For many the turbulent history that shaped early Australia has been forgotten. The victorious wrote the history books, and the voices of the vanquished were silenced. The invasion and conquest of the land and the near genocide of the indigenous people were events that rarely receive mention.
**Q & A with Ian Lipke**
What was your motivation for writing this story?
It all began as a short story that friends overseas thought should be turned into a novel. Very little has been written that delves into the vast knowledge of our country which the indigenous aborigines possessed. Certainly no novel before mine tries to tell a story based on their lives as nomads. Their culture goes back 40 000 years but its richness has been sidelined by white Australians.
At what period of time and in what geographical area is this story set. Why there?
The location needed to be a dramatic one that I could exploit for story-telling purposes. I chose the Glasshouse Mountains area of South East Queensland, Australia for that reason and because I lived in the area as a boy.
What made you feel you could write a novel about these people?
Having grown up in the country I have always admired the aboriginal respect for the land and, as a teacher, I realized that all history books and novels are written from a white perspective. When I wrote this book, no white person in my part of Queensland showed the slightest interest in aboriginal culture. I wanted a more inclusive Australia and I wanted to stir up debate.
What response have you had from readers of your book?
Is there any dispute among authorities about the facts of your story?
Yes. Martin Knox alludes to a different interpretation in his review. He says that most authorities believe that the Australian aborigines as a race were a peace-loving people, very different from my warriors. There is some support for my view in academic circles, and in all fairness, Knox brings this support to the fore. However, I maintain in a prominent spot at the front of the book that I set out to tell a story. The needs of the tale-telling would always be what is important.
Why did you select that particular passage from your book for blog readers and other participants to read?
I could have selected a passage that featured a large number of skills at which the aborigines excelled. That would have run the risk of blurring the detail. I chose this particular passage because of its narrow focus on a specific skill, that of tracking. This has always been perceived as a particularly aboriginal skill.
Have you published any other works?
Yes. Back in the 1970s I co-wrote two history textbooks for junior high school students. Since Nargun, I have self-published a crime novel called Lest Evil Prevail, also set on the Sunshine Coast, and I am working on another crime novel at present which is set in Brisbane.
Ian Lipke became a teacher of primary children in 1958, transferring to secondary schools in 1964. He has taught in schools in remote and metropolitan areas of Queensland, Australia. He left school teaching in 1977 to lecture at the University of Queensland and at Queensland University of Technology. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, he was a deputy principal at several high schools, before retiring to manage his own tutoring business. In 2006, he returned to postgraduate studies through research at the University of Queensland. His whole life has been devoted to academic studies, which he very much enjoys.
In addition to his administrative responsibilities he coordinates the ‘words’ section of M/C Reviews, a highly commended online journal that is the brain-child of Dr Axel Bruns of Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. In 2014, he conducted a seminar on the self-publishing industry, an area that he has made his own.