Guest blogger: Helene Young
Did you read under the bedclothes by the light of a torch?
I did! I even managed to get myself banned from kindergarten because I refused to put my book down and nap in the afternoon … I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but sleeping seemed like a waste of time to me when there were good stories to be read.
I’m a writer because I’m also an avid reader and that reading habit started with my parents. Dad worked away from home as an engineer on gas and oil tankers. Part of his strategy to stay connected to his young family was writing children’s stories he posted home to Mum. As the youngest in my family I heard those stories long before I understood them, but I never tired of the words. It was only when I went to school that I discovered most parents didn’t invent stories for their children …
This year I’m a ‘Reading Champion’ as part of the National Year of Reading 2012. I signed up because literacy is such an important part of providing quality of life. In many of the remote areas of Australia that I fly to with my day job the road to literacy is a slow work in progress and the potholes in that road can swallow whole classrooms of children.
This week I was fortunate to spend two days at Trinity Bay State High School as a guest of their Writers’ Festival. The students I taught ranged from eleven year olds through to sixteen-going-on-twenty year olds.
It was wonderful to see thirty-five heads bent over their writing, imaginations running wild. The sheer inventiveness of their work was mesmerising. Some were clearly out of their comfort zones, while others were revelling in the challenge. We talked about point of view, characterisation, dialogue versus narrative. We examined how to use all the senses. We delved into the differences in gender. We discussed compelling stories. But for me the most important thing we talked about was daring to dream.
There are so many challenges, so many choices for our young people today and it must be bewildering trying to navigate their way to a safe harbour. It’s fact that good literacy allows choices and choices allow dreams to become reality. Would I have dared to dream that I could fly an aircraft or write a book if I hadn’t listened to stories curled up on Mum’s lap? I doubt it. Stories inspire me, uplift me, transport me and I’m so very grateful that I had a childhood filled with books.
At a recent library chat I was surprised to find that many of the audience hadn’t set foot in a library until, as adults, they took their own children for a visit. It made me even more grateful that my story-obsessed parents let me read by torchlight and bought me books every Christmas and birthday. Long live the written word—even if it is on an e-reader!!
When did you start to read? Were you a late starter and are now reading furiously to make up for lost time? Did your family have books stacked in the corner? Join in the conversation to go in the draw to win a copy of Burning Lies. (The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Shiona.)
Find Helene at:
‘Lies, all lies. It didn’t matter how attractive he might be. She didn’t really know this man … He was living a lie and she didn’t know why.’
Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband’s death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.
Ryan O’Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn’s world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.
With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.
Set in Australia’s tropical far north, this is an explosive story of peril and passion by the author voted by the Romance Writers of Australia as the most popular novelist of the year, and by the Australian Romance Readers Association as the most popular romantic suspense novelist two years running