To mark International Women’s Day, the Port Lincoln Library exhibited local female authors to celebrate their contribution to literature and to coincide with this year’s theme #BreakTheBias.

Three local female authors have broken the barriers of literature by getting their own work published in an industry that was once dominated by male authors and characters.

Just a century ago, it was common for Australian women to have male pseudonyms in an effort to increase their chances of selling their books.

For some women, their way of writing and thinking was not what society once considered feminine.

Aileen Pluker, 91, never imagined she would become an author, a typically male role when she was younger.

“Those who wrote, there were only certain genres they were able to write in; those kind of nice little romantic stories, and they always had to have a happy ending.”

It wasn’t until Mrs. Pluker retired that she put pen to paper to write novels.

Ms. Pluker began writing in retirement.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Bernadette Clarke)

She now calls herself an “accidental author” with seven books published.

Ms Pluker joined the Eyre Writers group in 1991, which encouraged her to take her potential more seriously.

Her books have strong female leads. Her best-known book, Margaret Catchpole, is based on a real convict who came to Australia in 1810.

“I’ve read some of the things she wrote, but she’s someone who through all sorts of adversity has kept her integrity and that’s why I admired her so much,” he said. she declared.

Ms Pluker moved to Port Lincoln in 1968. In her 50 years in the area, she said she has seen stereotypes slowly disappear about what women are capable of.

“We were definitely holding the other half of the globe, and we never got any recognition for that. I really, really admire 18th century women, but more of those 19th century suffragettes that kind of thing, they have made things easier for us.”

Female Protagonist Champion

Helen Van Rooijen, 77, is also a local author and she is passionate about mystery. His book series is called Rendezvous.

She said the portrayal of strong women in literature was important to reflect today’s world, referring to her latest forthcoming book.

“We are half the company. The girl here, she has earned her position, something is wrong with her and she has to defend herself and she does.”

Helene Van Rooijen
Ms. Van Rooijen’s latest book is expected to be published in May.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Bernadette Clarke)

She described her first three books as a bit “racy” and said she was proud to live in a time when she could publish books under her own name without any problems.

“It’s a different world. It’s good to see the genders mixing a lot more. My theme song has always been ‘I Am Woman,'” she said.

Ms Rooijen’s book about a policewoman who lost her leg on duty will be published in May.

“She’s fighting to stay there and she’s using the union and everything, and she’s able to stay in the force and, on top of that, work as a detective. But she’s not, that’s the best thing.”

Two books on display, one named "Open the way".
The Port Lincoln Library exhibit celebrates female authors.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Bernadette Clarke)

Ms Rooijen has lived in Port Lincoln for 30 years and said gender equality in the region is “coming slowly”, as seen in elections with more women than men as candidates.

“But the male attitudes are still there, and we have to fight them. It has to be led by women of all ages,” Ms Rooijen said.

There are approximately 35 published or self-published female authors in the Port Lincoln area, which the Eyre Writers Group is extremely proud of.

“We often tell the story of a country, not just the city. If you watch morning TV, it’s all Sydney… but there are all these other places,” she said.

Author Diane Hester holding two of her books in front of a white flowering tree.
Diane Hester has published work with HarperCollins.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Bernadette Clarke)

Diane Hester, president of Eyre Writers, said the group has been of tremendous help to writers in the region.

It took Ms. Hester 11 years to publish her first book.

Although she isn’t sure if her gender played a role in the long run, she said that “women’s books still aren’t reviewed as much as men’s.”

Ms Hester joined the organization Sisters in Crime to promote female authors of crime, suspense and thrillers.

“I love capturing that turning point where you start with a female character who has a lot of knocks against her, who might not be the strongest person and through the events of the story, she ends up becoming a strong character.”