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.

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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.

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Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

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.

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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.

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Note that Chrissy is wearing a down jacket and scarf, indicating that her description of the Australian winter is not to be trusted.  

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?


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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

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