Today’s Guest Post has Hazel Edwards remembering a particular, and mysterious, form of narrative transport. Hazel is one of Australia’s best-loved writers. She thrives on writing for all ages and has published over 200 books across a range of subjects and genres.
Aged 14, I lived in a country general store, and caught the school bus into the high school. For a readaholic, that was 45 minutes reading either way.
I loved mysteries or espionage (spies) because the stories had a twist. But I also liked biographies about writers, because I wanted to be an author, and I didn’t know any. I wanted to know how they could fit in adventures, travel , work ,family and friends and still have time to write. So I read about French writers like Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and others whose names I wasn’t sure how to pronounce. I appreciated English writer Virginia Woolf’s need for a room of one’s own and an income if you wanted to write. I read about Australian writer Ruth Park (not knowing that in the future, her twin daughters would illustrate my picture books. Deborah Niland illustrated ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’ and Kilmeny Niland illustrated my picture book ‘Feymouse’). I also liked reading Chinese history about the female ruler whose name I couldn’t pronounce either. That was often a problem from my reading, I’d mispronounce names because I’d only seen the words and never heard them spoken.
Then I read about Antarctic explorers. And decided I wanted to be an adventurous writer who would have an excuse for travelling to interesting places, because writing about them was considered work. Later I went on an Antarctic expedition and trekked in Nepal and went outback. A few years ago, I wrote ‘Outback Ferals’ which is set in Darwin in the Northern Territory with choppers and crocodiles, so sometimes your early reading influences you in ways you can’t predict.
A very different book was George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ which was the first political satire I’d read. The animals acted like people. Orwell researched by ‘doing’ and having new experiences, in order to write realistically, and that really appealed to me.
I’m often asked my favourite book but my honest answer is usually the one I’m reading at the time. Because if you are inside the head of the author for the length of that book, or the length of the school bus ride, you are transported into another world.