Rhiza Press Blog

Rhiza Press blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Australian books for Adult and Young Adult readers.

Danger and Dancing - Chats with Rosanne Hawke

LianasDanceES1. Tell us a little bit about Liana’s Dance. What can readers expect?

Liana’s Dance is a sweeping adventure so if you liked The War Within, you’ll like this novel too. Liana’s Dance also has a touch of mystery due to a family secret. Sixteen-year-old Liana tries to come to terms with living in a dangerous time, especially when her school is attacked by terrorists, but also fights peril from within herself.

2. Like Liana, did you experience danger when you lived in Pakistan?

It’s strange but we never felt we were in constant danger. Sometimes we were in danger due to the environment, like being trapped by snow in the Chitral Valley or getting lost and turning up in a strange village of only men, all carrying guns (we got out of there pretty fast and fortunately weren’t followed). My husband was detained by police twice, once for looking too much like an Afghan freedom fighter and second for letting off firecrackers for the girls’ school where I worked.

During the Gulf War the police said we were in danger since we looked like Americans and had to remain at home. Fortunately the people in Abbottabad, where we lived, knew us and gave us no trouble. The kindness of the people outweighed the dangers. For example, a poor Christian family brought us food while we were house-detained.

3. Liana’s Dance is inspired by your Beyond Borders series. Why did you think it was important to tell Liana’s story now?0 Rosanne

Some readers have been concerned about what happened at the end of The War Within and wanted to know more about Liana. I thought it was good to see what Liana was like when she was Jaime’s age. She has an incredible story of depression and hope; fear and strength; maturity and love. I also believe telling Liana’s story is good for Jaime in helping her navigate her lonely landscape of grief.

4. How do you think Australian teenagers would relate to Liana’s story?

When I wrote the first draft of Liana’s story I thought a terrorist attack on a Western school would never happen, but imagine my shock when some years later, it did. I kept working on the story because some young people do have to walk through frightening situations, even in Western countries. They can emerge fearful or more mature. Also, the situation in which Liana finds herself while travelling with her young music teacher is a dilemma that’s not often spoken about, but can easily become a problem in high school.

5. All right, last question. Liana loves to dance. Are you known to give a little boogie or jig every now and then?

Ha, not likely. I grew up in semi outback QLD and loved country dances and balls. My brother would take me when I was older as the boys at school didn’t know how to dance. Maybe I was a geek.

While in Pakistan some Afghan ladies taught my girls and me some dance steps. Sometimes when I was first writing stories set in Pakistan I dressed in the outfit those ladies made for me, put the Caravans soundtrack on and secretly danced their steps. It helped me think of what to write next.

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Friday Chats with Rosanne Hawke

0 RosanneWhat made you become an author?

What finally gave me the push to write seriously was my daughter, Lenore asking me to write a book for her based on a story I told her. She made me become a writer.

What was your first published book?

A book called Re-entry which has been rewritten and is now in its 3rd edition called Dear Pakistan.

What inspired you to write the Beyond Borders series?

I had changed states when I was a teenager, and as an adult I lived overseas in voluntary work with a mission. My children became third culture kids, and watching their culture shock (and mine) as we returned to Australia inspired the series.

 Have you travelled to Pakistan since? Was it still a culture shock?

Yes, the first time I arrived in Pakistan I had culture shock and, as a woman, it took me a year to adjust. In coming back to Australia we also had culture shock. Possibly that is worse because you don’t expect the culture shock to be so bad in your own country, but it was. When I visited Pakistan in 2006 on an Asialink Fellowship to research more books, it was only for two months and the culture shock was less.

Why do you think Jaime is an inspirational heroine in the story?

Jaime is going through a difficult time of her life that people around her do not understand. She has to learn to adapt to different cultures and yet discovers the joy of doing that even though it is difficult each time she moves. During this process she picks up some wisdom and realises her experiences have helped make her who she is, a teen with unlimited potential. 

Who is your favourite character in the series?

Tricky question. Besides Jaime, possibly Jasper in The War Within.

Can you give readers a hint at what they can expect in the next installment of the Beyond Borders series?

In 2002 terrorists attacked an international Christian school in the Himalayas, Pakistan. It was the school that my kids had attended and is the school which inspired Jaime’s school which she visits in The War Within. In Liana’s Dance Jaime writes the story of what happens to Liana when her school was attacked by terrorists a few years earlier.

Do you have any hints for aspiring authors out there?

Read a lot and learn to read like a writer: decide what you like about a writer’s story or technique and takes notes. Write down golden lines, but always put the author’s name underneath so you don’t mistakenly plagiarize. Always find out as much as you can about your characters because your characters will make or break your story. Most importantly work out what they want the most in the whole wide world; something important enough that would motivate them long enough for you to write a story about it. When you’re finished the first draft get your secateurs out and start cutting out the dead wood. Learn to enjoy editing and re-writing.

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An interview with Rosanne Hawke

An interview with Rosanne Hawke

Hi, I'm Rosanne Hawke from rural South Australia; I write books for young people from 6 – 18 years, but adults read them too. I tend to use themes of relationships, culture, identity and place, but I also like writing about cats and music. I'm interested in Cornish culture, as I am a fourth-generation Cornish descendant, and also in the culture of the Middle East, especially Pakistan, as I and my family worked there as aid workers for ten years.

Rosanne is the author of Zenna Dare, set for re-release in July 2014.

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?
I have loved writing since I was little. It began with reading by the light under the door, or by moonlight, hanging out my window. My mother knew a jotter and pencil would keep me happy for hours. I wrote snippets of stories and buried them in tins. My first published story – in the school magazine – was called 'Bushed' set in the South American jungle.

Question 2: How did you start writing books?
I told my children stories; they gave me characters' names, settings, even a problem and I told the story with lots of their interjections. One night when we lived in Pakistan I told my eldest daughter a story she wanted about a kidnapping in Afghanistan as one of our colleagues had been abducted by freedom fighters. She thought how exciting that would be. She liked the story so much she begged me to write it for her to read, then to type it, then to send it to a publisher. She wanted to be able to buy a book that her mother wrote just for her. This became my second book, Jihad.

Question 3: What was your first book published?
Re-entry: The story of an Australian girl who had grown up in Pakistan and returned to Australia for high school. It explores one's own culture from the outside and culture shock.

Question 4: What is your favourite part about being an author?
Writing the stories and seeing how they affect readers. One mother told me reading one of my books (Zenna Dare) got her daughter off drugs. Another girl said she didn't know a book could change her opinions like Soraya the Storyteller did for her.

Question 5: What was your favourite children's book when you were a kid?
I had many but reread The Prince and the Pauper many times (probably a retelling) and loved all the fairy stories & folktales like The Arabian Nights.

Question 6: What is your favourite children's book now?
There are too many great books to mention just one. I love Glenda Millard's The Naming of Tishkin Silk and Kate DiCamillo's Because of Wynne Dixie. Christine Harris' Audrey of the Outback; Janeen Brian's Where does Thursday Go? Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall. The list is never ending.

Question 7: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?
Yes, I was asked to speak at the Cornish Studies Centre in Redruth, Cornwall about Cornish children's literature in Australia, and also to speak in schools. I have spoken in an American school but that was arranged while I was holidaying with friends.

Question 8: What writing genre do you like to do the most?
I often write realism, but have written historical (Mustara and Taj and the Great Camel Trek), an historical fantasy (Wolfchild), and fantasy (Across the Creek).

Question 9: Where do you see the future of children's books (ebooks/apps/print)?
I think the future is exciting. Stories or books will never die but they will change shape. Print books will become a special event as children gradually lose the art of writing by hand.

Question 10: What books are you reading right now?
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and I am Malala by Malala Yousefzai with Christina Lamb.

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