By Alannah James
When Hannah Kent was a little girl, she had an intense zeal for writing.
Whether starting her own newspaper or scribbling poems or plays, Hannah could spin a good yarn.
“I fell into writing very early on in my life and it was always my dream to be a writer,” she says.
Now the award-winning author, originally from the Adelaide Hills, will tonight (Wednesday, October 12) release her much-anticipated second book The Good People, following the success of Burial Rites in 2013.
The Good People is set in a remote Irish valley where three women are brought together by strange and troubling events.
After returning to an old account of a crime committed in pre famine County Kerry, Hannah spent six weeks in Ireland researching for her second novel.
“This book is very much fiction, inspired by true events. I went over to Ireland to find out as much about this woman mentioned in the newspaper article,” she says.
“I didn’t have much time up my sleeve, but I was able to do some straight up research which helped me to get the feeling of the place and to get a sensory experience.”
Hannah began in Ireland, driving west and making her way down to Killarney where the book is set.
“I enjoyed the national folklore collection in Dublin – it’s an amazing room with index cards giving glimpses into local superstitions and how people lived,” she says.
Instead of heading to university straight after high school, Hannah embarked on a year-long rotary exchange to Iceland through the Stirling Rotary Club, which ultimately shaped her career as a writer.
“While I was in Iceland I continued writing and then applied for the Bachelor of Creative Writing at Flinders University. It was during my PhD thesis I wrote Burial Rites,” she says.
The Good People is set in a time when folklore and mythology played a significant role in the lives of the Irish. Rural Irish folk used the term ‘good people’ to describe fairies who could bestow favour or grave misfortune.
“I read a lot of Irish fairy stories and always found them fascinating,” Hannah says.
Returning to Adelaide for the book launch, Hannah says seeing some familiar faces in the crowd will be heartwarming.
“I am really looking forward to working with Matilda Bookshop which is the bookshop I grew up with in the Adelaide Hills,” she says.
“I was so fortunate to have the reader response I did for Burial Rites… I only thought four people were going to read it!” she laughs.
“Having readership is a wonderful thing, but I needed to go back to focusing on writing because I enjoy doing it and so that’s what I did!”
The Good People launches at University of Adelaide’s Elder Hall tonight (Wednesday, October 12). Doors open 6:30pm for a 7pm start.
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