Faithfully devoted to you
As usual, there are too many things to write about at the end of a long, action-packed day of talks at Parade College. The Year 8 boys were studying Market Blues as a set text so I was asked to talk about the writing and research that went into the book. But for me, one of the most interesting things about school visits is discovering what the kids get out of the book, rather than what I’ve put into it. Sometimes a reader will find things in a story that you’re only vaguely aware of having placed there. In a way, writers are only ciphers for all everything that is in the ether. Ideas and images soak into your skin and wind up flowing out onto the page and sometimes they can surprise you.
The more books I write, the more I’ve become aware that stories work on multiple levels, that they connect to all sorts of undercurrents that the authors aren’t always aware of. Over dinner tonight as I chatted with my son, Elwyn, I thought about the day I decided to dedicate Market Blues to him. We were at the State Library of Victoria together and he was helping me with my research, scrolling through microfiche newspapers from 1901. Elwyn was in Grade Six at the time, heading towards Year Seven, the same age as the protagonist in Market Blues. He was a great research assistant and I remember glancing across at him and thinking, this one will be for you, El. By the time I’d finished the book, he was in Year 8 and much of his Year 7 expereince had informed the story.
Each of my novels has been dedicated to someone special. Each of the books has been influenced in subtle ways by the people to whom they are dedicated. My first novel, Zarconi’s Magic Flying Fish, was dedicated to my eldest step-daughter, Isobel. She was in Year working as an assistant trainer in the community circus that my husband, Ken was directing at the time. All the family were involved in the circus in small and large ways but Isobel was particularly passionate about circus and had been performing with her dad from when she was in primary school.