An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

Author Christine M Knight's Blog

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blog 7 - Conflict and Disempowerment

Belonging to more than one group can cause conflict and disempowerment when the boundaries become blurred. Caught in such circumstance, an individual may find it difficult to draw a line and make a stand against questionable or inappropriate behaviour because there is a risk to self.

This blog looks at the school setting again as well as aspects of characterisation (techniques) in 'In and Out of Step' and some of the issues related to BELONGING.

School management is comprised of concentric rings: each ring functions independently but also interactively. Managers often have membership in several rings. They are viewed as 'leaders among equals' and they usually lead through influence rather than direction. In order to lead by influence, school managers need to maintain their membership within the faculty team - they need to belong. Coachman's changing status within his faculty reflects that such membership is a delicate and difficult one and can lead to exclusion and loss of influence if mismanaged or to the leader becoming compromised.

When Coachman assumes a supervisory role, his staff label him The Hitman, and he is subject to mockery behind his back as in the Fickle Finger of Fate scene. Having been seen as a member of their group, Coachman's decision to temporarily change roles and exercise his supervisory power results in group resentment. The resentment is a response to the ambiguity of his position in the group.

His staff recognise that Coachman's flexing of 'the power muscle' is often linked to his fluctuating status and influence within the school executive. Selton and Van der Huffen's satiric commentary in their HG and Roy persona use Coachman's predicament for levity while understanding and accepting the situation as well as Coachman's need for status. (Ch 31)

Because Coachman is, at times, focused on maintaining his membership within the faculty, he compartmentalises his roles, usually restricting the supervisory one to interviews with his staff in his office separate from the faculty space. The place symbolically cues his staff which role he in.

New to teaching and to that faculty, Cassie doesn't understand Coachman's mode of operation. In Chapter 8, when she approaches Coachman in the staff room in his role of supervisor, she breaks etiquette without realising it. Consequently, she is rebuffed. From his perspective, her action denies him his group membership. With Coachman in the role of group member, Talbut then sexually objectifies Cassie with ribald humour, brief though his response was. His behaviour goes unchecked because to censure Talbut would compromise Coachman's acceptance by the group as a member. It also goes unchecked because male culture lagged the 1984 legislation against it.

Coachman's failure to censure Talbut's behaviour at that time unintentionally cues acceptance of sexual harassment. Subsequently, Coachman has difficulty dealing with complaints by his female staff about sexual harassment later in the story. If he were to censure his male staff, his continued membership in the group would be put at risk and his effectiveness in leading through influence diminished. As a result 'shoot the messenger' and 'ostrich with head in sand' syndromes developed. The unacceptable behaviour by some of the male staff continues unchecked and appears condoned.

The school subplot goes on to explore the options that women and men face in that circumstance, the ways in which the women in the 'In and Out of Step' were catalyst for change, and how both the men and women try to find a way to belong. The novel also explores the dilemma of the bystander, someone who belongs to the group but is a silent witness to the escalating events. Cassie, Selton, and Van der Huffen all face a similar dilemma to Mary Warren of 'The Crucible' - the blurring of boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable practice and the reactions to and pressures on someone who actually draws a line. Of course, there is a difference in scale in consequences.

You will find the complete discussion in Belonging: A Related Text Companion: In and out of Step. You can buy the companion from this website or fromAmazon



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The Month's Posts


    Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    Reflection on 'In and Out of Step'

    Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    Set between 1988-1990, In and Out of Step’s thesis picks-up on a period of significant change in Australian social and cultural history which mirror the wider western world. The novel reflects the popular perceptions of the era and explores reaction to changing roles and values, the relationship between generations, gender dynamics, and power in society through contrasting character perspectives.  

    The novel charts Cassie Sleight's (rhymes with slate) and her generation’s journeys in new and uncharted territory in their relationships: personal, social, and work after the second wave of the women’s movement.

    Life forces the women in my novels to reassess what they are doing, how they are doing it, and to evaluate who they are and want to be.

    Through Cassie’s experiences, the reader is entertained and provoked to consider the perceptions held and dualities of women’s roles in western society. That may suggest that this is a non-fiction work masquerading as fiction. However, this aspect is firmly set in the external world of the story and Cassie’s experiences.

    In and Out of Step explores:

    • how identity and relationships are shaped by the way gender operates and gender differences
    • how place—geography, attitudes, values, and culture—shape people’s lives and actions
    • the culture that supports and promotes sexual harassment in the workforce and social spheres
    • changing perceptions of gender roles
    • adapting to change in oneself and the wider world
    • the personal, social, and workplace influences that contribute to change.

    My novelsIn and Out of Step, Life Song, Song Bird portray the diverse and changing realities of women in the time the novels are set: 1980-1990, 1996-1998, 2000-2002.  The stories are anchored in the social and historical context of each period.

    Read more

    Saturday, August 12, 2017

    Life Song - a story of metamorphosis

    Saturday, August 12, 2017

    Twenty-two-year-old Mavis Mills first appears in my novel In and Out of Step. Outgoing, gregarious, and confident, Mavis is a significant secondary character in that novel.  Mavis' story - a subplot - is used to provide contrast to and insight into Cassie Sleight's (the central character) journey. 

    At one point in the novel, effervescent Mavis is severely injured – physically, emotionally, and psychologically - by domestic violence and the fire of her partner’s rage. He also destroys her guitar and the copies of her original songs. Part of  the subplot from In and Out of Step explores the context of the domestic violence and provides insight into the psychology of it. Excuses are not made.

    At the start of Life Song, Mavis is twenty-eight-years-old and very different from the young woman who shone throughout most of In and Out of Step. She is the central character in Life Song. She has become subdued, distrustful of her own judgement, and an echo of her former self. Unexpectedly, she discovers she has a choice: continue to live a life tainted by domestic violence or seize the opportunity before her and try to rise above her circumstance and, like the phoenix bird, leave the ashes of her past life behind.

    'Could she live the rest of her life as she'd been living. She couldn't, not now she'd glimpsed another world, fleeting though that vision had been.'

    Life Song is not a cliche 'chic musician on the road' story and is definitely not a romance. It is about the woman Mavis becomes and the people who stand by her as she undergoes transformation – physical, psychological, and to an extent spiritual. She does not solve her problems in the arms of a man but makes the hard choices herself.

    The drama comes from the tugs-of-war that Mavis has to work though. It is made all the harder because Mavis' heart is in conflict with itself. One person, no matter how strong, cannot win a tug-of-war alone. The same applies to Mavis.

    Readers learn about the things that give Mavis strength and that enable her to boldly embrace the inevitable changes coming into her life as she becomes Nikki Mills, the Song Bird from Oz.

    I recommend you listen to two songs from that novel: Sunshine Days and Life Song (A Vision Splendid) to get a feel for this story.

    There are many kinds of wins in life, most of them personal rather than widely acclaimed. It's those personal 'brave heart' moments that define Mavis. Reader feedback through my publisher and website is that Life Song is a gratifying read.

    As part of your journey in reading this blog,  I suggest you listen to Move On.  In my imagination, it is first sung by Mavis' support network, but ultimately the song becomes her personal mantra.

    Australia is a diverse landscape and has diverse communities. Life Song gives readers an opportunity to spend time in some of those communities. The title alludes to the fact that each character's life has its own melody and when sung in concert become the symphony that is Life Song


    Life Song is one of four novels in The Keimera Series. Each novel is a standalone narrative and has the backstory woven into it.  The Keimera Series is an opus.

    Keimera does not in any way allude to chimeraa monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature from Greek mythology.

    If you would like to lend me your support so that I can produce more music from my novels, you can buy any of my songs from CD Baby.  Each of my songs can be purchased for the very small price of $1.69. My music is also on iTunes and other major online music sellers as well.

    Read more

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    The story behind my song 'The Flame'

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    'The Flame' features in my novel ‘Song Bird’. In the novel, it is sung by rock legend Rick Brody who serenades Nikki Mills (the central character in the novel). In real life, it was sung by Funnie Williams and Thanapat Yarchartoen (aka Film). I produced the song through Karma Sound Studios in Thailand.

    BACKSTORY TO 'THE FLAME' - The Singer or the Song?

    In ‘Song Bird’ and its prequel 'Life Song', Nikki Mills - the Girl from Oz - is a survivor of domestic violence. Once an innocent, she believed the very convincing serenade of her first significant love, Terry Kikby. Long before Nikki met Rick, his song 'The Flame' resonated with her.  She believed that Rick's songs really expressed his own ideas and values.

    Having been at the top of the music industry for sixteen years, Rick finds his music is dropping in the charts. Defined by his 'bad boy' image, he has lost sight of his real self. Consequently,  his music has lost its connection with his fan base. Interested in Nikki as a woman as much as in her skill as a lyricist, Rick collaborates with Nikki on a new album. 

    Flattered by Rick's interest in her and impressed by 'The Flame', Nikki embarks on a relationship with him.  A subplot in the novel explores the ramifications of that decision.  Can she help Rick find the heart that his music once had?  Will Nikki be hurt or healed by the relationship with him?  The answers are found in my novel 'Song Bird'. 

    Readers of this blog may also find the pop rock song 'Masque' and interesting insight into Rick and Nikki's relationship issues.

    I currently have 8 songs on CD Baby and iTunes. You can help me raise the money to produce the rest of my songs by buying one or more of my songs at the very small price of $1.69 per song. They are on sale at CD Baby and  iTunes. Online music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer promote my music, but I only earn approximately one cent per one hundred streams. 

    Read more

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  • Christine's music update


    Christine’s admin team are pleased to report ‘Life Song’ has continued to receive an increasingly strong response in its latest month of rotation on numerous radio stations targe..
  • Christine's music on Unearthed Triple J


    Help Christine cross over to commercial radio by following this link (, playing her songs, and giving them a star review. Yo..
  • 4 out of 4 stars review for 'Song Bird'


    Another 4 out of 4 stars for 'Song Bird'. Click here ( the review...

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