish Downie’s Five Questions with Marie Campbell

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

There’ll be a new News Sushi soon! But, too many people are doing amazing things that I want to interview them!

TGG: Welcome back Marie Campbell for her encore interview (she was interviewed before this series was spun off into it’s own column). For those of you who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?

MC: Hi there! First of all, Hamish, thank you, for this opportunity to talk about my writing. Before I immigrated to Australia 13 years ago, I lived in Brighton with my mother, on the SE coast of England. I have two sons, one of whom lives in Boston and the other, here in Sydney, just around the corner from me. And I have one beautiful granddaughter, Emilee, who’ll be 17 very soon. I retired last year and live a very quiet life with Ziva and Mimi, my two Tonkinese cats, who are enchanting!

TGG: Could you tell us about your debut biographical novel, “Olga – A Daughter’s Tale”?

MC: I’d never aspired to become a writer. It was due to a traumatic event late in my life when my Jamaican mother suffered a near death experience that was the catalyst for me to write my first book, Olga – A Daughter’s Tale. Because of Mum’s experience and the fact, I knew very little about her past or my heritage, I decided to do some detective work through genealogical research, not only about my family, but also about Jamaican and her history, culture and folklore.

I discovered Mum was one of eleven children from a close-knit, coloured Catholic family and brought up in Kingston, Jamaica. She was a kind, naïve and gentle girl and came to London in 1939, to stay with her malevolent, alcoholic aunt. Her intention was only to stay for six months. However, world events, personal tragedy and malicious intent all combined to prevent her from returning home to Kingston. The story is about cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman, as well as, moral courage, dignity, resilience and in particular, love. It is the true story of a remarkable woman, who because of circumstances, made a choice, which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica. Until nearly half a century later, when, thanks to my research, her past caught up her.

What I discovered about my Mum’s past filled me with such admiration for her I wanted future generations of my family to know something about her and their heritage., so that’s why I wrote Olga – A Daughter’s Tale.

TGG: I know that you can’t say much, but can you give us an update on the film version of “Olga”?

MC: My screenplay Olga’s genre is a historical drama, based on a true story. In Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, unlike Mother Courage, who profits from the wars that ravage Europe at the expense of her own children, Olga gives birth through WW2 to a beautiful daughter and outlives the chaos, as she finds multiple ways to sustain both her daughter and herself, when neither single mothers nor coloured women had a proper place in society.

I believe the story has international commercial appeal because it points at certain themes that are relevant in present day politics, such as issues of race and immigration, women’s rights and religion.

As you know, there has been some interest in the screenplay particularly by one UK film producer who has been on board with Olga, for two and half years now trying to raise development funds so as to option the film rights to the book and the screenplay and for other financial requirements, including having a professional screenwriter put a final polish on Olga. He did come tantalisingly close to acquiring the finance about a year ago now, but unfortunately, the funders changed their minds. But, in between the two current film projects he is working on, he continues to try and find funders. Quite recently, a UK film director has also expressed interest in Olga. This movie business moves at the pace of a snail and is mentally exhausting! One minute you think, yes, something is going to happen, and then nothing transpires and there’s a deafening silence for weeks on end.

In addition to learning how to write a screenplay, I’ve picked up other skills that I didn’t expect – patience, perseverance and never to take no for an answer, attributes I didn’t have previously. I’m passionate about this story and I know one day Olga, will make the big screen, but it might take a while In the meantime, Hamish, I’ll keep you posted.

TGG: All of this is build up for the new book, “From Book to Film” – could you tell us about your new book and what you hope readers get out of it?

MC: “From Book to Film” is my second book and is about me, as a new author, and my persistent, and sometimes serendipitous, journey into the book writing and movie world, pitching and promoting my Jamaican mother’s story to literary agents and film producer. I wrote From Book to Film because it occurred to me it might be worth sharing my writing experience in the hope that it may assist new writers, who are thinking about writing either a book or screenplay, from making the same mistakes I did.
What I found interesting about my two writing projects was that the book only took me six months to write, once I finally got started. But the screenplay took over two years to complete and, honestly, it didn’t need to take that long if I’d taken the trouble before I started writing, to learn how to craft a screenplay, or in my case, how not to write a screenplay. From Book to Film is an honest account about the highs, the lows, the successes, the mistakes, and sometimes, the luck I had with both the book and the screenplay.

TGG: Finally, where can we best support you?

To buy “From Book to Film”:



To buy “Olga – A Daughter’s Tale”:



For professional inquiries:
LinkedIn: Marie Campbell (Writer) – https://au.linkedin.com/in/marie-campbell-25a41045

Social media:

Twitter: @OlgasDaughter
Instagram: @olgasdaughter/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrowneyFamily/
Wordpress: https://olgasdaughtersblog.wordpress.com/

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