Spotlight on Kim Scott

Kim Scott1. Of all the art forms why literature?
Partly, I think it relates to the pleasure I got as a child from drawing—the comfort and pleasure of pen on paper.  From an early age I really liked reading, and listening to certain sorts of voices—I’m sure these things led to an interest in literature.  Also, as a not very assertive or confident person, one of the things I find attractive about literature is that it’s an art form is you have some control of and mostly do alone. I do really like to sing and play guitar—I’m just not good enough to do it publicly!

2. You’re probably most well known for your fiction. Why that genre?
I like stories, and I like language. Fiction lets you play with language a bit, and even bend the rules. Fiction also allows you to suggest other possibilities, and help readers experience what they might not otherwise ever know. I also think that the sort of written records and paper evidence many Aboriginal people in particular have available to explain their and their family’s lives—things like welfare papers, and the silence in ‘official’ local histories—means that fiction is all the more important, because you don’t have to rely just on the so-called empirical evidence or paper proof. Fiction can help you speak where otherwise there might only be silence.

3. What is your major goal as a writer?
Firstly, to try and keep writing! Secondly, to reach out to people, and touch them in very human ways—through language, love, humour and spirituality. And writing is also an opportunity to speak with people, in some depth, one to one. 

4. What or whom would you say influences your writing most?
I’m not sure why or how, but probably my deceased father, and some of our ancestors. There’s writers I admire—too many to list, and growing all the time—but I don’t know if they influence me or not. 

5. What role does Indigenous literature play in Australian society today?
I’d like to think that Indigenous literature can help establish a context for a conversation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and also for conversation and dialogue within each of those groups. I’m not sure that Indigenous literature plays a positive role in promoting conversation within Indigenous communities, but that is perhaps because of the diversity of our communities and the limitations of the types of language we share; that is, English and, in particular, political polemic.

6. If you could recommend only one book, what would it be?
Any recommendation I’d make would change from week to week. A good book I’ve recently read is The Known World, by Edward P Jones. It’s a novel about, among other things, black slave owners in nineteenth century America.

7. Do you have any web links you’d like us to include?
I can’t get broadband where I live—even though it’s in the metropolitan area—and I’m not particularly computer literate, but I keep an eye on a website run by Bob Howard, a researcher and dedicated community worker with Noongar on the south coast of WA: