About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Why island stories?

Lots of authors fill their blogs with writing techniques and tips about approaching publishers. I wanted to do something different that reflected who I was as well as show my love of writing. It's a pretty safe bet that you can gauge a person's interests from what they read. I am an eclectic reader. My bookshelves house topics as diverse as gardening, anthroplogy and forensics to theology, mythology and astrology. I love insects and words, so I have entomology and etymology books. I like reading crime, comedy and fantasy. But by far the biggest section of my bookshelf is devoted to what I call island stories. 
   For me these are stories about islands, seafaring and village life. They are stories of indigenous people and colonialists, missionaries and sailors.  My first island books were The Boy Who Was Afraid and Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins. Both of these books are about surviving on your own and they follow in the tradition of Robinson Crusoe. I am always interested in how people make do with very few resources and how they rely on inner reserves of courage and ingenuity to succeed.
   Island stories don't have to be about the tropics. The Sea-wreck Stranger is set on a cold windswept island. And they don't have to be told by an indigenous author. Both insiders and outsiders have the right to tell a story.
   Mythology is another aspect of many island stories. Although I have always loved classical Greek and Roman Mythology, the custom stories of the Pacific are rich, diverse and fascinating. Mythology ties in with culture and tradition. Learning about Polynesian culture or African traditions or Carribean legends is akin to travelling the world in your armchair.
   This is where 'world literature with mana' comes in. Many of the books listed on the PSSC English prescription are African or Indian, such as Things Fall Apart and A Village by the Sea. Some stories depict the world's colonial past or war-torn regions or urban slums in developing nations and they are stories so filled with spirit and determination that they make a profound impact on readers. These are the type of books I cherish.  

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