The Davitt Awards

    Paving the New Road finds itself on the shortlist for this year's Davitt Award amongst the books of some truly stella crime writers.  


Adult fiction (links are to reviews at Fair Dinkum Crime)
Cold Grave (Kathryn Fox, Pan)
Paving the New Road (Sulari Gentill, Pantera Press)
Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan)
Walking Shadows (Narrelle M Harris, Clan Destine Press)
Silent Fear (Katherine Howell, Pan)
Silent Valley (Malla Nunn, Macmillan)
Sisters of Mercy (Caroline Overington, Bantam)
The Poet’s Cottage (Josephine Pennicott, Macmillan)

The Children of the King (Sonya Hartnett, Viking)
Moonlight and Ashes (Sophie Masson, Random House)
Truly Tan (Jen Storer, ABC Books)
The Tunnels of Tarcoola (Jennifer Walsh, A&U)

True crime
The Waterlow Killings (Pamela Burton, Victory)
Missing You (Justine Ford, Five Mile Press).


Congratulations fellow listees... I am very honoured to be among you.  I've booked my flights and am so looking forward to a wonderful evening with my Sisters in Crime on the 31st of August, when the winner shall be announced. 

....Just glancing through my previous posts and realise I forgot to mention that I won the Davitt Award last year for A Decline in Prophets.  I'd like to think it was modesty but it's more likely I got distracted and forgot to update my website!

It's a bit late (sorry) but this is what my Davitt looks like!











Catching up

  So...what have I been doing instead of updating my website?  Quite a lot actually... (she says defensively).

Gentlemen Formerly Dressed (Rowland Sinclair 5) has now been edited, and "covered".  All that's left is the final proofing and tweaking, and the manuscript goes off to become a book. The cover (by Luke at Blue Cork) is my favourite yet.   I wish I could post it now...but they'd have to kill me.

I also revised  Escaping Judgement, which was my very first novel, and which has now found it's way to the top (or near the top) of the publication pile.  Revisiting a novel you first wrote so long ago (5 years now) is an interesting process... there were things I just didn't know about the craft back then and things I blanched from wrting directly because I was new and hesitant.  Anyway it's done!

Aside from that I've been attending festivals!  All truly wonderful in their own way.

First off the rank was the Snowy Readers and Writers Festival in Jindabyne.

    IYou can't help but feel important when they put your face on cake! 




Old friends and fellow writers - Jesse Blackadder and Karen Viggers.

    The very warm and charming Sue Pieters Hawke.   


 Murder in the Mountains... Batlow's own Crime Fiction Festival, graced by such literary masters as B.Michael Radburn, Malla Nunn, P. M. Newton, Vikki Petraitis, John M. Green and me!  I live there - they can't not invite me.



Then it was up to Bundaberg (via Brisbane where I caught up with my Dad) for the Bundaberg Writefest.



 Deonie Fiford who has now edited 5 of my books but who I had to go to Bundaberg to meet!


I jumped off the plane from Bundaberg, and hopped on another to Sydney for the Sydney Writers' Festival.  I arrived in time for the ABIA Awards dinner in which my magnificent publishers Pantera Press were shortlisted for Best Small Publisher.   


 And then I immersed myself in literary atmosphere before appearing on a panel on Fantastical Stories with K.B. Hoyle and Kate Forsythe.






   I dropped by the ABC Studios to shoot an author interview for The Bookclub....


...and the Tom Keneally Centre at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts to speak about The Blood of Wolves.



 And now I'm home... updating... and writing.


I haven't died.....



Once again I have been disgracefully neglectful of this website. I plead in mitigation that I've been writing.  Today is the deadline for the next Rowland Sinclair novel which will be titled Gentlemen Formerly Dressed for release later this year.  I submitted it yesterday!  January and February have been huge months in terms of intense word production... so much so that it feels a little odd not to be writing anything at the moment.

In the meantime, whilst I've had my head in a Rowly manuscript, The Blood of Wolves has been approaching release.  It will be out tomorrow.  The Hero Trilogy is now complete.  I remember so clearly writing the very first sentence of the first book (Chasing Odysseus) some ways it's like yesterday, in others I feel like I've always known Hero and her brothers.

There's no official launch for The Blood of Wolves.... it will slip quietly onto the shelves tomorrow.  But on the 14th of March I will be speaking in conversation with Dr. Alastair Blanshard at the University of Sydney, as part of the Classics and Ancient History Research Seminar Program.  (Everybody's welcome)  I could not be more honoured and excited by this invitation.  Alastair, who I have been known to refer to as my Classcist, has had a huge hand in these books.  He first introduced me to Homer's Odyssey many many years ago, he's checked my translations from the original Greek and Latin, and in fact edited The Blood of Wolves.  Now that the trilogy is done, a conversation with Alastair about the challenges and joys of Mythic Fiction seems very right somehow. 

Without making this post sound like an Oscars speech, I do need to declare how extraordinarily lucky I am to be with Pantera Press.  The Hero Trilogy is an unusual series with a challenging market and yet my books have received all the care and support of which any author could dream.

Now it's up to Hero and the Herdsmen of Ida.  Go forth little book and find friends.


PS: The "Read the First Chapter" button doesn't work on this website but if you're interested try here.


The Next Big Thing


I have been tagged by Angela Savage (Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript 2004, Winner of the Scarlett Stilletto 2011 and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award in 2007 and 2011)  and P.M. Newton (Winner of the Davitt People’s Choice 2011 and the Asher Literary Award) for The Next Big Thing Meme.  Aside from the fact that being tagged by writers of the calibre of Angela and Pam is pretty wonderful in itself, the tagging has prompted me to finally update this website which has been sorely neglected in the past couple of months whilst I’ve been gadding about at Writers Festivals and such. 

So here goes.....


 1)     What is the working title of your current/next book?


I’m in the fairly early stages of my latest novel and an appropriately witty title has not yet jumped out at me, so the manuscript is still filed as Rowly V.

2) Where did the idea come from?


For this book, I’m not really sure.  The location of the setting and the beginning the novel is simply a natural progression from where I left Rowland and his entourage at the end of Paving the New Road.  I never really have an idea for a book as such… I have an idea for an opening paragraph, and then various ideas and stories seem to wander in of their own accord as I’m writing. Each small idea generates others and somehow they all combine to make a coherent whole by the end of the novel.  I still find the process a bit mysterious really.

3) What genre does your book fall under?


I like to think of my work as crime fiction (mainly because I love belonging to the Sisters in Crime who in my opinion simply rock!), but my books also been called historical fiction, Australian fiction and political thrillers.  I was even short-listed for a literary fiction prize once.  Go figure!  At heart I’m just a story-teller.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


Rowland and his friends are so clear in my mind it’s really difficult to imagine them as anyone else, anyone real… but that’s a very boring answer and so I’ve tried.  I’ve managed to find reasonable facsimiles for four of the main characters… it’s all too hard!


Milton the Communist Poet : Noah Taylor (about 10 years too old)

   There’s something very bohemian and rakish about Noah Taylor which fits with my image of Milton.



Wilfred, Rowland’s eldest brother and head of the Sinclair family : Shaun Micallef/Hugo Weaving (Nb – both are also a little bit too old for the part but they seem reasonably well preserved, so maybe.) 


Both Mr Weaving and Mr Micallef (when he’s not making jokes) exude a certain quiet power which works with the way I see Wilfred.


Rowland, gentleman artist with a penchant for sleuthing : Ernest Hemmingway (dead… and not an actor)… the Rowland in my head looks something like this.





Edna, sculptress and the great love of Rowland’s life : Anna Buckley who appeared in the Ziegfield Follies in 1920s (Probably dead or about 110)


This is Edna as I imagine her.  I’ve painted from this photograph (by Alfred Cheney) a couple of times… I never tire of it.

 So I’ve cast people who are either too old or too dead to play the part… which leads me to promise that if my books are ever optioned…I’ll try to keep my nose out of the casting… unless they’re making a zombie version, in which case I’ll be able to tell them exactly who to dig up!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


What happened to Rowland Sinclair next….


I’m afraid that’s the best I can do at this stage… I have no idea what happens beyond the first 10 chapters which is all I have currently written.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


The novel will be published by Pantera Press with a release date of September 2013.  I don’t have an agent.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?


I haven’t finished the first draft yet.  I started about 6 weeks ago and will deliver the manuscript by the end of February…. so, if all goes well, around 5 months.  For me, this is usually heaps of time, but my day job is a little intense at the moment and I have Christmas and the school holidays plonked in the middle of this period.  Increasingly I’m forced to stop writing and deal with life!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 Many people tell me that my sons look alike… I can’t see it. (I promise there is a point to this digression)  To me they are as different as night a day.  I can see all sorts of differences that others seem to miss but perhaps that is because they are mine and I know every expression and contour on their faces.  The same is true of my books. (…and here’s the point)  I find it very hard to see overall similarity because the detail in my work is so known to me. 

Others (very nice others) have compared my work to Agatha Christie, Evelyn Waugh and Boris Akunin.  One extraordinarily kind reviewer even drew parallels between my books and Dickens!  I am of course flattered by these comparisons, but I find it impossible to judge myself. 


That being said, I think anyone who likes my books would also like Robert Gott’s Will Power Series.  Though his work and mine are different in a lot of ways, there is a keen sense of the absurd in the Will Power books which I think exists—though perhaps less overtly—in mine as well.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?


This is (or will be) the fifth book in the Rowland Sinclair series.  At this stage I’m inspired mainly by Rowland and the other characters whose stories I tell.  They seem now to have an existence independent of me… they beckon and I simply follow and watch and write.  I’m not so much inspired as enticed, sometimes compelled.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?


London in 1933, political intrigue, English aristocrats, hedonists, fascists, spies, drag balls, cocktails, cross-dressing, murder and art… so far.  I’m not sure what’ll turn up in the next 30 odd chapters.


So that’s me….


Now I get to tag!  By Boxing Day this year the following writers should have responded to the above questions as well.

 Karen Viggers, author of The Light Keeper’s Wife, who I met at a bus stop in Byron Bay.  You meet the most wonderful people at bus stops.  The Light Keeper’s Wife is haunting work woven around love and loss, belonging and regret.  Karen brings to her writing a sensitivity that is rare and moving.

L.A. Larkin is the author of Thirst which I see on bookshelves wherever I go.  I see L.A. herself less often but I am always delighted to do so.  As intrepid as her heroes, Louisa travels to the ends of the earth and sews up pigs in order to give her books an amazing level of authenticity.

John M. Green’s most recent book, Born to Run, is a political thriller of immense proportions… the race for the White House no less.  It’s a brilliantly crafted novel with a surprise at every turn.  The pace is relentless and the story compelling.  What’s more, John is a gorgeous human being and so modest that he doesn’t have a website, and so I will be posting his response here on the 26th.


Now I’m not actually supposed to upload this post until the 19th but I’ll be in Canberra doing a “tardis” interview with Michael Cathcart for Books and Arts Daily... so this is going up early.  Unfortunately it means that some of the writers I’ve tagged haven’t had time to get back to me (you know who you are)… so I’ll be adding to this post (hopefully) as and if they come in.


Other than that MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Bendigo Writers' Festival



In August I attended the very first Bendigo Writers Festival, which ran as smoothly as if it had be doing so for years. I was honoured appear to in a very thought-provoking session about writing and social consciousness with  Alexis Wright, Hanifa Deen and Arnold Zable, moderated by Shannon Kerrigan, all writers whom I regard with respect and admiration and warmth. I also had my own "spotlight" session in which I was interviewed by the lovely Mary Pomfret. Between sessions I talked about all manner of things with the wonderful people of, and visitors to, Bendigo. Thank you Rosemary Sorrenson and your tireless committee for an entirely delightful weekend.