MORE ABOUT ME

I was born in Perth, Western Australia, and grew up in the last suburb before the bush. I was a shy kid with a big imagination and buried myself in books - fortunately, as a 1970s suburban Perth childhood revolved around poking around said bush, lots of time in the backyard (and pool - we were lucky), and reading. TV was a rare treat (and was put under the bed for ideological reasons for a long time) but boredom never lingered long with books, daydreaming and games/fighting with my sister. Anyway, looking back (see this blog post) I was always going to be a writer but took my own sweet time to get serious about it. 

 

We moved to the country when I was ten. I remember being presented with a choice - we could go on holiday to Kuala Lumpur (which I thought was Koala Lumpur), or we could move to the country. Since Kuala Lumpur meant nothing to me at the time  - although the draw of koalas was strong, as was the thought of getting on an actual PLANE - I pretty much unhesitatingly chose moving to the country. I think my sister did, too. My parents had friends with a farm we used to visit, and their kids had this free range, shoeless existence that I coveted badly. I too aspired to feet with soles of thick, split leather that could skip across hot gravel and double gees. So we moved to the beautiful south west of WA and became country kids. And I got a horse for my twelfth birthday - the best present I EVER got.

 

I deeply loved the country and immersing myself in nature - I still do. I would go off for these big walks and it would be just me, the trees, the sky and the birds, and it would be like I imagine going to church is for others. I always wanted to go wilder, more remote, further away. I still have that craving, but it wars with this fascination I have with people and culture and societies - all of which I found in books. There was so much out there! So many, many ways of being human and they all enthralled me.

 

Along with most of our generation, we never stepped on a plane when I was growing up - not even to go interstate. By the time I had been through university (majoring in English Literature and History, perhaps unsurprisingly) I’d never left Western Australia. Until I went to Japan to teach English when I was 20, and my overseas years commenced. 

 

My first plane trip couldn’t have taken me to a more different society. I left a WA summer - board shorts, suntans, beaches, hot, dry paddocks - for a Japanese winter. I’d never eaten sushi, or owned a winter coat before. I arrived into Tokyo and - oh. My. God!

 

People! Exquisitely dressed people, everywhere! No board shorts here. On that first dizzying day, I stared and stared. I saw an immaculate bell boy adroitly weaving his bike through traffic, balancing a tray with 6 stem glasses full of what looked like orange juice, each with their little white paper cap, not spilling a drop. I saw white gloved, uniformed train - pushers? - courteously pushing people onto crowded trains; bowing, welcoming attendants at the bottom of escalators; beautifully wrapped apples in supermarkets, like gifts. I smelled divine foreign food smells and watched contained, elegant people in a contained, courteous society, full of politenesses and rituals that immediately made me feel like a coarse, bumbling giant from the mountains. I had someone run up the street and return an umbrella I left in a shop. I saw snow! 

 

It was all new, all foreign, and I loved every bit of it. And I’ve never stopped relishing the new and the foreign, and finding the ways it connects to me. I ended up being away from Australia for decades and falling in love with people and places. I travelled and lived in big busy cities, and smaller town, but mostly in London. London felt like a place where everyone came. You could stay here and meet so much of the world. In London I became connected to places like Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Turkey, Israel, China - the list goes on - just by living there. A messy, vivid maelstrom of connections. I adored it. 

 

I still love that city and always will, but eventually it was time to come home. My boodja was calling. I didn’t quite end up on my home boodja - the south west of WA, the land of the Noongar people - but in Melbourne, which would become my second Australian home. I returned with my London husband, Jon, and my Anglo-Aussie kids, Ruby and Gabriel, who were eight and six at the time. Life changed pace from London to Melbourne rhythms. We run our tour operator business and our kids go to the amazing local school. The community is incredible and we’re very lucky to have - quite randomly - ended up where we have. 

 

Since I’ve lived in Melbourne I’ve settled more deeply into my writer self. I’ve become more serious about the craft, publishing short stories in anthologies and finishing the excellent online ‘Self Editing Your Novel' course with Emma Darwin and Debi Alper. In  September 2018 I signed with my fabulous agent, Danielle Binks, who overflows with energy, enthusiasm and knowledge about books and publishing. 

And then, in 2019, I signed a  publishing deal with Penguin Random House for my historical fantasy series, The Time Catchers, set in London and a parallel city. That was undoubtedly one of the proudest, happiest moments of my life. Here's a video, taken by my dad, of that day - he was visiting in Melbourne at the time, and I’m so happy he was present for this milestone, because he’s always been my number one reader and fan. Me and my family, the day I signed that contract :-) 

I’m still warring within myself - my opposing love of cities, energy and culture, and of wilderness - and maybe one day I’ll end up a hermit on a cliff. Or in a tiny room in the very centre of some seething metropolis. Who knows? Wherever, whatever, I’ll still be exploring life with words. 

All content © Karen Ginnane 2020

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