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We wanted to know more about the influences behind Adrian Hyland’s new crime novel Canticle Creek so we asked him to share the stories behind the story.

Discover how his experience as a volunteer firefighter, time living in the Northern Territory with traditional Indigenous people, and living in a small town have all shaped his life and writing.

If Canticle Creek was chosen as a blind date with a book, what hints would you write on the wrapping to entice a reader?

AH: A classic page-turner, shot through with humour, beauty, excitement and cliff-hangers – literally, in at least one instance.


How have your experiences as a volunteer firefighter made their way into your work?

AH: I’ve been a firefighter for over a decade now and fire influences everything I write; it’s the driving force in our environment. A couple of years ago I was out at a wildfire and it swung round quicker than I expected. I copped a blast of heat and smoke that knocked me off my feet. As I hit the deck of the truck, a single insight flew through my brain: that this is the fate that awaits us all if we fail to tackle climate change.

Adrian Hyland

Adrian Hyland. Photo by Morgan Brown.


What is it that draws you – and other Australian crime writers - to rural towns as a setting?

AH:  Living in a small town, you are forced to interact with people from every walk of life, in a way you tend not to do in Balmain or Fitzroy. Small towns broaden the imagination. And, of course, in a small town, you’re never far from the bush.


How has the landscape of our country inspired you?

AH: I lived for many years with traditional Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, and they have a way of looking at country that transformed my view of the world. Once I was camping with a couple of old Warlpiri men in the Tanami. During the night, nature called. As I stepped out onto the nearby creek bed, a massive king brown snake reared up and struck out at me. I scrambled back to camp and one of the old fellers asked if I was okay. I told him about the snake, and he muttered a phrase I’ve never forgotten: ‘That’s okay; takes a little time for the country to know you.’ That phrase – with its concept of the land as a living thing, the direct opposite of how a whitefeller would have expressed it – resonates with me to this day.


What recent reads have you loved and would recommend?

AH: My favourite lockdown reads have been Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet and Mick Herron’s Slough House series. Both are rich with humour and compassion.

Canticle Creek is available in store and online now
Canticle Creek
Adrian Hyland

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