SPOTLIGHT ON… Indigenous Australian authors: Anita Heiss

Photo Credit: Amanda James

Photo Credit: Amanda James

Describe yourself in one word:

Tell us a little about your background:
I was born in Gadigal country (aka the city of Sydney) and grew up on the land of the Dharawal people (La Perouse). My mob and roots lie in Wiradjuri country (central NSW) around Cowra, Brungle, Griffith and Tumut. I also get a lot of strength from sitting down Maroubra Beach and staring out to sea, it’s where I spent a lot of my youth and now it is my place of reflection. As I write this though, I am sitting at the State Library of QLD looking at the mighty Brisbane River.

One thing you’d like readers to know about Indigenous Australian writings:
Our writings showcase a range of life experiences, world-views and diverse voices.

Can you share your specific hopes for reconciliation in Australia?
I hope to see an Australia where First Nations peoples are respected and recognised not only as traditional landowners but also as the gatekeepers of the stories that have founded this country.

Your all-time favourite novel and/or novelist?
This is the hardest question asked of any writer. I do love Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and on a local level Terri Janke’s Butterfly Song speaks to me like no other novel.

Favourite fictional character:
I tell my students to write the books they want to read as I do. I also write characters that reflect my reality, so I’ll have to choose one of my own, sorry. With that in mind I’d say Libby Cutmore from Paris Dreaming is one of my favourite, self-created characters.

Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
Meet a lovely man to share my life with. I know some readers here will cringe at that, but I have travelled, I’ve written 10-plus books, I’ve studied, I’ve got an amazing circle of friends. But I’d like to share my often chaotic life with someone.

What book has changed your opinion/stance on something important to you, and why?
I’ve never been a footy chick by any means, which is rare in the Aboriginal community where almost everyone at least follows League and/or AFL. So, when I read the kids picture book Mangrook and learned about the history of the game, and its Aboriginal origins, I had a greater appreciation for the code, and its cultural connections to our people.

Biggest accomplishment to date:
Doing my PhD in Communication and Media, UWS. And also winning our case against Andrew Bolt and the Herald Sun under the RDA, in 2011. Writers need to be responsible and accountable for their work.

What’s next for you?
I’m just working on the edits of my latest novel Tiddas which is due for release through Simon & Schuster in 2014. I need to start another project, but right now am enjoying doing school visits in and around Brisbane.


Find Anita online at:


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