An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

Author Christine M Knight's Blog

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I was shocked this week when driving south down Northbourne Avenue through Canberra's city centre. Stopped at traffic lights at the junction of London Circuit, I glanced casually to my left. Emblazoned across the windows of the Fletcher Jones store were the banners: CLOSING DOWN SALE.

Overseas readers may ask who or what is Fletcher Jones and why was Christine so shocked. Does this have any relevance to the wider manufacturing industry issues in developed countries?

I first learnt about Fletcher Jones from my mother, born in 1921. From her generation to mine and beyond to the mid 1990s, Fletcher Jones was an iconic, high profile, clothing manufacturer and retailer renowned for the quality of the material used and skill in manufacture of their suits, skirts, shirts, trousers, and their craftsman-like attention to achieving an exceptional cut and fit in their clothing. A Fletcher Jones skirt or suit was a symbol that you were upwardly mobile just as Armani or Versace products are internationally today. Fletcher Jones clothing was a joy to wear and a visual standout because of the beauty in design and quality in manufacture.

In business for approximately ninety-three years, Fletcher Jones, the man, had an innovative approach to business for his day and structured it so that all of his employees owned shares in his company. This meant that the owners and workers within the company had an intrinsic interest in their products. Their goods made a statement about the Fletcher Jones people. Fletcher Jones' reputation was a source of pride for everyone associated with the firm. Everyone benefitted, even the customer.

As William A Foster said and as Fletcher Jones, the man, knew 'Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.'

I first noted a change in Fletcher Jones products after the company was sold in 1998. The flair in design of women's clothing seemed to disappear while the diversity in design narrowed and the vast range of sizes, for which Fletcher Jones had once been famous, diminished. The business appeared to be 'playing it safe' by making ordinary products and in relying on reputation to make sales and on marketing.

From a middle-class shopper's perspective, this appeared to be a widespread clothing industry philosophy from the mid 1990s. Despite there being a proliferation of women's clothing brands in Australia, it was hard to find anything that was distinctive in design and of high quality. Quality in manufacture appeared to 'go down the gurgler' even in the new name Australian brands. Personally, I do not want to wear clothes that make me look like a cloned and mass produced 'product'. I do not want to spend money on inferior cloth and finish.

The closure of Fletcher Jones is part of a wider manufacturing and retail industry malaise in Australia that confronts many Australian producers and workers today and has had widespread effect on diverse businesses: clothing, wool and cotton production, books, cars, aluminium and other forms of manufacture, and so on. Consider the economic state of Greece, a country without a strong industry base in 2012. It is faced with demanding austerity measures in order to achieve an EU bailout so that the country can avoid bankruptcy. Is this the end point that Australians, irrespective of their type of employment, want to reach if we allow our industry to move offshore?

The change in company ownership and leadership to parties disinterested in their 'products' and focused on record profit each year seems to me to be at the heart of the workplace crisis. Avarice appears to have become their new virtue. While the ch-ching of profit may be music within corporations disinterested in the 'products' of their business, the shallowness in that warning tinkle should give them and us pause so that we have time to think about the implications to our future individual and national prosperity. Those 'products' extend beyond saleable items.

Previously inherent Australian workplace values such as 'a respectable and consistent profit', 'investment in research and development to stay ahead in the manufacture game', and 'a fair day's pay for a fair day's work' appear to have been rejected by those industries. Exploitation of developing countries' workers and unregulated lesser working conditions in the pursuit of record profit seems to be the core value of such businesses.

Of equal concern to me is the focus of government. With Paul Howes as a vocal exception, it appears that Labor government accepts the decline of our manufacturing industry and the removal of Australian jobs to offshore. What happens to our people, our economy, and our long term security when we become a nation dependent on imports and when unemployment has risen to record levels because employment opportunities have disappeared offshore because business were distracted by the glitter of record profit?

For me there is an inherent paradox in the values of government in this. How can any first world government advocate the raising and regulation of workers health and safety conditions and the concept of a minimum basic wage to enable workers to have a decent standard of living while accepting its businesses transferring to third world countries where such standards are non-existent and exploitation thrives? What does this say about our leaders? What does it say about the people who 'lead' such business? Isn't this contributing to a long term shift in economic power to third world countries and the demise of economic well-being in first world countries?

I agree with Tom Chappel who said, 'Never let the competition define you. Instead, you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.'


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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..
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