Introducing… Janet Gover
You can take the girl out of the bush – but you can’t take the bush out of the girl.
That was said to me quite a few years go – when I was just starting out as a television reporter for Channel 7 in Brisbane. I’d moved down to ‘the big smoke’ – leaving behind my horses and my riding boots and my Akubra. Not for long, of course. As soon as I was settled in the city, I found a way to bring the horses down and to keep in touch with my rural identity.
Since then, I have lived or worked in more than sixty different countries. That’s a number I still have trouble accepting. Every place I visit touches me in some way – the people, the culture, the natural beauty or the history. Maybe it was something as simple as the food – but every place I have been has something to recommend it.
Yet in my writing – I keep coming back to Australia and the outback. Why is that?
There are two reasons:
First – I think the place where we grow up never leaves us – unless we want it to. For those of us who hang on to our childhood like the precious thing it is – the places of our childhood retain a certain magic. My memories of the outback are not tainted with letters from the tax man, insurance forms, a boss having a bad day and all the millions of things that make up my ‘real’ adult life. Childhood was a time of infinite possibility… and so is the act of writing.
And secondly – childhood was when I fell in love for the first, second, third and many more times. I fell in love with books and music, with ponies and art. With history and science fiction. With cats – and did I mention ponies? And the boys who rode them. I write books about falling in love – and so I set them in places where I fell in love.
Of course, I haven’t stopped falling in love. I live in London now – and fell in love while walking across Waterloo Bridge, watching the sun set over the Thames. I fell in love with a collection of big grey stones in the middle of Salisbury Plain. But when I fall in love on the page – it tends to be in Australia.
This does have some ‘moments’. My editor is English – and we occasionally have discussions about Doonah vs Duvet and Pepper vs Capsicum – and just what is a Brumby… but that’s OK. Any exchange of ideas is a good thing.
And sometimes, I find myself writing in the voice of my adopted country – but that’s OK too. I have friends and family back home in Australia who are more than happy to sort my accent out when I need them to.
And finally – I think the reason I can write so clearly and with so much love for the outback is because I left it. Things that I once took for granted, I now recognise as being unique to that amazing part of the world. The people, the places, the lifestyle – these things make the outback what it is. They are the reason I go back every chance I get. And they are why I try to have my love for this wonderful place shine through every book I write.