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AWW Feature: Karly Lane and Rural Australia
Welcome Karly Lane!Karly Lane lives on the beautiful Mid North Coast of NSW in Australia. A certified small town girl, she is most happy in a little town where everyone knows who your grand parents were. A wife and mother of four children, working part time as a pathology collector by day, she manages to squeeze in her writing whenever and however she can. She writes women’s fiction – everything from romantic suspense to family sagas and life in rural Australia. North Star (READ MY REVIEW) was a 2011 finalist in the Australian Romance Reader Awards and Morgan’s Run (READ MY REVIEW) is available from today by Allen & Unwin. . Karly also has romantic suspense titles published with The Wild Rose Press and Eternal Press under Karlene Blakemore-Mowle.
I’ve been asked why do you write rural fiction?
I guess the simple answer is that it’s what I know. I’m not a farmer and I don’t live on a sprawling property. I’m just a small town girl who loves rural Australia. My stories, although they may take place on a property, aren’t about the day to day life of a working farm or the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand with that lifestyle.
The real story is about a community and that connection the character has with the town and their past.
I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life to have experienced a variety of small rural towns. As a child we moved every few years and up until the last five or six years of my adult life I continued to move around the countryside. I feel privileged to have experienced a lifestyle so many other people in this world simply don’t have the opportunity to live.
From the tropics of far north Queensland, to the isolated beauty of Mt Isa, with its colourful characters and mining, down to the sheep and crop farming of central NSW and back to the lush dairy farming and pockets of sub-tropical rainforest that run along the gorgeous Mid North Coast of NSW. The one thing they all have in common is community.
But the unescapable reality is that rural towns are a dying breed.
You only have to take a look through your local museum to discover your quiet little main street once supported six hotels, two large department stores and four or five different banks! Unheard of for most rural towns in Australia now days—you’re lucky to find even one branch in most places. But communities even in the smallest of towns are a force to be reckoned with.
You only have to look at all the devastation that’s been happening in regional Australia over the last few years. Whole towns being inundated with floodwater—homes destroyed, precious keepsakes and belongings ruined…people displaced with only the soggy clothing on their backs. One thing shines out brightly amongst all this despair—communities are at their best in times of hardship. They pull together and they help each other.
When I began writing Morgan’s Law I wasn’t sure where my plot was going. But once I sketched in the bare bones of the small fictional town of Negallan, characters began to pop out of the woodwork and this ‘fictional’ town suddenly took on a life of its own.
Negallan had once been a thriving country town. Now it was dying. When the cotton gin closed down several years earlier, it took with it the livelihood of a large portion of the population. As in most rural places, industry is the back bone of a community, whether it be farming, mining, tourism or other—the slightest disruption to that industry causes a ripple effect that goes through the whole community.
Suddenly there are no jobs. People are forced to leave town and find work elsewhere. With families leaving town, student numbers drop from small schools and those schools lose teachers. In extreme cases—the whole school may close. Real estate slumps, small businesses close down…all this and more happened to Negallan, but the community wasn’t just going to lie down and die quietly. They rallied for one last fight.
In my research I tracked down many interesting and inspirational people who’ve fought hard to save their little communities from dying. I have only admiration and respect for these people. Maybe it comes down to that cheering for the under dog thing.
One little town that’s making a noise is North Star, the town I based the name of my first book on. This little town has started the long process of reclaiming their community. They’re working hard to secure their towns future by addressing the issues that are important to them, like education, safer roads and town beatification to attract tourists who at the moment, drive right past them. Check out their webpage and take a look.
It’s a battle that’s been raging for a long time and will no doubt continue to do so. Small towns are disadvantaged when it comes to getting representation and action against many larger city issues, however as long as a town has a community—there’s always hope, and there will always be people willing to stand together and face whatever comes their way.
This is why I write rural fiction. Real life, every day heroes!