It was terrific news to learn that my novel of last year RIVER OF SALT had been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award for best Australian Crime Fiction. When I first started writing crime fiction back in about 1992, starting on City of Light, there was only really Peter Corris blazing a trail in the wilderness. The award was instituted in the year of City of Light’s publication but it wasn’t nominated for a Neddy, although it did go on to win the WA Premier’s Award for best Fiction. Then in 2016 I was rapt to actually be nominated and win the Ned Kelly for Before It Breaks, my return to writing books after more than a decade of screen writing.
But this is particularly exciting because the number and quality of Australian crime fiction novels out there is astounding. I really loved writing River of Salt as it allowed me to journey back to those precious years when I was about ten and the world around me was so clear and distinct. Enamored of the TV series Mad Men and creator Matthew Weiner’s idea of an ensemble series with each episode almost its own short story with a unifying theme, I set about writing a story that would give each of the book’s major characters their turn in the bright Australian sun. While the main through line relates to former Philadelphia hit-man Blake Saunders’ mission to preserve his small piece of Eden by discovering who brutally murdered a young woman, many of the chapters are almost stand-alones. Anyway, it was very satisfying to write and I think it’s one of my best novels. Surf noire!
Vastly different is the new one Over My Dead Body where I turned a 2003 screenplay of mine into a novel. The idea that inspired me was the thought of bringing Sherlock Holmes into the present day and pairing him with a female Watson. I wanted to explore Holmes’ humanity at the same time as he seeks to solve a modern day crime. I had planned originally for it to be the pilot of a TV series but trying to get such high concept ideas up out of Australia is a waste of time. When I saw a US TV series using part of the same ideas (albeit some years after my original conception) I was devastated. But in the end I decided my idea was different enough and good enough to deserve its own life. Originally set down for release in July 2020 it will come out end of this month (September 2020).
Meantime I’m working on a new Dan Clement novel set in the north-west and also recording an audio autobiography with music:Mugs Game a suburban Odyssey. And each month or so I will be releasing an audio short-story. There are three so far, so check them out. My recommended price is $1.99 but various distributors charge varying prices so shop around if the price looks high. So far the stories are: Artspresso – which features some of the characters from my 2000 novel Exxxpresso (it’s a fun crime heist story), Cabin Pressure, a thriller about a plane hi-jack in progress, and most recently Dead Cert, set in the south-west of Western Australia and introducing the character of Magdalena Wray, solicitor and local stipendiary steward who finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery. I do the narration and the talented Tony Cooper adds sound fx, music and high quality production.
Finally, I am able to reveal that I have been working on a biography of Indigenous AFL player Marlion Pickett. It is an amazing story of redemption and will be out with Simon and Schuster later in the year. Marlion has really turned his life around and his story will inspire you.
Stay well and safe, happy reading, dancing, couch-hugging.