Sophie Hardcastle (Below Deck) and Julia Phillips (Disappearing Earth) have both penned powerful and chilling debuts set in the most remote corners of the world. In conversation with Lex Hirst, they explore why isolated settings make such useful environments for storytelling, creating and even dictating mood, mystery and drama. Sophie’s haunting novel tells the story of the only woman among a group of men on a yacht from Nouméa to Auckland, while Julia’s debut unravels an unfathomable crime committed on the isolated, punishing Kamchatka Peninsula.

Julia Phillips is supported by Sam Meers AO.

Julia Phillips (International)

Julia Phillips

​​Julia Phillips is the debut author of the novel Disappearing Earth, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and one of The New York Times' Best Books of 2019. Disappearing Earth has being published in 13 countries and has been named one of the best books of 2019 so far by Vanity Fair, USA Today, and Entertainment Weekly. A Fulbright fellow, Julia has written for The New York Times, ​The Atlantic, and The Paris Review.

Sophie Hardcastle (Australian)

Sophie Hardcastle

Sophie Hardcastle is an author, artist, screenwriter and scholar. In 2018, she was one of the first two Australians to work as a Provost's Scholar at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Below Deck, Breathing Under Water and Running Like China. Sophie is the co-creator, co-writer and co-director of the Australian online series, Cloudy River. Australian born, she now lives in Oxford, England.

Lex Hirst (Australian)

Lex Hirst

Lex Hirst is the publisher at social-purpose publishing house Pantera Press. A former editor and festival director, she's always on the lookout for strong voices, great storytelling, big ideas and books that spark conversation, imagination and change.