10 Fun Facts about Melbourne and why I decided to set my book there

melbourneMelbourne is not only my home, or the city I’ve spent most of my almost-thirty years in—it is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful, vibrant, and wonderful cities in the world. And I am truly honoured to call it my home.

Sure, Sydney might have the postcard setting and Brisbane and Perth might have the better weather. But there’s a reason Melbourne is consistently ranking right up the top of the World’s Most Liveable Cities list.

10 Fun Facts about Melbourne:

  1. It was originally proposed to name the city ‘Batmania’ after one of its founders, John Batman.
  2. Melbourne was the site of Australia’s first Federal Parliament until its relocation to the newly established national capital of Canberra in 1927.
  3. Melbourne has the highest number of cafes and restaurants per number of people than any other city in the world.
  4. In 1856, Melbourne workers successfully campaigned for the world’s first 8-hour work day
  5. The world’s first feature film, The Story of the Ned Kelly Gang, was filmed and made in Melbourne in 1906.
  6. Melbourne has been ranked the world’s most liveable city every year since 2011 by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  7. The maximum temperature ever recorded in Melbourne was 46.4C (115.5F) in 2009, and the minimum was -2.8C (27.0F) in 1869.
  8. Melbourne is home to the highest Italian and Greek populations in the world outside their own countries
  9. Around 90 tons of dog poo is left on the streets of Melbourne every day.
  10. Melbourne has the largest tram system outside of Europe, and the fourth largest in the world overall

As you can see, apart from our dog poo problem, our city is pretty damn awesome. Sure, it might have been even cooler if they’d gone with ‘Batmania’ instead of sticking us with the name of Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime Minister—but given the name of our state, I guess it’s only fitting.

But while I clearly love my city, I didn’t actually sit around thinking ‘okay, I need to write something set in Melbourne.’ In fact, at the time the idea for Shadowlands came to me, I was still fleshing out an idea for an epic fantasy I’ve had rolling around in my head for quite a while now (that one’s been put on the back burner for a while—I’ll get to it one day, but for the moment it’s not going anywhere.)

The idea for Shadowlands came to me gradually, and while it was definitely in part inspired by this city—especially the little hidden laneways and, of course, Princes Bridge (my favourite location in the city)—I drew most of my inspiration from research about various mythical creatures and different afterlife stories/beliefs. When planning the story, I was a little hesitant—I am now slightly ashamed to say—about setting it in Melbourne, mainly because I wasn’t sure how the Australian setting would translate for overseas audiences, which I knew made up the bulk of urban fantasy readers.

It actually wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I read a few really great urban fantasy series set in Australia—Paula Weston’s The Rephaim series, Cassandra Page’s Isla’s Inheritance series and Jessica Shirvington’s Violet Eden Chapters—that it really occurred to me ‘hey, I can do this—Australia is a great place to set urban fantasy!’ I decided I needed to give readers a little more credit—just because they weren’t familiar with a setting, doesn’t mean they would be turned off. This just meant I had an opportunity to bring the city I love to a whole new audience!

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