As people bustled into their seats at the sold out discussion for Kim Scott's new book That Deadman Dance, Geordie Williamson shared: "My heart lifts a bit each year at the sight of so many readers and writers in the one place."
Scott talked about the wide range of inspirations for this book, and the many discourses and questions his books interacts with. From "cross cultural pollination and appropriation of the other" as a fertile ground for a writer's thoughts to play in to the lingering
question of "is it possible to truly conquer the power of place?" to wanting to write an story of indigenous people that "everyone could have a a place in, where no one has to feel marginalised", Scott's writing process for this book was laden with thinking and research.
It was Scott's reflections on how his work around revitalising Nunga language had influenced his work that made this session so valuable. When asked about the lack of glossary for Nunga words, or the pronunciation or meaning of his main characters name, Scott explained the meaning of the words, and his careful thinking behind how he used them to a delighted audience.
Avoid creating an indigenous author niche
When asked by Williamson about whether his book heralded a new era of more positive accounts of white and black relationships, Scott spoke about his desire to avoid creating an indigenous author niche, because of his fear that books by indigenous authors won't be read "because people will assume they know what we're going to say".
Scott described his motivation behind the books: "I wanted to tell a story with the spirit of place bubbling away underneath it, without being too innocent or politically naive. I'm a descendent of the people who first started human society in this place, and my writing is about connecting with that." Scott also shared the difficulty of writing about "that terrible injustice [of indigenous dispossession and racism], it's difficult to think about, but the story [of indigenous cultural evolution] is not over yet."
While I'm sure everyone felt the session was much to short to explore fully all of the wonderful points Scott and Williamson discussed, the remaining impression I walked away with was the reflection that one of the best ways to negotiate interdepence is through story and in Scott's words: "This novel is a small part in a much bigger story."
By Rose Powell
Communications coordinator, Sydney Writers' Centre
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