Getting to know 2024 DHA shortlistee, Kimberley Lipschus

DHA2024 Interview Kimberley Lipschus Samantha Hearn The Dorothy Hewett Award

The Lost House by Kimberley Lipschus is a fractured reality, fairytale-like unpublished novel manuscript that is shortlisted for the 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award. In this mini-interview, Lipschus shares what it feels like to be shortlisted, the importance of writing and the novel’s inspiration. 


Kimberley Lipschus headshot

Kimberley Lipschus is a writer, filmmaker and psychotherapist living on the lands of the Bundjalung nation, Northern NSW. Her work explores the intersections between storytelling, and its potential to affect social and personal change. Holding an MA in Writing she has written and directed short films, documentary and radio and co-produced the flagship ABC panellist show, Q&A. Kimberley has published non-fiction, online and in psychotherapy journals. She is researching the gender storytelling gap using The Heroine’s Journey as an alternative storytelling archetype.Kimberley straddles her creative life with her private therapy practice. The Lost House is her first novel. 


The Lost House follows a girl whose sense of reality is fractured after a harrowing near-drowning that leaves her in a coma. As her family unravels by her bedside, Olivia is catapulted between intensive care and a mysterious Queenslander house nestled on the fringe of an untouched rainforest. Drawn deeper into the mesmerising valley, she must find a way to connect with the only human being living there, in a spellbinding journey of self-discovery. The Lost House is a tender exploration into themes of intricate family dynamics, trauma and climate change that lingers long after the last page is turned. The 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award judges describe The Lost House as an "epic novel [that] unfolds with the uncanny precision of a fairytale. Olivia falls into in a dam and is rushed to hospital in a coma. Yet in another dimension, Olivia meets Jack, a boy living on his own in an abandoned house by a waterhole. Yet Jack has been living in this house for fifty-nine years. Where and what is this lost house? A spellbinding story of arrested life."

UWA Publishing intern, Samantha Hearn, interviewed Kimberley about her shortlisting: 

Samantha: How do you feel about being shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award 

Kimberley: Being shortlisted could not have come at a better time. Only the week prior, my laptop had been destroyed with my latest copy of the novel on it and I had gone through a journey of surrendering to the possibility that I would never finish the edit or birth The Lost House out into the world. Serendipity couldn’t have felt sweeter.  

S: What was the inspiration for ‘The Lost House’? 

K: My inspiration for The Lost House emerged from two key themes: mother-daughter relationships, particularly those affected by undiagnosed mental health issues, and the subconscious. The first is deeply personal, while the second arose after I fell into a rabbit hole researching the parallel worlds of patients who recovered from coma. Their experience of alternative realities.   

Around this time, I was re-reading old childhood stories to my son and rediscovered Marianne Dreams. In this story, Marian, bedridden with polio, uses a crayon from an old drawing box to sketch a lighthouse. At night, she is transported into her drawing, where she discovers a little boy trapped there. 

This image of the Queenslander house and a valley not touched by humans had been stuck in my head for years. But it wasn’t until these elements fell into place that I realised it was the devise I needed to explore a deeply troubled family dynamic, mental illness, climate change and trauma. 

S: Has writing always been a prominent aspect of your life? 

K: Since a very young age, writing has been a way for me to organize my thoughts and understand interpersonal dynamics. Constructing beautiful sentences that tell a story is like nothing else. However writing needs to coexist with story. Without story, words are just letters without meaning. Without story, the world doesn’t make sense to us as humans. Constructing story is at the heart of my writing and in my private practice as a therapist. It is in the nuts and bolts of my screenwriting, and it helps no end as I endeavour to help the world make sense for my kids. Understanding both feels like it’s been in me since I could talk.  


The Lost House is an unpublished novel manuscript shortlisted for the 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award. The winner will be announced in June. Find out more about Kimberley on her website. Find out more about the 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award shortlist including the official media release.

Samantha Hearn is a Curtin University student who is in her final semester of postgraduate studies, completing an MA of Arts, majoring in Professional Writing and Publishing. She has a love for reading, writing and literature (specifically in the fiction genres) and has a passion to work within the publishing industry.  

Samantha Hearn | LinkedIn



Check out our interviews with the other 5 shortlisted writers:

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