Lian Hearn biography

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Lian Hearn

Lian Hearn

Lian Hearn Biography

Lian Hearn is a pseudonym for Gillian Rubinstein, a well-known Australian writer of children's books and plays. She chose not to publish Tales of the Otori, (the series originally consisted of three books but she later added two more books) under her own name so as to have her first adult book judged in its own right and not compared to her previous writing for children. She chose her name by combining her childhood nickname (the last letters of Gillian) and the surname of Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish writer who lived in Japan at the end of the 19th century.

In June 2002, some time after the book had been sold on its own merits to publishers in multiple countries, and optioned for film writes, Rubinstein admitted that she was the author, saying "I think there is a strong tendency among the spectators or the readers of culture to pigeonhole people, and that's the thing that artists hate having done to them. They want to be free to do whatever seems to be the right thing at the time."

Rubenstein was born in England, grew up in the countryside and divided her teenage years between her mother and her stepfather's home in Nigeria, a remote English village and boarding school. She studied languages at Oxford University, traveled in Europe and worked in London, as an editor, freelance journalist, script assessor and film critic. She emigrated to Australia in 1973. Rubinstein has had a long-standing interest in Asia and returned to Japan in 1999 on a residency to work on what would become Tales of the Otori.

Lian Hearn's website

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Interview

Lian Hearn (a.k.a., Gillian Rubinstein, a well-known Australian writer of children's books and plays) talks about the writing of the international historical fiction sensation, The Otori Trilogy.

I started writing Across the Nightingale Floor with the four main characters in my head and the opening sentence in Takeo's voice. I was in Akiyoshidai International Arts Village in Yamaguchi Prefecture; it was a damp, humid afternoon in September. The light was pale and opalescent. Water trickled from the pools around the artists' residence, carp splashed and occasionally a kingfisher swooped above the pool. I was writing in a notebook with a black gel pen I'd bought in Himeji. I wrote ‘My mother used to threaten to tear me limb from limb.' Later I changed this to ‘into eight pieces'. I occasionally like to use Japanese idioms translated literally to give the feeling that the book is not written in English.

For many years before I had steeped myself in Japanese history and literature, reading widely, watching films, studying the language. Now I had several weeks alone in Japan in this idyllic place; the challenge was to see if I could bring to life what had lain within my mind all that time.

Slowly the world of the Otori began to evolve. I often went to Hagi, the old castle town of the Choshuu clan. I visited samurai houses and looked at ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Lian Hearn at BookBrowse
The Harsh Cry of the Heron jacket Grass For His Pillow jacket Across the Nightingale Floor jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Lian Hearn but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Kristin Cashore

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    Kristin Cashore has written for The Horn Book Guide, The Looking Glass: An Online Children’s Literature Journal, and Children’s Literature in Education. She received a master’s degree in children’s ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Across the Nightingale Floor

    Try:
    Graceling
    by Kristin Cashore

  • Da Chen

    Da Chen

    Da Chen grew up in the deep south of China, running barefoot in muddy fields and riding the backs of water buffaloes. As the grandson of a disgraced landowner, he was a victim of communist political persecution and hollowing ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Grass For His Pillow

    Try:
    Wandering Warrior
    by Da Chen

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