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Monday, March 03, 2008

Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot : Adrian Hyland

Congratulations on the success of Diamond Dove, I thought the Ned Kelly Award was well deserved. You spent a lot of time in NT, working with aboriginal communities and your understanding of their cultural beliefs are strongly conveyed in the book. But you also told the story from a female's perspective. How did you prepare for that?

I wouldn’t say I prepared for it. I spent many years living in Central Australia, where I saw indigenous women like Emily Tempest – courageous, witty, willing to fight for family and community – every day of the week. They were my inspiration.

I might add that I originally wrote the book from the perspective of a young whitefeller, but it wasn’t working - too autobiographical – so I wiped him out of the book and allowed Emily to step onto centre stage.

2. I believe Emily Tempest will be making a reappearance, is that true. Can you tell us a little about what's in store for her?

Yep: she’s back! Hate to say it, and all of my Aboriginal friends will probably be after me with nulla-nullas, but I suspect Emily is about to join the NT Police. I know, I know, she can’t quite believe it herself, but the Police have these positions known as Aboriginal Police Aides, and Emily, much against her better judgement, is currently being persuaded to enlist as one.

Her motivation? The car that comes with the job.

Mine? The only way I could think of getting her involved in more nefarious activities without testing the reader’s credulity – plus setting up a good scenario for her to have a running battle with her redneck bosses.

3. Do you read much Australian crime fiction? Can you give us a few standouts that you've read recently? What do you think of the current state of the Australian crime fiction scene?

I read it all the time. Do we count Dorothy Porter as a crime writer? Admire her work immensely. Thoroughly enjoy my Text stablemates, Kel Robertson, Angela Savage and Gary Disher. Love Leigh Redhead books: the world needs more sexy, eccentric detectives with a taste for Alt Country.

Sorry to follow the pack, but the twin peaks of Oz Crime for me are Messrs. Temple and Maloney. With those two maestros in our midst, the genre is thriving – I reckon it’s responsible for much of the best writing being done in the country right now (not all of it, mind you – some of the crime writers – well, what can I say? Their writing is a crime in itself)

Just read Paul Toohey’s book on the Falconio murder – The Killer Within – thought it was a brilliant portrait of the outback sociopath and the world which produces them – I had a few run-ins with the odd sociopath myself, and Toohey’s portrait is chillingly accurate. One of my more literary friends spotted me reading The Killer Within and asked why I bothered with such things. My spontaneous response – to ask whether you think we learn anything about Bob Dylan by fossicking through his garbage, my answer being a rather reluctant yes - strikes me as an insight into why we read crime in the first case.

4. What do you think could be done to better promote Australian authors either at home or abroad (or both)?

Strewth. I’ve got no idea. Promotion obviously isn’t my strong suite, which is why I find myself dragging my weary arse out of bed to head off to the day job.

I’ve always liked the Irish policy of not taxing the income of writers. Hopefully now that the rodent’s left Canberra and the shackles are off the imagination we may see a Renaissance: more Arts Council funding, more author visits to international festivals, more support for festivals and writers’ centres. But I’ll believe it when I see it. Scrapping the GST on books would be nice – scrapping it on everything would be better.

5. If your fictional character could meet any fictional character who would you like it to be and why?

How about a threesome involving Emily Tempest, Simone Kirsch and the outrageous Andy Dalziel? Or maybe Ken Bruen’s Brant? They’re much of a muchness. Soundtrack by Kinky Friedman.

Adrian Hyland's debut novel Diamond Dove (Moonlight Downs) won the 2007 Ned Kelly Award for best first novel. He is currently at work on a second novel that will also feature Emily Tempest.


Peter Rozovsky said...

Good interview, gents. I learned some things about Emily that I didn't know before. And I wish her the best in her new job.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

sally906 said...

great interview :)

part of my job is to process the pays for NT Police - Tempest is not part of the alphabet I look after - LOL!!!

I have great respect for the Aboriginal Police Aides they do a damn good job, and it ain't easy. Emily is in for an interesting time :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Damien,
Congratulations on getting the interview series up and running. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Adrian's interview from an internet cafe in Phnom Penh, where I'm currently soaking up the atmosphere and working on the next novel. Great to hear we'll see more of Emily Tempest in teh near future. Hope all's well with you,

Damien said...

Thanks for that. Great to hear there are things in store for Emily, isn't it.

G'day Sunny,
good to hear Emily has gotten herself an interesting job.

Hi Angela
Hope you're enjoying Phnom Penh and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview...yours is coming up in a couple of days (note well, everyone).


detlef said...

Diamond Dove in Oz, Moonlight Downs in US and Outback Bastards in Germany - well how international can you get. Spent years ago a day and a half in Alice and a fw days in Uluru so the book did fill some gaping holes on the Center. With some Diziplin you could get the next installment out by Christmas ?
Keep on Going,
regards Detlef