As part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2012, each month I will be inviting an active challenge participant to guest post here at Booklover Book Reviews.
Tony from Tony’s Reading List kicked off the series last month and here in March I am very pleased to welcome Jayne from The Australian Bookshelf . Jayne is an Australian author and a prolific blogger. She has been a big supporter of the Aussie Author Challenge, posting links to 8 reviews this year already.
Tell us a bit about yourself Jayne and the types of books you feature on your blog, The Australian Bookshelf:
I read quite eclectically and this is reflected by the reviews on my blog. I read anything from young adult to contemporary adult literature, fantasy, paranormal, crime, classics, mystery and historical. The only genres I don’t read exclusively are horror and erotica. Of late, I have particularly enjoyed reading novels that fall into the categories of historical romance, romantic suspense, crime and Aussie rural lit.
What are the last 5 books by Australian authors you have read/reviewed?
Well, I went on a bit of an Anna Jacobs splurge last month and read the Swan River Colony trilogy which includes Farewell To Lancashire, Beyond the Sunset and Destiny’s Path. They are all set predominantly in WA, in the late eighteenth century during the early settlement period. I also read rural lit novel, Under Southern Skies by Anne McCullagh Rennie and Currawalli Street by Melbournian author, Christopher Morgan.
Which Australian author do you think deserves broader recognition and why?
I have particularly enjoyed reading the emerging romantic suspense novels coming out of Australia by local authors. So, I’d like to give a special mention to Helene Young who writes about strong female heroines on Queensland’s tropical coast – check out Wings of Fear and Shattered Sky – and this year I also read As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry and absolutely loved this too! Both of these authors have a new release expected in 2012.
The Aussie Author Challenge Soapbox is at your disposal…
This is my second year participating in the Aussie Author Challenge and I love in it’s essence that it aims to promote Australian authors and their novels. I can’t say that it encourages me to read more Australian fiction, because I have plenty of Aussie books sitting on my TBR shelf for the next couple of months anyway, but it does provide another avenue to promote local talent and the amazing reading diversity that is on display in this country.
I think Australian authors do it tough when up against the international market for a variety of reasons – accessibility, availability, pricing and recognition. I often have international followers comment on my Aussie reviews that they had never heard of an author, even if they are very well established in the market here. And when my review has sparked an interest to an international reader they sometimes have a hard time tracking down the title at a reasonable price.
As a book blogger/ reviewer I am appreciative of the free titles I am sent on a regular basis from Australian publishers which encompass both local and overseas new releases. I have the opportunity to read across a range of genres and at times read something I wouldn’t normally be drawn to in a bookshop. Reading outside of my comfort zone has been particularly enjoyable over the past year or so that I have been blogging. If I didn’t challenge myself I probably would never have delved into books that fall into rural lit, crime or romantic suspense – genres that I have fallen in love with! If I wasn’t receiving review copies then perhaps I wouldn’t have opened my eyes to these wonderful genres because let’s face it, when we are spending our hard earned cash on books, we usually drift towards the genre and authors that we know we will love. There’s nothing more disappointing than buying a book, taking it home, curling up to read it, only to find it was not what we had hoped for.
Another barrier faced by Australian authors who write about Australian characters in local settings is language and being misunderstood. As a self-published Australian author I have been surprised by international reader comments that they have at times been confused by the ‘Aussie lingo’ in my stories (or others) despite there not being any outlandish Aussie slang used. In fact, a U.S blogger recently told me that they hadn’t heard the word fortnight since reading Shakespeare in college. That made me laugh!
I suppose Australians have been heavily influenced by the U.S and the U.K in the media, we watch their movies and television shows and read their books. We know what a ‘slot machine’ is but unfortunately they don’t know what a ‘pokie’ is. It’s all a matter of exposure. The more exposure the world has to Australian fiction, the more likely international readers will understand our use of language, slang and appreciate our culture and unique settings.
I have come across many Australian authors, some self-published, that choose to ‘Americanize’ their novels or use an overseas setting to target a broader audience. Surely, the Australian culture, landscape and folk would be of interest to people outside of our own country? It’s a shame that some authors feel they need to alter their art to appeal to Americans readers. It means Australian readers are downplayed in their importance to the success of a novel.
It’s books like John Marsden’s Tomorrow Series that make it to the big screen and Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet that make it to the small screen that help promote the Australian publishing industry to the world. If we can stand proud of Australian writing talent and as bloggers/ reviewers/ readers/ writers promote Australian fiction in any way we can, we can reach across the vast stretch of ocean and hopefully international readers will fall in love with our local authors just as much as we have!
Thank you for bringing these Australian authors to our attention Jayne, and for sharing with us your obvious passion for promoting Australian talent and authors perspective.
When looking for your next Aussie read, take the time to check out Jayne’s Australian Bookshelf.