Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 23, 2012

Meet an Aussie Author: Simon Cleary

Closer to StoneSimon Cleary is the author of two fabulous books: The Comfort of Figs and  Closer to Stone.

He was born in Toowoomba in 1968, and attended university in Brisbane.  He has lived in Sydney and Melbourne and travelled widely in Europe, Africa and North America.  He now lives in Brisbane.

The Comfort of FigsHis first novel, The Comfort of Figs, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Unpublshed Manuscript Awards in 2005 after which he became Emerging Writer in Residence at the Queensland Writers’ Centre.  The novel was then published by UQP in 2008 and received very favourable reviews (including mine, see it here).   His new novel is Closer to Stone (UQP, 2012), which not only passes the ‘Second Novel’ hurdle with flying colours but also shows an author not afraid to tackle confronting contemporary issues. (You can see my review here and a Sensational Snippet here.)

I think Simon is a great new talent so I was delighted when Simon agreed to participate in Meet an Aussie Author! Here are his answers to my questions:

I was born on the rim of the Great Dividing Range in Toowoomba, overlooking the Lockyer Valley.

When I was a child I wrote directions on treasure maps to help navigate the lantana tunnels in the bush behind my childhood home.

The person who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write is/was my father – a man who composed a thousand poems across his life-time as gifts for friends and family to mark events in their lives.

I write in the early morning when the world is quiet and the night has done its work sweeping my mind clean of the previous day’s clutter.

I write when I can, as much as I can.

Research is seductive.

I keep my published work/s on the shelves of my library.

On the day my first book was published, I … I can’t recall where I was or what I was doing that day. But I do remember when I got news that my first poem had been published, many years before.  I was ringing back to Australia from the main post office in Bamako, Mali.   My exhilaration was spontaneous and unrestrained.  To the crowded African post office, it must have been comical to watch, if not downright bizarre.

At the moment I’m writing a piece on what a novelist might have to say about ‘multiculturalism’ – an exploration of the relationship between imagination and empathy.

When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I  listen to music, walk, make a coffee, or sleep.  In my experience, if it’s important enough, the subconscious will find it.


I am rather chuffed to learn that Simon and I have something in common – because not only did my mother write poems for her family too, but we also had treasure hunts when we were kids and spent ages dreaming up maps with obscure clues!

To buy Simon’s books, click the book covers above, or these links:


  1. another great intro Lisa ,all the best stu


  2. I’ve been waiting for this one Lisa. I’m pleased to say I also have a couple of things in common with Simon Cleary. We both live in Queensland and we like to write in the early morning (although in my case it is sometimes more like the middle of the night). Never have I read it put so eloquently though…”when the world is quiet and the night has done its work sweeping my mind clean of the previous day’s clutter”. Sublime.


    • Oh no, writing in the morning is not for me! I have been an owl pretending to be a lark for most of my career but when I retire I’m going to ignore morning altogether.


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