Victorian women you need to know: Nova Weetman
Nova Weetman is an author of many middle-grade and young adult novels, and one of the women behind the #AuthorsForFireys movement that raised more than $500,000 for fire services.
To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day.
Nova Weetman is the award-nominated author of many middle-grade and young adult novels, and was one of the writers responsible for the #AuthorsForFireys Twitter movement that took off in the midst of the 2020 bushfires, raising over $500,000. She lives in Melbourne with her family.
Q: This year we’re focusing on women achieving equal futures in a COVID-19 world. Do you think the past year has helped or hindered our work towards gender equality? If yes/no – why?
A: "I think the past year has shone a light on gender inequality because wage parity has become a very contested topic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More alarming however is what we are currently watching unravel in federal parliament. The allegations of sexual abuse have been far-reaching and really amplified the issue of gender inequality. We have a very male-dominated coalition government who are largely incapable of recognising their role in perpetuating the current power imbalances.
Equal futures depend on a shared power base, and that just isn’t happening in the corridors of Canberra. I would like to be optimistic about change and the future, but we need to see examples of strong leadership that acknowledge privilege, and fight for inclusivity and equality across all genders."
Q: Who are the women in your community or circle that inspire you?
A: "The past year has been particularly challenging for me. My partner died of cancer at home in September 2020, during Melbourne’s Covid lockdown. Lockdown meant that we were limited in terms of who could visit our house and who could help with my partner’s care.
We were lucky enough to have weekly visits from palliative care nurses who helped me to make Aidan more comfortable. These women were remarkable. Pragmatic, kind, and fearless in their approach to illness and death. They normalised what we were coping with and in many ways made my experience as a carer an easier one.
I am also inspired by the many women who supported my family last year. Our community is strong and considerate. Our friends delivered meals, dropped off presents for the kids, swept in and cleaned the house, even arranged to wash the windows so that Aidan’s view from his bed would be more pleasant.
My community is everything and without it, I would have gone under."
Q: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. In your own life, how are you challenging the status quo, calling out gender bias and inequality?
A: "I think it is very important that as a white woman of privilege, I do not try and speak for everyone. Inequality is rife. And it’s important that we all acknowledge our part in this.
That said, in my work, I write about young women who are in control of their choices, their bodies, their agency. I want to write stories that explore inequality and disparity, but also offer examples of how young women can make a change."
Q: Can you tell us about an empowering moment or achievement you had recently?
A: "At the beginning of 2020, before the COVID-19 crisis hit, we faced some of the worst bushfires this country has ever seen. In response, writer Emily Gale and I organised a fundraising event on Twitter, called #AuthorsForFireys, to raise money for the fire services across the country.
We started the auction because we both wanted to do something practical, and it very quickly grew far beyond our expectations. We watched, delighted as hundreds of local and international authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, booksellers, and bookish folk offered up all sorts of inventive and personal items for auction.
The auction exploded on Twitter, and the industry came together as one big community. We raised over half a million dollars and shared each other’s sadness as we watched Australia burn. It was a remarkable event and one that really demonstrated the full capacity of the arts to rally, to care, and to give."
Q: In your career and life, how has connecting with other like-minded women helped or shaped you?
A: "Being a writer can be lonely. You don’t leave the house very often and sometimes the most daily conversation you have is with your characters.
Finding friendships with other writers has been really critical to maintaining my career. Sharing bad reviews, celebrating good ones, and having friends to flesh out my ideas with is crucial.
Similarly, in my personal life, particularly when Aidan was very unwell, having my close friends around who would just answer the phone and let me cry or rant, was really important. I think I have been greatly shaped by the connections I’ve made."
Nova Weetman has written for TV, and is the author of many middle-grade and young adult novels. The Secrets We Keep was shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book Prize, the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards and the ABIA Awards.
The sequel, The Secrets We Share, was a 2018 CBCA Notable Book. Nova’s middle-grade novel Sick Bay was a CBCA Notable Book and shortlisted for the ABIA Awards.
More from this series
- Victorian women you need to know: Melissa Griffiths
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- Victorian women you need to know: Winitha Bonney
Get to know thought leader Winitha Bonney.
- Victorian women you need to know: Evelyn Araluen
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