SFX|Holiday Special 2021
The Clarke Award winner on where she found her inspiration
Jonathan Wright


Orbost, Australia

Greatest Hits

As well as the Clarke, The Animals In That Country also won the Victorian Prize for Literature (organised by the Australian state, and worth $125,000). Holiday In Cambodia was published in 2013.

Random Fact

McKay is also the “animal expert” presenter on ABC Radio’s Animal Sound Safari, a podcast for kids.

WHEN THE WINNER OF THIS YEAR’S Arthur C Clarke Award, The Animals In That Country, was announced, award director Tom Hunter heralded the book as a “first contact novel, only the multiple alien species that humanity encounters have been sharing the Earth with us all along”. It details what happens when, due to a “zooflu” pandemic (the timing was coincidental), infected humans develop the ability to understand animals.

The description delighted first-time novelist Laura Jean McKay. “I’d never thought of that before,” she says, speaking via video from her New Zealand home, “but that’s what’s so great about getting science fiction writers and readers reading your work in that way: to understand for you what you’ve been trying to do for seven years!”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine