Today, in celebration of Aussie Owned and Read’s fourth birthday, we’re talking about being an Aussie author — why we love it and why we set our books where we do. (Note: The feature image above is from Shutterstock and is used under licence.)
Australia has a plethora of inspirational people and places. We are a mostly relaxed culture and that makes for an optimal writing environment. I love reading stories and recognising an Australian landmark, and so too love to put such things in my writing. For those who live here they can see instantly the environment I write about, and for those who don’t, I love being responsible for instilling an impression of what our county is like …even if we don’t really have portals to magical lands hidden in our public parks.
All the fantasy worlds I create are set in fictional cities that exist within a greater real-world setting. I have two set in America, one set in the country Georgia, and another planned out and set in Australia. I love experimenting with these worlds because I get to research countries and places I previously knew nothing about, and then use those cultural influences to create a world purely my own. I like to think of it as a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.
I love being an Aussie author for many reasons! Firstly, in our country, there are many opportunities to sub to major publishing houses without first acquiring an agent, making access that much easier (although having an agent sure doesn’t hurt!).
Secondly, as our writing community is rather small, it’s quite supportive. I’ve met so many lovely authors and writers who are absolutely lovely and happy to talk to you based on the fact we’re all from the land down under — how cool is that?
Thirdly, if you’re looking for location inspiration, we have it in bucketloads! From beaches to rainforests to deserts to cityscapes, we have it all, making for lots of exotic and interesting places to write about.
I always set my stories locally for this reason, and a few others. They say ‘write what you know’, and I’m confident I know this country well! I also like setting novels here as a way to introduce those from overseas to Australia and our beautiful beaches. In some ways, we’re a great relatable choice — far enough away to be foreign, but similar enough to the UK and USA to have a sense of the familiar, like sliding into a nice warm bath. Although at this time of year in Australia, you sure don’t want to be doing that.
Overall, I love my country and I love writing here. While we may not have some of the opportunities those overseas do, I think we’ve got it pretty darn great.
When asked for a paragraph on why I set my books where I do I was a little stumped on how to answer. You see, as well as the two series I have published I have several works in progress that are more in the vein of the Collective Series than my contemporary NA, the Oxley College Saga. Most of my writing falls into the speculative fiction basket — fantasy worlds and distant planets, sometimes both at once.
I find there’s a certain freedom to explore and discuss some of the big world issues in these fantasy worlds that just isn’t possible in a real world setting. Plus, writing in a hundred per cent fictional setting gives me so much creative license. You want a red sky and green sun? Got it. Giant bell shaped plants that eat people in a single gulp. Done. How about a night that lasts for a week? Easy peasy. My imagination is limitless with speculative settings and I love it!
But then sometimes all that imagining gets a bit too much and that’s when I turn to my Aussie-set new adult series. Writing new books set in a familiar environment, with established rules, feels like a breeze and that is just the reprieve my tired muse sometimes needs.
The more books I write, the more my stories become firmly set in Australia. It’s part of my voice and my experience. My next story includes a road trip along the Great Ocean Rd (a trip I’ve done myself a few times) and I’m reminded what a great country we have. The beaches in particular have always been a part of my life and feature often in my books. I’ve spent some time on a farm too and there’s that particular country feel in Australia that is unlike anywhere else. My first readers are Aussie teens and I want to speak to them; however, I’ve also head great feedback from readers the world over who love Australian settings. It’s my home and I love it. I adore travelling and will definitely include more of my experiences in coming books, but I know myself and my writing will always have a link to home.
I’m a speculative fiction writer, but five of my six completed novels have been urban fantasy — and all five have been either partially or fully set in Australia’s capital, Canberra. There’s a certain amount of ‘write what you know’ behind that decision, as well as a love for the city that means I want to see more of it in fiction. I love Canberra’s wide open spaces; the grassy nature reserves throughout the city provide a perfect avenue for more nature-loving supernatural types to get around (a factor when I wrote the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy). And over the past couple of decades the city has become a lot more cosmopolitan, so there are avenues to tell maturer stories like Lucid Dreaming. Also — and I’m getting super-braggy here — Canberra one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. The manicured lakes, the glorious sunsets over the Brindabella mountain ranges, the national monuments — I’ve been inspired to set particular scenes in places all over the city.
And no, I haven’t used federal politics as a plotline in any of my books! Boooor-ing. :p