Guest Blogger: Kathryn Apel
As a mother, teacher and writer – and rural Australian at that – I am passionate about the need to keep Australian content in Australian books. I don’t believe it’s the only thing our children should be reading – but I do believe that it should be readily available for our kids to read. Heh – to be honest, I think it should be readily available for all kids to read!
And you know what? I honestly believe that the writers who best know our Australian children, our Australian experiences, our Australian humour, our Australian language, our Australian history – our Australian stories… well, funnily enough, I think they might just be… Australian!
It has not always been possible to pick up books that our rural Australian children could relate to. It’s actually what got me into writing in the first place – because 10 years ago, every picture book I bought or borrowed for my children featured English farms that in no way reflected our Australian grazing properties. Show me a book that features a beef cow, and I’ll show you a hundred others that feature black and white dairy cows – with a duck, a rabbit, a pig, a sheep and a goat thrown in!
Breaking into the publishing market is hard enough as things currently stand. With loss of PIRs it’s going to be even tougher for new Aussie authors, because Australian publishers won’t be able to take the risks.
And I can’t see that I’ll ever succeed in America, either. Not because I’m a B-grade writer who can’t cut it in the big time, but because America as a market is openly egocentric – while I’m passionate about writing entertaining stories that our Australian children can relate to.
I won’t Americanise my content and turn my ‘property’ into a ‘ranch’, or my ‘grazier’ into a ‘cowboy’ just to get published. That defeats my purpose in writing our Australian stories. I want country kids like mine to see themselves in stories. And I don’t want city children in Australia to grow up thinking that their rural cousins live on ranches either – unless they live in America, of course.
But I ask you this… If Australian stories aren’t getting published – what else are our children to think?
Yes – we live in a globalised world. (I’ve heard that too often in recent days!) But Australia is on the globe last time I looked. So it stands to reason that we have stories too! And I believe that Australian stories should be valued as much as any other.