Author Rodney Hall is a two time Miles Franklin winner, and his latest book, A Stolen Season, has seen him snap up a third nomination this year. We caught up with him for a quickfire interview, ahead of the announcement of the winner next week!
First of all, congratulations on the nomination! What was it like to hear the news?
Of course it was very good news. The life of a freelance artist in this country is very hazardous. Income is sporadic and seldom generous – especially if you are committed to your art and not commercial.
Could you tell us a little about A Stolen Season?
A Stolen Season has three strands – and the further these strands move apart the more they reveal the central theme: that power is a parasite on the people.
So, those three threads?
These threads invite the reader to see beyond mere ‘story’. Instead of a single narrative that takes you by the hand and leads you through, A Stolen Season invites readers to perceive for themselves the echoes and connections between all three: entrapment in a war based on lies, the lost lives of ancient people enslaved in the task of building a pyramid, and the corrosive power of having so much money that all meaning is stripped from everyday life, family and friendships.
One of the threads follows a soldier returning from service in the Second Gulf War. What drew you to write about that particular conflict?
The dramatic subject. How would a wounded soldier feel if – with his life in ruins – he returned home to discover that there were no weapons of mass destruction? That his own government had taken Australia to war for a known lie?
What do you hope people will take from the novel?
An openness of imagination. Daring to imagine how things are – and how they might be otherwise, of only we have the courage to challenge those who wield power in our name.
And, finally, what’s next for you?
I have begun a new novel, even more experimental in structure. But I can’t talk about it or I won’t write it. I don’t plan my books. So I have to discover them on the page as they come.
The Miles Franklin Literary Award was established using funds bequeathed by the My Brilliant Career author upon her death in 1957, and celebrates novels presenting an uniquely Australian experience. The overall winner will be chosen from six shortlisted authors, winning $60,000 in prize money. This year’s winner will be named on July 30th. For more information on the prize, head to the Perpetual/ Miles Franklin website.
Rodney Hall’s A Stolen Season is published by Picador Australia and is in bookstores now.