Lia Hills is a novelist, poet, and translator.

Image of Lia Hills

Lia's work has been published, translated and performed in numerous countries including Japan, France, Greece and the US. Lia’s latest novel, The Crying Place (2017), set mostly in Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara country, was released to critical acclaim, longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and named the Australian Independent Booksellers’ Book of the Month. Other works include her novel The Beginner’s Guide to Living, shortlisted for the Victorian, Queensland and West Australian Premier’s Literary Awards; her prize-winning poetry collection, the possibility of flight ; and her translation of Marie Darrieussecq’s acclaimed novel, Tom is Dead.

The Project

The project focus is a polyphonic interlaced literary novel. Lia Hills will carry out preparatory research and experimentation using voice-recognition software to source and create a sequence of voices - both human and non-human - to tell the story. This will include doing recordings in the landscape - the software turns whatever it hears into words - as well as a series of interviews with people whose lives and professions equate to potential characters, to create transcribed monologues which will provide the raw material for the novel.

What does being awarded a Creators Fund grant mean to you?

This early endorsement by my peers has given an enormous amount of energy to this fledgling project and pushes me to experiment and bring new findings that will add to my profession. Doubt is a key part of the creative process, but this kind of encouragement and support will enable me to push beyond and take the necessary risks that will allow the work to be the best that it can be. A grant like this also works as a kind of calling card, which says this project is supported and worthy of investing in when I approach people to interview. The gift of time is beyond measure. 

How important is 'time' to you, as an artist/creative professional?

Time is freedom, it allows for the incalculable. The time to explore the environment in which a story is set and be amongst the people who inhabit that environment, without the necessity to immediately turn that experience into a new work, is invaluable. It allows for experimentation, deep thinking, reflection on process, and the kind of major breakthroughs every artist craves. 

What are you most looking forward to over the months ahead?

Experimenting with recording in the landscape and the challenge of incarnating those voices, along with those of the individuals I will interview; fictionalising and orchestrating them in a way that will create a chorus of voices and say something new about contemporary metaphysics. I’m also very much looking forward to connecting in with the community around which the novel will be set, exploring the complexities of life in those areas and testing deep-rooted desert and rural tropes. 

Where would like to see yourself at the end of this process? How do you anticipate your career will develop as a result?

I see this new novel as pivotal in the development of my work writing about contemporary metaphysics, and I envisage that the time I will have to experiment and reflect - including close readings of associated texts - will enable me to have a greater sense of where my work sits both within the Australian context and beyond. My aim is to bring these ideas to a broader audience, while investigating a uniquely Australian take on what is essentially a universal concern: what gives meaning to our lives.