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Karen Manton

Karen Manton's short stories have won five NT Literary Awards and have been published in various anthologies, including Best Australian Short Stories. Her debut novel, The Curlew’s Eye, is an atmospheric mystery that captures the Top End landscape’s eerie side. NT Writers’ Centre caught up with Karen for a chat about her haunting new book.

The Curlew's EyeCongratulations on the publication of your first novel! Tell us, what’s it all about?
It’s about people returning home, and finding more than they bargained for.

What was the inspiration behind the book?
Always hard to pinpoint! A convergence of the curlew’s wail, a friend telling me about a dam where she lived that had totally clear and yet toxic water, and my love of rocks, cycads, storms, clouds. And my interest in how the environment and people engage with each other, especially when people are unfamiliar with a place – how the outer landscape works on the inner one.

The Curlew’s Eye draws on gothic tropes to explore the haunting impact of the past. What drew you to this particular genre or style?
I’ve always been interested in fairy tales and stories with uncanny or supernatural aspects – I think the gothic has an interesting relationship with the unconscious, and how it seeps into our conscious world.

Any other exciting projects in the pipeline?
I have a couple of manuscripts in the wings, one of those is calling me. Also several notebooks full of thoughts, story kernels and threads I’m keen to revisit, as well as blank pages waiting for my pen – I’ll see where they take me!

If we were to take a peek at your bookshelf, what kind books would we find there?
Poetry, plays, fairy tales, novels, short stories, reflections, diaries, film scripts, quotes, biography and memoir. Also books about or inspired by the environment, human rights, politics, science, animals, biology, literature, feminism, history, geography, dreams, symbols, art and culture.

Any Territory authors you’re enjoying at the moment?
I am the glass by Penny Drysdale, Dani Powell’s Return to Dust, an Alice in Wonderland adaptation by Mary Anne Butler, Songspirals (Gay’wu group of women), Arelhekenhe Angkentye – an anthology by Arrernte women, and For the dry country: writing and drawings from the Centre by Meg Mooney and Sally Mumford.


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