Anita Heiss (Photo: Amanda James)

Anita Heiss (Photo: Amanda James)

Anita Heiss is a powerhouse in Australian literature, and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales. She has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, and her autobiography Am I Black Enough For You was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards. If you follow Anita via Facebook or Twitter you’ll know that she is also extremely busy at festivals, in schools, as an Indigenous Literacy Ambassador, and so much more that you might wonder how she finds the time to write, let alone sleep! Therefore, I’m delighted that she has popped by to answer my questions about her new novel, Tiddas

Congratulations on your latest release, Anita, and welcome to my site. Could you tell us what inspired you to write TIDDAS?

Two things inspired me to write Tiddas – one was my desire to acknowledge the strengths, challenges and value of life-long friendships, and how we grow and change over time as individuals, but also within our circle of friends. I wanted to pay tribute to the role my tiddas have played in my life over time, and how they continue to enrich my life everyday. The best way to do this was by writing about a group of friends who support each other, love each other unconditionally, and even though they can disagree on many things, their shared values will nearly always keep them tight.

Secondly, I wanted to write about a place that brings me an unusual sense of peace, and that’s Brisbane. I had already written novels set in Sydney (Not Meeting Mr Right), Melbourne (Avoiding Mr Right) and Canberra (Manhattan Dreaming & Paris Dreaming), but Brisbane is my home-away-from-home. I was inspired to showcase all that I love about the city-with-the-country-style heart and hospitality. And I hope my readers fall in love with Bris-Vegas too.

 TiddasWhat did you enjoy most about writing the novel?

This was the first novel where there were five characters that all had equal importance to the story. It was five women’s lives I wanted to follow – their own personal journeys as well as their collective journey. And so, I really enjoyed getting into the heads, hearts and quirkiness of each of the women. As a method writer I loved having to go through their daily routines and emotional highs and lows. I cried writing some scenes, I laughed writing others (don’t want to give anything away here). I also really enjoyed the research process: catching the ferry from West End to Southbank, wining and dining in various cafes and restaurants, sitting at the general store in Brookfield, running along the river front like my characters Ellen and Izzy do.

Now that TIDDAS is about to hit the shelves, what are you planning to write next?

Good question. As I write these answers I am about to start penning a short story about love. I am nervous because I am known for my verbosity and I find it easier to write 10,000 words than 3,000 when it’s fiction. It will be a challenge. Aside from that I don’t really have a plan for another book right now, and I think as this is my fifth novel in seven years, I should probably give my brain a break. An idea will present itself soon enough and the process of researching and writing will start all over again.

Tell us one of the things you love about being a writer?

Being able to create the world that I wished we lived in.

When you hit a roadblock in your writing, how do you get going again?

This is a common question but the truth is that because I am a plotter – I map out the entire novel chapter by chapter – a roadblock doesn’t really bother me that much. Because I know what will happen in the novel before I sit down to start writing in full – I know what happens next chapter and even at the end – then if I get stuck on something, I just move onto the next chapter and write, going back to the problem scene later. I can’t remember really having writer’s block in recent years. Having said that, I may write a lot of text that eventually gets deleted, but I am a huge advocate of plotting to solve the potential problem of ‘road blocks’. Of course, when that fails, I reach for the chocolate.

What else are you feeling passionate about at the moment?

I’m feeling passionate about the ongoing denial of human rights for Aboriginal people living under the NT Intervention / Stronger Futures legislation ( I cannot believe more Australians aren’t angry about it.

You’ve travelled a lot – tell us about one of your favourite places.

I’ve often commented that Manhattan was my all time favourite holiday destination for it’s soul and excitement, but I’ve just returned from my sixth visit to Barcelona, and it really is a place I feel I could live in. I stay in El Born which is walking distance to the port, the Picasso Museum, Parc de la Ciutadella (Citadel Park), the zoo, fantastic restaurants and bars. The local Catalan people are friendly, the food is always memorable, the vibe relaxed and cultured. I do believe Barcelona is the new Paris for it’s romantic aura and style.

I love book recommendations. Tell me about one book you’ve loved in the last year?

I highly recommend Melissa Lucashenko’s Mullumbimby – it’s got everything: romance, history, family dramas, Aboriginal culture and politics, and she’s very funny!

And what are you looking forward to reading this year?

2014 is my ‘catching up on reading year’ as I’m not working on a major project, and flying a lot means I can read on planes and at airports. So I am looking forward to reading lots of titles including the ones by my bed right now: Toni Morrison (Home), Julie Wark (The Human Rights Manifesto), Georgia Blain (Darkwater), Lisa Walker (Liar Bird), Stephanie Dowrick (Everyday Kindness), Us Mob Writing (By Close of Business). My writing tidda Lisa Heidke is releasing two novels, Tennis and Friday’s Fortunate Life, in coming months and she hasn’t let me even look at drafts of those, so I’m psyched to read them. I’m also looking forward to reading Ellen van Neerven’s collection of short stories (September, UQP).

Finally, where can people go to find out more about you and your books?

There are no really mysteries about me, and you can see more at I’m also on Twitter and Facebook .

Thanks so much, Anita!

NOW IT’S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY! Every month I offer my newsletter subscribers the chance to win books, and this month you can win a copy of Tiddas!  Since Tiddas is all about friendship, all you have to do to enter is to give a shout-out to one of your friends and tell us why they are great in the comments below. The winner will be drawn at random after the competition closes at midnight WST on 1 April. And don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter here, if you haven’t already. Good luck!col-md-2

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March 1, 2014 12:04 pm

I’d like to give a shout-out to my dear friend Michelle. We’ve been friends for over a decade, and in that time worked together in a variety of different contexts, lived on the same property, lived thousands of kilometres apart, and even played pirates on a tall ship! I am a logical aunty to her 7 year old son. Michelle’s motto is ‘just did it’ and her passion, drive, warmth and capability continue to inspire and amaze me.

March 1, 2014 5:40 pm

I would like to give a shoot – out to my friend Nastaran I know her for 22 years , she is the one I go to straight away
If I got any problem or need advise or whatever she is everything somebody needed as a friend and I feel so lucky
To have her as a friend.

Tracy Boulter
Tracy Boulter
March 1, 2014 7:27 pm

I’ve given a shout out to my friend Ash McMorrow, she shares my love of reading but most of all she makes me laugh. I need different friends but have been lucky enough to find those treasures in my friendships who deserve a Nobel Prize for humour, yet strong women who have handled diversity and overcame great challenges.

Michelle Connors
Michelle Connors
March 2, 2014 2:49 pm

I want to give a shout out to my Hornbags – Deb, Simone and Jo. They are my go-to girls in times of sadness, happiness. We don’t live in each other pockets but when we are together hilarity is never too far away. We are spread out through Melbourne and Launceston with our next HWA (Hornbags Weekend Away) is planned for June long weekend in Daylesford. Bring it on! I can’t wait to spend time with them!

Mary Preston
Mary Preston
March 2, 2014 4:29 pm

My best friend is my sister. We moved around a lot when we were children, but she was always there & is still.

Amanda Barrett
Amanda Barrett
March 3, 2014 7:40 am

I would love to give a shout out to my best friend Becky. We have been best friends since high school, she was there for me – to get me through the tough years of high school (and help fight off the bullies!). Although she lives in the UK and I in Australia, so for the last 14 years we have lived on the other side of the world to each other, I know we are always there for each other no matter what.

March 3, 2014 10:45 am

Like to thank my mom for her support

March 3, 2014 7:28 pm

Comment friends are special friend puts up with me a hard job as I am contrary at times..I am female so can be moody..t the end of te day tgeir love for me is unconditional…and grounding…so a very important addition to my life.

Ross H
March 4, 2014 4:39 pm

Big shout out to my inspirational best friend, Lisa. A proud Murri, as well as being my best friend, Lisa has opened my eyes to a whole new world that in my comfortable ignorance I had never even realised existed.

March 4, 2014 5:18 pm

This is for you Sas my bestie for the past 45 years! We first sat together in Kindergarten. Our life journeys have often gone on different paths but we always end up back together laughing crying burping laughing!!!Love you and look forward to the next 45 xx

March 5, 2014 5:41 pm

I wanna give a shout out to my Tidda Varsha many a time we have yarned all night and we’ve had lots of adventures in London east Africa India Australia and much more! We laugh and connect even though I now live back home here in Sydney and she’s in London we can pick up the phone and just tune into each others lives as if yesterday even though I’ve been home for over a decade now! She gets my craziness, my fun, and all about me and vice a versa! She’s courageous warm hearted and fun and we get… Read more »

Karen Stalker
Karen Stalker
March 6, 2014 7:05 pm

I’d love to give a shout out to my great friend Shelley. No matter how busy our lives get, she’s always there for a cuppa and chat whenever I am in need of a friendly ear.

Toni McPherson
Toni McPherson
April 1, 2014 7:13 am

I would like to give a big shout out to my Tiddah Karen Fusi. Karen is my friend and inspiration.

Arabella Douglas
Arabella Douglas
April 1, 2014 7:19 am

I would like to give a huge tidda-sista shout out to my cousin, sister, mother, confidant, and soul sister Rowena Backler. Together we have taken our family on a trip of recovery, educational pursuits, and financial stability…growing up poor, Black and loved but also surrounded by some of hardest elements that can exist in a damaged oppressed family. We have transformed our family into a motley crew who enjoy the security of family, and who value and exercise educational support, finically literacy and function together in a healthier way. Rowena is my anchor to the energy of life and a… Read more »

Sheryl Gwyther
April 1, 2014 7:24 am

I want to give a shout out to my friend, Tania McCartney. She’s an author and illustrator from Canberra, and it doesn’t matter that we’re so far apart geographically – I know I can talk to her in seconds via the internet and pick up where we left last time. And at least once a year we get together in the same city. Wow, life really hum then! She’s filled with energy and passion for so many things. She’s brilliant, supportive, encouraging, creative and so in tune with the way I think and feel, we could answer each others questions… Read more »

Colleen Goth
Colleen Goth
April 1, 2014 7:41 am

I would love to say Bonjour to my friend Andre. We met twenty years ago when I arrived in Ottawa ,Canada, a naive young woman who had carelessly offered up her heart to be broken back in Australia. I was launching out in my new career in a strange city where the most interesting people spoke French and I didn’t . Andre adopted me as a special friend even though I had no French. He was then and still is the most handsome man I know and he still supports me from afar on email. He still tells me I… Read more »

Colleen Goth
Colleen Goth
April 1, 2014 7:51 am

My TIDDAS is my friend Yolande . We managed to with together and still emerge friends despite the politics of the work environment . I can tell her about my failures and fears and I listen to hers – between us we have enough material to fill three books – but readers would complain that the stories are unbelievable ! We can drink too much wine whilst detailing our latest love affairs gone awry and the problems of dealing with elderly fathers who still think they are the power brokers in their daughters lives ! She accepts my inability to… Read more »