Entries in Malla Nunn (3)


Awards and Snow


Another mad month... I seem to spend my life hurtling these days.  The second half of the year is always particularly busy for me.  I usually have a book coming out and the months before are filled with all those precedent things like copy edits and cover finalisation.  

It's also award season.  Now, awards are a funny thing... a book honoured with an award is still the same collection of words and ideas that it was before the award was made.  You haven't actually achieved anything more than when you first wrote the novel... and yet there is something undeniably heartening about having your work recognised. 

I know myself that I often feel like a pretender in the writing community... like I accidentally walked into a gathering of the extraordinarily talented and erudite without the requisite security pass.  And so being included on a shortlist is for me a kind of relief... it says, they know I'm here and they want me to stay (or they're not goign to kick me out, at least).  It's silly, I know.

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have found A Murder Unmentioned on two shortlists.  The first to be announced, was the Davitt Award in which it was shortlisted for Best Adult Novel by a woman.  The award is presented annually by the Sisters in Crime Australia.  I'm joined on that shortlist by two of my very talented writing friends, Honey Brown and Malla Nunn.

A Murder Unmentioned was also shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award in the Best Book category. It's the first time any of my books have been recognised by the Neddies, and Malla Nunn joins me on that shortlist too.

It's very cool.  And particularly lovely to know that despite being the sixth book of the series, the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries is not losing momentum.  Let the tail wag!

My other brilliant news is that I've been offered (and have accepted) the Eminent Writer in Residence Fellowship at the Museum of Australian Democracy.  For those of you who don't know, the Museum of Australian Democracy is at Old Parliament House in Canberra. Six years ago (in September in fact) when Pantera first offered me a publishing contract, they proposed driving to Batlow to meet me and sign the necessary documents. Afraid it would mean I'd have to clean the house, I suggested we gather in Canberra instead. I chose Old Parliament House as the venue because the building seemed to embody a lot of the themes about which I wanted to write... I thought it would be somehow symbolic to meet my publishers for the first time and sign a contract there (Yes I know...debut authors are ridiculously romantic about such things!) So now, I'm returning to research and begin writing what will be my thirteenth novel. There's a rather wonderful circularity about it, and despite having become a hardened veteran, I can't step into Old Parliament House without recalling the excitement and happiness of that time. I am very grateful for the selection panel's broad interpretation of the word "eminent" and to the ACT Writers' Centre and the Museum of Australian Democracy for this opportunity.  I am also in awe of the generosity of my husband, Michael, who is once again picking up the slack as I wander off to write

National Bookshop Day was spent in Jindabyne with Snowprint Bookshop who invited not only me but Michael and the boys for a wonderful booksy weekend in the mountains which included a specially created Rowland Sinclair themed game of Murder!



We returned home to more snow!  It's been a gloriously cold winter.


And of course, Give the Devil His Due was copy-edited and the cover finalised... ta da!


What happened to 2014?

It is with some sense of bewilderment that I note the date in the bottom right hand corner of my computer. I must confess that 2014 sped by so fast that I had barely come to realise it was no longer 2013!  The final months of the year in particular left me spinning.

A Murder Unmentioned was released on 1 November.  Michael (my husband) and I were in Sydney.  He was recovering from a cornea transplant and I was leading him about.  I did manage to lead him to dinner with the divinely talented but wonderfully human Malla Nunn and P.M. Newton.  We ate cornbread and okra in this literally brilliant company... see what I did there?... ;) 

I made it back home in time to drive up to Thredbo for the Snowy Readers and Writers' Festival which I have been a part of since its inaugral event.  My boys came with me.   One of the best things about this crazy profession of mine is that Edmund and Atticus have the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people.  Poets like Omar Musa and Victoria McGrath, writers like Anna George, Karen Viggers, Biff Ward, David Leser, Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis.  I think (hope) it compensates for all the time their own mother is distracted by imaginary people.


I returned to the peaks again at the end of that month for the official launch of A Murder Unmentioned at a magnificent event at Crackenback Lake Resort hosted by the Snowprint Bookshop.  Despite having nine books to my name, I am at a loss to describe how special that night was.  The band was brilliant, the singers superb, the venue perfect, the company delightful and to top the night off with superlatives, the drama students of Snow Mountains Grammar School performed a chapter from A Murder Unmentioned so well that I swear they had been inside my head!  It was an evening so extraordinary that I wish I could bottle it somehow to share with the world, because something that wonderful shouldn't belong to just me.  But of course I haven't quite worked out how to contain the essence of a experience so photos will have to suffice!



But that's not all!  I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Melbourne for the Crime and Justice Festival hosted by Reader's Feast Bookstore.  This is a truly unique event which discusses not only crime in literature but also addresses questions of social justice and reform.  I appeared on two panels... the first with my dear friends and admired colleagues, Angela Savage and Robert Gott, and later with my Pantera stablemates Melanie Casey and Josh Donellan.  We discussed all manner of things, shared experiences, ideas and  laughter with wonderful audiences of readers. 


And then there was Christmas... which I spent away from home this year with my Dad and sister.  Dad had surgery just before Christmas and Devini and I headed up to Brisbane to keep an eye on him and do what we could.  In the flurry I neglected to update this site and wish you all the very best of the Season and a happy and healthy New Year, but the wish is now given and no less sincere for being so late!





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.