Woo hoo!! I love this time of year and not just because it’s finally getting warm enough to swim at the beach or start Christmas shopping! No, no, no! There’s a buzz in the air that’s just as exciting as cracking the crisp spine of a brand new book!

It’s a great month to be a reader and a writer! November is when writers from the world over participate in NaNoWriMo (a challenge to write 50,000 words over 30 days). I’m not quite in the zone to participate this year as I just completed my manuscript re-write and polish, and I’m happily delving into book two with more research. I am, however, enjoying seeing everyone else’s word tally rack up! I’m cheering you on!

Instead, I’m more into the other exciting activity of this 11th month of the year… If you can’t participate in the writing challenge…

It’s a great month to get into a reading challenge! It’s Aussie Reading Month! The aim is to absorb as many books as you can, written by Australian authors. By happy coincidence I have three books on my bedside table that have been created by local talent:

  • The Diamond Hunter by Fiona McIntosh (I nabbed an early copy at the National Conference last month and so far, I have flown through the pages!)
  • The Nowhere Child by Christian White (this is my book club’s pick and I’ve always wanted to read it)
  • The Girl from Munich by Tania Blanchard (she’s a fellow masterclasser and I just have this feeling I’m going to love her story).

I know I’m going to sound completely biased and obvious when I say this but I adore Australian writers and the local publishing industry. I feel like there are a certain number of elements that make our book scene unique and utterly captivating… 

We are global

We are a vastly multicultural nation and avid travellers. So often Aussie authors will bring a story from their heritage or globetrotting experiences and weave it into their novel. In all three books that I’ve mentioned above the authors have brought something from their past into their current work: 

  • Fiona McIntosh had a childhood experience living in Africa where she made a special friend, whom she left behind when her family moved, and this is a key component of The Diamond Hunter
  • Christian White visited Kentucky, USA in the 90s as a teenager and he had such a memorable experience that the location plays an eerie background setting to The Nowhere Child
  • Tania Blanchard explains in her ‘About the author’ page how she ‘…was inspired to write The Girl from Munich by the fascinating stories her German grandmother told her as a child.’ 
Also, the Australian landscape plays such a magnificent and envied background to many local stories — that in itself makes an Aussie-writen story unique and globally appealing… at least I hope so, because my book is based in Byron Bay. The beauty and wonderful lifestyle of the locals has given my story an added layer that was so much fun to write (and hopefully read!).

A small but loving community

Also, the local publishing scene is smaller than in some other countries, so there isn’t room for egos. To date, I have found established and emerging local authors to be warm and encouraging. Rachael Johns is a well-known local author and when she saw on Insta that I was nervous about pitching to publishers, she sent me a wish of good luck. It meant a lot to me to hear from someone already in the business! My experience at Fiona McIntosh’s National Conference also showed me that the ‘big wigs’ that sit in the publishing houses are… not that scary! They were completely open, generous and welcoming of new writers! There is room for anyone who wants to work hard and be part of the wider publishing community.

**See my National Conference wrap up from Day One and Day Two**

Great support in the stores

And lastly, our booksellers are so loyal to Aussie writers. They are ready to embrace, highlight and basically run a zillion Aussie books through the till. QBD Books highlight an Australian author every month, while Dymocks hold many live book signings in their physical stores. Booktopia, Australia’s largest online distributor, have a very active social media presence and one of my favourite things they do is bring an author in and show them signing massive stacks of their books for launch day! Meanwhile, independent bookstores are largely successful across the country with many of them embracing debut authors and giving them a chance to get their name out there to readers.

I really believe that the Australian publishing industry is unique and wonderful! Let me know if you’re joining in either of these challenges — I’d especially love to know which Aussie authors you’re reading the works of this month!

J x

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