BUDDING local writers and avid readers were on Sunday enthralled by the story of an American journalist who swapped Manhattan for the Macedon Ranges.
About 15 local bookworms attended a session with Sara James, author of An American In Oz, at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
Ballarat Writers organised the event and chairperson Heather Roche said the book, which is a personal memoir of Ms James’ move from the US to Australia, provided an interesting perspective on county Victorian culture.
Ms Roche said the session was not just about the author’s story, but about the process of getting a book published.
“She’s a fantastic speaker, really wonderful and engaging,” she said.
Prospective novelist Maureen Riches, of Ballarat, said hearing Ms James’ experiences, in which she details looking after a disabled child during the move to Australia, was heart warming.
Ms Riches hopes to have a novel describing the troubles of stolen generation children published later this year.
Ms Riches said her book, which was set against the 1967 referendum (where voters were asked to approve changes mentioning Aboriginals in the constitution), was topical given there may be a referendum this year to constitutionally recognise the first Australians.
Ms James, who is NBC’s Australasia correspondent, said it was interesting writing about the “otherness” of Australia from a northern hemisphere perspective.
“I went from taking taxis to work to dodging kangaroos on the way to work,” she said.
Ms James has lived in the Macedon Ranges for six-and-a-half years with her family and Australian partner, setting up a TV bureau next to a chook shed.
Caring for a special needs child along with her other children is another interesting part of the book.
“It’s about balancing the needs of all children and making sure you don’t give one too much attention,” she said.
She believes her experience as a journalist and interest in her new surrounds made her more perceptive, which is reflected in the detail of the book.