Seven literary secrets about Tasmania
When Iris kindly asked me to write her a blog post about Tasmania, I knew I could waffle on for ages about the awesome puppy fun of the dog beach at Kingston Beach, or the mouth-watering food at Peppermint Bay, or all the fab places to go truffling for antiques around Hobart.
But I’m a writer—which means I eat, drink and poop stories—so I thought I’d fill you in about Tasmania’s secret writing underpants instead. Be prepared for shock and awe, my fellow readers and writers, as I present to you—seven literary secrets about the island state that not many non-Taswegians know:
1. Tasmania has its own paying market for young adult (YA) fiction with characters from diverse backgrounds. That’s right, the editors at Visibility Fiction will pay for the non-exclusive rights to showcase your YA story if your characters are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people, people from racial and ethnic minorities, people with disability, or neuro-diverse people. And that’s pretty awesome.
2. Tasmania’s history, both indigenous and white settler, is a rich source of writing inspiration. While you may think that penal colony history doesn’t sound any fun, consider the Flash Mob, a sub-culture of the female convicts (most of who worked in women’s factories) famous for their intractability. At the Cascades Female Factory (really a prison) in Hobart, the women with their cropped hair were forced to stand silently, ankle-deep in muddy water for twelve-hour shifts at stone washtubs. A number of the women in these prisons were sent to private homes to work as servants only to be sent back to the Cascades prison for the crime of falling pregnant after being raped by their masters. The response of these women to such injustice, and the hypocrisy of men such as the prison preacher Reverend William Bedford (a notorious lecher) came in the form of Flash Mob events designed to torment their keepers and provide entertaining mayhem. In fact, these women were so wild and difficult to discipline that the man in charge of them whined:
"I have threatened them, and they have laughed at me; I have remonstrated with them, they have laughed at me; I have coaxed them, they have laughed at me; Dr. Bedford and myself have prayed and preached to them, they have laughed at us; and when it was found necessary to punish, they frowned, and, I believe, exercised their idle hours in planning rebellion and revenge."
3. Tasmania has its own writer’s festival! The cunningly named Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival celebrates all things writerly in September with author readings, book launches and signings, writing master classes, panel debates, and more.
4. And Tasmania has its own writers’ prize.
5. Richard Miller Flanagan, winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize, is totes Taswegian.
6. Ru-Ro queen Rachel Treasure grew up in Tassie. The rural romance author of best-sellers such as Jillaroo, The Cattleman's Daughter and 50 Bales of Hay (yes, that’s a play on Fifty Shades of Grey) says she’s proud to write farm porn.
7. Another romance writer in the Hobart area is author Ris Wilkinson, a woman whose picture should sit under the definition of the word ‘prolific’. Wilkinson, a former champion swimmer, has written 50 Harlequin Mills and Boon romance novels as Melanie Milburne, with sales of more than eight million copies. She also won the 2011 Australian Romance Writers’ Romantic Book of the Year.
Rhyll Biest is an Australian author writing erotic romance hot enough to melt your e-reader. Her stories resemble the United Nations of Hotness, filled as they are with racy Russians, Teutonic hotties and alluring Aussies. She's also one of the naughtiest ninjas at the Naughty Ninjas group author site and is one of the tarts on the Bookish Tarts podcast where she and fellow author Georgina Penney discuss romance novels in a high-brow yet potty-mouthed way. Her first full-length novel, Unrestrained, will be released in print in June 2015.