I have left Bath, in the UK, where I had built a comfortable existence as Course Director of arguably the best course of its kind in Writing for Young People. I left a country full of readers who know me, and who book me for writing visits and talks and residencies. So why have I done this? On the surface, this decision may seem kind of crazy. But one of the important reasons I wanted to move was to take up a post working for the University of Tasmania.
Tasmania is one of those places that has always intrigued me. It is wild in a way that not many places are these days. I would say ‘untouched’, but to me that only evokes an urge to touch it. And that doesn’t seem right, either. Around 40% of Tasmania is made up of protected national parks and reserves. This is huge when you consider that only 4% of the whole of Australia is considered national parks and reserves, and 11% of the UK is national parks and reserves. Within that 40% are plants and animals that exist nowhere else on earth, as well as pristine wilderness and internationally important cool temperate rainforest. It is also the last inhabited landmass before Antarctic. For a writer and person who is fascinated by wild places and our relationship to them, a move to Tasmania offered something massively appealing.
Writing the Wild
I would love to write about Tasmania’s land at some point. And I’ve been thinking about how I might, but as I navigate these first few days, I am also wondering about my motivations. How might it feel to write about a landscape I didn’t grow up in, that I have spent less than a handful of weeks in my whole life? Is it even appropriate? Yes, it’s true that I spent a significant portion of my life in Australia, but that was in Melbourne, and some time ago now. So, this leaves me wondering: what are my credentials for being a place-based writer here? This is a question for another blog post, but something that is very much on my mind as I explore these first few weeks as a writer in a new land.
Apart from moving country, job and life, in these heady past few weeks I have also finished the final edits for my first book for adults, RELEASE. I finished these edits on the plane over here, in the early mornings of jetlag, and in the final few hours before I started work on the ground in my new university. Let’s just say, they were not ideal conditions! But what conditions are ever ideal for a writer? Besides, many of the best pieces of work were born from much more unstable conditions than mine. And, let’s face it, even if I had my own office, and a shedload of time, there would be something I’d be missing out on – living a full life, for instance (which is also a crucial component in a writer’s existence).
So, I am not saying that it was easy to get those edits done. Far from it! And I can’t pretend I’m not nervous about sending them off. I find myself asking – have I done enough? Did I catch all the typos? Is there a glaringly obvious problem that I just haven’t seen? Is there anything that might start a twitter storm? It’s a nerve-wracking business being a writer.
In the past two weeks of moving to Tasmania, the cover for RELEASE has also been officially revealed. I’ve already talked about the cover in a previous post, but I wanted to say that it was extremely exciting to show it officially to the world. I think it’s a perfect cover – full of land and life and energy. I love its simplicity. I love the questions it asks.
Thank you to all of you who supported me in the cover reveal – those of you who retweeted, or liked, or asked questions. A special thank you to those of you who pre-ordered the book. Pre-orders mean such a lot for the future success of a book, so thank you for showing your support for my story by doing that.
The book is set to be released in Australia on the 31st May and in the UK on the 30th June. I will be in both countries to launch it, so if you are a bookseller / librarian / teacher etc and would like to book me for an event around that time in either country, do please get in touch and let me know.
Until then, onwards! All my love and light.