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About the Author:

Nola Schiff was born in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, present-day Zambia, in Africa. Her family moved to Southern Rhodesia when she was three.  At the age of eighteen, she left for London and joined the BBC, where she trained as a documentary film editor. Schiff worked as a sound researcher and sound editor for the Emmy award-winning series “The World at War” for Thames Television. She moved to New York in 1978 and became a U.S. citizen. Schiff received her master’s in creative writing from Vermont College, and recently retired from teaching Film Editing and Documentary at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts/Filmmaking.



Nola G. Schiff

'Phone:     (336) 655-1696




Sailing on Long Island Sound. NY USA 1993

Original blurbs for The Hissing Tree . . .

“This is a terrific story. I can't wait to read more. Spellbinding. The young narrator's feisty personality and fascination with gore are hard to take, but I'll bet she'll change as the story goes on!"

––Lynn Levin, poet


 "A very talented writer who describes her homeland with precision and perception."

––Sheila Kohler, author

"If Huck Finn had been born a girl in Africa in the 1940s, he would have been Nick Doughty. Nola Schiff's high-spirited novel captures not only its time and place but also the uncontainable energy and curiosity inherent in being young."

–– Carol Anshaw, author

Global Rating –– Top review from United Kingdom

Brendan Donaghy
5.0 out of 5 stars
Memorable Characters
Reviewed Amazon U.K. 24 July 2020

I loved this book from start to finish. It’s set in 1952 in Sauersville, a poor district of Bulawayo in what used to be Southern Rhodesia. The story is told from the point-of-view of eleven-year-old Nicole (‘Nick’) Doughty, an unconventional kid who lives with her parents and two younger brothers. It’s a coming-of-age tale, beautifully told. Nola Schiff provides us with memorable characters and strong storylines in which childhood concerns are mixed with adult issues. All that plus a beautiful African landscape as a backdrop! Readers who like character-driven historical fiction and/or memoirs will appreciate this book.


'Author creates an adventurous protagonist that girls can relate to––'

A Whistling Girl describes the boisterous exploits of a rebellious young girl longing for a real adventure, ‘like Jim Hawkins or Kim, or Huck Finn...why don’t they write stories like that for girls?’ Nicole Doughty’s African adventures take place in a British colony at a time when violent and revolutionary change is soon to erupt across the continent of Africa.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Nola G. Schiff uses her own experience of growing up in colonial S. Rhodesia as the backdrop for her book, A Whistling Girl (eBook ISBN9781543999372).  The book not only affirms the indomitable spirit of its female protagonist but also the universality of the diverse human experience. 

Nicole “Nick” Doughty is an 11-year-old girl living in a poor, white district outside of Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia in 1952. Nick and her 9-year-old brother Fuzz witness the brutal beating of a bicycle thief at the hands of the local police. Alarmed that the old thief has put a curse upon her, Nick runs to her magic hissing tree by the river Malabizi to call upon spirits for protection. 

That night, as she listens to the BBC Radio news, Nick learns that a well-known reporter, Sarah Bridgeworthy, has vanished in Bechuanaland en route to report on the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. Next day after she reads the story in the local newspaper, Nick, enthralled, decides to find out what might have happened to the journalist . . .

The book goes on to tell of the other Huckleberry Finn-like adventures that Nick and the Black Mamba gang experience.  Fights, zombies and a haunted cemetery are just a few of the scrapes that Nick and her mischievous band find themselves stumbling into along the way.

A Whistling Girl is available for sale online at and Noble/Goodreads/Applebooks et al.

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