Doorways to Intellectual Property In Authors' Minds

by Hazel Edwards

Books are doorways to authors' minds. But which book and which mind? Choosing a book can be seen as deciding on the doorway to the particular author's mind you choose to enter. Think of the author's imaginary world as equivalent to a house. Some authors open many doors for their readers, and occasionally secret ones or even ones which the author had not intended.

Using the past as a way of evaluating the present or trying to see your life in perspective would be a reason for readers choosing historical fiction or even biography. Electronically orientated readers will think in terms of a doorway being a portal to global information and consider ebooks or Internet links.

A doorway can be locked, or obstructed by guards or you may need a special key or password to gain entry. That "key" could be a teacher or a librarian or a fellow reader. If you are the guard to the doorway, you may decide whether to allow other people to enter through your doorway into that book.
Maybe the writing is a little too personally revealing and is thinly disguised autobiography masquerading as fiction? Or maybe it is badly written? If so, maybe the readers need to step over, experience and judge for themselves?

What about a revolving doorway where the author forces you to examine your own life in a new way and perhaps begin to write yourself? You may wish to hypothesize about the future and then science fantasy or an eco-thriller is a possible doorway. Vicarious experience of becoming a different gender or age is another possibility if you step through the doorway into a house where the character differs greatly from you. Fantasy such as Hand Me Down Hippo or There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake requires you to accept the house-logic once you enter the imaginary world of that book.

Fascinating to consider how many "navigational" terms are used with finding your way around the world of ideas. Pathways. Doors. Highways. Direction. G.P.S. Routes. Mindmapping.

As an author, I navigate via the plot and the strength of the character's motivations. Why does s/he want to go there? How is s/he going to get there? What obstacles will be in the way? What will be an emotionally satisfying conclusion? Are the factual details of the setting accurate?

As an author who has written about Antarctica in both fact and fiction, I would see those books as offering readers a doorway into physically and ethically challenging settings. While Antarctic Writer on Ice documents an author beset in polar ice and provides entry to expeditioners' work styles via interview and description, the YA novel Antarctica's Frozen Chosen (Lothian) poses mutiny, challenges stereotypes of "terrorists" and ask how far you would go for a friend? The plot crosses the portal into political and bio chaos. Ethical decisions must be made. This is a different kind of house of bio fiction where the reader must be involved.

Using the past as a way of evaluating the present or trying to see your life in perspective would be a reason for choosing to read (or see the televised version) of Fake ID (Lothian). On the day of her Gran's funeral, 15 year-old Zoe discovers her grandmother has held fake ID for years. A cyber family history research eventuates because Zoe needs to know who she is. Via sites like the Dead Persons Society (a family history group), Zoe tracks her past and the reader is taken through that Internet doorway into genetic bypaths.

Another ethical dilemma arises for Sam, in Duty Free (Lothian) who accompanies her scientist-pacifist mother to China. Should Sam smuggle out a secret formula? Should her mother even ask her to do so? Reading about a character who is forced to take responsibility for her own actions, enables the reader to step through the doorway from childhood to adulthood.

In Stalker (Lothian) the reader is taken across the doorway into the community radio studio where grave yard shift presenter Lily is being celeb stalked. Radio details are accurate but the novel also explores the viewpoint of a stalker, firsthand and offers entrée to other minds. Front doors and back doors exist to the author's house. Visitors come in the front door. Friends and neighbours may return via the back door. And as in real life, once you've explored them, there are some houses in which you prefer to live for longer periods. As an author, I like the idea of readers entering my book-house via the doorway to inspect my stories, but I reserve the right to organise my own intellectual property.

Hazel Edwards**Hazel Edwards is the Melbourne-based author of 150 books for adults and children including the classic, There's a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake. Antarctic Writer on Ice is in its fourth reprint, and is available on audio and in Braille, a YA eco-thriller Antarctica's Frozen Chosen (Lothian 2003) and an Antarctic play in Right or Wrong (Phoenix Education) are some of the writing based on her Antarctic Division polar resupply Voyage 5 to Casey Station in 2001. Her most recent releases are Hand Me Down Hippo (Penguin, 2004), illustrated by Mini Goss and My Dad's Gone to Antarctica(Lothian, 2004). You can visit her website at Married with two adult children, Hazel's hobbies are swimming, belly dancing and asking questions.

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