Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 29, 2011

Meet an Aussie Author: Kim Scott

The announcement of the winner of the 2011 Miles Franklin Award isn’t far away now so I am pleased to be able to present the last of the shortlisted authors in my Meet an Aussie Author series.

That Deadman DanceBorn in 1957, Kim Scott’s ancestral Noongar country is the south-east coast of Western Australia between Gairdner River and Cape Arid. His cultural Elders use the term Wirlomin to refer to their clan, and the Norman Tindale nomenclature identifies people of this area as Wudjari/Koreng.  Kim’s professional background is in education and the arts. 

True CountryBenang: From the HeartIn addition to the shortlisted That Deadman Dance, (see my enthusiastic review)  Kim Scott is the author of two other novels, True Country and Benang: From the Heart, poetry and numerous pieces of short fiction.  Benang (see my review) was joint winner (with Thea Astley) of the Miles Franklin in 2000, and now is the time I think I should admit that although the other shortlisted books are very fine indeed, I think that That Deadman Dance should win the award this year.   It made me think about my country in a new way.  It sings in my heart.

Thanks, Kim, for agreeing to participate in Meet an Aussie Author!

1.  I was born in Midland, WA; conceived on Leighton Beach, so I heard.  Years later was borne on my uncle’s shoulders as he stepped high, and skipped a black snake marking the hot dune sand.  

 2. When I was a child I wrote this poem (musta been 1969), which my then primary school teacher Don Mair many years later left (typed and framed) at the threshold of an arts centre I was visiting:

 Man on the Moon

At it, animals bayed.
Lovers looked at it and the man’s pride swayed.
Now they’ve conquered it!
Will it become like Earth in an artificial way?
Full of cement, covered with smog …
Like a heap of decay?
Will it still be peaceful and serene?
Or will it be covered with men, some kind,
But many spiteful and mean?

 (I hold Mr Mair responsible for this 12 year old’s work arriving in cyberspace!)

3.  The person who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write is the educator, Bill Green; my students whenever I was teaching; the family of readers I have lived among.

4.  I write in the hot box; the pit; a shed; granny flat; the passenger seat; a plane; a train; a creative frenzy (but rarely).

5.  I write when I can.

6.  Research is – really – the writing itself.  Hardest of all.

7.  I keep my published work/s in protective custody.

8.  On the day my first book was published, I…
can’t remember.  I remember the launch, barely.  It was some years after I was 35 (and I’d meant to give myself a chance at the Vogel).

9.  At the moment, I’m writing …
fitfully.  For funding.  Or notes in the margins of policy documents of one or another page of MBA policy-speak.

10.  When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I eventually become unstuck.  But first, distracting myself I stretch, sing, play guitar.

How nice it is to see a writer give credit to his teachers! Mr Mair, and Bill Green, wherever you are, ANZ LitLovers salutes you!

Thanks again to Amy Whittaker, publicist for the Miles Franklin Award Trust, who has helped me to introduce all the long and short-listed authors to you by providing me with photos, bios and contact with the busy authors who have made time to participate.  Amy, you’re a treasure!


  1. You’re doing an outstanding job, Lisa. I suppose you could guess that I particularly enjoyed meeting that particular author.

    Quite an amazing poem for a 12 yr old (I’m gulping down my jealousy right now) – oddly enough not a world away from Scott’s continuing concerns.


    • Hi Troy, thank you for your kind words!
      I’m adding a link to your review here too, see, so that those who read your comment can see why you liked this book so much.
      Not long to wait now for the announcement, June 22!


      • Cheers Lisa! I haven’t read the other contenders, but I’m backing Kim Scott’s big, complex, wonderful book!


  2. Thanks for this interview. Benang is to this day one of the most affecting books I’ve ever read. I thought it was so powerful how it took historical whiteman rhetoric and parodied it, thus exposing its utter (and tragic) ridiculousness (I remember at one stage, for example, the protagonist smooths his grandfather’s pillow, and that at another he is uplifted and elevated literally — he hovers in the air). Elsewhere the context quotes were placed in highlighted the barbarity of their calm, carefully couched and ‘rationalised’ words. The way the letters from officials were so cold — the way they showed a complete refusal to engage emotively — also shows how dehumanising a tool language can be. So glad Benang exists. I can’t wait to read TDD.


    • Hello Plume of Words, I’ve been reading your blog for a while so it is nice to welcome you to chatting on ANZ LitLovers.
      I think I will be re-reading Benang before long, and checking out Scott’s other novel. There is wisdom in his work….


  3. Oh thanks for the welcome! :)


  4. I’m most intrigued by this author. Thanks, Lisa.


    • I’d love it if I could persuade you to read an Aussie author, Kinna:)


  5. […] these profiles confirm what I already knew from talking to award-winning indigenous author Kim Scott, that the resurrection of these languages is difficult when so many indigenous Australians – […]


  6. […] points, these profiles confirm what I already knew from talking to award-winning indigenous author Kim Scott, that the resurrection of these languages is difficult when so many indigenous Australians – […]


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