Roger McDonald was born at Young, New South Wales, and educated at country schools and in Sydney. He began his working life as a teacher, ABC producer, and book editor, wrote poetry for several years, but in his thirties turned to fiction, expressing the feeling that for him, at least, poetry was "unable to express a full range of characters and moods, the larger panorama of Australian life that I felt was there to portray". His first novel was 1915, a novel of Gallipoli, winner of the Age Book of the Year, and made into a highly successful eight-part ABC-TV mini-series (now on DVD). Slipstream, Rough Wallaby, Water Man and The Slap followed, each of these novels drawing intensively on imaginative, poetic takes on rural living. "The poetry of fiction is not a writing style but something in people's lives, where a place or a season, an occupation or an obsession transforms existence - where something powerful but not perhaps well understood by the participants creates the drama out of a handful of dust and a few drops of water." "I like the humour of observation,": he says. "Describe accurately, get a laugh, the sting of truth is always surprising. Trust the Australian accent and find connection to the rocks and dirt as swift as lightning." Since 1980 McDonald has lived on farms (no farm animals except poultry and a corrugated iron sheep, these days) outside Braidwood, south-eastern New South Wales, with intervals spent in Sydney and New Zealand. His account of travelling the outback with a team of New Zealand shearers, Shearers' Motel, won the National Book Council Banjo Award for non-fiction. His bestselling novel Mr Darwin's Shooter, was awarded the New South Wales, Victorian, and South Australian Premiers' Literary Awards, and the National Fiction Award at the 2000 Adelaide Writers' Week. The Ballad of Desmond Kale won the 2006 Miles Franklin Award and South Australian Festival Prize for Fiction. A long story that became part of When Colts Ran was awarded the O. Henry Prize (USA) in 2008.