That which we are, we are.

I grew up in Redcliffe in the 70s and 80s, when it was pretty rough and socially disadvantaged. In fact, I was pretty rough and socially disadvantaged too. We were welfare class. My dad had an accident at work and was on sickness benefits, which he spent almost wholly on beer. My mum worked hard to support us all. I was bullied at school, never really fit in, and went to work in rubbish jobs in fast food. cover Then I finally got my shit together, went back to high school, then got out of town.

For a long time, during my university studies and with my new inner-city friends, I was faintly (if not entirely sometimes) embarrassed about having been a Redcliffe chick, one who used to hang out with boys in cars or wag school to sit on the jetty and smoke. I didn’t speak of it. I made myself anew; I tried to stop saying “Me and my friends” went somewhere or did something, or “brought” when I meant “bought”. I got a PhD. I published books and spoke elegantly and eloquently in public places.

Then one day I was coming home in a plane from Sydney, and we flew over Moreton Bay, that body of grey-blue water that I grew up looking at. And it struck me how magnificent the bay is, how it gives me the feeling of being home, of being somewhere that everything is all right. I looked down at the islands, and a story idea came to me. The story became Ember Island, the book I worked on over the summer (a Kimberley Freeman book). Imagine my surprise and delight when they sent me the cover and the jetty on the front is actually Redcliffe jetty. “We managed to get an actual picture of Moreton Bay,” the publisher told me excitedly. But she couldn’t know just how familiar that part of Moreton Bay is to me. Redcliffe jetty, on my book cover. Fifteen years ago I would have been appalled. But now, this just fills me with strange pride.

I am a Redcliffe girl. I am rough as guts. I did work at every fast food chain you can think of. And then I did something different; and I am not a better or worse person for growing up bogan. I am so proud of this book and the fact that it is set somewhere unexotic, maybe even parochial. I am what I am, and I am fucking proud to own it.

11 responses to “That which we are, we are.

  1. Kim, love you because you are so real!
    My first job was at Hungry Jacks (Springwood, Brisbane) when I was 16.) I was excited to be on the register – Then the manager told me ‘yeah, we put the ugly chicks on the cash machines so they don’t distract the customers. No chit chat, if you know what I mean.’
    As if I didn’t already feel like crap!
    Can’t wait to read Ember Island!
    xxx

  2. Kim, one of the most important things about you is that you see beyond the bogan label to the fact that working class doesn’t mean second class. I know what you mean when you talk about being proudly working class. I think it gives us something extra. We are especially grateful for everything we achieve.
    Glad all is well with you :-)

  3. Wow i cannot wait to read this. I am a huge fan of your fantasy novels however recently i read wildflower hill (hadn’t read a Kimberley Freeman book before) and i was so impressed. What an amazing story that is :)

  4. Another Freeman tome? Flippin’ ‘eck, woman! Do you ever sleep? :)

    I’ll put this one on t’list for Mother’s Christmas stocking, and continue counting down the days until ancient ghosts come to call.

  5. Hi Kim! I absolutely love your work! Thank you for the wonderful gift you bring to your readers through your books. I can’t wait for your next release!

    P.S My first job was Macca’s Southport on the GC in ’92. Class! :)

  6. Came across your blog almost by accident. First up – awed by your honesty!. Haven’t read any of your work as yet but now will seek it out.
    Don’t believe in sorting people out by class – I’ve always preferred to assess by openness and facing reality. Good luck.

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