by Chrissy Munroe
Once upon a time, in 1996, there was an older sister, whose younger sister went to Australia for a soccer training trip, while she sat at home wishing she could be around the world meeting kangaroos and koala bears. Yes, that older sister was me. I have pined for Australia in the way that only jealous older sisters can ever since, and I finally made my way there in August.
Now, this wasn’t a totally selfish decision. We’ve had KWL authors from Australia using the platform from the first year that we launched, and Australia has been a steadily growing market for KWL titles. Two more reasons to travel halfway around the world, starting with the 22-hour trip from Toronto to Sydney.
I started my trip at Romance Writers of Australia, an amazing conference at which I had the opportunity to connect with long time KWL authors and meet new writers keen to learn more about self-publishing. Random fact #1: Rural romance is continuing to sell well across Australia, and an emerging trend is sweet stories with pets (mostly dogs and horses, but not cats!) as a driving force in the narrative.
Every conference has its quirks and perks, and something I loved about RWA Sydney was their twice-daily 30 minute tea breaks (random fact #2). It was a lovely, easy way to mingle and caffeinate, and every group of people was open to welcoming a newcomer into their conversation. Compared to bigger North American writing conferences, where giant groups bustle between sessions and meals, these relaxed breaks were a nice surprise that made RWA Sydney unique.
Fact #3: Australians take a costume party very seriously. Wow. The opening evening cocktail party—to which I showed up wearing my typical business casual jeans and blouse—was to my surprise costume themed, attended by several zombie brides, a mad hatter, Prince, and more. Over half of the attendees wore costumes, and there was a lively costume contest. I’ve made a mental note to pack accordingly next time.
Following the conference, I took several days to travel to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, and the Blue Mountains. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that (random fact #4!) Australian “winter” is nothing compared to the icy doldrums of Ontario in December. I had packed sweaters, hat, and gloves, and found myself going on daily runs wearing shorts and a t-shirt. On one of those runs, I saw 2 kangaroos, a wallaby, an echidna (way cooler than a porcupine), and a flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos. Australia is an amazing place.
As I travelled, I read Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country, highly recommended by my talented colleague Joni who happens to also run this blog. [I’m jumping in to shoehorn another rec in here: All of Bryson’s book are excellent, but The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is possibly my favourite! Go read it! –Joni] I also tried lots of Australian wine, read five other books, enjoyed countless flat whites, and lots of other wonderful vacation highlights I won’t go on at length about (at risk of causing the kind of of jealousy that afflicted me for decades). I do hope these tidbits inspire some wanderlust in you, though—where is next on your travel bucket list? Which writing conference do you hope to attend one day?
Christine Munroe has the coolest job ever. She leads the KWL business team, helping authors reach millions of Kobo readers around the world.
She has a BA and MA in English Literature from McGill University and worked as a literary agent and international book scout in New York before joining Kobo. Her favourite part of her job is helping independent writers achieve great results and make a living from their writing, as well as working with her fabulous colleagues on the KWL team. Follow her on twitter @munroechristine