My New Mascot
Every sports team has a mascot to cheer them on, but to my knowledge, no writer has ever had a mascot to barrack for them. Yet there we are, tucked away alone in our garrets with a goal to reach and the need of encouragement to get there. With this in mind, I decided to commission my neighbour, 12 year-old budding artist, Montana, to draw a mascot for me. I explained to her about my current project and we took it from there.
The brief: I’m presently working on an historical novel called Blackbird. It’s a story set in the 1880’s about a boy called Narua whose brother is blackbirded (kidnapped) from his home in the South Sea Islands and forced to work in the sugarcane fields of Queensland. Determined to find his brother and bring him home, Narua signs up to go to Australia on a recruitment ship, and so begins his search.
Montana decided to draw a blackbird with wings of fire, recalling the idea of a phoenix that appears to have died but is actually in the process of being reborn. This creative idea perfectly captured how the South Sea Islanders have suffered and yet their legacy survives in the contribution they’ve made to Queensland’s booming economy, and in their descendants, many of whom live in Queensland to this day. The fiery wings also tie in with the way the sugarcane fields were set on fire in order to make the cane easier to harvest.
As for the ball and chain, Montana used this symbol of slavery to show that while many islanders came to Australia voluntarily, an estimated 5000 were tricked, coerced or kidnapped. The practice finally came to an end which is why the chain in the picture is broken in two.
My new mascot is now up on my wall beside my writing desk. It’s a fabulous picture and a daily encouragement for me to keep going with my novel.
Frieda is launched
I’m excited to announce the release of my new book, Frieda: A New Australian. The official launch was part of the Unley Libraries Festival 2016: Record Rewind Relive.
Frieda is the story of a German girl who migrates to South Australia in early 1914. Then World War One breaks out and her father is accused of being a German spy. How will she manage to survive the war if her father is locked up and everyone is suspicious of her? Will her new friends stand by her?
Many people came to the launch, including members of the local German community. For years, Australia’s practice of interning innocent Germans during the two World Wars has remained hidden. These stories are now coming to light, and sharing them plays an important part in healing the past, and ensuring we don’t ever repeat this.
After the talks, many a Kitchener bun was eaten. Kitchener buns were originally called Berliner buns, but anti-German sentiment was running high in during WW1 and people didn’t like the connection to Berlin. They still liked the buns though, so they renamed them after British Field Marshal, Lord Horatio Kitchener.
Many thanks to those who came to my launch and made it the great celebration it was.