New book explores insights from Australian sojourn

PORT ANGELES — A new book, Inside Out Down Under: Stories from a Spiritual Sabbatical, has been published by a Port Angeles woman, Diana Somerville

Somerville, a freelance writer and editor who has been active in women’s issues on the North Olympic Peninsula, interweaves her internal journey of discovery with stories gleaned in a year of living, studying and traveling in Australia.

Sue Patton Thoele, a Boulder, Colo., psychotherapist and author of Heart Centered Marriaage, The Courage To Be Yourself and other books, describes Inside Out Down Under as “a bit like a woman’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance set in Australia.

“The story moves between past and present, dreams and ideas, and offers a soulful look at the uneasy intersection where the timeless ways of Australian Aborigines meet today’s world.”

The book, designed and produced by Ruth Marcus, a Sequim counselor, writer and artist, features a painting on its cover by an Australian Aboriginal artist, Carmel Middletent, who now lives in Clallam Bay, and was

Here’s a Q&A with Someville:

Q. What prompted the book?

A. As my 50th year approached, I knew I wanted to mark the occasion with something memorable, but I didn’t want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or embark on earning a Ph.D in religious studies or try sky diving.

After pondering the possibilities, what made sense was to turn my life upside down gently, like shaking a snow globe to see how things looked different.

Australia called to me, both because it meant living upside down in “the land down under,” and because my brother had moved there nearly 20 years before.

Q. How long did it take you to write it?

A. I kept a sort of journal, wrote letters back home about my experiences and what I was learning about the indigenous people and their connection to the land.

I was stunned to discover how powerfully the Australian landscape speaks — perhaps because over thousands of years the natives have walked virtually every inch of the surface, singing its songs, telling its stories, dancing it into life.

The sifting, sorting and shaping [for the book] — woven into the vagaries of life — has taken more than 10 years.

During that time I’ve also written hundreds of magazine articles, been a newspaper columnist, relocated to Port Angeles, took a fling at running a restaurant and import shop with the Mermaid Cafe [now Crazy Fish — Baja & Beyond, in downtown Port Angeles] and on and on.

Q. When were you in Australia?

A. I lived there from 1992 to 1993.

Q. What kind of reaction have you gotten so far?

A. People have a sense of taking the journey with me. They love the stories I’ve gathered.

Many were surprised to learn, for example, that many indigenous people consider “Aborigine” a derogatory term. (I try to remember to talk about the Koori people — a new term that’s grown out of a movement for political unity among the tribes — even though it requires some explaining.)

But what’s most surprising to me is how many readers say they enjoyed the chance to get to know me better.

That’s not at all what I expected.

Q. Where is Inside Out Down Under available for purchase on the North Olympic Peninsula?

A. Right now the book is available from Port Book and News and Odyssey bookstores in downtown Port Angeles for $18.95 plus tax.

But any bookstore can order it for you — and save your paying the shipping costs. It’s handled by Baker and Taylor and Ingrams, two of the country’s largest book distributors.

It’s available on line at www.beechworthpress.com — where an order includes tax and $1.25 shipping.

It’s also available on line from Amazon.com and BarnsandNoble.com — but as an independent myself, I always prefer to give my business to the independent booksellers.

(Somerville can be contacted at 360-452-1212, or e-mail writer@olypen.com.)

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