Author of the novels Pelican Bay and Grace, and many published short-stories
On my beloved beach!
Mei-Ling was born in the UK where she experienced an eccentric post-war Cambridge upbringing in an academic household. Elsewhere in the country little girls gave tea parties for their nicely-dressed dollies. Mei-Ling’s dolls wore any old thing and gave sherry parties where they discussed the two-cultures debate set off by the literary critic FR Levis, whose excoriating lecture in response to the novelist CP Snow brought about a huge furore at the time.
With frequently travelling parents, some years saw her spending months at a time on a farm in a small village called Ellsworth, or travelling overseas with her mother. Later, she learned the art of letter writing at a quirky Quaker boarding school in Somerset. Mandatory Sunday morning letter writing awoke in her a love of writing. This increased with a bribe from her much loved, much older, brother—that if she wrote over a certain amount of news, he would double the number of pages in reply—and enclose chocolate. This was also possibly the beginning of her love affair with good quality dark chocolate.
A spell in Jamaica, where maternal family roots lay, followed. The shock of a final year in a girls-only school was ameliorated by learning to SCUBA dive and finally finishing school. Returning to the UK, she read philosophy in what was possibly the tiniest department at Birmingham University staffed by unusual, colourful, characters. There, she met and married her husband, Bob. A post graduate teaching diploma was followed by many years of teaching.
Mei-Ling and Bob moved to Australia in 2005. She has written many short stories, some of which have won competitions and many of which have been published in magazines.
She has also written two plays which have won places and been performed in festivals:
Mei-Ling now lives on the Central Coast of NSW where she has embraced coastal life.
This life-style provides the backdrop for her first novel, Pelican Bay, which was published in 2016 and is a hybrid coming of age/romance novel.
The story follows an 18 yr old girl, Michelle, with Down syndrome. Mei-Ling worked for most of her adult life as a special-needs teacher for both children and adults. A work related incident provided the spark for the novel’s central character, Michelle, who fights for her independence.
Mei-Ling joined Surf Life Saving Australia in 2006 and is still an active member of her local surf life-saving club.
This involvement has also provided a relevant setting for Grace which was published in September 2019 and follows on eleven years after the end of Pelican Bay.
Eleven-year-old Grace has parents with learning disabilities and despite a strong extended family, school life brings attendant bullying, about which Grace tells no one. Along with a complicated home life she has an unfolding beach life centred around a new surf life-saving club. All are held in different compartments. What happens when these three compartments begin to blur … and even overlap …?
Mei-Ling has also written a new-adult novel, Outside Edge, set in the UK in the late 1950s, it follows the life and loves of three elite ice-skaters. Their overlapping lives are led by their obsessions and their friendship for one another.
Her company The Oaks Press (www.theoakspress.com) is a publisher of both printed books and ebooks. Like Mei-Ling it is based on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia
Mei-Ling Venning's Latest Release
Grace - published on 28 September 2019 at $24.99 paperback and $6.99 e-book
What is it like to grow up with a mother who has Down syndrome or a father who has an acquired learning disability? 11 year-old Grace lives with this reality and battles the taunts of arch-tormentor Jessica. Her best friend offers glimpses of a different life and together the girls join their local surf life-saving club. Grace begins to juggle school, home and beach separately until her worlds collide. What happens when these three spheres begin to blur … and even overlap …?