Heather Rose: The power of imagination
For award winning writer Heather Rose, Tasmania is where her heart belongs and her source of inspiration.
Author Heather Rose left Tasmania at age 19 to see the world. Over the next two years she travelled through Asia and Europe, planted trees, ran a youth hostel, picked grapes and olives, and became a companion to a concert pianist. She also spent four years travelling 20 000 miles through the mid-west of America. Later she settled in Melbourne, but it was Tasmania that lured this sixth-generation local home again. It is here that her career as an author began. It now spans seven novels.
Heather wanted to be a writer before she could read. ”Writing has always been a passion. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write,” she says.
It was a poem she wrote at six years old that led her father to say that one day she’d be a great writer. The avid reader spent years comparing what she felt were her own inadequate words with those of the great writers – sensing a canyon so grand she would never bridge the gap. Hitting her thirties, she chose to stop worrying about this and instead to see writing as a craft that you keep working at. So it turns out Dad was right.
These days Heather writes for adults and children, and her books have received awards across literary fiction, crime fiction, fantasy and children’s literature.
Her mesmerising novel The Museum of Modern Love, is inspired by the life and work of Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic, who Heather discovered in 2005 via a photograph at the National Gallery of Victoria. Some 70 drafts, 11 years and numerous rejections later the book was published. Her novel won The Stella Prize 2017 for best book (fiction or non-fiction) written by an Australian woman. It also won the Christina Stead Prize and the Margaret Scott Prize. It was shortlisted for the Australian Literary Society Medal and the Queensland Premier’s Prize. It is currently longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award and will be published internationally this year.
For Heather, every book feels like starting anew as a writer. “There’s no doubt I’ve become more comfortable as a writer. I’m a copywriter by trade. I spent a decade in advertising in Melbourne and then when I returned to Tasmania, I co-founded an advertising agency here.”
In 2004 she won the Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year and in 2008 was appointed Chairman of the Festival of Voices event. Heather built the festival from humble beginnings into the major annual festival it is today, and in the process proved that Tasmania could attract visitors in winter.
She has also received two national Australian Business Arts Foundation Awards for her contribution to the arts. Dark Mofo and other winter festivals have followed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Her next novel, like her first three novels White Heart, The Butterfly Man and The River Wife, is a political satire set in Tasmania. “After all those years writing a novel set in New York, it’s good to be back home in my imagination,” she says. Heather also writes for children with award-winning author Danielle Wood under the pen-name Angelica Banks. Their books are published internationally, with new writing scheduled for 2018.
And while her schedule is always busy, life in Tasmania allows Heather the occasional window to tutor in Creative Writing at the University of Tasmania. ‘I love teaching writing. It’s one of my great joys.’
If words are hard to find, Heather walks by the sea where she lives. “My greatest pleasure has been encouraging other people to explore their creativity. I think imagination is one of the most important gifts we are given. And Tasmania inspires me every day.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Heather Rose.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.