Best of the West


This was the view from my bedroom window – minus the iron bars – while I was staying in Fremantle. It’s a vista that gives you reason to reflect on your own good fortune.

Most mornings that I was a guest at the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre I would get up early and take an orange from the fruit bowl in the kitchen and wander out to sit on the verandah. Some mornings, if it was too cold, I’d put on my thick purple and black wool cape and cradle a hot cup of tea while I sat in the early morning chill and watched the day rise over the old prison. Apart from the odd stray cat (one, Tripod, that was particularly odd with his three legs and slightly shortened/cropped tail) I was alone. Which led me to reflect upon how many other people over the years had gazed at this vista and had been much less fortunate than me.

I have always liked my own company, which has meant that being a full time writer has been a viable lifestyle. It’s not a livelihood that suits everyone, financial issues aside. But human beings are social creatures by nature. We build cities and institutions that bring people together because we crave each other’s company. After a long season at the desk, the three weeks I spent in WA was a soothing balm after an intense period of writing. All those faces, all the conversation, all the laughter and good company!

So here’s my list of the Best of the West:

  1. Lesley Reece and all the staff of the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre who took such good care of me during this visit – Mailee, Jenny, Sacha, Margaret and Sally. Affirming, compassionate, supportive and good fun. (And Bob Reece for his superb fish pie!)
  2. The kids in the workshops – the thousand or so young faces that wrote like fury and put up with me for long hours while I tried to cram about a million ideas about writing into their brains.
  3. Frane Lessac, Mark Greenwood, Katy Watson-Kell, Julia Lawrinson, Patricia MacMahon, Ann James and all the other extremely funky SCBWI members that partied and played on Rottnest Island for the SCBWI Retreat.
  4. Jon Doust in Albany, Deborah Lisson in Bunbury, Glynn Parry in Geraldton and the many other warm and welcoming WA writerly types that were so generous and hospitable as I wandered around the west.
  5. Marina Baker, painter and keeper of many of my oldest secrets, who cooked me the most perfect risotto while we revisted old conversations on a cold Geraldton evening.
  6. Ron & Wendy Gorman for a perfect last supper in Freo and a chance to discuss everything from workshops to world politics.
  7. Blue skies, balmy days, chill nights and time alone to contemplate what’s it all about.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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