Allayne's writing talent no longer a secret
University of Adelaide staff harbour all kinds of secret desires and talents.
For Law School staff member Allayne Webster, her secret has been her love of writing. But it's not a secret any more - Mrs Webster has now released her first novel to critical acclaim.
The novel, Our Little Secret, is a story about sexual abuse. Rape, small-town gossip, scandal, guilt and repression are all explored in a novel that is described as "a book every young girl needs to read". It is aimed at addressing real issues for mature teenage readers.
"Our Little Secret was, in many ways, a response to the media," Mrs Wesbter said.
"I felt like every day that I opened the newspaper, all I read were brief stories on young children or teenagers who had been sexually assaulted or abused. The reports were always so clinical - and to convey such a terrible act in only a few lines seemed not to do the topic justice.
"What happened to these young people? How did it affect them? What values did society place on them? What misconceptions did they face? How did they move on with their lives?
"A novel can be about simple entertainment or it can be about taking you on a journey. A good novel can have the power to change you. I want Our Little Secret to change people. I want it to help people of all ages understand the devastating effects of sexual abuse," she said.
The novel has already gained much attention in legal and political circles, and was launched earlier this year by independent No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon. It has received positive reviews in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Advertiser, and Mrs Webster has also been interviewed by Amanda Blair on radio FIVEaa.
Mrs Webster, who is the Personal Assistant to the University's Dean of Law, said the experience of writing her first novel and having it published was a dream come true.
"I've always been creative - playing guitar, writing music, painting, etc. Writing for me, is 'a need', more than 'a want'," she said.
"I plan to keep writing, but not for the sake of writing. I think my own writing is best when I'm fired up about an issue, as I was with Our Little Secret."
Mrs Webster said she credits some of her writing success to her involvement with the Adelaide University Women's Professional Development Network (WPDN) and her mentor, Wendy Zweck, School Manager with the School of Education.
"Wendy has been extremely supportive and encouraging of both my personal and professional goals," she said.
"I also thank the Law School for their great flexibility and support."
Our Little Secret is published by Omnibus, Scholastic, and is available at all good bookstores at a recommended retail price of $17.99.
Story by David Ellis