I’m a proud Aussie. Anyone familiar with me has probably worked that out by now. The words “fair dinkum”, “crikey”, “struth”, “bloody hell” and “by jingoes” regularly pepper my conversations. There are some Australians who suffer what is known Down Under as the “cultural cringe” – a distinct distaste for the more Aussie elements of our heritage. I’m not one of them. I grew up in the outback and love who I am. What better way to say someone is not pleasant to look at than to say “Jeez, they’re as ugly as a hat full of a*se-holes!”
Okay, maybe there are better ways, but the Aussie way seems, to me at least, to have more visual kick and really, what is language for than to plant images in the minds of those we talk to, no matter the medium?
Having said that, I find myself in a conundrum. When does my love-affair with my own country become too much for my readers? Four of my books have Australian heroes. They say “fair dinkum” often. I’ve written four books set in Australia (well, five, actually, but one is still looking for a home) and have at least another three planned. Each time I write a story set Down Under I research the location in great detail, visiting it often if I can, spending hours on the net if I can’t (contrary to belief, Australia is a bloody big place. I can not drive to the Outback or the Great Barrier Reef in a day). Every time I begin to write, I fall in love all over again with my home country and want my readers to do so as well.
But should I?
Judging by the lukewarm reception to Baz Luhrman’s “Australia” (which is a beautiful, wonderful film, btw) anything Aussie isn’t necessarily warmly welcomed in the rest of the world. What does this mean for me? Does this mean I should transplant my heroes and heroines to far off distant shores and planets? Should I return to my sci-fi roots?
My very first Samhain release was Savage Retribution, a paranormal romance that sees an Irish werewolf fighting for his life in Sydney, Australia. I had lots of fun writing this book. I wanted to show what Australia and Australians are like from a non-Aussie’s point of view. The heroine, Regan, is an animal rights activist who rescues a wolf from a notorious science lab only to discover the wolf is really a man…well, a werewolf. Suffice to say, she’s a little surprised. More so when said man forces her to join him on a mad dash that takes them from Bondi Beach to the opulent suburbs on Sydney’s North Shore, in an attempt to escape the scientist/werewolf hellbent on destroying them both. There’s lots of Sydney locations, lots of Aussie characters and lots and lots of “bloody hells”, “fair dinkums” and the odd “crikey”.
My next release (and the long overdue sequel to Savage Retribution) is Savage Transformation, which sees a Sydney cop (who is also a shape-shifting Tasmanian Tiger) team up with a Texan secret agent (who is also a dire werewolf) in a rather dangerous and personal attempt to hunt down a psychotic serial killer of paranormal creatures. The novel moves from one side of the small island of Tasmania, Australia’s smallest state situated on the bottom of the country and I had an absolute blast “exploring” the lush rainforest terrain. And of course, there’s still more “bloody hells”, “fair dinkums” and one or two “struths”.
There is a third Savage book rolling around in my head (this one set in the Outback) as well as a sequel to Death, The Vamp and His Brother set in Sydney, but should I set them somewhere else? Am I alienating my international readers by setting my books in my home country?
Or should I say, to hell with it?
They say writers should write what they love, and I love Australia, I really do. So, I guess that answers my problem, doesn’t it.
To Australia or not to Australia? Well, in the immortal words of Men At Work…I come from the land Down Under… and I’m proud of it *grin*
(Little note from Lexxie: This is a reworked blog post I originally posted on The Romance Studio’s blog waaaaaay back in January 2009. I thought it kinda suitable for the Down Under Divas.)