The books I’ve been enjoying lately have obviously struck a chord with judges too as they are all award winners and/or nominees.
I was intrigued by the unusual take on crime fiction in Emily Macguire’s An Isolated Incident (shortlisted for the Stella Prize), it’s a stark reminder of the hidden victims of criminal events – and how those looking to capitalise from them might justify their actions. I did have thoughts on the ending but don’t want to add any spoilers! This is a great book for book clubs.
I took my time with Heather Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love (winner of the Stella Prize) as it’s a brilliant, deftly original piece that needs savouring. The novel is a great character study but also a really intriguing portrayal of Marina Abramovic, who has fascinated me over the last year as she keeps coming to my attention – both for this event ‘The Artist is Present’ and for the performance art she has done in the past (imagine walking halfway along the Great Wall of China to say goodbye to your ex!). Many of these are mentioned in the novel. In addition to this, I both learned from and admired Rose’s superb writing.
Finally, my recent personal favourite is The Power by Naomi Alderman (winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize) – about a world where young girls suddenly get an extra ability – an electrical charge through their fingers that changes the order of society. The image of boys being loaded onto a school bus for their own safety will stay with me, as will many other parts of this book. I’m not at all surprised it has been well endorsed by Margaret Atwood, and I highly recommend this for lovers of dystopian fiction – and if you haven’t yet dipped your toes into this genre, then this is a great place to start.
If you’re in Australia and New Zealand, copies of my new novel The Hidden Hours should be appearing in a bookstore near you over the coming week! And if you’re an international reader, then head to Amazon where you can preorder the title now, until it becomes available on Kindle on 3 April. I sincerely hope you enjoy my latest novel!
I’m very excited to tell you that I have a new novel in production. It’s called THE HIDDEN HOURS, and it’s a story of family betrayals and shocking secrets, wrapped in pacy suspense. It was quite a challenge to write, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that in the coming months! Set between London and outback Western Australia, here’s a teaser:
Arabella Lane, popular children’s publisher and daughter of a prominent MP, is found dead in the Thames on a frosty winter’s morning after the office Christmas party. No one is sure whether she jumped or was pushed. The one person who may know the truth is the newest employee at Parker & Lane – the office temp, Eleanor.
Eleanor has travelled to London to escape the repercussions of her traumatic childhood in outback Australia, but now tragedy seems to follow her wherever she goes. She falls under suspicion as one of the last people to talk to Arabella, and because she cannot recall a few vital hours of that night. When she finds herself holding a key piece of evidence, she’s unsure whether she dare reveal it to the police, in case she thereby implicates herself in some kind of foul play.
As Eleanor desperately tries to uncover the truth, her extended family are dragged further into the murky terrain that surrounds Arabella’s death. Meanwhile, Arabella’s violent and arrogant husband Nathan seems to suspect Eleanor of being involved, and is determined to get her to confess. Caught in a crossfire of accusations, Eleanor begins to fall apart, her memories of past and present intermingling. Soon she is in a race against time to find out just what happened that night, because danger lurks far closer to home than she could ever have imagined.
I hope that entices you, and I can’t wait to share more very soon. Published by Simon & Schuster, it will be on the shelves in April 2017.
I was interviewed by Michael Cathcart alongside Sulari Gentill earlier this year, for ABC Radio National’s Books and Arts program. You can listen online now. The interview – called ‘Murder in the House’ – was recorded at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival, and we covered a LOT of ground! If you’re interested in crime and thriller writing, have a listen.
I was recently invited for a Q&A on Sandi Wallace’s blog. Sandi is a Melbourne-based crime writer, and her debut novel Tell Me Why won the Reader’s Choice Davitt Award for 2015. I talked to Sandi about my latest novel All That is Lost Between Us, some of my publishing experiences so far, the books and authors that inspire me, and my tips for writers. You can read the full interview here, and while you’re visiting check out Sandi’s book trailer and some of the other great guests she’s had on her blog lately, including debut crime novelists Aoife Clifford and Cath Ferla, who have both written wonderful stories.
I really enjoyed writing my post for Annabel Smith’s fascinating new blog series ‘How to become a writer’. There are so many things that have influenced my writing that it was hard to narrow down my thoughts into just a few hundred words! You can read the full blog here.
It is always a treat to participate in a group blog with my very special writing group, consisting of Natasha Lester, Amanda Curtin, Annabel Smith, Dawn Barker, Emma Chapman and Yvette Walker. On this occasion we have come together to celebrate the recent release of my own book All That is Lost Between Us, and Natasha’s newly released A Kiss for Mr Fitzgerald. Both of these books feature young girls determined to pursue their passions – so it seems only fitting that our blog posts are all about what we read as young women that inspired us to follow our own dreams.
On the surface, the two books I am going to write about could not be more different, and yet they were both books I read multiple times in my late teens, and they both continue to influence me today. The first, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, is a book I would probably not have picked up at the time, had it not been on my study list for my A level exams. I had never read anything like it. I couldn’t claim to understand it and yet I was immersed in the sensory overload on every page; the voices of each character so distinct and so close; everything framed by the rise and fall of the sun and the surge and retreat of the waves, as a day grows and blossoms and then fades, just as a life does. It was a book I returned to explore again and again, entranced by both its complexity and simplicity. As a reader, I was completely absorbed by its visceral narrative. As a young writer, I was learning so much. Since then I have read many of the works of Virginia Woolf, but The Waves is still my favourite.
The second book I remember reading repeatedly as a teen was completely different. Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine is an utterly original, humorous non-fiction book on the plight of some of the most endangered animals in the world. (Since Douglas Adams’s death, it has been re-envisioned and updated by Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine in another book and TV series.) It not only appealed to my love of animals, but it also tapped in to my growing awareness of environmental problems, and how difficult it is to change human patterns of behavior to avoid the preventable and tragic loss of species. It was the very first book to focus my attention on the delicate nature of biodiversity, and how much work needs to be done to preserve and cherish the world around us. Last Chance to See is twenty-five years old this year, but its urgent appeal to humanity remains as relevant as ever.
Please take the time to visit my fellow writers’ blogs and learn who inspired them when they were younger – there are some wonderful choices and stories in this collection:
Natasha Lester remembers her love of Jane Eyre.
Dawn Barker recalls an powerful read that made her determined to work in the mental health industry.
Emma Chapman talks about a former boss who proved to be an inspiration.
Annabel Smith describes the impact Sylvia Plath’s diaries had on her as a teen.
Yvette Walker tells us how Graham Greene influenced her as a writer and reader.
Amanda Curtin celebrates Eleanor Alice Buford Hibbert, whose name is less familiar than her wonderful work, thanks to her numerous pseudonyms.
And finally, don’t forget to tell us who inspired you when you were growing up!
All That is Lost Between Us is part of Simon & Schuster’s Better Read Book Club. If you belong to a book club, check out their page and register your book club for a chance to win books for all your members, and to be kept up to date with upcoming great reads. You’ll find a sample chapter of All That is Lost Between Us here, and reading group questions here.