I can't remember learning to read, or picking up my first book. I have always read, and I have always loved books. I was born on a small farm some twenty-five miles out of Penola in South Australia. It was called Gundealga, 'peaceful watering hole', and its names, and its woods and deer, are remembered in The Axis Trilogy. The farm had no electricity, so I remember reading my first books by the gentle glow of kerosene lamps, hiding behind the living room couch so my parents would think me already in bed.
When I was about seven we moved to Adelaide, and somehow the household books bred in the process. I remember my father nonchalantly propping up a bucket to catch the drips from a leaking roof with seventeenth-century volumes that he said were so mouldy anyway they wouldn't mind a bit of extra dampness (I was horrified. I rescued them and carefully dried them out and now they rest, splotched and blotched but still readable, on the mantelpiece above the fire in my writing room).
I started writing as soon as I felt competent, about nine or ten, and my teachers and parents regarded me indulgently, as if to say, "She'll grow out of it". But I didn't. I kept writing. When I was about fourteen I received second prize in a nation wide essay competition. When I left school my writing ceased for some six to seven years as I got involved in the world -- My first career was as a nurse.
An escape finally presented itself when I applied to do a Bachelor of Arts at Adelaide University. Suddenly I found myself back in a world that encouraged creative thinking and processes. I was enthralled. I started writing again by keeping a detailed diary. I found myself a new career as an academic, teaching medieval history at La Trobe University, Bendigo. This new job I found incredibly stressful, and so, just for myself, no-one else, I began to write in the evening and weekends. I loved it! Writing became for me the perfect way to relax and escape the stressful world of academia.
I never thought of writing fantasy until one day ... one day when I just sat down and started writing BattleAxe. I knew almost immediately that this was going to be my best chance at getting published. I wrote virtually the entire trilogy, thought about it, and then sent BattleAxe off one day to an agent.
I knew that I would have my best chance with an agent. I picked up the Melbourne Yellow Pages, and looked under agents. — Australian Literary Management was picked because they had the magical word 'literary' in their name. And so off it went and here I am, all due to the intervention of a tiny iron axe that gave me the idea for BattleAxe and the help of the Melbourne Yellow Pages.
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