'a controlled and literate work that earns its emotional peaks' - Saturday Paper
'a delight' - The Australian
A memoir about staying in one place, told through trees, by the award-winning author of MR WIGG, NEST and WHERE THE TREES WERE.
"The understorey is where I live, alongside these plants and creatures. I tend the forest, stand at the foot of trees and look up, gather what has fallen."
This is the story of a tree-change, of escaping suburban Brisbane for a cottage on ten acres in search of a quiet life. Of establishing a writers retreat shortly before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and of losing just about everything when it did.
It is also the story of what the author found there: the beauty of nature and her own path as a writer. Understory is a memoir about staying in one place, told through trees, by the award-winning author of MR WIGG, NEST and WHERE THE TREES WERE.
'Something powerful ... takes hold of the reader and transports [you] to the forest floor in a kind of awe' - Sydney Morning Herald
'I love the way the reader gets lost in the trees and then lost in Inga's life and then lost in the trees again. Understory feels so rich and nourishing, as if the restorative power of the Australian bush is transmitted through her words.' - Richard Glover, bestselling author and radio presenter
'a fine addition to the genre of Australian nature writing' Books + Publishing
a controlled and literate work that earns its emotional peaks - The Saturday Paper
a delight - The Australian
Something powerful ... takes hold of the reader and transports [you] to the forest floor in a kind of awe - Sydney Morning Herald
It is a fine addition to the genre of Australian nature writing. - Books + Publishing
Many people dream about making a 'tree change'. When Inga Simpson and her partner fell in love with 10 acres of bush in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, they succumbed to its allure without quite knowing just what they were taking on. They followed their hearts and purchased the adjoining block to set up their own writers' retreat business, threw in their jobs and went to work-only for the GFC (and other factors) to drop them into the hurtful depths of uncaring reality. There are plenty of these stories out there, but what makes this one worth the reader's time is the interweaving of natural science and personal story, description and reflection. Many chapters start with a particular tree found on the block-its growth and habitat, the fauna it supports and its human usage-before flowing into Simpson's life and labours. She learns to look, to see, and finally, to recognise not only the trees on her property, but also her own possibilities and strengths. While each of Simpson's novels has shown a strong connection to land and nature, this book allows her to expand her observations and concerns, and to preserve and celebrate her trees in words. It is a fine addition to the genre of Australian nature writing. - Bookseller + Publisher
...a controlled and literate work that earns its emotional peaks. - The Saturday paper
delight to read for anyone enchanted by the hinterland's rainforest ridges and valleys that are fast being subsumed by suburbia up and down the coast. - Brisbane News
Her book is a delight. - Weekend Australian
Inga Simpson began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. In 2011, she took part in the Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program and, as a result, Hachette Australia published her first novel, Mr Wigg, in 2013. Nest, Inga's second novel, was published in 2014 and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Stella Prize and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Inga's third novel, the acclaimed Where the Trees Were, was published in 2016.
Inga won the final Eric Rolls Prize for her nature writing and completed a second PhD, exploring the history of Australian nature writers. Inga's account of her love of Australian nature and life with trees, Understory, was published in 2017. Her first book for children, The Book of Australian Trees, illustrated by Alicia Rogerson, was published in 2021. While finishing the first draft of The Last Woman in the World, Inga was evacuated twice as bushfires engulfed surrounding settlements. She lives alone near the coast among trees.