Create your own world with an arts degree

Southern Cross University

Your only limits are your imagination when you study a Bachelor of Arts. Graduate and Wiradjuri woman Kristie Harris is creating her own worlds of fantasy and wonder through her recently published children’s book and upcoming young adult novel.

Kristie’s children’s book, Andi’s Mermaid Tale, was published by Austin Macauley Publishers in 2023 and explores an underwater adventure in search of the prettiest shell in the sea. Her fantasy novel, A Queen’s Glory, was shortlisted for the 2023 Daisy Utemorrah Award and is the first of a five-part series exploring a world of mystical creatures including fae, witches, sirens, mermaids, Gods and more.

Kristie decided to take the wheel and enrol in the Associate Degree of Creative Writing and subsequent Bachelor of Arts at Southern Cross University after previously working as a truck driver.

She had always planned on writing adult fiction but following her studies decided to turn a new page.

“I had never considered writing children’s books but after studying a unit on writing for young people, I was opened up to a whole new world of writing,” Kristie said. “I’ve got three kids and so it was great to be able to write a story for them.”

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Video transcript

Doing the Bachelor of Arts, it set me up to understand and learn all the different aspects, like you can be a journalist, you could work in communications, you could do grant writing, proposals, research, there’s so many more aspects than what you originally think of when you, I guess, think of writing.
My name’s Kristie Harris. I’m a proud Wiradjuri woman, and I studied the Bachelor of Arts with a major in creative writing. The skills
I gained from my studies the biggest one would have been time management, so being able to juggle my family, having three kids, working full-time and also studying online.
And the other skills I would have gained would have been writing for different audiences. So I can write for community level with work, or I can write research papers, grant papers, all that kind of stuff as well, and academic writing. I’ve never had to write academically
before, so the Bachelor of Arts opened me up to a whole new world of writing.
My children’s book, kind of wrote it on a whim. My daughter asked me to write her a story about being a mermaid. So I wrote Andy’s Mermaid Tale which follows my daughter and her two sisters at the beach and she goes on a magical underwater journey. I sent
it off to Austin Macauley Publishers, kind of on a off chance that they might accept it and six weeks later I got the call to say that they wanted to publish it.
I’ve got a novel coming out at the end of this year as well. I was shortlisted for the Aunty Daisy Utemorrah Award with Magabala Books in WA. So I was top three out of hundreds of people that submitted manuscripts. Authors Own Publishing, which is through my editor have decided to take me on as a published author for that topic as well.
Studying at Southern Cross University, it’s been a complete game changer with everything that I do. Being a mum and having to work full- time, I kind of didn’t think studying was sort of an option at the time. Southern Cross, especially with the online aspect,
has made it really easy for me to be able to complete my studies.

Studying creative writing not only helped Kristie develop creative writing skills but also essay writing which she now uses in her role as Community Engagement Data Officer at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

“I create the surveys and disseminate the feedback back to the community regarding our findings on research. It’s been really helpful being able to learn how to structure that properly,” Kristie said.

As an online student, Kristie said she enjoyed her time studying at Southern Cross University: “The online platform was really easy to use. I enjoyed the community feel of the University. I received a few scholarships during my studies and it was nice to have my hard work recognised.”

Kristie said studying creative writing has helped her start a new chapter in life.

“When you write, you get to create your own world. It opens up a whole realm of possibilities for what could or could not happen. I enjoy living in other worlds.

“My studies have changed my whole career trajectory. I was driving trucks and now I’m writing surveys and research papers and working on my career as an author.”

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