My Place

Erina Redden (Jacqui Henshaw)

Erina Reddan is an author, ex-ABC foreign correspondent and a fourth generation Sunbury local. Her novel The Serpent’s Skin is in stores now. She spoke with Oliver Lees

What is your connection to Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges?

I grew up on a farm between Diggers Rest and Bulla. Our farm was in a very isolated but beautiful spot surrounded by volcanic rock. I find this land to be so ancient and complex. Sunbury really is just so steeped in history, my family came to the area as farmers in the 1850s and there is also deep-rooted Indigenous culture.

How has the area changed since your childhood?

Sunbury has changed immensely since I was a child. There are so many more shops, more people. Now I live in Emu Bottom, which has one of the few remaining platypus sanctuaries in Victoria. Also the first homestead in Victoria is located here, and some incredible wineries.

Why did you decide to move on from journalism and become a fiction writer?

I actually wanted to be a writer before getting into journalism. Being a journalist taught me to be highly analytical. Writing fiction is completely different, you need to have a different mindset and channel the poet within you. I’ve found I enjoy making things up than I did reporting the news.

Can you tell me about your new novel The Serpent’s Skin?

The Serpent’s Skin includes the world I grew up in, but it’s not my story. My world nourishes the story. At its heart The Serpent’s Skin is a love song to the tribe I grew up with, specifically the women. I saw and heard stories of how the community would support each other in times of need. The way the women looked out for each other was phenomenal. The efforts of women in communities such as mine go largely unnoticed, so I really wanted to highlight ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Last week at Collins Bookshop in Sunbury we had over 120 people come to the book launch, which was fantastic. A town is nothing without its bookshop, and so I’m so grateful to be able to support them and vice versa.