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Last July, the publishing industry, struggling under the weight of anxieties about eBooks, Amazon and infectious negativity, was kick-started to life by a debut novelist. Hannah Kent, co-founder and deputy editor of Kill Your Darlings, had written a stunning manuscript detailing the final days in the life of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. The novel sparked an international bidding war, and in May Burial Rites will be published in Australia, with the UK, USA and Europe to follow later in the year.

In this issue’s lead feature, we’re thrilled to have an exclusive account of Hannah’s writing and publishing experience. From the gruelling first days of writing, to travelling to Iceland for research, to securing publishing contracts, this is a frank and fascinating insight into the world of writing, which also reminds us of the shared joy of storytelling.

Elsewhere in Commentary, Alison Croggon’s ‘Notes on Theatre Notes’ is a vale to her influential blog of theatre criticism. After eight years, Theatre Notes closed its curtain  in 2012, and Alison recalls the impetus for the blog as well as reflecting on the future of theatre criticism in Australia. We also publish an extract from Jo Case’s moving memoir, Boomer & Me, which recounts her experiences raising her son, who has Asperger’s, while in ‘Clearing My Throat’, Alison Strumberger describes her discombobulating stay in a Japanese hospital after tumours are removed from her throat.

In Fiction, SJ Finn, author of This Too Shall Pass, writes about an accident on a remote homestead, and KYD has the pleasure of interviewing Steven Carroll. His latest novel, A World of Other People, is published this month, and it is a moving work that continues his interest in the mythological figure of TS Eliot.

In Reviews, Dion Kagan examines recent documentaries exploring the way we remember HIV/AIDS, and Carody Culver reviews new novels from British writers Zadie Smith and John Lanchester, who use London to characterise the modern urban experience.

Happy reading!