Inspired by My Island Home


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I was pottering around the kitchen trying to think of what the single biggest thing is that inspires my writing. And then it hit me like a parrot in the crotch (which, by the way, actually happened to a guy I know; I gather it wasn’t very pleasant). My biggest source of inspiration is the Australian landscape.

So far, all of my novels are set in Australia. And that’s not just because I’m writing what I know (although it is) but because I love this place. I love the scraggly eucalypts, the ridiculous wildlife, the low mountains worn down by time. I love the fact that—because our land is so old and the landscape crinkles are so low—the sky is huge. Looking up is like watching a movie in widescreen.

I love the magpies’ song, and the sight of a flock of cockatoos wheeling in the sky, and the sere colours. I love the first spray of wattle flowers toward the end of winter, when there’s still frost on the ground overnight, because the plants are declaring that spring is coming!

I know a lot of people here hanker after the lush greenery of Europe. I’ve been to Scotland and I’m not saying it wasn’t magnificent in its own way—I’d love to visit again some day—but this place is home.

I’ve been reading John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, and his passages on the Australian bush really resonate with me. Ellie’s love for the country could be my own. Here’s one extract, to illustrate what I mean.

It takes me over and I become part of it and it becomes part of me and I’m not very important, or at least no more important than a tree or a rock or a spider abseiling down a long thread of cobweb. As I wandered around, on that hot afternoon, I didn’t notice anything too amazing or beautiful or mindbogglingly spectacular. I can’t actually say I noticed anything out of the ordinary: just the grey-green rocks and the olive-green leaves and the reddish soil with the teeming ants. The tattered ribbons of paperbark, the crackly dry cicada shell, the smooth furrow left in the dust by a passing snake. That’s all there ever is really, most of the time. No rainforest with tropical butterflies, no palm trees or Californian redwoods, no leopards or iguanas or panda bears.

Just the bush.


Click here to see this week’s other Thursday’s Children blog posts.

18 Comments on “Inspired by My Island Home”

  1. I love this! I grew up in the mountains, in a very rural area, and that had a profound affect on me. I actually have a YA Fantasy book planned that uses the mountains almost as a character. That connection with nature, with the earth, is more than just a setting — it’s life, in all its variety.

  2. Laura Hogan says:

    “Like a parrot in the crotch” – love it! 🙂

  3. sugaropal says:

    I liked the “parrot in the crotch” too, lol. Maine and the ocean function as my muse(s). We’re moving soon and I won’t be near the ocean (an hour and 20 min away). I’m terrified. And planning to make my office an “ode to Maine” in terms of decorating, hoping that will help me keep my writerly mojo.

  4. Mia Celeste says:

    It sounds like you live in an awesome place and you write what you love. That’s a gift.

  5. kiperoo says:

    Ooooh, sounds so beautiful and inspiring. A perfect post for Thursday’s Children! Definitely makes me want to go there.

  6. christineallenriley says:

    “And then it hit me like a parrot in the crotch.” <—- Totally adopting this phrase. Also, I love the way you describe Australia. It sounds absolutely majestic. 🙂

  7. Great post! Thanks so much for joining us on Thursday’s Children! I spent the summer after college backpacking up and down the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. I have so many wonderful memories––I can definitely see why it inspires you! Kristina x

  8. Pat Esden says:

    The crotch parrot made me laugh out loud.

    The New England landscape is vital in all my stories, right down to the smells and how the dirt feels at different times of the year.

    However, maybe if I set a story in Australia, then I’d have an excuse for a business trip there. That would be amazing. I suspect it would also have to be more like a long sabbatical than a quick trip.

  9. Kate Michael says:

    Lovely post! I can’t wait to visit Australia one day 🙂 I’m glad it inspires your writing!

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