When you write speculative fiction, everything comes down to worldbuilding, which is the fancy word writers use to describe the ability to make the fantastic elements of a story consistent and believable. For the Books of the Wyrd (Liesmith, Stormbringer), I used to think this meant focusing on things like the authenticity of the Norse elements, and the mechanics of the Wyrd and Wyrdborn. As someone who’s consumed fantasy media ever since she was a little girl, this was something I figured I could handle.
And then I decided to set my story in Australia.
I mean, it made sense; I’m Australian, so why wouldn’t I? The problem? I sold Liesmith and Stormbringer to a U.S. publisher, who published it to a U.S. audience. Suddenly, I was coming up against questions about an entirely different set of worldbuilding, one I hadn’t prepared for.
This is the “worldbuilding” of Australia-as-setting. And, let me tell you; getting over with Viking gods and magic? Easy. Getting over with an Australian setting that defies the stereotype of rugged white manly men doing rugged white manly men things in some nebulously hostile Outback? Much, much harder.
So let’s have a quick look at that stereotype. Because as much as Australians love messing with foreigners’ perceptions of our country, I really think it’s time to clear a few things up…