Entries in Karen Viggers (3)


Jugiong Writers' Festival

In March (yes I know that was a while ago - I'm sorry)  I was a guest of the Jugiong Writers' Festival.  Jugiong is tiny little town (even smaller than Batlow) about and hour or so from Canberra.  Despite is diminutive size is holds the most wonderful writers' festival every couple of years.  This year the guests included Stan Grant, Di Morrissey, the ladies of Jane Campion, Margareta Osbourne, Karen Viggers, Deb Stevens and myself.  It was warm, relaxed, thoughtful and sold out event.  To the festival committee I can only say Bravo!... and thank you for having me.



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I have been tagged by Angela Savage (Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript 2004, Winner of the Scarlett Stilletto 2011 and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award in 2007 and 2011)  and P.M. Newton (Winner of the Davitt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!



Final Catch Up Post - Snowy Readers and Writers' Festival



This Easter weekend I had the honour of being a guest at the inaugral Snowy Readers' and Writers' Festival.  We set out on Good Friday, for the trek over the hill to Jindabyne.  Along the way we stopped at the old Kiandra cemetery, to wander among the old graves and so the boys could tangle a line in the little creek at its foot. 

I first spoke in Jindabyne  in 2010, three days before the official release of my debut noel (A Few Right Thinking Men), at an event to celebrate the birthday of the Snowprint Bookshop, and so there was a certain homecoming to presenting my 5th published novel at the Festival.

It was delightful to catch up with some of the wonderful people who first supported the book of a then totally unknown writer, slightly panicked writer.  

Also on board for the festival was my dear friend Karen Viggers (The Lightkeeper's Wife), who I met at a bus stop in Byron Bay,  Jane Carroll (author of many books included El Toro and Crikey), the illustrious Marion Lanigan (Shooting the Fox) and the highly amusing debut sensation, Daniel Omalley.  I added my two cents worth to a wonderful session of women writers chaired by  the very charming Deb Stevens.  I also presented later by myself, on books and writing and anything else that came to mind.  I finished that session rather memorably by recklessly allowing my six-year-old to ask a question.  He'd had his hand up for at least 10 minutes. 

Me: "Yes, Atticus - what would you like to know?"

Atticus:  (sighing and slumping his shoulders wearily)  "When are you going to stop writing?"

As they say - never work with children or animals.

Edmund participated in a workshop presented by none other than John Marsden, and George Negus, Peter Rees, Sandy Mackinnon and plethora of other writers, readers artists were wandering about the place.

The weather could not have been more perfect, nor the conversation more inspiring. And the company... well it was something to write home about!