From Manuka to Manhattan - Lauren's going all the way!
Lauren is a curator at the NAG - the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra. She's good at her job, passionate about the Arts, and focused on her work - that is, when she's not focusing on Adam, half-back for the Canberra Cockatoos.
But Adam is a player, on and off the field. Lauren knows he's the one, but he doesn't seem to feel the same way about her. If she just waits long enough, though, surely he'll realise how much he needs her?
Then her boss offers her the chance of a lifetime - a fellowship at the Smithsonian in New York. Lauren has to make some big decisions: The Man or Manhattan? Anita Heiss
is a writer, poet, activist, social commentator and academic. She is the author of Yirra and her deadly dog, Demon, I'm not racist, but... and My Story: the diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937, which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards Young People's History Prize. She is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but grew up in Matraville, Sydney. Anita describes herself as a concrete Koori with a Westfield dreaming - a city chick whose idea of Survivor is a night in a caravan.
Random House Australia
Author: Anita Heiss
Interview with Anita HeissQuestion:
How did you come up with the idea for Manhattan Dreaming?Anita Heiss
: I actually conceived the idea of a book set in New York when I was visiting there in 2008. I was staying Lilly Brett, an author and her husband and I just fell in love with Soho. I had been to New York numerous times before but this time I really emerged myself in the community and on top of that, for the first time I noticed, there is a real dating culture there. I had people asking me out on the street and asking to join me for a coffee, it was extraordinary because we certainty don't have that experience in Sydney. It is a little bit better in Melbourne; I have also set a book in Melbourne, I do know the dating culture is a little bit better, but it certainly doesn't exist in Sydney. I thought to myself when I was there 'I need to set a book here, so I can write about this dating culture'. In New York you can go and have three dates in a night, you can have a coffee with someone, then go to the theatre with someone else and then meet someone else for a drink; there are no obligations and it's called 'dating'. In Sydney people are either in relationships or are single, if you are single you might, when you're younger, hook up with someone in a bar, but there are very different ways of building a relationship.
I was also conscious that the American market is flooded with this genre but in order to crack the US market I needed to provide unique content. Obviously I bring, to the genre, indigenous characters and storylines. I also needed to set the book in America, because Americans don't read out as much. I already had this idea and I wanted to crack the US market, so I went on a research trip to New York.Question:
How did you go about using American terms in the book?Anita Heiss
: I stayed in Chelsea, when I was in the US, which is where the character lives, which is great because then I had a setting for an apartment and so forth. I have friends in American, I know someone who works at the UN and of course I have the character who works at the UN. I also have an Australia girlfriend who now lives in Brooklyn; so I sent drafts to the US to check the language. For instance I would have used 'mobile phone' and they say 'cell phone'. There were just a few linguistic things that needed to be fixed up.Question:
Females all love to read chick lit; why did you decide to write chick lit?Anita Heiss
: This is my third book; I am just about to finish my fourth. To be honest I didn't know I was writing in this genre; my first book, Not Meeting Mr. Right was actually me just purging myself of 15 years of dates, I didn't know I was writing in this genre. When I wrote the next one I became more conscious of the fact that woman from 18 to 45 were my main audience and reading this genre whether they are on the bus or train. I wanted woman lying on the beach, in summer, reading my books.
I realised that I needed to break into the market of 18-45 woman because I had written fiction and children's books. There was a whole market of readers out there that I wasn't reaching in terms of some of the messages I wanted to get out there of social justice and so forth. I wanted to put the indigenous female experience on the page because it doesn't exist in Australian literature, whether it is chick lit or literary fiction it didn't exist. I wanted to make the point that even though I am an urban based aboriginal woman we fall in love, we fall out of love and we fear rejection and want companionship- it's about being a woman, it's not about being white, rich or poor. We talk about differences so much when in fact we have far more things in common.Question:
Why do you like to attend Australian writers festivals?Anita Heiss
: I am really excited about writer's festivals. I had a conversation with some writers in Alice Springs the other day and for me I think it is important for writers to engage with their readers. I think it is very arrogant for writers to assume that 'I wrote the book therefore I don't have to do anything else'. I think it is arrogant to assume that people will keep following an author's career and buying books, obviously they do purely on the fact that you write stories that they like. For me, I want to know why people like my books and what it is about the novel that speaks to them as I know everybody gets something different out of it.
I have increasingly more men who are reading these books, which is interesting. I think it is one of two reasons, one is because they want to engage with indigenous content in a way that is not confrontational and these books are not confrontational, there are obviously challenging aspects to them but I think readers want a whole range of mediums available to them so they can learn in different ways, not everyone is going to read a text book or go to the theatre but they still learn a whole heap of things about the arts by reading books.
I get inspired by the festivals when I listen to other writers, but festivals aren't money makers for writers as I end up spending more money going there, than making it. It's about having conversations with other writers and finding out what else is out there as well as networking. I like to meet my readers. Question:
Finish this sentence; the best thing about books is . . .Anita Heiss
: they hold a mirror up.
Interview by Brooke HunterBuy it now at