Into the heart of the story


Author Mark Greenwood with Year 11 students.

The school year ended in spectacular fashion for Year 11 Literature and EALD students with a presentation by Fremantle author Mark Greenwood.

The students were introduced to Mark’s work in term three when Natalya Hawrylak from The Literature Centre deconstructed the book Ned Kelly and the Green Sash in a workshop on campus. Lots of ideas and experiences sprang from the workshop culminating in Mark offering to visit the campus.

It was a fantastic presentation and the students listened to every word. There wasn’t a dry eye when Mark told the story of Simpson’s donkey being left behind at Anzac Cove. The students were very positive and, without exception, they enjoyed the session in which answers were provided and questions raised.

Here’s an overview of the comments made by the students following the presentation:

“Amazing storyteller. There were so many cliff-hangers in the stories he told. What was in the OXO cube box? Was it Ned Kelly’s finger?”

“I was impressed by the way he travels to the places he writes about like Gallipoli and Glenrowan (for Simpson and his Donkey and Ned Kelly and the Green Sash).”

“I will remember the story of the Duffy the donkey who, with Simpson, helped to rescue hundreds of wounded Anzacs.”

“Mark took risks and put himself in danger to research his novels. For example for Jandamarra – he actually jumped in a hole in a cave that took him deep beneath the ground. What was at the bottom of the cave?”

“His characters have authenticity because he gets ahead of the character by immersing himself in their world. For example the way he wore a suit of armour, like Ned Kelly’s, and walked around his house so he could listen to the sounds of his breathing inside the armour. This helped him to understand what Ned Kelly went through.”

“Mark is personally invested in each of his stories. He has strong views about controversial topics like inequality and discrimination.”

“His books are raw – it’s like you’re really there when you read them. He talked about finding the heartbeart of a story. Boomerang and Bat is a story about the first Australian international sporting team which was made up of Aboriginal cricketers. On one level the story is about the cricketers and how they came to travel to England to play. On another level, the heartbeat, it’s a story about racism.”

“He was very respectful to the elders in the Kimberley who helped him with Jandamarra; he made sure that he respected their story about Jandamarra. Because the elders trusted him, he has now written a story for everyone that shows how the Aboriginal people see the story.”

The level of Mark Greenwood’s research is astounding.

We are grateful to Mark for generously sharing his stories with us. They made a big impact on everyone in the audience.

And he left us pondering again the question raised all those weeks ago by Natalya: Ned Kelly hero or villain?

Mark Greenwood’s books include…

Ned Kelly and the Green Sash illustrated by Frane Lessac. Walker Books

Jandamarra illustrated by Terry Denton. Allen & Unwin

Boomerang and Bat illustrated by Terry Denton. Allen & Unwin

Simpson and his Donkey illustrated by Frane Lessac. Walker Books