International success as a novelist for Hannah Kent (BCreatArts ’07, BCreatArts(Hons) ’09) has come through hard graft to perfect her craft, a discipline that took shape during her years studying Creative Writing at Flinders University.
The path towards best-seller status for Hannah’s books Burial Rites (published in 2013) and The Good People (published in 2016) began with her Flinders mentors teaching her persistence, resilience and the rigour required to read more widely and learn the craft of writing.
“I received a huge amount of validation at Flinders,” says Hannah. “I loved writing and hoped study would enable me to write for as long as I could get away with it. I gained creative confidence through my writing ambition being treated seriously.”
Her mentors in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences also presented Hannah with opportunities that led her to help other developing writers. During her Honours studies, Hannah obtained a placement with the Australian Book Review in Melbourne during 2010, where she hatched a plan with Rebecca Starford to create literary magazine Kill Your Darlings, with a view to publish feisty new literature “with bite”.
“We were frustrated at the limited avenues of development available to early-career Australian writers,” says Hannah, “so we aimed to elevate the concept of an emerging writers’ magazine, to present a more serious critical assessment for their work and provide a platform to eventual publishing success.”
Hannah worked on the magazine for 10 years, and is proud that the robust organisation now supports a strong team of editors and provides such valuable services as the Creative Non-Fiction Essay Prize and School Writing Prize, New Critic Award, a podcast, online writing courses and mentorship programs.
Hannah is currently writing a film adaptation of her third novel, Devotion (published in 2021), and says the diversity of her writing skills was forged at Flinders. “It can be tricky to adapt my own prose for screen, but that’s one of the benefits of my writing degree – it has given me the ability to make critical assessments about my own writing.”
While she didn’t complete her PhD in creative writing – “signing a multiple-book publishing contract while I was still in the midst of my studies took up all my available time” – Hannah still harbors a desire to return to Flinders University and complete her thesis. “There’s a lot of work already laid out ahead of me, but I’d still love to complete my doctorate one day.”
Hannah Kent has been awarded a 2022 Distinguished Alumni Medal for her distinguished service to arts and culture as a writer and champion of emerging literary talent in Australia.