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Airborne

I am still recovering from the wonderful Adelaide Writers Week – such a great festival, carefully curated and full of considered conversations about the world. My personal highlight was to share a stage with one of my favourite writers, the brilliant Eva Hornung. Eva was the deserving winner of the Premier’s Prize at the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature this year, and as one of the judges for the fiction prize, I was thrilled to see her work being celebrated (not to mention remunerated).

Adelaide Writer’s Week – Signing books with Maja Lunde and Cory Doctorow

AWW cephalopod squad with Peter Godfrey-Smith and Jane Rawson — Having a laugh in the green room with Rebekah Clarkson and Eva Hornung

Reviews of Dyschronia have been appearing here and there. Some engage deeply with the novel in ways I hardly dared to hope for. I humbly direct your attention to the ever-astute James Bradley at ABR and the wonderfully furious Michalia Arathimos at The Lifted Brow, both of whom have made me feel a little airborne.

I have recorded some interviews about the book, too, so will let you know when those are to be broadcast.

Meanwhile, I have a couple of essays out soon:

1. A long, personal essay about climate change, nature, and art, the outcome of the residency I did with my mother last year at BigCi in Bilpin, NSW. “Seeing Landscape” was hard to write, partly because of the personal nature of the experience, but mostly because it required me to go back to first principles regarding something that feels almost innate, i.e. my relationship to “nature”. It took me forever to let this one go, and I’m very pleased it’s found a home in the new issue of Meanjin.

2. An essay I wrote about snorkeling with the giant Australian cuttlefish during their breeding aggregation at Point Lowly near Whyalla, and the ongoing industrial transformation of the Upper Spencer Gulf – two kinds of miracle. “Swimming with Aliens” was shortlisted for the Horne Prize last year, and will appear in the next issue of Overland (it will also be online – link to come).

Both of these non-fiction pieces have preoccupations similar to those in Dyschronia – so much so that I find I am looking around for something else to think about. The problem with anthropogenic climate disruption, however, is that once you begin to consider the implications they are everywhere you look. Perhaps this is why for so many of us it remains a problem too large and difficult to think through… but not to read or dream about, I hope.


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DYSCHRONIA

The time has come!* Dyschronia is in all the best bookshops, in paperback and epub. Here is a pic of me sneaking in a quick signing at Dymocks in Adelaide:


There is a funny story about Stephen King doing this in Alice Springs and getting into trouble. I must be somewhat stealthier than Stephen King though, because nobody noticed. (Except H, who took the photo.)

Here is a smashing first review in The Australian – it’s paywalled, but I have extracted some choice quotes:

‘There is a poetry in Mills’s writing that shimmers like desert air — “The infinite glistens in the minute” — and in her storytelling, in the way she captures the moods of time, there is something mystical…’

‘This is a novel that is daring, original and ambitious. And in its near-apocalyptic vision, there’s an awful beauty but also a cautious hope.’

A dream start for a book that has caused its fair share of nightmares! And not just for me, if early reader feedback is anything to go by…

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



In March, I’ll be making a couple of author appearances at Adelaide Writers Week – it’s a fantastic program this year and I hope to see you there! Until then, keep an eye out for more reviews and interviews over the next few weeks. I will keep this blog updated regularly but you can also follow me on twitter if you want the latest.

Oh, and the folks at Picador made this cool gif:

If you look at it for a while, then look at the book, the cover starts to move. I swear it’s not just me.

*(What is time, though? And where from?)


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Shiny new year

What a joy it was to arrive home to a box of these marvelous, glittering beauties:

Dyschronia in print

H and I have just spent three weeks driving around Tasmania and Victoria, visiting some stunning national parks and some of our favourite national people. We hiked the Three Capes track over xmas, spotted Tassie devils in the wild, swam in cold southern seas, investigated a few distilleries, saw in the new year with old friends, and very gracefully fell into a wombat hole while picking raspberries. (Ok, that last one was just me.) I am glad to be home, energised and restored, and ready to get back to work.

This gleaming creature is already swimming out into the world and by the 1st February will be waiting in a bookshop near you. It feels fitting that the release date for Dyschronia coincides with a super lunar eclipse. It has been a transformative book in many ways, some of them painful – a lesson in holding fast to one’s vision, even when it seems impossible.

I can’t wait for you to read it.


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Wombats, Health and Safety

In my three weeks away at Bundanon, I worked my way through a whole draft of the new book, achieved my aim of resolving some structural questions, and also injured myself in some way – so now I am paying the price for that work-binge. Look after your WHS, writers! I was thinking a lot about the body, gender, and various dysphorias, so it was almost in keeping to find myself afflicted. Fortunately I have no deadlines for the rest of this year and an enormous pile of reading to catch up on, so the forced period of inactivity is useful, if frustrating.

Apart from the aches, it was great to be back in Wodi Wodi/Yuin country, on the shores of the Shoalhaven river. A lot of landcare has been done since I was last there five years ago, and it’s wonderful to see the bush so well looked after. The country is very dry after a winter with so little rain and locals were justifiably worried about the bushfire season ahead. I encountered a lot of wildlife on my daily walks and didn’t have to go far to find it – there’s a wombat living under the writer’s cottage. Part of the charm of Bundanon is the way the wild encroaches on you, overlapping with your work, so that you can’t help but adjust to the routines of birds and animals – the emergence of the wombat became an evening clock. I was dazzled by the beauty and gravitas of lace monitors and amazed to be investigated by a curious young echidna.

Aside from the animal slideshow (with token desk shots) I have a few updates, publications, news items this post so I will keep it brief:

Overland 228 coverThe new issue of Overland is out – it contains my interview with Peter Carey and lots of other interesting stuff, get your hands on a copy now or visit the website next week when the Subscriberthon madness is on and you could win a ridiculous amount of goodies with your subscription.

I have a new essay in the Sydney Review of Books about Shaun Prescott’s The Town, the 2nd fiction offering from Brow Books. I would read the book before you read the essay if you can as it is worth going into such a unique reading experience cold. I had fun writing the essay – lots of thoughts in there about being a regional writer, landscape, the problems of genre, and Gerald Murnane.


RAF coverA new short story of mine is up at the Review of Australian Fiction – it’s my fourth appearance in the RAF, which indicates my support for the project – I have long enthused about its reserving space for short fiction, pairing established writers with emerging, and embracing the digital format. This story, called ‘Salt-wolf,’ is a bit different for me – I described it to the RAF eds as ‘revisionist Beowulf fanfic’ and it’s very much in the tradition of feminist retellings of classics. You don’t have to have read Beowulf to enjoy it, but if you’re curious, there’s a slightly abridged reading of the Heaney version on youtube that makes a great introduction. This time I’ve been paired with Veronica Sullivan, whose story ‘Second Growth’ is both imaginatively daring and intimately human – it steers the reader gently from the shore of suffering to that of grace. I highly recommend it to you.



Another release – they all seem to have come at once – is the annual Best Australian Stories anthology, and I’m pleased to have one of mine included again: ‘Miracles,’ which first appeared in Meanjin. There are lots of other great writers in there including some of my favourites like Julie Koh, Ellen van Neerven, Josephine Rowe… so do grab yourself a copy while you can.



Finally, I was very pleased to get some galley proofs for Dyschronia in the mail last week – and to send off my last few alterations to the eds at Picador. Nothing I can do about it now! There’s always so much grief in this part of it for me; it is tough to let go of what you’ve made, and of necessity to acknowledge your own limitations in the process. It’s good to be a way along on the next one by the time a book comes out – I am actually overlapping about three of them at the moment. I am proud of Dyschronia, and I’m very keen to see whether and how people respond to it. As I think I mentioned last post, the release date is February 1, 2018 – so it’s not long to wait…


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