#TasmanianLitMonth: Featured Writers – Heather Rose

Written by guest curator, Bec Taylor

I’m not often left without words.

Heather Rose’s “Bruny” left me not only speechless but also unable to continue reading for stretches of time. As a Tasmanian expat whose last 16 years have been spent living in China, Heather’s masterpiece of a novel affected me deeply. I am still haunted by it years later.

It is with great pleasure that I am able to spotlight some of her writing for Tasmanian Literature Month.

Photo credit: Peter Mathew

About Heather

Heather Rose is an award winning and best selling Australian author, public speaker and teacher of creativity and imagination. Heather’s work spans literary fiction, magical realism, crime fiction, political fiction, fantasy and memoir. Her writing has been published internationally and translated into numerous languages. Heather is a passionate teacher of writing and a mentor for developing novelists. She is also one half of the children’s author Angelica Banks. Heather’s latest book is a memoir – Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here. Heather lives between mountain and sea on one of the islands surrounding Tasmania.

The River Wife

“The River Wife” (2009) is a beautifully written and immersive work of fiction that blends elements of magical realism, family drama, and historical fiction. Heather’s prose is lyrical and atmospheric, making the novel a compelling and memorable read.

Book summary, from Heather’s website

The River Wife is an adult fairy tale about rivers, time and the mystery of love. A book that delves into the nature of story itself, language, landscape and the limitations of a human life. Wilson James, a once successful author, arrives at a house deep in the remote central highlands of Tasmania intending to write his next novel. There he meets a woman who mystifies him and all he has held to be true about the world begins to unravel. What would we give up for the person we love?

Heather shared about her Tasmanian identity and influence in this article published by Allen and Unwin.

I am passionately Tasmanian and my family has lived here many generations. I think of this book [The River Wife] as the third in a trilogy of books that dives into the Tasmanian landscape. The first – my first novel White Heart – creates a sweeping view of the island told through the lens of childhood. The second – The Butterfly Man – dives closer into the seasons and landscape of Mt Wellington, the mountain that is the backdrop to Hobart. And this third, The River Wife, is my diving even more deeply into the central highlands, the very heart of Tasmania, and finding there a story, a myth, a fable that is uniquely Tasmanian. Perhaps it is no surprise that is it also a love story.

Publishing info

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released January 1, 2009


ISBN 9781741757422

The Museum of Modern Love

“The Museum of Modern Love” (2016) is a beautifully written and thought-provoking work of fiction that celebrates the power of art to transform and heal. Heather’s prose is evocative and poetic, making the novel a compelling and immersive read. It has been translated into numerous languages across the world and is currently being adapted for both screen and stage.

Book summary, from Heather’s website

Arky Levin, a film composer in New York, has promised his wife that he will not visit her in hospital, where she is suffering in the final stages of a terminal illness. She wants to spare him a burden that would curtail his creativity, but the promise is tearing him apart. One day he finds his way to MOMA and sees Mariana Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

Awards for The Museum of Modern Love

Winner, The Stella Prize, 2017

Winner, Best Designed Literary Fiction Book – Australian Book Design Awards, 2017

Winner, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction – NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, 2017

Winner, Designer’s Choice Cover of the Year – Australian Book Design Awards, 2017

Shortlisted, Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, 2017

Shortlisted, Margaret Scott Prize – Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes, 2017

Shortlisted, Best Fiction – Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, 2017

Publishing info

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released September 1, 2016


ISBN 9781760291860


“Bruny” is a political thriller set on Bruny Island, a small island off the southern coast of Tasmania. It is a gripping and thought-provoking work of fiction that tackles contemporary issues such as political corruption, environmental degradation, and the impact of technology on society. Heather’s prose is sharp and insightful, making the novel a compelling and timely read. “Bruny” is currently being adapted for the screen and I simply cannot wait!

Book summary

The main character, Astrid Coleman, is a UN conflict resolution expert who returns to her hometown of Bruny Island to investigate a bridge construction project that has divided the community. As she delves deeper into the project, she uncovers a web of conspiracy and corruption that threatens to upend her family and the entire island.

The novel also features a variety of complex and well-drawn characters, including Astrid’s estranged family, a local journalist, and a mysterious billionaire who may be pulling the strings behind the bridge project. The descriptions of Bruny Island’s rugged landscape and the tensions between its residents are also a highlight of the novel, with Rose’s writing bringing the setting to life in vivid detail.

Awards for Bruny

Winner, General Fiction Book of the Year, ABIA Awards, 2020

Shortlisted, Best Fiction, Indie Book Awards, 2020

Shortlisted, Adult Fiction Book of the Year, ABA Booksellers’ Choice Awards, 2020

Shortlisted, Best Crime Fiction, Davitt Awards, 2020

Longlisted, Best Designed Commercial Fiction Cover, Australian Book Design Awards, 2020

Longlisted, Nib Literary Award, 2020

Publishing info

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released 01 Oct 2019


ISBN 9781760875169

Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here

Heather’s most recent work is “a luminous, compelling and utterly surprising memoir. Heartbreaking and beautiful, this is a love story brimming with courage and joy against all odds, one that will bring wonder, light and comfort to all who read it.”

Book summary and review from Heather’s website, written by staff at Better Reading

When Rose was twelve, her grandfather and brother drowned. The title, Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here, refers to the place where it happened – a place Rose returns to as an adult, a place she finds peace with. This is a memoir about life, death and everything in-between. It’s achingly beautiful and wise. With each chapter, Rose guides us into her life, revealing herself in a way that is both vulnerable and courageous. From premonitions and psychic insight to drug use and exploration of alternative practices, she embraces the great mystery of life – even her own suffering. And in spite of all the struggles she’s encountered, she turns to the light, embracing gratitude and choosing joy.

Awards for Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here

Shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2023

Publishing info

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released 01 Nov 2022


ISBN 9781761066320

Writing with Danielle Wood as Angelina Banks

You may remember from Danielle Wood’s post earlier in Tasmanian Literature Month, that Heather also writes for children, under the pen name Angelica Banks.

From the pair’s website:

Angelica Banks is not one writer but two. Danielle Wood and Heather Rose are both award-winning authors and they have been friends for years. When they decided to write a book together they chose a pen name to make things easy.

That first book – Finding Serendipity – was the first in what has become the acclaimed Tuesday McGillycuddy  series for primary age readers aged 7 – 12. The sequel to Finding Serendipity is A Week Without Tuesday. Book 3 is Blueberry Pancakes Forever. They star a girl called Tuesday McGillycuddy, a heroine called Vivienne Small, and a dog called Baxterr and they take readers on vivid adventures into the magical world of imagination and writing.

Awards for the Tuesday McGillycuddy series

A Week Without Tuesday and Blueberry Pancakes Forever we both shortlisted for the Australian Aurealis Awards for Best Children’s Novel in 2015 and 2016.

Publishing info

The Tuesday McGillycuddy series is published in Australia by Allen & Unwin, in Germany by Magellan and in the USA by Henry Holt (Macmillan).

About Guest Curator, Bec Taylor

I’m Bec Taylor, the EY3 – Grade 2 cybrarian* at the International School of Beijing, China. I’m a global nomad with Australian roots and a Chinese family home – all my immediate family have lived and worked in Beijing as international school teachers for many, many years.  

Overly enthusiastic about everything especially children’s literature, Australian Rules Football (go Doggies!) and food, glorious food, I am easily bribed with coffee and dark chocolate. I am a passionate advocate of social justice, female financial literacy, and finding ways to tread more lightly on the planet. Alongside the demands of a busy family and professional life, I enjoy cultivating community through volunteer work that focuses on healthy families.

I am the current Chair of the Chinese international schools reading promotion, the Panda Book Awards. Titles chosen for the shortlists of the Panda Book Awards meet selection criteria that focus on social justice, diversity and inclusion by up and coming authors and illustrators from across the world. There is an added spotlight on titles that feature Asian settings, characters or creators. 

Twitter is my favourite professional development space so please come find me there: @becinthelibrary

The educational hills I will die on are:

  • a child’s right to choose what they love to read,
  • there is serious magic in reading aloud,
  • and the belief that schools are happier, more equitable places with better academic outcomes when the properly funded school library is well staffed with qualified, collaborative and passionate professionals.

*a fancy name that formalises and acknowledges the incredible work teacher librarians do each day to find authentic ways to integrate and explore educational technology in order to capture, expand, and enhance student learning.

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