My love of Australian woman writers – began when I was young, and continues on! It’s actually come full circle, in a way. Australian women writers are sneaky like that.
When I was 5, I loved The Muddle-Headed Wombat, by Ruth Park. When Wombat was in trouble, I wanted to give him a huge squeezy cuddle. Fast forward twenty-five years, I found myself in a veterinary consulting room with three burly men restraining one 30kg wombat, just so I could give it a shot of antibiotics. Not as cuddly as I’d hoped.
When I was 10, I loved Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein. All about being different, fitting in, getting on with people who were the complete opposite of you – and shooting Space Demons, of course. And it was so good to find my Aussie slang in an actual book!
When I was 15, I read My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, and it blew me away. Her heroine (and she herself) was just as stubborn and ambitious as me, with the same hunger for learning. I wanted to have a brilliant career, too! Whatever happened to her? I hadn’t heard of the Miles Franklin Award, but I stood by a burnished plaque set into the pavement at Circular Quay, read her description of the sunrise and was filled with hope.
At 20, I read Juliet Marillier’s Foxmask, and began immediately to plan a holiday to the Faroe Islands. How magical they must be! I dreamed of having turf on my roof. I listened to songs by Teitur. I made it to Orkney, in the end, which was as far as my budget would stretch, but by then I’d read Wolfskin, and a big stack of Juliet’s other books, and the whole world began to seem magical to me, again, after I’d knuckled down to embark on a very serious and non-magical veterinary career. Also, she made me look at women’s crafts in a new way; made me see value in them that I hadn’t seen before. Which is important.
When I was 25, getting all Zen with the archery practice, I feverishly flew through Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor</ai>, and all subsequent books in that milieu, only to discover that Lian Hearn was the same wonderful woman who had bewitched me at 10, Gillian Rubinstein. Heartbreakingly beautiful writing. Japanophiles especially vulnerable to being carried away by it.
Finally, a little way into my 30s, I opened the lid of the Book Club box at my local library, and there were 30 copies of The Harp In The South by Ruth Park. What a surprise and what a treasure. Like Juliet, she’s a steal from New Zealand, but she captured our essence.
I rave about other writers that I love on my website and on Goodreads. Happy Women’s History Month!