Apart from a select few, most of my novels are set in Australia’s harsh outback, a vibrant swirl of colours and cultures, or in Australia’s small country towns, a tightknit backdrop woven with secrets and complexities.
What makes these locations special? Why do I keep coming back to them time and time again?
I spent my childhood in a small country town, population 1,428. You can imagine my shock then, when at 13 we moved to one of Australia’s busiest cities, population 2.28 million. To put that into perspective, there were more students at my high school (1,800) than there had been in my entire town!
I was spoilt with country life, there had been barely 200 students in the entire school, from preschool to year 12. Everyone knew everyone else, it kept the kids safe, and you knew that if you got into trouble, your parents would soon hear about it, so you had better come clean yourself.
My town consisted of a butcher, greengrocer, newsagent, small post office, several pubs and churches, and a few parks. People drove an hour each way to do their weekly grocery shop, at a town not much bigger, although they also had a book store and a supermarket. You planned ahead, you were careful, you didn’t waste resources.
If you wanted a big shopping centre, or to go to the movies, you drove two hours each way, into Tamworth, New South Wales. I grew up surrounded by farms, orange trees, and bitter winters.
I had never heard of McDonald’s until we moved to the city, I was 14 the first time we went there. My son thinks it is insane. Maybe it was, but it was such a different world.
Despite spending 16 years living in one of Australia’s busiest cities, when it came time to raise my son, I opted to move to remote Australia. We are surrounded by mountains, endless clear skies, and small town vibes. We are 2000 kilometres to the closest city, which suits us just fine.
I choose to write about the country, the rural Australia, because not many people get to experience it. Tourists flock to the bigger cities, Australians choose to holiday overseas. They miss the beauty and history that I am surrounded with on a daily basis. If I can impart a little bit of that magic into my novels, I will be happy.
Originally published at https://kathleenryder.com on October 13, 2020.