My New Mascot
Every sports team has a mascot to cheer them on, but to my knowledge, no writer has ever had a mascot to barrack for them. Yet there we are, tucked away alone in our garrets with a goal to reach and the need of encouragement to get there. With this in mind, I decided to commission my neighbour, 12 year-old budding artist, Montana, to draw a mascot for me. I explained to her about my current project and we took it from there.
The brief: I’m presently working on an historical novel called Blackbird. It’s a story set in the 1880’s about a boy called Narua whose brother is blackbirded (kidnapped) from his home in the South Sea Islands and forced to work in the sugarcane fields of Queensland. Determined to find his brother and bring him home, Narua signs up to go to Australia on a recruitment ship, and so begins his search.
Montana decided to draw a blackbird with wings of fire, recalling the idea of a phoenix that appears to have died but is actually in the process of being reborn. This creative idea perfectly captured how the South Sea Islanders have suffered and yet their legacy survives in the contribution they’ve made to Queensland’s booming economy, and in their descendants, many of whom live in Queensland to this day. The fiery wings also tie in with the way the sugarcane fields were set on fire in order to make the cane easier to harvest.
As for the ball and chain, Montana used this symbol of slavery to show that while many islanders came to Australia voluntarily, an estimated 5000 were tricked, coerced or kidnapped. The practice finally came to an end which is why the chain in the picture is broken in two.
My new mascot is now up on my wall beside my writing desk. It’s a fabulous picture and a daily encouragement for me to keep going with my novel.