One of the greatest pleasures I find in writing is research. I write on Aboriginal Lore, a passion I have had for many years and one, which has been an integral part of my life. I also write informal travelogues, which are opinion and experience rather than travel advice and recommendations. Research has been part of my life from the very early days when I would listen to stories told and read what little there was back then of Australian tales. This has been an interest of mine since childhood. It once entailed spending long wonderful hours amongst old photo’s, writings and microfiche and I still enjoy getting back to the basics in a dusty room, unearthing precious resources.
Now-a-days a great deal of research is done on the internet and within valuable databases such as the Gutenberg Collection. This collection allows you on-line access to many journals, those of our Explorers and many other writings which are made freely available. However there is no going past many of my other research resources, valued books that I have collected over the years, which simply are no longer available and other resources and papers that make up part of my collection.
I was asked recently about where I get my information from and that is always a difficult question, as information and opinion has been gathered throughout a lifetime of research and experience. However I would like to share some of the more enjoyable of resources, which the layman can use.
Without par is the Australian National Trove. Always a resource I love to delve into the Trove is a collection of the common mans opinion. A collection of news-sheets, books, images and many, many other wonderful things. Putting together search strings always turns up different results, not to mention choosing constraints such as specific decades, or unique topics taking into account colloquial terms commonly used. A treasure can be found in searching family names or other involved strings. Staying on track with your research though is the hardest thing to do. One of the more fun texts I came across was English Notions of Australia 1844 if you would like a chuckle.
My study into Aboriginal Lore over the years has been extensive. Arriving at a place where I find it easier now to interpret legend and stories and use this growing knowledge base in my writing is a personal thing. This is because it also involves many experiences but one of the more valuable texts has been work of Prof. A P Elkin and his studies. Books such as Aboriginal Men of High Degree, now an on-line resource and an exceptional text but this is merely one of many texts I have studied.
Having also studied such texts as the writings of Daisy Bates, and those of Bill Harney amongst others, who both shared their lives with the Aboriginal people and travelled their journey with them I was privileged to read their writings, many of which are no longer available. The list is endless but most valuable is the word of mouth, stories told to children and personal knowledge of the Lore, which can be recounted. One of the most difficult of things I have found is that what is sacred knowledge to one group, is common knowledge to another. It is what has been made of their cultural history given quite diverse populations. Respect is always of great value in such issues.
Then there are the more modern resources. I delved into these to gain insight and found them interesting and a lot of fun. Most recently, in gaining insight there was the movie production Manganinnie which is still available on SBS free to air and will be so until Oct. 14th. Well worth the watching to gain insight to the loss of our tribal people across Australia.
Australia’s history, particularly our Colonial History has been so badly presented to the Australian people that it is a mystery to most and remains so today. Our children are not taught our real colonial history but more an adulterated version which not only leaves a lot to be desired but is also more about English History than being truly Australian. Pity we aren’t English or it might at least serve some purpose for our children. There is an excellent 2½ hr doco on the net at Youtube which at least is unbiased and presents a valid insight into the history of the young Colony and the Aboriginal experience.
Onto other genre’… Having travelled widely and enjoyed every minute of it I do a lot of research before trips, during and after trips and some of the best of these I put into travelogues. Now you can have a lot of fun with research on this, things like taking along our Explorers own accounts which are available for download for free more often than not in the Gutenberg Collection, or checking out Youtube. One of my favourite is the research I did into Kalgoorlie, a frontier gold-town even today, which deserved its own book. I had so much fun with it that I am incorporating the info I gathered into the current novel I am working on. Namely small references to the Kalgoorlie brothels such as Langrtrees which have a rich and ripe history even today.
One of the things I have also been asked about the ‘Around the Campfire Series’ of books is that I consider putting out a book on Kakadu, this from those who know of my travels through the area and have often heard a recount of that particular Aussie safari, especially when I have been around the campfire myself after ‘happy hour’ and get into talk mode. Doing a travelogue on Kakadu, with all its inherent pictures and stories would make a travelogue too large and too expensive to produce so instead I am considering an addition to the upcoming ‘Spirit Children Series’ where you are taken through Kakadu and the story is moulded around the real account. Believe me it was a remarkable experience and as this tale settles in my mind hopefully it will become a reality in 2014-15.
I am hoping the first of this series will be available in the new year though there is still much yet to do. You can read the first of Book 1 Song of the Serpent, at my new Wattpad site and leave your thoughts, which could be a lot of fun
A world of warning though. Some of you may have realised by now that I do write in the Australian vernacular and often with Aussie idioms. I do realise that this causes problems but ‘when in Rome…’. I do try to be conscious that some Yanks and Poms might have a problem and I do try to be kind believe it or not. My Editors have been instructed that my books are essentially Australian and they should not try to be other than that. Forgive me… I hope you will.
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