AWW Feature & Giveaway: Q & A with Anita Heiss


Dr Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a regular guest at writers’ festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Indigenous literature. She is an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Anita is a role model for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. She is an Adjunct Professor with Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS and currently divides her time between writing, public speaking, MCing, and being a ‘creative disruptor’. Anita was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards. She lives in Sydney.

I am excited to introduce Anita’s new novel, Tiddas, today.

This is a story about what it means to be a friend… Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman carries a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck.

My review of Tiddas can be read HERE.. meanwhile Anita was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for her.  Read on…

Q: What does the title, Tiddas, of your new novel mean, or reference?
Anita: Tiddas is a term of endearment in the Aboriginal community for a female friend, sista or even daughter. It became a household word in Australia during the decade 1990 – 2000 thanks to the all-girl folk band The Tiddas made up of Lou Bennett (Yorta Yorta), Amy Saunders (Gunditjmara) and Sally Dastey (non-Indigenous). Lou Bennett is currently one of the Black Arm Band.
So the term has had national currency for sometime, and it is a word that encompasses everything that is good about and the strength in female relationships, which is something I want to promote in my novel. I call my friends – black and white – tidda. I know of women who call their daughters tidda, or tid for short.

Q: What was the first element of inspiration for the story?

Anita: I was in Mudgee doing an event for Manhattan Dreaming in 2010 and a conversation with a woman there Kerry Barling, inspired to do a story with characters from the town. Then, after travelling to Brisbane quite a bit doing school visits, that city got under my skin and into me head and heart, and I married the two settings, and then came the storyline.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of writing Tiddas?

Anita: It was the first time I had five protagonists in one book. So the challenge was making sure they each had equal coverage, their stories were all told with the same depth and detail and that in some way they all evolved and grew through their individual journeys.

Q: Do you have a favourite character?

Anita: I think I might lean towards Ellen more than the others. She is straight down the line, tries to be funny, is the least needy, and yet we see her vulnerabilities as well. And she’s fit and runs her own business. In fact, I’d like to be a little more like Ellen!

Q: You are one of the few fiction authors who write about the lives of contemporary Koori women, do you feel any pressure to represent them, or their issues, in a particular way?

Anita: I don’t feel any pressure really. I simply write what I know, what I’m interested in, and what I think Australian audiences would benefit from and enjoy reading. I don’t really censor myself, and fiction is also a good place to write all the things Anita Heiss wouldn’t necessarily say herself in the public domain – where there may be more pressure to take a certain line.

Q: How do you hope readers feel on finishing Tiddas?

Anita: I hope they feel they have connected with at least one the characters and that they have been moved emotionally in some way. I hope they are glad they spent some time the five women also and that they recognise the strength and value in their own friendships.

Q: Can you please share three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers?

Anita: Okay, this is so hard so I’ve chosen three I’ve read and loved in the last six months.

Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko
Red Dirt Talking by Jacqueline Wright
Liar Bird by Lisa Walker

Q: What is your preference?
•    Coffee, Tea or other?  Water
•    Beach, Pool or River? Beach
•    Slacks, Jeans or Leggings?  Leggings
•    Butterfly, Tiger or Giraffe? Butterfly
•    Swings, Slide or Roundabout? Roundabout

tiddas comp

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Available to Purchase From

 Simon and Schuster AU I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I AmazonUS

 via Booko



Thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia

I have 1 print edition of


to giveaway

**Open to Australian residents only**

Please leave a comment on this post and then


Entries Close March 16th, 2013

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. womblywoo
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 12:23:25

    I loved Anita’s “My Australian Story” and I have “Manhattan dreaming” on my bookshelf waiting to be read.



  2. Amy
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 16:42:57

    This looks really interesting! And I never knew that fact about Tiddas, that’s really cool!



  3. geckogirlreads
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 18:33:34

    I’m really looking forward to reading Anita’s book – I have two lovely Tidda’s who I call my little sisters and long with them I get to also have two nieces I wouldn’t otherwise have. Special friends like this are hard to find,



  4. Marg
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 19:31:21

    While I have been aware of Anita Heiss for a long time, I still haven’t managed to read her books yet. Maybe this one will be the first.



  5. Trackback: Review & Giveaway: Tiddas by Anita Heiss | book'd out
  6. Nat Haraida
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 22:59:41

    Loving your blog Shelleyrae, you are introducing me to some new aussie authors and Anita Heiss is one of them. Would to read her books.



  7. Tara N
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 16:05:44

    What a wonderful opportunity to savour another quailty Australian author – fingers crossed.



  8. Mary Preston
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 20:44:18

    I must admit that the title had me curious, so glad it was explained.



  9. Holly
    Mar 10, 2014 @ 10:05:49

    Anita’s work is conversation-changing, and her fiction so important to the diversity of the Aussie literary landscape. Irrespective of this competition, may I just say, your blog is a beautiful invitation for readers to think outside their bookshelf boxes, Shelleyrae. I loved this Q&A with Anita and the wonderful introduction to Tiddas.



  10. julie
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 13:42:36

    sounds a good read



  11. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out

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