Songlines

"We belong to the Earth, Lainie-Bug. We were sent here in human form for a reason. If you don’t know what to do, then just be human."

Right. Like that was ever a simple thing to do.

In the heart of the Wimmera region of Victoria, an ancient gateway to Eden is kept hidden and safe by a creature so powerful that even the moon would obey her commands – at least it would if she had any idea that she wasn’t just a normal girl about to finish high school.

When a mining company begins exploratory sampling near Lainie’s sheep farm, a family secret is revealed that makes her regret not having learnt more about her Indigenous heritage.

What she’s told by their farmhand, Harry – an Aboriginal Elder – can’t possibly be true, but then the most irritating guy in class, Bane, begins to act even more insanely toward her than ever, until she can no longer deny that something very unusual is going on.

When Harry doesn’t return from his quest to seek help to protect the area from the miners, Lainie sets out to discover the truth of her heritage, and of the secret she’s been born to protect.

An Interview with Carolyn Denman

What inspired you to write Songlines?

My teenage daughter, when she said ‘My English teacher thinks I should write a story from my dream diary, but I can’t write a whole story.’ Surely that’s one of the top ten things you should never say to your mum. ‘Of course you can. We’ll write one together,’ I said. She got bored, I got addicted.

What was the hardest part about writing it?

Between the time I finished writing it, and the time it was published, there was a lot of talk about cultural appropriation. Would I write the same story now? Probably not, but I did at least remove a few things in response to what I was hearing. Perhaps Songlines will prompt even more discussion because of things I’ve done right/wrong. That can only help to educate people, I hope.

If you met your hero in a bar, what would you talk about?

Her crazy hair. Lainie would totally blame me for it and we’d probably end up shouting at each other.

If you met your villain in a bar, what would you talk about?

I expect the mother in me would try to draw him out on some of those childhood traumas I gave him. I’d have to buy him a few drinks first, I suppose.

What’s one of your interests outside of writing that might surprise people who have never met you?

Training horses. I love the science behind animal behaviour and training techniques.

What’s the most challenging/interesting part about living in Australia?

Driving in a straight line while a huntsman spider crosses your dashboard. And online shopping.

What famous – or infamous even – book do you wish you’d written?

Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurtz. If only I could craft language that well.

Who's your favourite artist today?

I am not ashamed of the fact that Matt Corby’s voice turns me to mush every time I hear it. That man has some serious Charm going on.

What’s the last TV series that blew you away and what was so good about it?

Hard to choose…maybe Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. So different from the book, but what a fun ride! Kept me thinking and laughing the whole way through, and that’s good writing.

Imagine you’ve inherited a hippopotamus and one stipulation of the will is that you cannot give the hippo away or sell it to anyone. What would you do with the hippopotamus?

I guess I’d have to build a better fence around our dam. And make friends with a green grocer because those creatures eat a lot – even the pygmys. Does my sister inherit one too? Look, here’s a picture I took of her feeding some earlier this year. How amazing are they with their soapy skin? (The hippos, not my sister) Did I mention I have a degree in zoology? We’d be fine.

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