Inga Simpson is an Australian novelist and nature writer. Her latest book is Willowman (Hachette Australia).
The Last Woman in the World (Hachette 2021), was shortlisted for the Margaret and Colin Roderick literary Award and the Fiction Indie Book Award. Her first novel, Mr Wigg (Hachette 2013), was shortlisted for the Debut Fiction Indie Award. Nest (Hachette 2014) was longlisted for the Miles Franklin, the Stella Prize, and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. And Where the Trees Were (Hachette 2016) was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, an ABIA Award, The Green Carnation Prize, and shortlisted for an Indie award. Understory: a life with trees (Hachette 2017), Inga’s first book-length work of nature writing, was shortlisted for the Adelaide Writers Week prize for nonfiction. The Book of Australian Trees (Lothian 2021) illustrated by Alicia Rogerson is Inga’s first book for children.
Inga has PhDs in creative writing and English literature, with her most recent thesis exploring the history of Australian nature writing. Her short stories and essays have been published in Wonderground, Chicago Quarterly Review, Openbook, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review, Clues, Writing Queensland, and The Dictionary of Literary Biography. Inga was also the winner of the (final) Eric Rolls nature writing prize for her essay “Triangulation.”
She grew up in central west NSW, and has lived in Canberra, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast hinterland. She has now settled on the far south coast of NSW.
This conversation was recorded live at Readings Hawthorn. We discuss:
- Inga’s early love of storytelling and the
- Love of trees – ‘Trees are just how I locate myself in the world and I feel better around them.’
- Meeting batmaker Lahlan Fisher and having a bat made
- Simon Castles and his question – ‘Where are all the great Australian cricket novels?
- Writing about craft and why that is important
- The impact of the death of Philip Hughes
- How different characters made their way into the novel
- Living through a period of collapse and flux and how this made its way into Willowman
- Investment in the future – especially through ‘tree banks’
- Falling back in love with writing after a period away
‘Find some aspect of the process that you really love, that’s just for you.’
‘If you’re anxious to be published, if you’re hanging everything on being published – just pull yourself back a little. Because when you get published everything will change… Enjoy this time, when it’s just for you…and hang on to that.’
Debut Recommendation: Robbie Arnott’s Flames