Lynne Stringer – Author & Editor

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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14 Responses

  1. Hi Rosanne – Thanks for sharing part of your publishing story. It’s interesting to hear how your experiences in Pakistan have prompted so many novels over the years. It’s given you a really unique voice. I can’t imagine what it would be like working overseas for 10 years and then returning to Australia. It must be a huge adjustment. I’ve been on a few short-term mission trips ranging from 3-10 weeks, and I know that even those experiences have made me think differently when I’ve come back to Australia.

    I’m glad you’ve got the opportunity to re-publish Borderland (Jamie’s Border) through Rhiza and I’m looking forward to reading Zenna Dare. It sounds like a fascinating book.

  2. Hi Rosanne
    What a great start to your writing career. It’s good to hear that Borderlands is to be republished with Rhiza. My family spent a number of years in Africa and while re-integrating back into Australian society wasn’t too traumatic it still had its challenges. I think my parents found it even harder after their second stint in Africa and they still having an ongoing link with their friends back there. I recently enjoyed reading Marrying Ameera and look forward to reading more of your wonderful books, including Zedna’s Dare and Jamie’s Border 🙂

  3. Loved reading about your ‘eye of a needle’ experience, Rosanne, and glad to hear Borderland will be republished too. Some books deserve sticking up for.
    BTW: What happened to your first manuscript? The one set in Afghanistan?

  4. Rosanne, it seems as if you are also a bard of S.A.:) The subjects of your books are so original and timely. I’m sure many MKs and other thinking young people will truly relate to these. Congratulations.

  5. Thanks for sharing your journey to ‘first publication’, Rosanne – it provides some useful insight for us as authors, particularly in thinking outside the box, seizing opportunities, and knowing your target market and intended publisher. I enjoyed reading the fresh voice of your main character in ‘The Last Virgin in Year 10’, and am looking forward to many more Rosanne Hawke novels in the future. 🙂

  6. Thanks Rosanne for an intriguing post about your beginnings as an author through to publishing your first book and beyond. Will be looking forward to the republishing of Borderlands by Rhiza and the rest of the series. Congratulations and best wishes for your future success.

  7. So encouraging to read of your unique journey to writing and publication and of going with what you know. I think you should be called a Bard to South Australia, too! Truly one of the ‘cloud of witnesses’ to all would-be writers.

  8. Hi Lynne and Rosanne,
    Yes, I was pleased to see the re-publication of Zenna Dare, as I have the original in my shelf, and I’m even more pleased to see that Rhiza Press will also publish Jamie’s Border. Those stories about Jamie’s experiences in Pakistan are well worth reading. This is going back quite a few years, but I’m pretty sure the first book of Rosanne’s I read was Jihad.

  9. Hi Lynne and Rosanne,

    I’d like to thank Rosanne on behalf of all her students at Tabor over the years. She is an inspiration to us all as well as a good friend. She has shown the way for so many of us sailing the treacherous waters towards publication. She is our lighthouse during those dark, stormy nights of doubt.

    Thanks Rosanne.