Wendy James is an author I admire. Her plot lines are instantly intriguing, and she is a master at exploring the nitty-gritty of families in crisis. Her book THE MISTAKE was on my ‘want to read’ list as soon as I read the blurb, and it kept me up late at night until I’d finished it.

I am thrilled to have Wendy on the blog, telling us all about her latest release THE LOST GIRLS, and giving you lucky readers the chance to win not one but TWO of her books – THE MISTAKE and THE LOST GIRLS – just by leaving a comment below! Make sure you don’t leave without commenting once you’ve read the interview. 

9781921901058Welcome to the blog, Wendy! THE LOST GIRLS is your latest novel – what inspired you to write it?

The spark of the idea for The Lost Girls came from an old newspaper interview from the nineteen-eighties that offered up an interesting new perspective on the unsolved murder of a teenage girl in Newtown in the 1940s. I originally thought I’d like to write a novel set in that era, and in Newtown, but for various reasons – partly because of our own move back to the coast, which triggered a flood of reminiscences about my own adolescence  – the work evolved into something rather different. The Lost Girls ended up being set in the Sydney beach suburb of Curl Curl, and time-wise it moves between 2010 and the late nineteen-seventies – so the period and place of my own early teenage years.

 And now that THE LOST GIRLS has hit the shelves, are you working on a new novel?

Of course! It’s another suspense novel about families and crimes – but this time children are the perpetrators and the victims. I’m having fun playing with all our ideas about good parenting… Actually, from the perspective of a mother, it’s pretty scary stuff.

I recently had the pleasure of reading THE MISTAKE, and I was fascinated by the way you held the tension right until the last few lines. When you write, do you know the plot before you begin, or does it reveal itself as you go along?

I usually have a big idea in my head – some major plot element that I’m moving toward. But other than that, I’m pretty much hacking out the path as I go. And sometimes it really takes some forceful, sustained, exhausting hacking to get anywhere …

 9780143568568Are you aware of any common threads running through your novels?

Looking back over my work, the short stories and the suspense novels as well as the historical fiction,  I think the one thing that they share is a fascination with families undergoing some sort of crisis. What happens when something major  goes wrong (a death, a crime, a disappearance, a betrayal), and the whole structure begins to warp or even crumble? It’s what we all dread… I like to think that the other thing common to my work – it’s what I’m aiming for, anyway – is an element of suspense, a sense of mystery and revelation, that keeps the reader guessing, and reading.

Tell us one of the things you love about being a writer?

I really love being able to work at home. I’m quite disciplined about using all available time for writing, and some days the hours are ridiculous, but it’s good to be able to run your own race – especially when you’re juggling family responsibilities as well. The downside of this is the occasional feeling of loneliness… sometimes I’m desperate for those water-cooler conversations. I know the internet can provide aspects of that, but that can be very addictive, so I tend to avoid it…

When you hit a roadblock in your writing, how do you get going again?

When I’m about 50,000 words into a novel, the work generally starts to feel really really bad, the writing journey impossible, and I want to throw the whole thing into a drawer – or a dustbin. At this point a fascinating new premise will magically appear  – the premise of my next novel – and I decide that I’m going to stop writing the book I’m on and begin a new one, which is infinitely more interesting, and will be an absolute breeze to write. I inevitably get about 5000 words written before reality hits (it’s hard! It’s boring! I’ve got another 80,000 words to go!), and I slink back, chastened, to the old manuscript – which is relatively advanced, and really not all that bad…  Now that I’m aware of the pattern, I’m ready for it. This time I’ll just wait for the desire to pass, and not send my publisher and agent into a panic.

_MG_0975_2 - Version 4

Wendy James

What else are you feeling passionate about at the moment?

I don’t know that I’m passionate about it – in fact it’s probably more terror than passion –  but I’ve just started playing hockey. After years of wistfully watching my children play sport, wishing that I’d played a team sport in my childhood, I’ve signed up. I’m pretty hopeless, but it’s providing a few laughs. And I really like having an excuse to wear a short skirt and long socks at my advanced age… (the mouthguard not so much).

 I love book recommendations. Tell me about one book you’ve loved in the last year?

I’ve just finished Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely beside Ourselves, which was thought-provoking, hilarious – and heartbreaking.

And what are you looking forward to reading this year?

I’m really excited about the upcoming release of Cooper Bartholomew is Dead, by YA author Rebecca James. (Allen & Unwin, September). I’ve read bits and pieces of this in draft form (Bec’s my sister) but I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished work. What I’ve read so far is scary and sad and gritty and real – and I have to know what happened!

Finally, where can people go to find out more about you and your books?

I have a website – wendyjames.com.au – and also a Facebook author page – drop by and say Hi!

Thank you for visiting the blog, Wendy, it’s been a pleasure!



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Geramie kate barker
Geramie kate barker
May 8, 2014 8:24 pm

My favourite book so far thie year has been Tim Winton’s The Turning. Couldn’t put it down. Beautifully written, perfectly woven. Looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to re read it later in the year..

May 8, 2014 8:30 pm

There have been a few wonderful ones but I have to say The Weight of a Human Heart by Ryan O’Neill is my favourite so far. It is a short story collection and the stories were simply stunning to read and I adored each of them with everything I had. Each one was so different yet similar and many managed to change the way I look at the world which is what all great stories should be able to do. I loved it!

claire holderness
claire holderness
May 8, 2014 8:44 pm

My favourite book so far has been Crimson Dawn by Fleur McDonald. The characters were so real and I felt so much for the main character and what she went through

Juliet Madison
May 8, 2014 9:08 pm

Hi Sara and Wendy, the books sound great. I’ve read some good books this year, I think my favourite novel so far would be The Rosie Project which was a lot of fun, and I also enjoyed the memoir, Paris Letters. :)

Megan Warren
Megan Warren
May 8, 2014 9:41 pm

My favourites so far would be Under the Microscope by Professor Earl Owen an interesting read about a great Australian and Tim Winton’s Eyrie.

May 9, 2014 1:31 am

Hi Sara and Wendy. Thanks for an interesting interview! Am I remembering correctly that Come Back To Me was also born from a newspaper article? The book that has had the biggest impact on me so far this year would be Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. I found the depth of his main character quite astonishing!

May 9, 2014 10:00 am

I confess that my ‘to be read’ pile is teetering with great reads as I get very little time to read for pleasure outside of reading for work (it’s a tough problem to have :P), but I’ve recently started a memoir by Cyndi Lee MAY I BE HAPPY which I’m enjoying. Love this interview as all of you (Sara, Wendy & Rebecca) are incredible at writing suspense with heart – it makes the stories real and compelling to read. Can’t wait to read THE LOST GIRLS!

May 9, 2014 11:40 am

Hi Sara, That was a very interesting interview. I have just finished “A Place of Secrets” by Rachel Hore and it was very captivating and a great many secrets it had!
Looking forward to your new book!

May 12, 2014 2:41 am

liked rush too far by Abbi Glines

Andrea Johns
Andrea Johns
May 12, 2014 2:43 pm

My favourite book so far this year would be The Tying of Threads by Joy Dettman which concluded The Woody Creek series. Fantastic novels set in the 1920’s to the present day in country Victoria. I would have loved to have lived back then to experience the country in ‘the olden days’.

Cheryl Moulton
Cheryl Moulton
May 18, 2014 12:51 pm

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey a fantastic Australian novel, funny and yet heartbreaking and full of wisdom, a really wonderful read

Vicki kavanagh
Vicki kavanagh
May 24, 2014 4:51 pm

I have recently finished ‘the Paris letters ‘ and just loved it. Being lucky enough to have visited paris twice and getting ready for a family trip to Europe again, made it even more special as I could just imagine and visualise some of the settings and feelings

May 28, 2014 7:06 pm

All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth, the Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

May 28, 2014 11:15 pm

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova and The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

May 29, 2014 9:41 am

Miss 10 and I have been reading The Adventures of Stunt Boy and his Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold by Lollie Barr (great name)
We take in turns reading out loud to the other and the book is such a great book that has held our attention all the way we have had many laugh out loud moments.

I am also just a little way through The Word Ghost and I am really enjoying it.