One Tuesday afternoon, we Booktopians received an invitation that sent a flurry of excitement throughout the office. We were invited to spend an evening with Australian literary giant Tim Winton, four-time winner of the Miles Franklin Award.
At some point in your lives, we’re sure you’ve picked up at least one of Tim’s incredible novels. His first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the 1981 Australian Vogel Award; his second novel Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984; and his third book, Scission, won the West Australian Council Literary Award in 1985. Some of his other novels include Cloudstreet, Breath, Dirt Music, Eyrie and The Boy Behind the Curtain.
But Tim’s previous writing achievements were not what we were excited to talk with him about. Tim has penned a new novel, The Shepherd’s Hut, to be released in March 2018.
“Brutal. That is the word that best describes Tim Winton’s new novel, The Shepherd’s Hut,” says Booktopia’s John. “Brutal. I felt bruised and winded on finishing it. Parched and dusty. I stared around me and the familiar was unfamiliar. The valued, valueless. Jaxie Clackton is a speck on the huge expanse of the WA desert. He is on the run from the law. The outcast’s outcast just desperate to find the one person who really gets him.”
Read John’s full review of The Shepherd’s Hut here.
Not only was it great to chat one-on-one with Tim but we were lucky enough to get a little reading from Tim himself. Jaxie’s raw personality (profanity included!) leapt off the page, Tim’s animated reading instantly drawing us into Jaxie’s messy world.
Tim was in the middle of writing another story when Jaxie crawled into his imagination and stubbornly refused to leave until he found his way onto the page. Tim said that an image of the initial tragic incident of the book (no spoilers, I promise) dripped into him like acid burn. Well, with imagery like that, we’re hooked!
During our Q&A with Tim, a woman in the room said that The Shepherd’s Hut was the perfect book for bookclub. Jaxie is such a deep, fascinating character. Tim was worried that Jaxie’s rough demeanour would be off-putting for some readers but the entire room hurried to assure him that it was not the case. We’re not saying we’d welcome Jaxie into our homes for a cup of tea but he makes for a intruging subject.
The incredible landscape is a character unto itself and was a source of much interest that night as well. Tim spoke of how he never travels to a place with the intention of using it as research. Instead, he finds that when he comes across a landscape that speaks to him, like the dusty and barren setting of The Shepherd’s Hut, he is then inspired to write about it. Tim’s landscapes are as much a character as any of his protagonists. In fact, Tim spoke of how the landscapes have an immense affect on his characters, shaping them so significantly that, if you took his character Jaxie out of this environment and put him somewhere completely different, he would not be Jaxie anymore.
We cannot wait to hear what other readers think of The Shepherd’s Hut but we have every faith that it is set to become an Australian classic.
We are lucky enough to have a stack of signed copies of The Shepherd’s Hut for you, our readers! Stock is limited though, so hurry and get yours here.
Listen to John’s interview with Tim on his recent book The Boy Behind the Curtain:
The Shepherd's Hut
A rifle-shot of a novel – crisp, fast, shocking – The Shepherd’s Hut is an urgent masterpiece about solitude, unlikely friendship, and the raw business of survival.
The Shepherd’s Hut is a searing look at what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and brutal world.
About the Contributor
Bronwyn Eley is new to the book industry, having previously served in the Royal Australian Air Force & even spent some time as a barista until entering the exciting world of Booktopia. Books are her true passion. Bronwyn writes in her spare time, often has her face buried in a book and enjoys keeping fit (which she undoes by eating loads of chocolate) with Martial Arts and personal training. She can't answer what her favourite book is but she has a soft spot for The Host (Stephanie Meyer), Peter Pan (J.M Barrie) & Outlander (Diana Gabaldon). Fantasy, sci-fi and YA make up the majority of her bookshelves.