For any author, their first novel is the most critical. For Cadance Bell, an Australian author/director/producer and writer, the significance of her first novel, a memoir that tells the story of her experiences of growing up transgender in the bush, speaks not only to her journey, but to the journey of LGBTQI+ people across regional Australia.
Cadance’s memoir, All of it: A Bogan Rhapsody, was released in July of this year with critical acclaim. A uniquely Australian coming-of-gender memoir, Cadance tells the story of her childhood growing up in Mudgee, NSW. A childhood filled with hot chips and a forbidden love of Sarah Parker’s My Little Pony, through to the violence, drugs and secrecy of her mid-twenties. Her story is tender and tragic, yet hilarious and life-affirming.
The novel will leave you understanding a little bit more about trans people, rural Australia, and family. And for Cadance, it’s difficult to overstate what it means to have a trans artist showcasing their work on a national stage, within respected institutions.
With significant media interest in Cadance and her memoir, funding support from a Regional Arts Fund Quick Response Grant played a vital role in helping Cadance to build strong media capabilities through industry mentoring and training.
Using the grant, Cadance was able to undertake rigorous media training online and in person, through Media Mentors Australia (MMA), as well as with Australian author Jenny Valentish.
“There is a common misconception that publishers do all the heavy lifting in publicizing a book, but the lion’s share of promotional work falls on an author’s shoulders; they’re the face of publicity and must perform under pressure.”
A study through the University of Sydney (Garcia & Badge, 2011) found that of the 1,319 articles published by News Limited across a three-year period, more than 90% of articles framed trans people and issues negatively. With trans people frequently the target of negative media, Cadance knew her media interactions around the promotion of her memoir were critical to creating a positive story, as a focussed community representative.
“Since this project was funded, media scrutiny in trans people has greatly intensified, coming to a head during the 2022 Federal Elections where children were particularly targeted, and persists in topics such as trans women in sport. Media capability has been critical here as early on I was given several interviews which leaned into these areas.”
Her biggest pitch was to the ABC, put together with the support from industry mentors from MMA, which was successful, resulting in the development of an Australian Story episode focussing on Cadance’s work.
“I was able to gain more confidence in sharing my story with the media, tailoring messages to best position my memoir, and great confidence in discussing real-life events and trauma. It also created multiple networking opportunities with screen producers and journalists,” says Cadance.
Within the rural and regional community, the media coverage has brought a considerable spotlight to the rural aspects of her memoir. Cadance says when sharing her story, authenticity is key, as well as a lot of Aussie humour.
“Being able to speak for the bush, from the bush, lends a truth and an instant intrigue to communication. The community of Mudgee is the big winner of the project. Early readers and reviewers loved my depictions of 90’s Mudgee, and so we’ve leaned into that.”
Cadance says an ideal outcome for the region would be for increased interest in regional arts, inspired by people who have had a great experience with the novel and its media coverage.
To follow Cadence’s story, keep an eye out for her Australian Story episode, airing soon.