Here at Rural Room we love to promote creative ideas and innovation in the bush. Nothing makes us happier than witnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of our Rural Roomies, such as Kara Lauder- author and business woman. Kara wrote the children’s book Monty C. Turtle Learns To Swim and she runs Kadar Boot Company – an Australian owned western boot company. We asked Kara about her life as an author in the sticks…
What inspired you to write a children’s book?
I have always written stories, and had a creative mind. I loved my job as an Environmental Monitoring Officer and I think it’s wonderful how many children of today have such an interest in the environment. I feel a great way to teach them a little about different creatures in the environment is through story telling. Part of my job as an enviro was taking part in Flatback Sea turtle research out in the Dampier Archipelego’s. There was so much inspiration in this part of my job so stories just flowed very easily.
What was the most challenging aspect about bringing the book to life?
Finding the right illustrator is a huge part of making your book come to life. Our illustrator, Sunshine Herbert, and I had been childhood friends. We discussed the book and I could picture in my head exactly how I wanted each page to look, I wrote my notes next to each line in the story and Sunshine brought the images to life in the first try! She really is amazing.
You live in the Pilbara and wrote this book while living remotely. What was that experience like?
I think this is actually a benefit to writers, being away from the hustle and bustle and just being able to focus on the story. Dr Mick and I sat down and wrote Monty C. Turtle in about 10 minutes as we were in the environment our characters were in at the time.
Please outline the synopsis of Monty C. Turtle Learns To Swim-
Monty C. Turtle was inspired by a real life flatback sea turtle hatchling that Dr Mick and I met on Delambre Island in Western Australia. The hatchling (we just decided he was a he) was all on his own coming out of an empty nest, he was the last of his brothers and sisters to leave the nest. We sat there and watched him make his way to the ocean. He looked a bit worse for wear, like he wasn’t quite ready to swim yet. We thought it would be great (in a storybook world) if he met different sea creatures on his way to the ocean and they tried to teach him how to swim. However, they showed Monty how THEY swim in the ocean, not how a turtle does. Thus, teaching children how different creatures move in the sea.
What has been most rewarding about writing this book?
The most rewarding thing to hear is when parents and their children have googled what a sand dollar (a character in our book) is and learned a bit about the environment in the process. It is the reason we put one lesser known creature in all our books.
You have an environmental background and co-wrote this book with renowned turtle expert Dr Mick Guinea, of Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods. Explain how this partnership developed?
Dr Mick Guinea was one of our team members on the Flatback sea turtle project was. He is a marine research scientist who we dubbed “the turtle whisperer”. He has written dozens of scientific journals but had always dreamed of writing a children’s book. So, we made it happen and wrote several together. The first of which, is Monty C. Turtle Learns To Swim.
You also have a business creating boots. Tell us about this and why you were inspired to delve into this world?
My boot company is called Kader Boot Co. It is still a creative industry, fashion designing. One might seem very different to the other but it still takes a creative mind to come up with unique designs as it does to write books. I love writing and designing and it is great to be able to do both of these things.
What do you love about living remotely?
I grew up in a very small town in Victoria, a lot smaller than Paraburdoo (where I’m currently living), but it was less remote. I am use to small town living and I definitely prefer it over city living. I don’t feel I would be as inspired in a city environment, and certainly not as happy. I’m a country girl through and through. The sense of community in small towns is certainly a draw card to living in one.
Describe regional Australia in a word.
Describe regional Australia as a smell.
What is your favourite activity to do in your downtime?
Spending time with my family.
The book my late grandmother (who we lovingly called Nana Pixie) wrote for my brother, sister and I when we were children. It’s called Pixie Adventures and I’d love to get it published one day
Who inspires you?
My grandmother inspired me to write stories, she was a great story writer, my great grandmother and great great grandfather had their books published in New Zealand many moons ago. Writing is in the family.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
To surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
Worst advice you’ve ever been given?
I think I have learned to filter out bad advice over the years, you will receive a lot of it if you’re on an entrepreneurial journey as I am with my boot business, the only people I pay attention to are those running successful businesses they built themselves. Take everything else with a grain of salt.
What advice would you give to emerging creatives and entrepreneurs living remotely?
Use living remotely to your advantage and take inspiration from what is around you. Enjoy the freedom, peace and quiet and tranquility of living where you are and remember that people pay to go on holidays to be remote! Whereas we get to be there every day.
In your opinion, if you could advocate one thing to improve the conditions for people living remotely what would that be?
If there was a magic genie that would grant a wish for people living remotely in the Pilbara to have improved conditions, I think the general consensus would be to lower flight prices. To fly to anywhere outside of the Pilbara can cost the same as an international flight from any of the major cities.
Where can Rural Roomies go to find a copy of Monty C. Turtle Learns to Swim?
Our book is available online at http://www.montycturtle.com/ we also have a list of stockists there too.