Jun 17, 2014 - Guest post    14 Comments

What’s Kate Belle’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m excited to welcome author Kate Belle to my blog to talk about her passion.

katebelle_smlKate is a multi-published author of dark, sensual love stories that will mess with your head. Her interests include talking to strangers, collecting unread books, and standing on her soapbox. She writes regularly about women, relationships, sexuality and books on her blog, The Ecstasy Files. She is also the creator of the Eros in Action writing sex workshop.

Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne with her small family and very annoying pets. The Yearning was released in 2013 to rave reviews. Being Jade is her second novel.

Hi Kate, welcome to my blog. Congratulations on your release of Being Jade. I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy of this and it is an amazing book.

So tell me – you’re obviously a passionate writer – but do you have a passion other than writing? 

Of my many passions, which include brewed coffee, the environment, foreign films, baking, feasting, hot baths, talking with Miss 9 and wine (did I mention coffee?) there is one that is a standout.

Story.

Kate's BookshelfI know you said ‘passion other than writing’ – but I’m not talking about writing here. Story is different.

Our preoccupation with story making sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom (aside from extra brain bits and opposable thumbs). From our earliest beginnings, human beings have created story through language, image, dance and music.

A human being is nothing but a story with a skin around it.- Fred Allen

In any form story holds wisdom, learning, revelation and it seems we can’t live without it. We talk in stories all the time, tell each other our dreams, share what has captured our attention on TV or the internet. Social media has become a global platform for story making, telling and sharing.

One of the places this interest in story has led me to is the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage of Australia. I feel so very lucky to have been born in a country where story is embedded into the landscape. Our Aboriginal people, the First People of this land, have always understood the value of story. Their entire culture is centred around it. For 50,000 years they have been telling, dancing, singing complex layered stories.

‘Songlines’ (an attributed English term) are complex ceremonial stories/songs/dances that combine mythology with practical knowledge of the natural environment. Their use is too complicated to describe here, but they can contain instructions on where it is safe to travel and what you can find to eat along the way; explain the seasons and local native flora and fauna; instruct people on the right way to behave and how to be a respectful of the land you’re on and its peoples; and how the ‘gods’ made the landscape in dreaming, including its sacred places.

Those who tell the stories rule society. – Plato

My discovery of this incredibly rich story telling history has led to a modest collection of books by Aboriginal people telling not only their own cultural stories, but the story of our shared history from their perspective (as opposed to whitefella interpretations). It is both enlightening and humbling and I wish more non-Indigenous Australians understood it.

Wow, that really sounds fascinating. And you’re right,  story is definitely different to writing.  How long have you been interested in stories?

world talesMy interest in story began when I began reading. It gave me a way of understanding the world and the people in it. Over the years I’ve collected old story books and books on Greek mythology. I always had an innate sense that story was part of my identity as an Australian, so I guess my interest in Aboriginal understandings of story probably evolved from that.

In 2007 the public service offered me an opportunity to work alongside Aboriginal organisations. On the path to improving my cultural competency, I discovered so much about Aboriginal Australia I had been ignorant of. I read voraciously and watched many films and documentaries in an effort to better understand what it means to be Aboriginal in this country. I became aware of story running like rivers under my feet, through the landscape. Everywhere I walked, the roads I travelled, the place where I lived and played, came alive in a whole new way.

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.- Maya Angelou – American poet

Sadly we have lost so much of this history through colonisation. I will probably never know if my house or the places I work are built over a line of story. I will never know the stories that rest in my back yard or local park or the shopping centre down the road.

I can tell that you feel this deeply. Most of  us are largely ignorant of this side of our history. I have read some of the myths but now you make me want to delve into it more deeply.

What is it about it that brings a sparkle to your eye / motivates you?

Gosh, this is so hard to articulate, but I will try.

Story gives us another way to communicate. It’s a vehicle into which we pour all the things we can’t express. I believe the complexity of where Australian history has led us is best explained through story. In today’s world of instant communication we are used to speaking in 3 second grabs. Everything is captured by short pithy quips which are entertaining but disposable. It’s not very satisfying or meaningful.

 The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say. – Anais Nin

By contrast, can you imagine what it is to live in a place where every rock, old tree, waterway, piece of land has story captured within it? It’s like living in a land of secrets – if only I spoke the language I might be able to unlock them. As a writer I could think of no better place to live than a landscape soaked through with story. Knowing that I am living among stories that are thousands of years old lends so much meaning and depth to my life. In a strange way it gives me hope that meaning and depth are not lost and the better parts of humanity may, in the end, prevail.

You have an incredible way with words, Kate. 

Do you have a funny story about something that’s happened to you while involved in your passion?

This is not so much a funny story, but a serendipitous one.

Every year our local Oxfam group host a HUGE second hand book sale as a fundraiser. From 7am people line up in front of the Senior Citizens Centre holding canvas bags, boxes and sometimes even suitcases. All books, save for a handful set aside as worthy of a higher price, are two dollars. This, my friends, is Book Buyers ParaAboriginal authorsdise. (I’m drooling now!)

The mood as the doors open is intensely competitive. Silently book lovers and dealers scan the spines, hoping to be the first to spot the hard-to-find bargain. We shuffle in close lines, eyes on what our neighbour is picking up and putting back, terrified someone else will get our books, the ones meant for us. In that first hour there is very little talk, so urgent is our need to make sure we don’t miss out. By the time I leave my wallet is usually $70 lighter and my bookshelves 30 books heavier.

Pic 5A couple of years ago a local closed up his second hand bookshop and donated all his remaining books to the sale. As I flicked through the non-fiction titles I happened upon a copy of ‘Wild Cat Falling’ by Mudrooroo, a trail blazing Indigenous writer. Naturally I grabbed it and on further inspection discovered an entire collection of books by Aboriginal writers, some of them signed.

My eyelids fell to slits and, looking left and right like a gangster about to do a heist, I dropped one book after another into my canvas bag. Most of these books are out of print. Signed copies are even rarer. I could not believe my luck in finding them. Whoever had put them out on the two-dollar non-fiction table clearly had no idea how important these books were.

I can’t describe the satisfaction I felt as I handed over my cash that day. I’m so proud to be the caretaker of these wonderful books. I’m hoping one day to find descendents of the authors who might be interested in reclaiming them, but in the meantime, I can enjoy and savour them for myself.

I have goosebumps reading that! Those books were obviously there ready for you to be caretaker.

Would you like to tell us about your latest release, Being Jade?

 

being_jade_COVER_HI_res smallBEING JADE

A tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.

You can buy Being Jade at the following places – (and I thoroughly recommend you do!)

iTunes

Amazon

Booktopia

Bookworld

Simon & Schuster Australia:

READ FIRST CHAPTER FOR FREE HERE.

 

Kate, Thank you so much for being my guest today. Good luck with Being Jade!

You can contact Kate at:

Blog/website: http://www.ecstasyfiles.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/katebelle.x

Twitter: @ecstasyfiles https://twitter.com/ecstasyfiles

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6572571.Kate_Belle

The Reading Room: http://www.thereadingroom.com/kate-belle/ap/2394119

 

14 Comments

  • Having taught English units focussed on our First Nation, I thought I had a reasonable understanding but, as always, I’ve learned more from your comments. Kate, each of your posts is thoughtful and relevant to an aspect of our lives and this one is no different.
    Great post, Kerrie and Kate.

    • Thanks Susanne, now we have something else to talk about, your time teaching those units. What a shame we live in different states.

    • Thanks for calling in, Susanne. It was a very informative post, wasn’t it?

  • Very interesting post, Kate & Kerrie. I will admit I am woefully ignorant where our Aboriginal history and their writing is concerned. I do share your love of book sales Kate, one of my favourite pastimes.

    • A lot of people feel ignorant,, SE, and the good news is there is so much information available all we have to do is take some time to look and learn.
      I am a second hand book glutton. Sometimes I buy them just to own them x

      • Thanks for the comment, SE. I’m with you with a love of 2nd hand book shops and sales :)

  • Wow, what an excellent and fascinating post, Kate and Kerrie. Thank you. As a Kiwi, I’m proud to say that Maori also have a tradition of oral story telling which is well recognised and appreciated in New Zealand, and very accessible, and therefore a great resource for me as a writer.

    • Hi Deborah, it is a shame there isn’t more Awareness in mainstream Australia of the wonderful story telling culture of our Aboriginal people. It is such a strong part of culture, there is a tendency to reduce stories down to simple mythical tales, when they are actually evolving and complex and rich sources of knowledge. You are fortunate to be aware of the Maori traditions.

    • Thanks Deb. Yes, we could learn a lot from the way NZ acknowledges its traditional past and culture.

  • Thanks so much for being my guest, Kate! Such an interesting post.

  • Sorry I missed this one Kez! Hi Kate.
    There are so many aboriginal dreamtime stories that just stay with you. Like, Tiddalick & the Rainbow Serpent, I learnt these at school and they are still taught today. I am fortunate to work in a public school library and am pleased that there are many wonderful books on Aboriginal culture, tales and the dreamtime still coming through for the younger generation to enjoy as well.

    Interesting post ladies :)

    • Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment, Mary. Tiddalick and the Rainbow Serpents are ones that I remember learning at school too.

    • Thanks Maryde. I love the idea on lines of stories that ravel across our landscape with layered words telling of fora and fauna. The complexity of the intrigues me and I’m so sad so many of these kinds of tales have been lost. You’re fortunate to work in a library and share the stories with kids.

  • […] Kerrie Paterson […]

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!