Exotic? Exshmotic?

Author: Bill East

I’m an Australian citizen, I live in Australia, my family lives here, I pay taxes here and I write about what I’m familiar with, geographically.

So my stories are set in Australia. They have Australian locations and they’re mainly around the Sydney area. It’s where I live.

It’s been suggested to me that in using Australian suburbs, street names and other geographical locations I’m alienating a lot of ‘international' readers, who may not be familiar with these places.

It seems that you can write about England using place names like ‘Oxford Street' or ‘Soho’ or 'Buckingham Palace' or 'Big Ben' etc because everybody is familiar with them.

But hey! ‘Fulham Palace Road’ or ‘Penge’ or ‘Peabody Buildngs’ is O.K. too

Or, similarly, you’re permitted to mention ‘Hollywood’ or ‘Sunset Boulevard’ or ‘Times Square ‘ or ‘Broadway’ if your work is set in the U.S.A.

But ‘Great Neck’ or ‘The Pulaski Skyway’ is O.K. too

Though, according to some, not ‘Beacon Hill’ or ‘Wahroonga’ or ‘The Wakehurst Parkway’ or ‘West Head' if you write about Australia

Well, I don’t agree and here’s why…

The simplest of reasons is that so many successful writers over the years have used exotic locations with no lack of success. 

Are Indian readers familiar with ‘The Marshes’ of ‘Great Expectations’ or the ‘Falmouth’ of David Copperfield?

And what about all those places in ‘Jack Reacher’ books that nobody’s ever heard of?

Are denizens of ‘The Big Easy’ familiar with the streets of Dublin in Joyce’s Ulysses? No! But that’s not the reason they don’t finish the novel!

Do Chilean readers spin in clouds of confusion when Roy mentions Ayemenem? Maybe…but she wins prizes!

And yet…do they read the books? Yes, of course they do and will continue to do so as long as such books are well written.

Places are exotic to all except those who live in them, aren’t they?

I think ‘exoticism’ in a novel is a PLUS!

One of my favourite novelists is Angela Carter and she’s so exotic…or was…one might claim ‘insanity’ for her. 

Well if that was true I’d love to be insane if I could be so in conjunction with her imagination and writing skill.

I suspect that the success of works of fantasy and dystopia, so popular at the moment, is due to their inherent exoticism... in the extreme.

I couldn’t write fantasy or stories of dystopian worlds as long as my…[well, we won’t go into that!]. But I’ll continue to describe ‘exotic’ venues as long as I write.

In Australia we have an expression ‘The Cultural Cringe’ which means that any artwork of Australian origin is ergo inferior to anything produced ‘overseas’. 

[The expression, maybe in another form, I’m sure will exist, in Canada and New Zealand…maybe it’s due to our common English heritage of deference and humility. False though that heritage may be].

Our local efforts aren't exotic enough, I suppose.

Anyway, my latest book, ‘Maddie and the King of Paradise’ is choc-a-bloc full of exotic places…Orunia, Adotiville, Paris, Lyon, Geringong, Kangaroo Valley, New York, Kiama, Lagos, Marseille, Kinshasa…how much more exoticism do you want?

'Maddie and the King of Paradise’ is the third and final book in the ‘Maddie Trinco’ trilogy which began with ‘The Arbutus’. You can check out the book and my other efforts on my web page. 

I’d love you to buy my books and if you do, I sincerely hope you enjoy them.

My web page? : billeastauthor.com

Happy reading!

Bill East