The month that was.....

     The past month or so has more insane than most.  It seemed as though the universe converged on August.  It began with the Woodland Film Festival, in which I had the honour of being a judge.  Now, my knowledge, such as it is, is about story and not the technical aspects of film , but fortunately, my fellow judges were experts and more than made up for that deficiency.  It was quite wonderful to consider storytelling through another medium... what worked, what didn't, what made you laugh, what stayed with you.  The only section from which I was recused was the Local Film category.  My sons, Edmund (13) and Atticus (8) had entered and been shortlisted in that category and eventually won with a funny little film entitled Joe McLean and the Dame, of which they were producers, writers, cast and crew.  As you can imagine, our home movies can be a little elaborate!

August also saw me off to the Melbourne Writers' Festival for the first time.  I appeared in a wonderful panel entitled Writing Fashion with Danielle Whitfield (curator) and Brownyn Cosgrove (textile conservator), who were both behind the Fashion Detective Exhibition for which I wrote The Bequest.  I was a guest author in the MWF/Dumbo Feather's conversation caravan, where I had coffee and nibbles and while talking to festival goers in the intimate setting of the an aluminium caravan parked in Federations Square.



The Melbourne Writers Festival was also an opportunity to catch up with writer friends.  I had a particularly glorious day with my dear friend and fellow crime-writer, Angela Savage .  We toasted her double short-listing (Ned Kelly Award, Davitt Award) for The Dying Beach, talked writing, people and plans.  We shopped for clothes and  knelt on the floor of chic bakery just so we could get the cake display into our selfie.

I also had dinner with gentleman and fellow writer, Steve Eather, (who I met through Rowland Sinclair) and some lovely ladies to whom he had introduced Rowland.  A perfectly charming evening in every way.


 While I was in Melbourne I began a program of releasing books  into the wild... I don't who'll find them or where they'll end up but it was great fun finding places to leave them.


Of course I was assisted in this book releasing excercise by my sister and my Dad, who were both in Melbourne, and Angela as well.  For some reason you feel a bit guilty leaving a book... like you're abandoning a child... or littering....







In amongst all this I was lecturing LIT221 at Charles Sturt University... my first academic appointment.   Had a brilliant time!  Conducted my last lecture just before I flew out for Melbourne and my dear students brought cake... because clearly if I have taught them anything, it is that literature is enhanced by cake!  My job is done!


Interview with Rowland Sinclair

My dear friend and fellow writer, Angela Savage, has invited me to join the Meet the Main Character Blog Tour, which involves posting an interview with ones main character and inviting other writers to do the same.  You can read an interview with Angela's vibrant and uncompromising private detective, Jayne Keeney here

Interviewing Rowland Sinclair was admittedly something of a challenge... he's not always forthcoming with information.  I was forced to resurrect my past as a lawyer and cross-examine him a little... so please forgive the extra questions - they were necessary.


What is your name?

Rowland Henry Ffrench Sinclair.  How do you do?

  •   French with two “f”s?

My mother’s family name.  My friends call me Rowly.


Are you a fictional or historical character?

Technically speaking, I’m a fabrication of Ms. Gentill’s rather restless imagination.  Or I was initially.


When and where is your story set?

I first became acquainted with Ms. Gentill at the end of 1931, in Sydney.  She simply arrived one day.  Judging by the state of her attire, I assumed that she was a financially embarrassed painter or sculptor who’d come in with one of my other houseguests.  As it turned out, Ms. Gentill is not an artist but a writer, and though she’s fairly unobtrusive, she won’t leave.  She always seems to be watching.  It was a somewhat unnerving at first, but I have, over the years, become accustomed to her peculiar presence.  She seems to turn up wherever I go now… New York, Germany, London… she’s quite the dogged traveller.


What should we know about you?

I loathe whiskey.  If you’d care to offer me a drink, please make it gin or sherry.  I’m also not too fond of Fascists.  I like dogs.

  • Is that it?  Surely there’s more to you than that.

[Shrugs]  I’m a painter—portraits mainly.

  • And... 

[Impatiently] I’m an Oxford man, I speak several languages and I used to box.  I play polo badly and as infrequently as possible.


What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?

My brother, Wilfred, will tell you that it is the unemployed Communist set with whom I move.

My friends will tell you that it’s my conservative background and my Fascist brother.

I suspect it’s the fact that everybody I meet seems to be insane.


What is your personal goal?

Goals?  [laughs]  I’ve been told I’m feckless.  In fact I believe my brother would consider goals rather too common a concept, though he’s quite adamant that I should settle down and find a purpose.  To be truthful, I just want to paint. 

  •  What about Edna?

Miss Higgins does indeed have goals.  She’s both talented and ambitious.  I have no doubt that she will conquer the world.

  •   But is she one of your personal goals?

I’m not sure what you mean. 

  •   Is it your goal to make her yours?

[Frowning] Miss Higgins is not a piece of property… I cannot acquire her.

  •   Arrgghh!  Are you in love with her?

Well, yes.  A man would have to be dead or insensible not to be in love with Miss Higgins.


Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

I believe Ms. Gentill has called it A Murder Unmentioned.  Frankly, I'd prefer the whole episode remained unmentioned, but Ms. Gentill is not always discreet.

You can read the first chapter here.


When can we expect the book to be published?

A Murder Unmentioned will be in bookstores on 1 November 2014.  I believe this is the cover.



Shall post writers to continue the tour as soon as I've checked with them.


Wired for sound...

The NGV Fashion Detective ebook is now up with full interactivity.... meaning you can listen to  audio performances of the four stories inspired by pieces from the exhibition, including The Bequest which was written around a section of wallpaper in arsenic green.

The exhibition is still showing at the National Gallery of Victoria.  It was a truly exhilerating thing to part of.  I am so grateful to  Danielle Whitfield (the exhibition curator) and her extraordinary team for inviting me to contribute in the first place, and for presenting my work in such a wonderful manner.


A month....

The last month has been eclectic to say the least - filled with festivals and edits, covers and the obssessive mania of a new novel.

I spent my birthday back in Melbourne filming a segment for the Melbourne Writers' Festival.  Then it was back to Sydney to deliver a workshop on writing historical fiction for the Sydney Writers' Festival. 

Finally I headed to Bellingen for the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival where I spoke on panels about crime and historical fiction. 

        With Claire Scobie, Irin Dunn, Omar Musso and Melanie Casey at BRWF.   

When I wasn't gadding about, I was finishing the final edit on A Murder Unmentioned (Rowland Sinclair #6). 

Early in May, Pantera Press did release an unproofed-unedited version for booksellers, before the text was edited at all.  I have a copy but I haven't opened it.  Now that the book has been edited, I'm a little afraid of what I'll find leafing through what was essentially a printed manuscript.  Much less anxiety-making was the bottle of wine Pantera released in honour of the book!

Whilst in Sydney, the charming Scott Whitmont of the Lindfield Bookshop presented me with a magnificent montage of the real people who have inhabited Rowland Sinclair's world from time to time.  It was a delightful, thoughtful gift... but then Scott is a delightful and thoughtful person.


I also attended my very first Sydney Writers' Festival launch party with Pantera Press and caught up with Ashley Hay (fresh from Premier's Literary Award People's Choice glory) P.M. Newton (whose latest book Beams Falling is being acclaimed in every corner) and Kate Forsyth, (who I panelled with last year).  My very favourite thing about writers' festivals is the opportunity to catch with old friends and like minds.

The new novels I'm working on are absorbing every other moment one way or another.   Neither is a Rowland Sinclair novel.  I don't need to start working on next year's Rowland Sinclair release till about December really.  So I'm taking a chance by stepping out of my usual genres.  When I first started writing, I didn't ever think of myself as either a crime writer or a historical fiction writer... I just wrote what I wanted to write, told the stories I wanted to tell.  It just so happened that at the time they were crime and historical novels.  I'm going back to that "write anything potential" in the few months I have up my sleeve, and just seeing what comes out of it.  It may work, it may not but it'll be interesting finding out!


A Few Days in Melbourne

I've just returned home from a whirlwind few days in Melbourne. The National Gallery of Victoria's Fashion Detective Exhibition was opened to the public and I was there! It was indescribably exciting to see the displays in all their glory and to hear my story, The Bequest, read by a perfectly chosen actor. 

The NGV has produced an ebook around the exhibition which includes the 4 stories written for it... it's entirely free as is the exhibition. 

   My Dad... who flew down... listening to an audio reading of The Bequest being piped up through the floor. 

 On Sunday I conducted a workshop with my Sisters in Crime, Leigh Redhead and P.D. Martin for those who dropped by to write a murder!


 I can't help but think that Rowland Sinclair would heartily approve of me spending so much time in a gallery!