Writers On Writing / Tracking progress with Rebecca Lim

“We’re still not seeing enough First Nations stories written by our First Nations peoples; we’re still not getting enough Own Voices stories or intersectional stories in Australian published fiction.”

With over twenty books under your belt, what do you think makes a manuscript standout? 

A first line or first chapter that immediately hooks you into the story and leaves you wanting to read on; a singular voice or way of viewing the world; a story idea that reads as if it’s never been done before (even if it has).

You wrote an article for Sydney Morning Herald a couple of years ago about the need for more inclusion within Australian children’s book publishing. Do you think significant progress has been made since?

I think some good progress has been made in terms of Australian children’s fiction written by, and featuring, LGBTIQ+ people and people living with Autism, but not enough in terms of writers who are First Nations, POC and/or living with other disabilities. Depressingly, the vast majority of published children’s fiction is still predominantly written or edited by able-bodied, hetero-normative Caucasian people (with some of their output still marketed as ‘diverse stories’). I know this, because I’ve been involved in a recent project gathering raw data around this for the Australian children’s book market. We’re still not seeing enough First Nations stories written by our First Nations peoples; we’re still not getting enough Own Voices stories (from writers writing from their lived marginalisation) or intersectional stories (from writers who experience more than one type of systemic form of discrimination, such as racism, ableism or sexism) in Australian published fiction. It’s changing, but glacially. The COVID-19 pandemic has also sent the human population backwards, in some ways, in terms of empathy and kindness, inclusion and openness.

What fiction are you currently reading?

Mass market serial killer shockers, non-fiction about the Australian banking industry, Chinese martial arts and science fiction novels that have been translated into English, cook books. You name it, no genre is off limits.


Rebecca Lim is a writer, illustrator and editor and the author of over twenty books, including The Astrologer’s Daughter (A Kirkus Best Book of 2015 and CBCA Notable Book for Older Readers) and the bestselling Mercy. Her work has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, shortlisted multiple times for the Aurealis Awards and Davitt Awards, and longlisted for the Gold Inky Award and the David Gemmell Legend Award. Her novels have been translated into German, French, Turkish, Portuguese, Polish and Russian. She is a co-founder of the Voices from the Intersection initiative and co-editor, with Ambelin Kwaymullina, of Meet Me at the Intersection, a groundbreaking anthology of YA #OwnVoice memoir, poetry and fiction.

Join Rebecca Lim for her online course, Feedback: Manuscript Development, from 6 June to 19 August 2022. This course will be held online. Enrol here >>

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