For starters.....





Top Women Crime Writers


'Tis a good day when you find yourself on a list with the likes of Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell, Linda La Plante and Angela Savage.  I'm very honoured to have my name appear on the same page as any of the extraordinary writers on this list.  Thank you Readings!


SheKilda...yes she did!


Last weekend I attended SheKilda, a conference of crime-writers from, let’s face it, the deadlier half of the species.  A gathering of truly dangerous women.  Between us we have murdered, tortured, and generally brutalised in every way imaginable.  Violence is our stock in trade. We do with style and no apology.

SheKilda, organised by the Victorian Sisters in Crime is the only conference of its type in the world.  It could be that other jurisdictions are too afraid to allow such a gathering… perhaps it is asking for trouble.

I was met at the Melbourne airport by the effervescent writer and publisher, Lindy Cameron, in a bus.  Now I have met Lindy and her bus before.  Consequently I was savvy enough to jump out at Domestic Arrivals (ostensibly to herd up arriving writers) while she circled the block.  Thus I was not in the bus when Lindy drove blithely onto the tarmac and was nearly taken out by Airport Security. I was oblivious to any interrogation or death threats that may have followed.  And fortunately Lindy found someone to bog up the bullet holes before returning the vehicle to Budget.  And so the conference began as it should, with a narrow escape from peril with Lindy Cameron behind the wheel.  

We travelled without further incident (though I suspect we were being followed by the authorities) to the Rydges in Carlton where lethal women from all over Australia and the world were checking in.

What followed was a series of cocktail parties, panels and awards ceremonies in which known criminal masterminds associated.  Several of my Sisters in Crime have already written about the programmed events and they were indeed revealing, insightful and wickedly fun.  For me however the highlights of this conference were in the background moments, doing things like:

  • Seeing and hugging my dear friend, Angela Savage, again.  Now hugs are not new… in fact there’s quite a lot of hugging and kissing going on in the literary world but I did notice that at SheKilda there was nothing restrained or affected about this form of greeting.  The hugs were warm and genuine, the excited salutations of kindred writers, old friends and new. 


  • Discussing lame ducks and new born foals with Karen Chisholm and getting to know Louisa Larkin while stuffing conference bags.  Louisa and I did come up with the bright idea of making video clips of the conference attendees answering the following questions.

Who would you most like to murder?  How would you do it?  And how would you cover it up?

We did embark on the project with enthusiasm but it soon became clear that a certain politician was overrepresented in the victim selection.  The lawyer in me kicked in.  Would having an entire conference profess that you were at the top of their hit list constitute a threat in the eyes of the law?  Certainly having so many women who were familiar with the mechanics of murder identify you as the person they would most dearly like to depart, could at the very least make you moisten your infamous swimming trunks.  And so, ironically, those clips were deleted in the interests of keeping SheKilda on the right side of the law.


  • Catching up with my delightful publishers John and Jenny Green who came to Melbourne to support me and SheKilda.  Before he left, I gave John (a crime writer himself) a gun-shaped USB, because he, like me, takes joy in such in things.  Unfortunately John’s consequent experience trying to get the said USB out through Melbourne airport was not so joyful.  See here.


  • Awaking early every morning despite the previous evening’s late revelry, because how could one sleep in when there were so many amazing people to talk to?  Over toast and tea, I chatted with Malla Nunn about the complexities of racial discrimination, and creative methods of imparting table manners. I talked to Carmel Shute about Robert Goddard, though at the time I had no idea who he was (Sorry Carmel – I have looked him up since and am very flattered by the comparison).  Over eggs, Sue Turnball and I had a conversation that I shouldn’t repeat or even admit to. And Shamini Flint shared the direction of her next work while drinking coffee and making wisecracks… as Shamini does. 


  • Discussing dedication pages with Malla Nunn, Lindy Cameron and a bunch of others in a very full elevator. It seems we all write acknowledgements sincerely and with much anguish.  Of course while there are often many people to whom a writer is grateful, it’s important to avoid sounding like one is making a drunken Oscars speech… or even a sober one.  


  • Comparing torture methods with Kathryn Fox and Margie Orford over hot chocolate… all right, the hot chocolate was just for me – they had cocktails like grown-ups.  Along the same lines swapping stories with Wendy James, (who was receiving “Come home Mummy, I love you” texts from her daughter) on how quickly and effectively children learn to torture you.


  • Meeting so many truly amazing, witty and generous colleagues, and a plethora of warm, insightful and enthusiastic readers.


  • Sharing a final coffee with Malla Nunn and Pam Newton (who won the Davitt for Readers’ Choice) at the airport and in doing so dragging out the warmth and feeling of community and inspiration that was SheKilda for just another hour.

And so it was.  SheKilda 2011.



Brisbane Writers' Festival


  In September I had the very great privilege of attending the Brisbane Writers' festival as an author.  I appeared in a couple panels, met some fabulous writers and had an absolutely extraordinary time.  




To this festival I also took my boys.  They are so often excluded from my life as writer - it was really special to be there with them this time.  Edmund (my eldest) participated in the BWF's remarkable Wordplay program meeting  such wonderful writers as Freya Blackwood, Morris Gleitzman, Sue Whiting and Emily Rhodda.  It was amazing to watch my boy fall in love with books and worlds they lead to.  I cannot recommend the Wordplay program enough.


In the Greenroom I met (shamelessly namedropping here) the inspiring Canadian author of Beautiful Buttons, Catherine Ann as well as the very warm and lovely Sally Rippin (Angel Creek and much more).

I sat on panels with Paul French, Linda Jaivin and Stephen Lang (A Scandalous Past) and Dr. Maria Hill, Prof. John Carrol and Adjunct Prof. Susan Hawthone (A Greek Tragedy).  Both panels were fun and enlightening conversations. 


My magician of a photographer and dear friend, Jason Henry of Lime Photography lives in Brisbane and so we took a few "author photos" after lunch at the State Library Cafe.  Of course Jason is a professional and so he came with kit and set up at the festival entrance to take a few snaps of yours truly.  Embarrassing, but amusing to watch bypassers observe the lights, umbrella, the photographer rolling on the ground for the right angle and think "Ooooh....she must be famous".  It smacked of fraud but it was funny.

It was an honour to be invited back to my hometown for the festival.  I had a brilliant time.  Thank you to all involved, especially Jane O'Hara and her wonderful team.  Bravo!



Byron Bay Writers' Festival II

Well the dust has finally settled after a wonderful few days at the Byron Bay, where I met some extraordinary writers, a plethora of supportive and enthusiastic readers and of course Kamahl!  Thank you and congratulations to Candida Baker and her amazing team for this unique and wonderful literary event. 


Alison Green, my beloved publisher, John M. Green, fabulous author of Born to Run which was launched at the Festival, and me.

  Karen Viggers, celebrated author of The Lightkeeper's Wife, who I met at a bus stop and who quickly became a dear friend.


 Chatting with the delightful Jesse Blackadder, author of The Raven's Heart.  Another friend made.


    Kidding around with the very warm and charming Ashley Hay, multi-award winning author of The Body in the Clouds.

 Me and my Dad....who still turns up for everything.



 Kamahl - a gentleman in every way.


  Dinner with the Greens, the Carrs, Trudy Johnstone and Rebecca Weisser.


All in all, what splendid company!