Because I'd always wanted to be a writer, I decided that when I left school I needed to go out into the world and collect experiences, so that when I had enough I could write about them.I travelled around Australia and then around the world. The experiences I collected were many and varied- such as learning how to cook when I worked with shearers in the outback; learning how to fly when my husband and I ferried aeroplanes across to Canada and back; learning to teach when I taught English as a foreign language to Arab girls. Along the way I learnt about life.I got my chance to write while living in Dubai when I started working for a children's magazine. All my different experiences became useful. I had six columns to write - covering astronomy, astrology, science and technology, gardening, as well as a weekly bedtime story and an advice column. There I also met an interesting old lady from Iran and helped her write her autobiography, which was later published.My time in Dubai taught me more than how to write, though. I learnt that when people from different cultures meet they often don't trust or respect each other, and there can be many misunderstandings that can even lead to war. But after having lived and made friends with people from other nationalities, I know that no culture is better than another, we just do things differently.I wrote the first draft of Camel Rider
This riveting survival tale set in the Arabian Gulf-author Mason's first novel-has two boys from very different cultures trying to find their way out of the desert wilderness. Adam is an Australian boy living with his family in the (fictional) Middle Eastern city of Abudai. Both of his parents are away when war breaks outside his compound. Adam manages to escape with neighbors, but he flees his rescuers, attempting to retrieve his dog. Meanwhile, an Arab boy sold into slavery to become a camel rider has been left to die in the mountains by cruel masters displeased with his rebellious behavior ("Once I had another name. But only in my dreams now I am remembering my life in my home country.... Now I answer to Walid, which means only `boy' "). The paths of the two boys inevitably cross: though they do not speak the same language, they learn to rely on each other to find food and shelter and to ward off enemies as they travel back to civilization. Some plot details seem scripted, such as when a milking goat suddenly appears as the boys are on the brink of starvation and when Walid's master gets hold of Adam's cell phone and learns there is a reward for the boy's recovery. Nonetheless, teens will stay on the edge of their seats to find out how and when Adam and Walid will reunite with their loved ones. Ages 10-14. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6-8-In the midst of a short war in a country on the Arab peninsula, 12-year-old Adam, an Australian expatriate who does not want to return home, and Walid, a camel rider from Bangladesh, manage to elude Walid's former employers and survive in the harsh desert, although they lack a common language or culture. Adam's mother has gone home to Australia, and the boy is to follow the next day when his dad, a pilot, arrives from a trip. When the bombs begin to fall, he runs away from neighbors who attempt to take him across the border to safety. Walid, who had been sold by his mother, who hoped for something better for him, was left tied up in the mountains after accidentally causing the death of a camel. The alternating first-person voices, set off typographically, reveal the depth of the boys' cultural differences and their growing ability to communicate, understand, and respect one another. The harshness of the desert is clear, as is Adam's ignorance and unpreparedness. Readers who may first identify with the fun-loving Adam will come to appreciate Walid's skills and determination, and may learn something about Muslim ways in the process. The suspense is sustained and the wildly improbable happy ending is very satisfying. Some readers may not appreciate the number of times "acting like a girl" is a derogatory phrase, but this is solid survival adventure.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.