South Australian Author Jennifer Mills has been busy inspiring local students and writers during her time as the Whyalla Public Library's Writer in Residence this month.
Ms Mills recently published her fourth novel, Dyschronia, which tells the story of an environmental disaster befalling a finctionalised version of the Spencer Gulf.
Her residency is part of the Writers SA Writers and Readers in Residence Project, which sees South Australian writers undertake an artistic residency in regional communities to activate reading and writing in the area.
Since arriving on May 8, Ms Mills has met with six local writers as well as a number of budding young writers at Whyalla High School.
"There's a really active writing community in Whyalla, and they are quite self sufficient so it's been interesting to hear what the needs are here," she said.
"The kids at Whyalla High were really excited to meet a professional writer and ask me lots of questions about the profession.
Living in the Clare Valley, Ms Mills is very aware of the challenges facing regional writers.
"I know what it's like to be away from the major centres, it's much harder to make the connections and form networks from a regional area," she said.
"However I don't think it's harder to get noticed as a writer in regional areas. In some ways there's an advantage because you have a point of difference.
"You're telling stories from a particular place and that matters in Australian writing, that we have stories from everywhere in the country that represent the real Australia.
"I think regional stories are really important...the lack of a bookshop here is much mourned by the locals."
Ms Mills said her visit was a great opportunity to come back and explore the Spencer Gulf after writing about it in Dyschronia.
"It's really interesting to come back and get to know it a little more closely," she said.
"My work is pretty focused on environmental issues and that's something I'm still really interested in writing about."
The Writers and Readers in Residence Project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
If you are interested in writing and would like to have a chat with Jennifer, contact the library on 8645 7891 to check on availability times. Jennifer will be at the library on Ekblom Street at various times until Saturday, May 18.