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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Australian Outback - Why I Write Rural Fiction - Karly Lane

Outback Australia, these words set off a variety of colours and themes inside your mind. Brilliant reds, browns and greens. Eucalypts, magpies, crows, bilbys, kangaroos, horses - all these things are vivid in your head when you think about Australia and it's wild countyside. What we don't hear about it the people, the towns that are the lifeblood of the Aussie outback. Fiction has changed in the last few years, more and more Australian authors are writing about what they know and have experienced as they have grown up in the Australian bush. I have coming up a variety of blog posts by three Aussie 'Rural' authors.
Karly Lane
Fiona Palmer
and Fleur McDonald.
To kick start this outback series is Karly Lane - Author of North Star.

After a bitter divorce, Kate and her battle-scarred kids escape to the vast but rundown property of North Star. It doesn't take long for her realise that she's going to need every ounce of determination to restore the homestead to its former glory and fulfil her dream of turning it into a bush retreat. Can Kate face her demons and put her past to rest and find happiness and her true destiny?  
I began writing rural fiction, way back when I was in primary school! I can remember watching the thorn birds (which I later read) and planning out my entire future- which involved buying a sheep station and marrying a good looking shearer! (who may or may not, strike a startling resemblance to Bryan Brown!) That bit kind of never really worked out!
When I started writing with the intention to get published, I decided to get back to my roots and write what I knew—so stories set in small rural towns which feature family, friends and rural communities became my genre of choice.
I think for a long time lovers of Australian fiction have been searching for something to showcase the real rural Australia. As much as I adore the sagas of Australian life on sheep and cattle stations of the ‘outback’ this isn’t the only depiction of rural Australia—but for a long time this seemed to be the most popular setting and the only one you could find in a best seller list at your local book store.
 I think the popularity of rural fiction today has been that authors are setting their stories in real settings. They aren’t always on vast properties and feature wealthy pasturing family dynasties. Many are focusing on the very real aspects of rural life that face any number of rural communities anywhere in Australia. They have characters that are real—they face issues like depression, divorce, raising children, facing their mistakes and struggling to keep their heads above water…things many rural (and not so rural) people can relate to.
The diversity of Australian rural fiction authors at the moment is amazing—with books focusing on a huge variety of regions in Australia. And just because they’re stories set in rural Australia doesn’t mean they all feature akubra hats and horses! I personally, don’t live on a working property—I live and have always lived in small country towns and this is where I focus my books, but there are other authors who do live and work on a family property and as such set their stories around the highs and lows of the life they lead. Rural fiction has something for everyone and now that there is so much choice—it’s even easier to find the type of storyline you enjoy the most.
This is why I write rural fiction—because it’s what I can relate to. It’s about life in a town that could easily be my own, with hero’s who are ordinary people doing extraordinary things—once again something that can, and does happen. In other words, these stories are based on real people and real issues that most people can identify with, which make it very easy to relate to. This is why I think the genre has become so popular.  
Thankfully at the moment there has been a resurgence of Australian grown romance and rural fiction with new authors and novels being released in record numbers over the last few years.
I keep hearing lately that rural fiction (or chook lit as it’s apparently been dubbed), has reached its peak—I hope that’s not true. If the emails my fellow rural fiction authors and I are receiving from readers, asking for more, is any indication, it certainly doesn’t appear that way. I really hope that since publishers took the gamble on backing rural fiction in the first place, that they listen to the readers and continue to publish it—Australia will be better for it, with Aussie writers able to continue to give rural Australia a strong voice.

If you would like to know more about Karly, then here is the link to her website.


  1. thank you karly for your insight on why you write "outback" fiction. i've been a city boy all my life but our grandparents had a second house near nowra,NSW, which i just loved!! well it was on the coast and not the outback but it had that country feel to it. again thank you. regards steven smith.

  2. Hi Steven.
    I think that's what I was trying to get at in my post--that rural Australia isn't always red dirt and dust :) small coastal towns are just as rural as anywhere else in Australia. I think it has more to do with a community small town feel than if a town is 'outback' or not. But small country towns certainly have a different feel about them and if they're connected with your childhood and Grandparents- that makes them all the more special I reckon! Thanks for posting! :)

  3. Awesome post Karly!! Thanks for being the first in our Rural Fiction series :D I like how you include the towns and people in your stories as like I mentioned before, they are the lifeblood of the outback really.

    I'm a city girl, I like visiting the country (my family moved to Peterborough (SA) a few years back and they love the small town community feel.

  4. was a pleasure :) thanks for having me!


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