What does winning the award mean to you?
It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way and to be in the company of such outstanding artists.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just published a book about fragrance and the health problems it causes for one in three people: The Case Against Fragrance. Next project will be a novel about early Australia.
What is the best piece of career advice you would give your younger self?
Don’t worry about trying to shape a career: do what you love, and satisfaction will follow.
What inspires you or has been the greatest influence of your work?
I’m inspired by Australia’s landscape and stories. Our shadowed past is a particular impetus – and how that plays out in the present.
Can you describe the practical process you use to develop ideas/concepts for your work?
I start with a question – something I don’t understand. I research and read and spend time on the places where the story happens, and explore my way into the subject by writing about it.
Throughout your writing(specifically The Lieutenant), you’ve explored people’s capacity to bridge cultural/language divides and come to terms with feelings of difference. What role do you think arts & culture (specifically literature) play in that bridging process?
Literature can be our doorway into understanding other people, other cultures and other times. Through literature we can respond to the qualities we share and understand, as well as coming to respect strangeness and difference. The power of a story is to let us put aside what we think we know, and allow ourselves to imagine our way into some other way of being.