won the Ned Kelley Award for Best First Novel in 2007 for his excellent
DIAMOND DOVE, set in the Australian outback. Hyland has had the usual
litany of jobs, from community worker with the indigenous population,
teaching English as a foreign language in China, with a bit of
mining thrown in for good luck. He still spends a lot of time going
with his favourite mobs (he's just back from a 20 day walk across the
Desert with the Warlpiri), and his love of aboriginal culture, the
their sense of humour oozes from every page of DIAMOND DOVE. I've been
his book since I first read it, and in a shameless attempt to badger
people into buying it I managed to talk him into what's probably the
unprofessional interview he's ever had to suffer through…
SM: Before we
into the book -- which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way -- let's get a
of Adrian Hyland: what's the most scared you've ever been?
AH: I'm a
-- I'm scared of everything, all the time -- it's a labour-saving
saves having to pick and choose.
SM: Who was the first person you kissed because you
wanted to? And I
don't mean a peck on the cheek, we're talking knee-trembling passion
AH: Yoiks. Is this the Aberdonian version of the Liverpool kiss? You
up a la Queensberry, then go for the goolies? I thought we were here to
about my book.
Okay, if you
somewhere in the
throes of early puberty. The location: a beautiful Australian beach.
fleets of magnificent bronzed surfers displaying their skills and
one milk-white neophyte who kept falling off his boogy-board and having
swimmers torn off by perverted killer-waves. In the audience,
thankfully, was a
young female whose resemblance to Audrey Tatou may have grown in the
with the passing of the years and who was presumably more into Woody
Blue Crush. Whatever the reason, she seemed to find
incompetence amusing, and by sunset we were sharing a beach fire, a bag
marshmallows and a soft towel. (Thank Christ you didn't ask me about my
f..#%&! - an altogether messier affair)
SM: Breakfast: toast, cereal, or fry-up?
AH: Aw, come on! Where's the fuckin book? Okay
–you asked for it:
Prairie oysters! A nice segue, since:
have to read my
book to find what they are
careful, you may not
like what you find, and
bullshit anyway --
actually I'm a muesli man, but for the purposes of my international
trying to cultivate that rugged outback image
SM: All right, all right, I’ll ask you
about the fuckin’ book. Diamond Dove
is one of those wonderful
novels that really envelops the reader in a culture that they probably
get to experience first hand. What made you decide to set the story in
world of the outback?
AH: I lived for
years in the outback -- went there straight after Uni, and the place
crept -- well, roared like a wildfire into my soul.
I did a bit
of mining and
station work, then ended up working in Aboriginal community development
which sounds impressive, but in fact meant bouncing around the Tanami Desert with a Toyota full of
Aboriginal people -- sometimes taking them back to places they'd walked
thirty years before.
travelled pretty well
everywhere, lived in a lot of far-flung places, but Central
Australia remains the
fascinating place I've ever seen. All of the big questions --
environment, the spiritual vs. the material, toast vs. cereal or
-- are there, in your face. The human comedy unravels before your
you've got hippies and rednecks, superannuated commies, grey nomads,
pastoralists, boozers, bruisers, substance-abusers and some really
people -- have you seen Wolf Creek? - living cheek
of course, there were the Aboriginal people: they were the touchstone
SM: Well, it
certainly comes across. Emily Tempest is a great central character,
who's got a foot in both camps -- the settler and the aboriginal -- but
middle-aged white bloke did you get any stick for writing from the
view of a young black girl?
AH: Not yet,
there's still plenty of time, if anybody's interested.
writing about people I
knew and loved. I've never met anyone quite like em. They're beautiful
rich in spirit of place and the funniest buggers you could ever hope to
I spent many a night by a camp fire rocking with laughter. I wanted to
that world to life, and I'd like to think that my intentions were
SM: You paint a wonderfully vivid picture of Emily's
mob and the country
they inhabit (Moonlight Downs). There seems to be a joy to their
that's lacking in the predominantly white settlement of Bluebush
to go back to.
AH: You said it. There's a richness, a
sense of knowing who they
are, especially when they're on their own country, that's sadly missing
Western society. Small groups of traditionally-minded people are still
struggling bravely to maintain their traditions. God love em.
As for the
of Bluebush ? What can
A rugged outback mining and meatworks town with a population of about a
million: a thousand whites, a thousand black, the rest
only thing developing out there are melanomas and salt-pans.
-- but one of which I grew surprisingly fond.
SM: The language of the book is magnificently,
Australian, especially the dialogue:
and yelled at the milling masses: 'Hey you mob o' lazy myalls, come say
li'l h'Emily.' I smiled at the heavily aspirated pronunciation of my
'H'Emily Tempest! That Nangali belong ol Motor Jack. Get over an make
welcome! She come home!'
Did you get
any pressure from
your publishers to make it less outback and
AH: Outback? I thought everybody spoke that way.
this from the man
who gave to the world -- from a random glance - : "Hud oan a mintie",
"What a munt she was!" and "Get that intae your fat thick
heid." ? Flinging the odd bit of Strine back into your face is the
AH: I might add
I grew up with lines like:
met ayont the carney
lass wi' tousie hair
till a bairnie
was nae langer
not to mention
"Fair fa' your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race
through my head.
Because we're a tiny nation at the arse-end of the world, we tend to
everybody else's English.
Is it a
Celtic thing? I'm of
Irish descent, and a lot of the writers I like best -- in crime,
Bruen, Brookmyre -- more generally Yeats, MacDiarmid, Joyce, Jones -
come from that colourful corner of the language.
SM: You've taught English as a foreign language,
been a community worker
with indigenous people, a linguist, songwriter, mine worker, station
So when it comes to 'writing what you know', I guess you've got a lot
AH: I dunno
this. Been asked it on several occasions. I tell myself, yep, write
know. Then I think 'Shakespeare' -- if he only wrote what he knew, he
known everything. Somewhere the imagination has to kick in. I can
it works: as a child, young Will's amused by a feisty fishwife, and
years later she reappears in The Taming of the Shrew.
Ditto a conniving
town councillor, and Richard III.
even more than
experience, is the fuel that runs these motors.
moment I'm toying with
the idea of writing a comedy/romance set in medieval China . Maybe
able to give a better answer after that.
SM: What's next? Will there be another Emily Tempest
AH: Another one
with the publishers at the end of 2008. Any tips on how to meet
spent too long in Aboriginal Australia to be able to work fast. Can
short-ish series -- maybe three Emily Tempests, max. Will be ready for
knackery after that. Dunno how you pros manage to write so many.
Emily II is
nicely, thank you. In Emily Mk. III, I'm considering sending
her off to China (no, not
medieval Middle Kingdom -- I don't do sci-fi). I've spent
quite a bit of
time living in China over the
and am shipping Emily off to the Silk Road
because I think she'll have some fun sorting out those Chinese
MacBride isn't a professional
interviewer (which is pretty bloody obvious), instead he writes
procedurals set in the Northeast of Scotland. www.StuartMacBride.com
Read the review
Dove is published by Quercus pbk £7.99