Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paris and tiddas with Anita Heiss


I chatted with Anita Heiss today, before she arrives in Hobart this weekend to launch her new book. Admittedly, as I dialled her number for the interview - which you can listen to in full here - I felt a little in awe of everything this high achieving, high profile, intelligent lecturer in Indigenous literature and Wiradjuri woman could bring to the interview - and she was gorgeous, down to earth, garrulous (in a good way) and generous with her thoughts and opinions. Ostensibly we were to talk about her new book - a Koori chick-lit novel called Paris Dreaming.
  In reality our conversation roved from writing methods - she is a method writer - "I had to go to Paris, I had to stroll along the Champs Elysses and I had to eat a lot of macaroons," to Aunty Patsy Cameron, whose new book Grease and Ochre (Fullers Publishing) she will launch in a double celebration this Sunday at Fullers Bookshop at 1pm -as Patsy launches Paris Dreaming. "Grease and Ochre will contribute to a growing core of Indigenous literature coming out of Tasmania," Anita said as we chatted about the Indigenous Literacy Project, for which she is an ambassador.
  Paris Dreaming is published by Bantam and tells the story of Libby, who has a high powered job at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra and who is on a "man-fast," only to  find herself working at the Musee du Quai Branly en Paris (excuse my accent) and faced with the vissicitudes of flirtatious baristas and smooth-tongued lotharios. Yep, it's chick-lit through and through - it's a tested and proved formula and it's good fun to read. Chick-lit attracts the vast majority of female readers between the ages of 18-45, and, as Anita says "32% of indigenous people live in urban centres, but there is no one that looks like me on the page."
  We also talked about tiddas, which is an Aboriginal word that crosses state and in some cases language lines and it's my favourite new word. It's used in Victoria and NSW and it means friends, and in Paris Dreaming, it's Libby's tiddas who are there for her. It made me think of my tiddas with appreciation
- and it was also was the name of this gorgeous group of female singers who came out of Victoria in the nineties.

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