Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #10: Vicki Tyley

This is #10 of our series in which Australian crime fiction authors have the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

I often wonder... where’d I’d be if I’d made different decisions in life.

Friends would describe me as… I had to go to the source for this one: “Strong-willed, determined, brilliant, generous, nature enthusiast, and someone who finds laughter comes easily.” Not sure about the brilliant part, but the rest rings true.

I will never… move back to the city (if I can help it).

My greatest fear is… failing.

My worst job was… mortgage manager for a real estate company. My employer insisted that staff call me Ms Tyley (I prefer Vicki) and essentially kept me isolated in my office. I lasted about a week before I quit.

I’m in dire need of… more hours in the day. Remember when your mother told you the older you got, the faster time went? Well, it’s true!

My childhood was… good? For some reason, except for the occasional flash, I remember very little about my childhood. I’m the eldest of a family of six children. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I do know we never went without anything, and that includes love.

I wish I had… a magic wand.

I wish I hadn’t… wish I hadn’t… wish I hadn’t… I don’t know. Everything I’ve done and everything that’s happened to me is part of the person I am today. Besides, regrets are pointless.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is… the voices in my head, especially when they’re all clamouring to be heard. Characters are like that.

The last book I read was… an ebook release of Never Say Die by Tess Gerritsen (originally published 1992). Old books – as the title says – never die, they just go digital.

The next book I’ll write is... actually a rewrite of an old novel I’d mothballed. A reader prompted me to revisit it after she read somewhere that I had two manuscripts stashed away never to see the light of day. (Never say never, right?) It’s quite scary going back to a story I wrote six years ago and seeing how far my writing (and technology) has progressed.

Being an Australian author means… proudly flying the flag for Down Under, and proving that we’re not “still a bunch of criminals or barely literate crocodile hunters.” If the emails I receive from readers are anything to go by, people are fascinated with the landscape, people, and colloquialisms of Australia. I count myself extremely fortunate to be part of it.


Based in rural Victoria, Vicki Tyley is the author of the bestselling Kindle mysteries THIN BLOOD (named an “Amazon 2010 Customer Favorite” and the only Australian ebook in the top 100), SLEIGHT MALICE, BRITTLE SHADOWS, and the soon to be released BITTER NOTHINGS

More information about Vicki and her books can be found at her website: www.vickityley.com or you can catch Vicki at her blog.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #9: Rosanne Dingli

This is #9 of our series in which Australian crime fiction authors have the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

Rosanne Dingli

I often wonder… what would have happened if my first short stories and poems had not been accepted, way back in 1985 when I was living in country NSW. I missed the ocean so much I would sit bolt upright in bed at dead of night, thinking I’d heard waves crashing on rocks. I had to be near the sea, so I moved, and my writing changed, but my short pieces started winning prizes, so I kept it up.

I will never forget… the feeling when I got my first freelance writing job after moving to Perth. The editor was terrifying, but I learned so much from her. I wrote about interiors and people’s flash houses, and found fifty different ways to say ‘lovely kitchen’. It was real money, good money, but I wanted to sell fiction … write a book … get reviewed in the papers. It all happened.

My greatest fear… is breaking the spout of my big yellow teapot.

My worst job… ever in my long working life was manning a new travel agency in Floriana, Malta, where no one ever came. I was so bored I doodled and wrote meaningless stuff on the backs of travel posters of Venice and Rome and Florence. I had no idea then I’d write a thriller based in Venice, among other lovely ‘destinations’.

Friends would describe me as… forgetful, friendly and feisty. Also vague, voluble and vociferous. But perhaps not exactly in those words – they certainly know me as a word person.

I will never… skydive, abseil, do a fun-run (what an oxymoron that is!) or sail around the world, but I do greatly and bemusedly admire those who can.

I’m in dire need of… a secretary. Most writers will tell you that. This office needs more than just what I can do.

My childhood was… difficult, but full of the kind of stuff most artistic people will mention: books, music, art, card-playing. Also an eccentric mother, a father who spouted things in Latin, grandparents who hummed Verdi, an uncle who painted and sang, an uncle with a printing press, a mad aunt or two. And yes, I’ve written stuff that came from all that.

I wish I had… learned to play an instrument (other than four chords on the guitar) as a child. Watching my children play now makes me so envious.

I wish I hadn’t… stopped singing in a choir. Something for my retirement, if it ever comes.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is… creating that first rough draft. Hard stuff – everything after that is very, very hard work but enjoyable. That first setting down of a story is well-nigh impossible.

The last book I read was… Streets on a Map by Dale Harcombe, a fellow member of ANZauthors, an online group of writers from Australia and New Zealand. It’s a lovely ‘living in a country town’ book that’s very Australian, yet has universal aspects of community and consolation.

The next book I’ll write is… a thriller that’s driving me crazy, because it’s nearly all in my head now, and I can almost see the protagonists. Soon, I’ll be able to hold my hands over the keyboard and it’ll all pour out. Won’t it?

Being an Australian author means… sharing in a very eclectic history of literature that in reality comes from many parts of the world. There is a lot in Australian culture that is rich and deep, with references that traverse and transcend barriers, borders, and frontiers. The tyranny of distance dissolves into a meaningful sense of belonging to the world, when one shares the writings of so many interesting authors, many of whom – like me – are from somewhere else. And Somewhere Else, we all know, is a very exotic place.


Maltese-born Rosanne now lives in Western Australia and her most recently published book is a romantic thriller called ACCORDING TO LUKE which was published in March 2011. The book’s blurb gives this description of the book

Shattered by the breakdown of yet another romance, Jana Hayes becomes a recluse in her tiny Venice apartment and buries herself in her work as an expert art conservator … until an ancient religious icon brings Roman Catholic priest Rob Anderson into her life. The secret they discover hidden in the mysterious artefact turns out to be not only devastating, but deadly. And it has the star-crossed couple running for their lives across Europe and the Middle East, pursued by three ruthless opposing factions, each for its own reason determined to torture and kill to lay hands on the world-shaking evidence uncovered.

While Rob struggles with his priestly vows and Jana with an overbearing billionaire mother who holds the purse strings to an outrageous ransom demand, they discover, with the help of an ageing genius symbologist, more and more damning revelations about one of the New Testament’s most sacred gospel writers – and as the evidence mounts, the stakes rise and the blood flows.

You can find out more about Rosanne and her other publications at her website

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #8: Michael Duffy

This is #8 of our series in which Australian crime fiction authors have the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).
Michael Duffy is a Sydney-based crime fiction author and has provided a thought-provoking series of endings.

I often wonder what might have happened if I’d missed that train to Wollongong on New Year’s Day 1987.

Friends would describe me as someone who ought to come out to play more often, instead of sitting inside writing books.

I will never visit the Palace of Versailles again because it is obscene.

My greatest fear is so absurd I’m afraid to mention it.

My worst job was temporary postman one Christmas, and only getting back after the office had closed. (I think the regular postie cheated when he “divided” up his run.) It was a very hot summer and I lasted two days.

I’m in dire need of a second brain.

My childhood was fairly happy, thereby almost derailing my future as a writer. But I don’t blame my parents.

I wish I hadn’t done an English literature degree – for years I compared everything I wrote with the gems of literary achievement, with which I was distressingly familiar.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is nothing really. It’s all I ever wanted to do, even if I managed to hide this from myself for too long.

The last book I read was THE SUSPECT by Michael Robotham. (You’ve probably read it, but if not, you should.)

The next book I’ll write is Call Me Cruel, a true crime book about a trial I covered as a journalist. Paul Wilkinson exchanged 23,000 text messages with Kylie Labouchardiere during a four-month affair, then strangled her and sent the police to five different locations to look for her grave. It has never been found.

Being an Australian author is like being in a new playground where not many kids have been before you.


We’ve reviewed Michael’s first book, THE TOWER and his second book, THE SIMPLE DEATH is on my TBR pile.

EVENT Michael will be appearing at this month’s Sydney Writer’s Festival at a session called Cities of the Dead on Saturday May 21 at 4:00pm. Appearing with Michael will be American author Michael Connelly, Singapore-based Shamini Flint and fellow Australian writer Garry Disher and the focus of the session will be on locations.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #7: Michael Robotham

This is #7 in our new feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime. New South Wales writer Michael Robotham has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

The interview with Michael is the final one in our Aussie Authors Month series but we will be continuing the interviews on the last Wednesday of each month as long as we have content. So Aussie crime fiction authors, let us know if you would like to participate!

On to Michael’s answers.

I often wonderwhose cruel idea it was for the word ‘lisp’ to have an ‘s’ in it.

Friends would describe me asbeing often distracted or never in the country.

I will neveragain wear flares and a yellow body shirt on a first date. My wife has never let me live it down.

My greatest fear is
writing one book too many. I want someone to tap me on the shoulder when my time is done.

My worst job wasdoing a newspaper investigation into the porn industry and having to call sex chat lines to see what the fuss was about. I was a naïve country boy and they didn’t teach me that stuff at St Stanislaus Catholic School in Gundagai.

I’m in dire need ofa clone. One of me could tour and answer correspondence so the other one of me could stay at home and write…(and have a mistress).

My childhood was...like something from a Mark Twain novel. Small country towns…swimming at the swimming hole…fishing at the fishing hole…cooking up a mess ‘o cat fish.

I wish I hadthe confidence of youth and the wisdom of experience.

I wish I hadn’tmentioned the bit about a mistress.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is…living with these characters in my head. They won’t shut up until I get the story down.

The last book I read was...Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey – which is a wonderful coming of age novel, which reads a little like an Australian version of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The next book I’ll write isa psychological thriller featuring Joe O’Loughlin. It doesn’t have a name yet, but I’m under instructions from my wife to sort out Joe’s private life. I’m talking Julianne now – hoping she might take him back.

Being an Australian author meansliving in the best country in the world with brilliant readers, but having to look to overseas to make a decent living.

Good News for Australian and New Zealand readers

Michael’s new book THE WRECKAGE will be released in Australian and New Zealand tomorrow, April 28, 2011.

Publisher’s blurb

Ex-cop Vincent Ruiz rescues a young woman from a violent boyfriend but wakes next morning to find that she’s robbed him. It was a set up – an elaborate scam. Setting out to find Holly Knight, Ruiz discovers her boyfriend’s tortured body and realises that powerful men are looking for the same girl. What did she steal that was so important?
Meanwhile, two thousand miles away, Pulitzer prize-winning Journalist Luca Terracini is living ‘outside the wire’ in Baghdad and investigating a disappearance of billions in reconstruction funds. The trail will lead him to London where he teams up with Ruiz and together they investigate the disappearance of an international banker and a mysterious ‘black hole’ in the bank’s accounts.
THE WRECKAGE is an international conspiracy thriller involving clandestine agents and powerful nations who seek to bury secrets and manipulate the truth. It’s about the money, politics and power. Who has it, who wants it and who’s ultimately going to pay.
Australia and New Zealand – April 28
United Kingdom – June 9
USA – June 16

Read more about it here

Catch Michael in the flesh!
Michael has a punishing schedule of public appearances lined up for the next few months: check it out here.
Find out a lot more about Michael and sign up for his newsletter through his website.

Check out our reviews and other titbits about Michael Robotham on Fair Dinkum Crime here.

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen was launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month, a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #6: Phillipa (PD) Martin

This is #6 in our new feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime. Victorian writer Phillipa (PD) Martin has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to Phillipa’s responses…

 I often wonder…about how things were first invented, discovered or tried. Even the simple stuff, like the first time someone mixed ground wheat, water and yeast to make bread or the first time a dried up piece of corn popped! And who first made raspberry and white chocolate muffins?

Friends would describe me as…stubborn, self-motivated and kind.

I will never…mmm…this one had me stumped. Never say never, right. Although I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat dog pooh. Or any pooh for that matter.

My greatest fear is…something happening to my family, especially my daughter.

My worst job was…telemarketing for a matchmaking agency – I kid you not!

I¹m in dire need oftime and sleep. And maybe a massage.

My childhood waslike most people’s – full of good and bad moments. Times of joy and love and heartbreak and insecurity.

I wish I hada lovely modern house with a big backyard and a dishwasher (a ‘real’ dishwasher, not the one called Phillipa).

I wish I hadn’tchanged schools for the last two years of my schooling. But that’s a long story.

The thing I hate most about being a writer isthe poor pay!

The last book I read wasJodi Piccoult, My Sister’s Keeper (I’m only about 10 years behind the times)

The next book I’ll write isThe Gift. A women’s fiction about three childhood friends, each experiencing their own heartbreaks.

Being an Australian author meansbeing proud to be Aussie but also having to reach out to the global markets to make a living.

PD Martin – Phillipa Deanne Martin – is the author of five novels and one e-novella featuring Aussie FBI profiler Sophie Anderson. Her books are currently available in 13 countries and have received excellent reviews. Her books, in order, are: Body Count, The Murderers’ Club, Fan Mail, The Killing Hands, Kiss of Death and Coming Home ($2.99 on Amazon). You can find out more about her at www.pdmartin.com.au and view two book trailers at www.youtube.com/pdmartinauthor.

Find Phillipa at

  • Williamstown Literary Festival:  Saturday 30 April, 4pm, and the session is… The gory details of deadly fiction with crime writers PD Martin, Robert Gott and Carmel Shute of Sisters in Crime.
  • Bayside Literary Festival:  Tuesday 24 May at 7.30pm I’ll be at the Bayside Literary Festival at the Brighton Savoy

Reviews of Phillipa’s books on Fair Dinkum Crime
FAN MAIL – reviewed by Kerrie
THE KILLING HANDS -reviewed by Bernadette
THE KILLING HANDS – reviewed by Kerrie

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #5: Brian Kavanagh

This is #5 in our new feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime. Victorian writer Brian Kavanagh has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

I often wonder…about the transition we make from childhood to old age. If, as it seems, our body cells are replacing every minute or day, then are we really the same person all our lives? I think not. Looking back I hardly recognise the person who purported to be me aged 19 doing National Service and throwing hand-grenades. Or in Swinging’ London aged 27, swingin’ like a pendulum do. Or swanning around the Cannes Film Festival in the 1980’s. These people weren’t me. Someone else it seems. Strangers now. Maybe it’s the wisdom of age that everyone goes on about, but I suspect we actually live many lives in the span we are given.

Friends would describe me as…quite possibly as a pain in the arse. Vain. Opinionated. Selfish. Generous. Tiresome. Witty. Independent. You name it. That’s me.

I will never…make another film again.

My greatest fear is…making another film. If only because I don’t want to work with the bean counters that plague the industry or deal with the Deep and Meaningful mafia, fringe dwellers who decide who gets assistance in funding a film.

My worst job was…I have to confess that at a low point in my life when I was between film production work, I foolishly took a job in an Advertising Agency, (I still feel queasy) a job that only lasted a few weeks. But in those few weeks I felt unclean and almost leprous. But my Guardian Angel arranged that I would see my folly and so I quit and the very next week secured a film job that changed my life and led on to a career.

I’m in dire need of…very little actually. Except for someone to pay my credit card bills.

My childhood was…idyllic. Well, looking back on it, it appears that way. I was blessed with good parents (long gone) who I suspect intuitively knew I was going to be a pain in the arse etc., (see all of above) and ensured that from an early age I knew how to fend for myself. I loved them dearly and still do, as I do my older brother whom I admire and am close to. That’s not always the case with siblings it seems, but I know nothing of it. We didn’t have books in the house, but from the age of about six, I know we went to the penny library at the end of the street and I would take out a book each week. I also discovered the ‘cinema’ about that time and I was hooked.

I wish I hadn’t…left it so late to start writing. Of course I have always been writing film scripts, visual storytelling and I suppose, or at least hope, that has prepared me for writing books.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is…the time in-between finishing a book and the publication date. No so much that I am eager to have a copy of the published book in my hands, as getting it out there and moving on to the next project. Nothing deader that a story told.

The last book I read was… The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The next book I’ll write is…the fifth book in my Belinda Lawrence mystery series, following on from Capable of Murder, The Embroidered Corpse, Bloody Ham, A Canterbury Crime.

Being an Australian author means…hard work, but fun with it.


Many thanks to Brian for taking the time to respond to our probing with such thoughtful responses. I can certainly relate to not recognising your younger self, though I have never done National Service (for which I am grateful) nor been in Cannes at film festival time (which I would love to have done). I bet Brian’s not the only author who hates that in-between time either.


Here are links to our reviews of Brian’s books (links are either here at Fair Dinkum or to Kerrie and Bernadette’s individual blogs (I think we both must have read the first book, Capable of Murder, in our pre-blogging days):

Book 2 – The Embroidered Corpse (Bernadette)
Book 3 – Bloody Ham (Bernadette)
Book 3 – Bloody Ham (Kerrie)
Book 4 – A Canterbury Crime (Bernadette)
Book 4 – A Canterbury Crime (Kerrie)

You’ll find Brian online at his website

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #4: Leah Giarratano



This is #4 in our new feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime. New South Wales writer Leah Giarratano has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to Leah’s responses…

I OFTEN WONDER … if my parents hid my admission letters to Hogwarts…

FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE ME AS … never available 🙂

I WILL NEVER … watch Two and a Half Men

MY GREATEST FEAR IS … being eaten alive by a crocodile (because their teeth are so dirty; eww)

MY WORST JOB WAS … stuffing prongs up chicken watoozies

I’M IN DIRE NEED OF … a clone

MY CHILDHOOD WAS … safe; which is maybe why I’ve been able to last so long as a trauma psychologist

I WISH I HAD… a tail with which to swing from tree to tree. Or to just swish when angry.

I WISH I HADN’T… fallen in love with so many of the cats I’ve rescued (sigh)

THE THING I HATE MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER IS … procrastination-by-chocolate – part of the job description

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS … The Magicians by Lev Grossman. v.good.

THE NEXT BOOK I’LL WRITE IS … Well, I’m halfway through Book 2 of my first young adult fantasy series (Disharmony), so the next book will be Book 3, to fulfil my contract with Penguin. The first book is called Disharmony: The Psychopath, the Empath and the Genius.
The publisher describes it as “a compelling, smart and sophisticated urban fantasy series with a psychological edge”. I’d describe it a little like this:

    Morgan Moreau was a truly terrible mother. An absolute witch. Literally. And although she spent decades trying to breed the right mix, there were only three children she ever wanted – Luke, Samantha and Jake, known in secret circles by other names: the Psychopath, the Empath and the Genius. But these secrets also extend to the siblings – they’ve never heard these names; hell, they’ve never even heard of each other, and they have no idea what makes them so special. But they’ll have to learn fast. Because from a gypsy camp in Bucharest, a juvenile lock-up in Sydney and a castle in Geneva, these teenagers are about to face Yakuza assassins, a homicidal gypsy king, brutal wardens and a voodoo warrior. And they’re only their mortal foe.

BEING AN AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR MEANS … being part of the gorgeous Australian book industry. All of the publishers, editors, bloggers :-), sales teams, festival organisers, book sellers, etc, I’ve met have been adorable.

Many thanks to Leah for agreeing to be interviewed and for giving such interesting responses.

Reviews of the first three of Leah’s books VODKA DOESN’T FREEZE, VOODO DOLL, and BLACK ICE featuring DS Jill Jackson can be found here on Fair Dinkum Crime.
Check Reactions to Reading for a review of WATCH THE WORLD BURN, the 4th in the series.

About Leah Giarratano (from Random House Australia)

Dr Leah Giarratano has had a long career as a clinical psychologist. Her professional background offers a unique selling point in this genre and gives an authenticity to her writing. Leah is an expert in psychological trauma, sex offences and psychopathology and has had many years assessing psychopaths and treating their victims. She has worked in psychiatric hospitals, with the defence force, and in the corrections system with offenders who suffer severe personality disorders. She has assessed and treated survivors of just about every imaginable psychological trauma, including: hostages; war veterans; rape, assault and accident victims; and has worked with police, fire and ambulance officers. In 2009 Leah began her television career, presenting Channel 7’s top rating Beyond the Darklands program, on which Leah was the expert psychologist who delved into the psyche of Australia’s most fearsome criminals.

The following links on Random House Australia will take you to all 4 of Leah’s books.

You can also purchase each of Leah’s books via Amazon for your Kindle.

Leah participated in 3 panels at the Perth Writers’ Festival including a session called Why We Lie where she talked with renowned psychologist Dorothy Rowe. This session is now available on the Big Ideas website.

Where you can find Leah in the next few months

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #3: Sulari Gentill

This is #3 in our new feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime. New South Wales writer Sulari Gentill has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to Sulari’s responses…

I OFTEN WONDER what would have happened to me if I’d never worked out that I was supposed to write. I wasn’t unhappy as a lawyer, just a little restless. I came to writing on a transitory whim. And I have these whims all the time…sculpture, lead lighting, porcelain doll making, pregnancy testing cattle – all of which I’ve done on impulse without any lasting damage. Writing turned out to be different, but it did start out as just something to do because the welding course I’d enrolled in was cancelled at the last minute. I wonder, if that course had gone ahead, would I have continued relatively happily as a vaguely dissatisfied lawyer who could weld, or would the untold stories in my head have eventually caused me to explode? It alarms sometimes that I was so unaware for so long of something that now seems as natural and essential as breathing.

FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE ME AS a little odd I think. Not to my face of course—they’re too polite for that…but there are clues, minor slips of the tongue which haven’t escaped my superior crime-writing skills of observation. Allow me to quote

“There’s just nothing you won’t say, is there?”

“You remind me of my mother…we always thought she had some sort of disorder.”

“Are you nuts?”

“I lie awake at night worrying about your husband.”

I am also aware that some of my friends visit particularly to collect “You wouldn’t believe what lunatic thing Sulari is doing now” stories. I’ve come to accept it as my role. Of course they’re all wrong…I’m not odd at all

I WILL NEVER take for granted how insanely lucky I am. I went into the whole business of becoming a writer quite naively. I wrote a book and sent it out. To my surprise and delight a number of publishing houses were interested the manuscript. The way I chose a publisher was ludicrous…based mainly on who responded in the most timely manner (see my confessions of impatience below) and a gut feeling. I barely read the contract, and after I met John and Alison Green, I would happily have signed anything. I’m a lawyer – I’d have pitched a fit if any one of my clients had entered into a long term legal relationship in such a manner. But I did, and it turned out to be the wisest decision I’ve ever made. You don’t often realise before you’re signed how important it is to work well with your publisher, to trust them, to have them know exactly what they’re doing because, let’s face it, as baby authors we’re often making it up as we go (in more ways than one)Pantera Press has proved a perfect fit not only for the kind of books I write, but for the kind of writer I am. But I do admit that my decision-making process in choosing Pantera was less than rigorous and I feel incredibly lucky that it all turned out so well.

MY GREATEST FEAR(in terms of writing)IS that I’ll climb into my own head and the words and people and stories that have always jostled for space in there, will have gone. I think a lot of writers fear something similar. We all have our techniques and our processes but still there’s a bit of mystery as to where these stories actually come from. It makes you a little nervous that one day they may stop. Outside writing-related fears….I don’t like spiders and I’m really freaked out by chicken feet…I quite like chickens, just not their feet.

MY WORST JOB WAS as one of those people who “cold call” in the evening to sell you something…I was selling life insurance. People yelled at me all the time. The list I was given hadn’t been updated in a while so occasionally I’d call for dead people and end up speaking to the bereaved. I felt like a ghoul. It was really horrible. Now when I receive one of those admittedly annoying cold calls, I try to be nice and remember that the poor schmuck on the other end of the line is just doing their job

I’M IN DIRE NEED OF coffee most of the time

MY CHILDHOOD WAS, sadly, a fair while ago now. To my recollection it was tumultuous…mainly because of the kind of child I was. Even back then, I lived in my head a great deal. I felt things very deeply and I had giant and often quite ridiculous dreams. I was sure world domination was possible if I just went about it the right way. Shy and excruciating self-conscious, I remember being an avid observer—particularly of people. I still like people-watching. Reading this over, it sounds rather disturbingly like the profile of a serial killer in the making…For the record, I’m not…I just make the murders up.

I WISH I HAD more time…to write, to spend with my sons, to paint, perhaps even to clean the house when the debris gets so thick I can’t remember what colour the carpet was

I WISH I HADN’T told my sons that “only girls match their socks”.  At the time it was expedient – I needed to get everybody dressed and out of the house and a three year old with mismatched socks is cute. But my eldest son is now ten, and he still wears odd socks.

THE THING I HATE MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER IS the waiting. I’ve always been unreasonably impatient. Although writing itself is a solitary sport, publishing is a team effort. So sometimes you just have to cool your heels and wait for clear spots in busy overcrowded schedules. The rub is that just because you’ve already been published, it doesn’t mean that you are any less anxious about what people will think of the next manuscript. From the moment I send off the draft I sweat on the response. Do they like it?…Is it any good?…Is it as good as the last one? My publishers(Pantera Press) are superfast readers who don’t seem to sleep, but it does take time to read something properly, and so there are still periods when I am waiting for judgement. Nervously. Without anything even resembling patience. Regardless, it’s not really acceptable to stand next to the publisher’s desk whining, “Have you read it yet?…What about now? Have you read it now?…What did you think? Did you like it?…”.

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS Where is Green Sheep by Mem Fox…selected by my five-year-old but an excellent choice nonetheless. An extraordinary study of the search for oneself in today’s multicultural, multicoloured world…just kidding. Seriously, a delightful book.

THE NEXT BOOK I’LL WRITE IS the fourth book in the Rowland Sinclair series…it doesn’t have a title yet I’m afraid, just a vague idea of location, a couple of historical events and characters into which Rowland will walk (perhaps literally). The second and third books have been written and are lined up for release (the second in July and the third in July next year). At the moment, I’m in the middle of writing the second book of Chasing Odysseus Series. Because the novel mythic fiction set in Homeric times, I try not to even think about this next Rowland Sinclair book for fear that I will confuse the voices and my ancient Greeks will suddenly start saying, “Good Lord…rather smashing that!”

BEING AN AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR MEANS a great deal to me for a couple of reasons.

I like being Australian. To me it’s a state of mind, more than a passport. It’s a way of looking at the world; it’s a particular sense humour, and a love of irony, a lack of bitterness and a belief that Jack is as good as his master. It’s undefinable but instantly recognisable. So just being an Australian anything makes me happy.

Being an author was one of those giant dreams I had when I was a child that I dismissed (along with my ambitions to be an astronaut, a movie star and some kind of monarch) as fanciful. Instead, I pursued a realistic profession. Eventually of course, I came to my senses, remembered the courage I’d had when I was young, and I started writing. I discovered what I was always meant to do. For me, being an Australian author is a privilege beyond anything else, a statement of both my identity and my dreams.

Thanks to Sulari for agreeing to be interviewed and for giving such thoughtful responses. I suspect she is not the only crime writer whose friends and family react like that to the author’s creations. And in your honour I’ll try to be nicer to those cold callers Sulari, promise.

You can read my review of the first book in Sulari’s historical crime series A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN at my other blog.

What’s next for Sulari?

In addition to being a crime writer Sulari also writes a young adult mythic fiction series. The series’ first installment, CHASING ODYSSEUS, was released on March 8 this year.

A new edition of A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN will be released on the 1st of June in the smaller format with a new cover designed around one of my own paintings (I guess Sulari paints in all that spare time she has!). Sulari has shared her new cover with us and I for one adore it.

A DECLINE IN PROPHETS, the second book of the Rowland Sinclair Series will be released on the 1st of July this year (yipee!). While I’m reasonably happy to wait until July for book number 2 now that I know book 3 is already written but I have to wait 14 months for it I might have to indulge in some criminal activity of my own…burglary, computer hacking…you’d think I’d have learned something from all these crime books eh?

Sulari will be appearing in 2 panels at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May this year – one called Secret Sydney Stories and another called Once Were Lawyers alongside another well known crime writer, Shamini Flint.

Sulari will also be appearing at the Crime and Justice Festival (Melbourne) in July and the Brisbane Writers’ Festival in September.

You can visit Sulari online at www.sularigentill.com

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #2: P.M. Newton

This is #2 in what we plan to make a regular feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime.
New South Wales writer P.M. Newton has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to P.M’s responses…

I often wonder…what happened to my personal jet pack? I was in primary school when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. We watched it in class then went out into the playground. The moon was out, we were all looking at it, and walking around in slow motion like we were up there. The future seemed very close and very modern and very certain. Seriously, Star Trek looked totally doable in my life time. Instead, we’ve ended up with science having to defend everything from climate change to evolution. I feel a little ripped off, to be honest.

Friends would describe me as… often distracted, rather than distracting.

I will never…say never. Not because I’m James Bond, but because I’ve changed directions so many times in my life that I think it’s probably unwise of me to definitively rule things in – or out. Twenty years ago, when I was in the police force, I probably would have said I’d never write a book, any book, let alone a book about crime.

My greatest fear is…all my teeth falling out. It’s my only recurring nightmare and, as I have bad teeth, it often tends to be a prescient one. 

My worst job was…running a court matter involving a young victim that, unlike a TV show but exactly like real life, ended badly with no justice, no satisfaction and no resolution.

I’m in dire need of…self-discipline.

My childhood was…happy. I was the youngest in a large family, and when I remember childhood it seems like it was always summer, I was always swimming and Christmas was always just around the corner. My father became ill with cancer when I was 12 and died when I was 14. Life divided abruptly into before and after childhood.

I wish I had… &I wish I hadn¹t… that way madness lies.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is…always wondering if the next thing I write is the one that will reveal me to be a false pretender, someone who doesn’t belong in the world of writers and writing.

The last book I read was…I usually have a few on the go, overlapping. So, The Legacy, by Kristen Tranter, which made me take a good long look at myself in regards to the way it dissects friendships, Bodywork by Sara Paretsky, an American crime writer with a social conscience and a sharp political stance. Right now, I’m about halfway through River of Gods by Ian McDonald, which is going to be turned into a movie, and will be amazing. Sci-fi, set in India, that is believable and mind blowing all at once.

The next book I’ll write is…the third in my crime series set in 1990s Sydney, featuring Detective Nhu, “Ned” Kelly. I’m inspired by the way The Wire used the serial element of storytelling to really unpick the fabric of a society. That is what I hope to do with with these books. Things changed in this country during that decade, a crime series is a great way to unravel just what and how.

Being an Australian author means… many different things to many different writers. To me, at this moment, it means using what I know and feel about my place – Sydney and its suburbs, New South Wales and its regions, this country, its people, its cops and its dark and wild places – and telling stories about what happened to us as a people during a decade where a lot of things changed, not necessarily for the better.

Thanks to P.M. (Pam) for agreeing to play along with our new feature and for revealing so much of herself.
See our review of  THE OLD SCHOOL

P.M. Newton joined the New South Wales police force in 1982 and over the next thirteen years worked in Drug Enforcement, Sexual Assault, and Major Crime. When she had eventually had enough of meeting people for the first time on the worst day of their lives, she resigned from the Job, went to Mali and wrote about music, then to India and taught English to Tibetan monks. She now lives in Sydney.
The Old School is her first novel. The second is with her publisher – Penguin – while the third is slowly leaking from her head into a small notebook.

The Concrete Midden: P.M. Newton’s blog

Events:
P.M. Newton will be appearing with James Bradley and Kirsten Tranter in “When Genres Attack” at Shearers Bookshop on Friday 13th May at 7:30pm
http://www.shearersbookshop.com.au/Events.asp?event=1
Teaching “Perfect Crime” at the NSW Writers Centre Saturday 4th June
http://www.nswwriterscentre.org.au/html/s13_shopping/view_product.asp?keyword=perfectcrime-june
She has an alarming schedule of events and appearances listed on her blog, including Sydney Writers’ Festival.

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focussed on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #1: Felicity Young

In the first instance of what we plan to make a regular feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime, Western Australian writer Felicity Young has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to Felicity’s responses…


I often wonder…What it would be like to be a man.
Friends would describe me as… The best Johnny Cash impersonator in the district.
I will never…travel without my tweezers again.
My greatest fear is…Growing a beard.
My worst job was…Sewing up the eyes of a corpse.
I¹m in dire need of…A new body
My childhood was…Different
I wish I had…Learnt my tables
I wish I hadn¹t…Sold my engagement ring to buy a horse
The thing I hate most about being a writer is…The sore back from sitting.
The last book I read was…The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths.
The next book I’ll write is…The third in my new historical mystery series.
Being an Australian author means… Destitution
Thanks to Felicity for agreeing to play along with our new feature. I love her short but intriguing sentences; on reflection it seems only natural for a crime writer to incorporate an air of mystery into her responses. Am I the only one trying to picture what dire emergency a pair of tweezers might have averted? Perhaps it’s something to do with Felicity’s greatest fear. What I want to know immediately though is where are the first two books in the historical mystery series if Felicity is already writing the third?
Felicity can be found online at her website where you’ll find more biographic details as well as information about the four books she’s published (so far). Here at Fair Dinkum Kerrie has posted reviews of two of Felicity’s books, A Certain Malice and Take Out to wet your appetites.
The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focused on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.