A Potted History:
I was born in Orbost, East Gippsland on the Snowy River. My parents, Myrtle and George Rowley, called me June. Apparently my father, who loved to sing and whistle, wanted to call me Jeannie because of a song he liked called Jeannie With the Light-Brown Hair. Anyway, they settled on June and that made me June Rowley (By the way Rowley rhymes with ‘holy moly’). For some reason my father never called me June; he called me Brigitte (or Brigid). I think that was because of an actress he liked called Brigitte Bardot. At primary school my friends called me Peggy because we chose names for ourselves instead of using the names our parents chose for us. These days my full name is June Barnes-Rowley. That is often shortened to JB Rowley and I am mostly called JB.
My earliest memory of a home is a two bedroom farm house out on the Bonang Highway a few kilometres from the township of Orbost. It wasn’t long before that little house was crammed to overflowing with seven kids. It was probably rather stressful for Mum and Dad but for us kids it was paradise. We roamed the neighbouring sheep farms and picked mushrooms and blackberries, caught tadpoles in the billabongs and rode a fat ram like a wild horse. We rambled through the bush exploring its infinite mysteries and enjoying endless moments of discovery. In this wild, feral existence I was secure, assured and confident but at school I was shy, confused and awkward. I was small and insignificant and so skinny I looked like I had overdosed on worm tablets.
Eventually I acquired the usual curves which attracted the attention of potential future husbands. I chose an Englishman (Dennis Barnes) and enjoyed a ten year journey as his wife after which we went our separate ways. Interestingly, before migrating to Australia, the Barnes family lived near the great grand daughters of Charles Dickens, one of my literary mentors, in Reading, Berkshire. When I was around six years old one of my aunts in Albury sent me a copy of Dickens’ Great Expectations. She knew I loved books but she kept getting our ages (there were seven of us) mixed up and she thought I was older than six. It didn’t matter because I devoured any book I got my hands on and Great Expectations was thrilling for me. I remember being scared of the convict but apart from that I loved reading the book. That was how a skinny little bush kid, isolated by distance and poverty, was introduced to Charles Dickens.
At school in Orbost I was encouraged to write by very supportive teachers who saw potential in a shy bush kid.
Things I am excited about:
My murder mystery series of which Murder in Murloo is the first book.
My children’s series Trapped in Gondwana
My ambassadorship for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.
Three things I hate:
1: People accusing me of something I did not do. Boy, does that get my goat, especially when that accusation is based on assumption.
2: People putting a full stop after the J and the B of JB. JB is a nickname, the letters do not represent initials. No full stops are necessary. No full stops are used.
3: When people pronounce the ‘ow’ in Rowley to rhyme with ‘cow’. The ‘ow’ in Rowley is the same sound as in ‘bowl’; Rowley rhymes with ‘roly-poly’ and ‘holy moly’.
4: People assuming I have made up the name JB Rowley to link myself to the famous author J.K. Rowling. Well, let me tell you I had my name before she had hers and I was known as JB before her name appeared on the best selling lists AND to someone who has lived all her life as a Rowley the name ‘Rowling’ does not seem similar at all. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Things I love (other than writing) in random order:
storytelling, the ocean, rainforests, all forests,
good people, fascinating people, eccentric people, generous people,
children (not my own ‘cos I don’t have any), family,
books, listening to audio books, murder mysteries,
going to the movies, stories, storytelling,
Australia, visiting countries like India and Indonesia,
freedom, walking, socialising, being on my own,
having fun, and much more.
Activities I am involved in or have been recently involved in:
As of June 2012 I have become an ambassador for the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. I am so excited!
teaching English (and maths when necessary)
teaching English as a foreign language
collecting books for Indonesian kids
travelling to India
travelling to Indonesia
and now… blogging