Borderland

August 25, 2014 at 1:01 pm

rosanneToday my guest blogger is Rosanne Hawke. Rosanne is the author of over twenty books, among them Shahana, The Messenger Bird, the winner of the 2013 Cornish Holyer an Gof award for YA literature, and Taj and the Great Camel Trek.

Rosanne is also the winner of the 2012 Adelaide Festival Children’s Literature Award for Taj and the Great Camel Trek. Her other books include Marrying Ameera and Soraya the Storyteller, which was shortlisted in multiple Australian awards in 2006.

Rosanne was awarded an Asialink Fellowship to write in Pakistan in 2006 and the Carclew Fellowship in 2008. Rosanne was an aid worker In Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates for ten years and now teaches Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide. She is a bard of Cornwall and lives in rural South Australia in an old Cornish farmhouse with underground rooms.

She is giving away a copy of her book, Zenna Dare. To enter, leave a comment below.

My first book published wasn’t the first I wrote. My first manuscript (a story set in Afghanistan that I’d told my thirteen-year-old daughter while we lived in Pakistan) was winging its way around Australia and more often back to me. One rejection letter stated, ‘We like your story and your writing but we want stories set in Australia. If you write one of those we’d like to see it.’

No one told me how to interpret rejection letters, but I knew I held in my hand a ticket through the ‘eye of a needle’ publishing gate. I started that very day on a story that had been bubbling in my head about a girl who had been brought up in Pakistan but returned to Australia to attend high school.

When I’d written the first few chapters I sent them to the publisher to check I was on the right track. They replied, ‘Send a synopsis and the whole manuscript. We’d like to read it.’ I hadn’t finished it and still didn’t know what would happen at the end, but that letter made me work harder and I hoped they would be busy enough not to notice that I hadn’t sent the manuscript straight away. It only took the publisher a month to accept it; they even rang. I can remember what date it was, where I was and with whom. That book became Re-entry, a story about fourteen-year-old Jaime Richards and the culture shock she felt. It’s a snapshot of Australian culture from the outside in by someone who should belong and doesn’t, and what it means to be Australian, issues my family were grappling with at the time.

Re-entry became a Notable Book in the Children’s Book Council Awards of Australia and was shortlisted in the CROW awards and picked up by Scholastic Book Club. Reviews were favourable and one borderlandcalled it a powerful book dealing with multiculturalism and racism. It was used in schools as a text and in workshops on culture shock for teenagers. It was an encouraging start to my writing career. A dear lady had a word of prophecy for me and confirmed my call to write.

Later, Re-entry was republished as the first title of a trilogy called Borderland which sold out in a year and sadly wasn’t reprinted. Secondhand copies never seemed available and I received requests about where to find the book. So it’s very exciting to say that it will be published again next year by Rhiza Press, with a new title: Jamie’s Border, as the first of a series of four books about Jaime and her travels.

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