May, workshops, and festivals, oh my! A few weeks ago I went to Byron Bay for the weekend to teach a workshop on building suspense in fiction for members of the Northern Rivers Writers Centre. I had a fantastic time with a great group of students, then followed it up on the Sunday with feedback sessions with a smaller group. I've taken part in sessions like that before, but on the receiving end, and learned some of the most valuable lessons of my career there. To have someone analyse and consider your work then spend time talking to you about it brings fresh insights, and being able to raise questions and discuss issues can take you further on your writing path than you'd get in months and months working alone. I really enjoy doing this work and I'm pleased to say that the NRWC has asked me to join their list of mentors to do more of it! If you're interested in working with me or one of their other mentors, go here to read their information page.
There's another workshop I'm teaching this year, this time through the Queensland Writers Centre. It's a five day (broken up over five months) course in editing your manuscript, and starts in August. Recently I've been attending the same course taught by its writer and original instructor, Kim Wilkins, watching to see how she does it, and greatly enjoying the process. Editing is always hard but it's so important! As a published novelist under contract I'm fortunate that I work with excellent professional editors (and btw, mine LOVED 'Silent Fear'!!) and so don't have to decide on my own whether the structure works, whether the elements are in balance, whether the language and style are consistent and effective. Writers not under contract, however, and wanting to impress an agent or publisher with a polished ms, can feel like they're facing an impossible task in working out the answers to these questions. Kim's course shows how it can be done, and I can't wait to teach it. There are still a few places left, so if you're interested, have a look here or phone the Centre for more information on 07 3842 9922.
Now let's talk about festivals! This year I'll be at the always awesome Byron Bay Writers Festival, from 5th to the 7th of August. This festival holds such a soft spot in my heart - I've attended almost every year since it started in 1997, most of those as an aspiring writer, watching the authors on the dais and hoping that one day I could be up there too, and I remember so clearly the very first time I did. Early bird tickets are on sale now and already going fast, the full programme is released on June 10th, and it's looking like it's going to be bigger and better than ever.
I'm also going to be at the equally fabulous Brisbane Writers Festival, which is on just one month later, from the 7th to the 11th of September. I love that spot by the river and the great range of writers they have!
And hey hey, on that webpage you'll see that crime writer extraordinaire Michael Connelly will be in Brisbane in just a few weeks!! He's speaking at a free event at QUT on Wednesday May 25th. Apparently you don't need to book, but I reckon it'd be good to get there early to grab a seat. Woohoo! The mind that invented Harry Bosch, right here in QLD! (Can you tell I'm a fan?)
Oh - forgot to tell you this little ambulance story - when I was in Byron I woke at 2am to the sound of a big car crash outside my motel. Being the good ex-paramedic that I am, I keep a serious first-aid kit in the car, and I threw on clothes, grabbed it out and hurried down to the scene. One driver was out of the car and fine, the other still behind the wheel and semi-conscious. It felt so strange to pull on the blue latex gloves again, support his head in case he'd hurt his neck, and do a patient assessment. I've been out of the job for six years now but apparently once drummed into you, the steps and questions stay! Fortunately he wasn't badly hurt so I didn't have much to do before the real paramedics turned up and took over. Back in the motel I couldn't get back to sleep, thinking about similar accidents I've been to where people weren't so lucky. I'm so grateful to be out of that job. It brought me some wonderful friends and incredible experiences, and I don't regret my time there, but I am so glad that this is now my career and that that one exists for me now only in my memory and on the page. Hooray!
Till next time
April update. Well folks, here we are, already into the fourth month of the year. Hard to believe!
It's been a busy time here at Casa Book, not least of all because I recently spent five nights in hospital after a spot of surgery. Turned out to be nothing major, thank goodness, but it was not the most fun of experiences. Thanks to the fabulous nurses of 1C in Pindara Hospital here on the Gold Coast - you made those days much easier. And if I promised you a book then failed to leave one at the desk for you, I'm so sorry and please email me so I can post it! That first 48 hours was a bit of a blur and your names may have been lost in the haze. Ta.
'Silent Fear' is still with the editor but I'm expecting her report in the next few weeks. The arrival always signals the start of the next round of hard work but I look forward to straightening out the problems and issues and then sending back a much better book. Each time I go through this process I learn so much about what works and how to fix what doesn't, and I think - I hope - that the first draft of the subsequent book is all the better for it.
Meantime I've found a bit of time to read! Quite a thrill :) First up was Falling Glass by crime novelist Adrian McKinty. As a novelist I pick apart other novelists' work to see how they did this and that, how they constructed their plots, how they developed their characters. From a professional standpoint it's important to do that but sometimes it's a pain because I simply want to read and enjoy! McKinty helps me here by delivering a rip-roaring story and characters that leap off the page. This is the second book of his that I've read, and Killian from this story and the great Mercado from Fifty Grand are both now stuck firmly in my head.
I also read a collection of short stories called Top Suspense, put together by a group of authors who have a website also called Top Suspense. The site's a great idea, because with the explosion of e-books available now, how do you know you're going to get quality in your download? This is a group of authors who've been publishing for years, who've won awards and scored great reviews, and are now making their work available online. On the site you can read excerpts of each writer's novels, always a must for me before I buy any book. I'm not the world's biggest fan of short stories but I quite enjoyed this collection, the stand-out stories for me being Lee Goldberg's 'Remaindered' and Naomi Hirahara's 'The Chirashi Covenant'.
I got an email from a reader in the US last week, asking about the possibility of an autographed copy of Violent Exposure. I'm pleased to say that my local bookseller, 'Love That Book', has agreed to take orders and post books out. Just email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll let you know total cost including postage to wherever you may be then will organise for me to drop in and sign it with the message of your choice. Signed personalised books -- is there anything better??
Okay, that's it from me for now. Til next time, happy reading!
Book five is done! Last time I wrote we talked about the floods here in Queensland. Since then, of course, much worse has happened in New Zealand with the Christchurch earthquake, then in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami. My heart goes out to everyone affected and would like to ask again that you consider donating.
Last time I wrote I also mentioned how close I was to completing book 5 - I'm so pleased to be able to say that I finished it on time and sent it in and the very next week heard from my editor that she absolutely loves it! That wait, while short, can be excruciating: I'm sure I'm not alone among authors when I say I always hope I've done a good job when I send in an ms but I'm never certain, so to get word back that it works, and works well, is fantastic. I won't get the official report on suggestions for the edit for a few weeks so until then I'm musing on ideas for book 6.
I went to the first of five days of an editing course on Sunday. It's called Year of The Edit and is taught through the Queensland Writers Centre by fellow author, good friend and teacher extraordinare Kim Wilkins. I'm going to be teaching the same series of workshops in the second half of the year so wanted to see what she does and how she does it. It's an excellent programme: it takes the participants through multiple edits of the novel they've drafted, teaching them how to recognise what works and what doesn't and why as well as how to improve it. I learned a lot that day and am already looking forward to the next four workshops, as well as to teaching it myself. If you're interested in coming along or just finding out more, check out my workshops page. There'll also soon be more information there about a workshop about suspense that I'm teaching through the Northern Rivers Writers Centre in Byron Bay at the end of April. It's a one day extravaganza all about how to initiate then build suspense in your writing. It's a funny thing that lots of people think suspense is only important in novels like thrillers, but it's actually essential in all fiction because it's suspense which keeps the reader wanting to know what will happen and therefore turning the pages - and isn't that what every writer wants?? The day after the workshop the same participants can get some one-on-one feedback where I sit down with them and go over ten pages of their work (sent in a month earlier) in detail. I've gone through a similar process with a more experienced writer myself and there is nothing that compares! To have somebody become familiar with your work, analyse it, think about it, then say to you, "This works because of x, and this doesn't because of Y, and here're some possible ways forward, and what do you think about that?" is priceless for a learning writer. It's close to what a professional writer gets from their editor and can move a work forward in serious leaps and bounds.
This Saturday I'm going to be speaking at Capalaba Library from 2 pm. It's a free event and there will be refreshments! The librarians ask that you RSVP so there's enough cake for us all, so please give Julie a bell on 3843 8038. More info is here.
Well, that's it for me. Till next time, happy reading!
February events. Since I last wrote Queensland has copped another battering, this time from a cyclone with the cheery name of Yasi. We were far out of range but it was a relief to wake up in the morning and hear things hadn't been as bad as feared. Nevertheless, people have been hit hard, and money is still needed.
One ongoing fundraiser is the Writers on Rafts raffle being run by the Queensland Writers Centre. A heap of writers including me have donated a range of items, from signed books to having a character named after you to an author visit to your school or group to ms assessments. Tickets are just $5 per entry per category and if your name is drawn you get the pick of your chosen category. Books which aren't chosen by the winners are being sent to libraries in the affected areas. I've heard the tickets sold so far are in the thousands, which is fantastic. I've offered a signed set of my four books and also the naming of a character in my next book.
The other fundraiser I took part in was the Authors for Queensland auction. I'm delighted to say that a signed set of my books was won by the lovely Tracy Saide for the impressive amount of $150! Thanks Tracy :) The total sum of bids is over $20,000, so thank you to everyone who participated.
All is good here at Story HQ - book 5 is so close to being done I can taste it, and a heady flavour it is too! But before I get there, I'm heading out on the town - two towns in fact:
first visit is to Melbourne on Friday February the 11th. This is a fabulous event arranged by those great ladies of Sisters in Crime, with me and charming fellow author and friend Kathryn Fox being put over the coals by tough-talking-but-soft-on-the-inside crime aficionado and SIC co-convenor Ann Byrne. It's at Bells Hotel in South Melbourne, kicks off at 630 for dinner or 8 for the event, and I have no doubt that from there much hilarity will ensue. Go here for the full deets.
Next visit is to Sydney. On Thursday Feb 17th I'll be speaking at Hurstville Library at 7 pm. It's a free event but they need you please to book so they know numbers. Go here for more info.
The following morning, Friday Feb 18th, I'll be heading on up to St Ives Library to speak there. It starts at 1030 am and is the same deal - free event but you need to book please. Call the Library on 9424 0453 and tell 'em Katherine sent you!
Before I go, I'd like to thank everyone who's been in touch to say how much they've liked Violent Exposure. It's a real thrill to see a comment on my messageboard or get an email and know that readers are enjoying it so much! Reviewers aren't far behind either - here're the latest mentions from around the country:
"A thrilling mystery that will leave you gasping" Cairns Sun
"an enjoyable dose of action, intrigue and suspense" Canberra Times
"Howell writes short, tight scenes with authentic-sounding dialogue and relentless pacing. Howell deftly illustrates the way insights into the ways of life and death are a new religion to crime readers." Weekend Australian
"Violent Exposure is a great book, with twists and turns, detective and forensic investigation and heaps of great characters. It is a real joy to read." Melbourne Times
Okay, it's back to work for me!
The mid-January update. It's hard to know how to start this. I live in Queensland but fortunately not in any of the areas that have been so badly affected by floods the last few days. My heart goes out to those who've lost family and friends, pets, houses and belongings. There are months and years of recovery and rebuilding ahead, so please, if you are able, consider donating. A few writing organisations are arranging fund-raising auctions too, with writers donating everything from signed books to mentorships. I'm donating a complete set of my novels, personalised and signed, and postage anywhere in the world. Go here to bid - it closes on Monday 24th January. Thanks.
In other news, Violent Exposure continues to sell wonderfully - thanks so much to everyone who's bought it and to those who've written to tell me how much they enjoyed it. It means so much to an author to hear that! Please, if you've ever thought of writing to an author then hesitated, please please hesitate no longer. Writers write to communicate, and you writing back shows them that it's working, that they're making a connection, that their work is reaching and touching people.
The promo for Violent Exposure is continuing this month and next. I was just in Adelaide and met the most wonderful group of readers at the Marion Cultural Centre. Thank you to Jenny and her staff, Luke the SA PanMac rep, and everyone who came along for making it such a fantastic night! There are huge posters in airports all over the country and the book is one of Newslink's 'Pick of the Month' so they all have big stacks of copies. It's a great read for the plane! On Friday, February 11th, I'll be at Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne for a Sisters in Crime event alongside the fabulous Kathryn Fox, and a week later, on Friday the 18th, I'll be in Sydney for a morning event at St Ives Library. I'll post more info as it comes to hand both here and on my Appearances page. You can always email me too!
Between all these things I am hard at work finishing Book 5, and looking forward to hearing my publisher's and editor's feedback!
December and VIOLENT EXPOSURE is here! Oh how time flies ... seems like just yesterday I was working on the edits of this book and now it's out there everywhere in the shops! It's selling marvellously as well - thank you so much to everyone who's bought a copy! If you haven't spotted it out there yet, you can read the first chapter here. If a bookshop doesn't have it they should be able to get it in for you with no trouble.
Not long now till Christmas! And you know what makes a great Christmas present?? A signed book!! In the next few days I'll be at a number of bookshops to sign copies of whatever (seriously, I'll sign anything by anybody! :) ) and hand out chocolates and find out what you've been reading lately. I'm always on the hunt for great books and keen to hear some good word-of-mouth.
So where will I be?
Wednesday, December 15th - Dymocks, Pacific Fair, from 11.30.
Thursday, December 16th - Angus and Robertson Morayfield, from 10.30 am.
Thursday, December 16th - Dymocks, Indooroopilly, from 630 pm.
Friday, December 17th - Collins, Tweed Mall, from 11 am (NSW time).
Saturday, December 18th - Angus and Robertson, Southport Park, from 10.30 am
If you need more information about these, click through to the appearances page for each shop's phone number.
If you want a signed copy but can't get to those stores at those times, the staff are usually more than happy for you to buy the book ahead of time then they'll keep it for you for me to sign on the day. OR if you live well away from any of them but still want a signed copy (bless you!) the lovely staff at Angus and Robertson in Southport Park do mail orders - call 07 55 328 889 with your credit card details and they will arrange it for you.
There are a number of events planned for January in a few different areas (including Adelaide) and I'll put the information up both here and on the appearances page when the time gets closer.
Well, it's back to work on book 5! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and fabulous new year, and that 2011 brings you every good thing.
November, and VIOLENT EXPOSURE is almost here! It's a thrilling time, the last couple of weeks before your new book comes out. I got my author copies a fortnight ago and sent them out to my family and to the people who gave me technical and other advice along the way, and more than a few started it straight away and finished in 24 hours! Which is always delightful news.
And now the first official review is out too, Australian Bookseller and Publisher saying in their December issue that:
Violent Exposure is the fourth and arguably the best novel by former paramedic and talented crime author Katherine Howell featuring Detective Ella Marconi. Howell has received a number of accolades for her second novel 'The Darkest Hour' and as her work continues to improve and impress, there are likely to be more on the cards. When paramedic Carly is called to the scene of a suspected domestic, she has no idea than in less than 24 hours the woman she treats will be found dead, and the woman's husband, the suspect of a violent stabbing, will be missing. With adultery, secrets, murders and lies in the mix, the borders between business and personal and law and life blurred, and detective Marconi left trying to find an 'invisible' murderer, readers will need to strap themselves in for an exhilarating read. Fast-paced, gutsy and intriguing, Violent Exposure will appeal primarily to female fans of both detective and forensic investigation stories, and can be read alone or as part of this very readable series.
Very nice indeed!
While you still have a little longer to wait until the book's released you can read the first chapter here right now.
As for events, December being such a busy time for everyone means there's not a lot on (but just wait until January!) but there are a couple:
Broadbeach Library, Friday 3rd December - I'll be in conversation with fellow author and local journo Michael Jacobson from 6.30 pm, and signing books afterwards. This is also to launch the library's 'Hot Reads' summer programme, a brilliant idea where some of the hottest newly-released books around are available to library patrons for short-term loans. I love libraries and the things they do for their communities so am proud to be part of it! Make sure to book your seat by phoning the library on 5581 1555.
Angus and Robertson, Southport Park, Saturday 18th December. I'll be there from 10.30 am to sign books and have a chat - both things I love doing, the chat especially as I spend most of my time alone at home with just the voices in my head! So stop by and say hi. I also give out chocolates!!! and who doesn't need a sugar boost when they're Christmas shopping??
As I said, there'll be more happening in January, so I'll keep you posted.
Thinking past that - and I mean PAST - I'm teaching an editing workshop in the second half of 2011. It's the Year of the Edit series, developed by friend and fabbo writer Kim Wilkins, and is run through the Queensland Writers Centre. Check out my workshops page for more info and links to book yourself in. I'm looking forward to it already.
But now, if you'll excuse me, I'm diving headfirst back into the writing of book 5.
October news. So how quickly is December coming? DAMN quick!! Which is good news and bad -- bad because I'm on deadline to get book 5 finished (hence my erratic postings here) but good because the release of book 4 in the Detective Ella Marconi series, VIOLENT EXPOSURE, creeps ever nearer! Seeing the finished book is a thrill that never gets old. By that time of course I've read it repeatedly in manuscript form, I've pored over the cover design, I've lived for so long with those characters it feels like they've taken over my life, but to see it all in the final package and to hold it in one's hot little hands and know that soon it will be on shelves all over the country are wonderful things.
And there's extra good news - the great people at Bolinda Publishing are releasing VIOLENT EXPOSURE as an audio book at the same time! I've had many listeners write to tell me how much they enjoyed the audio book of Frantic, and Bolinda do an amazing job, so I'm delighted.
So, as I mentioned, I've been busy working on book 5 for the last few months. It's coming along well and I feel so fortunate that each day I get to sit at my desk and see what Ella and her colleagues are going to get up to next. The writer's life is one that many people fancy, which I totally understand, because I love it. Except of course for the days when the writing won't flow, you think every word is tripe, and the characters feel dead on the page. This happens to every author, though, so it's just part of the deal. The struggle is to keep working through it, and it helps to look back on the novels I've written before, both published and unpublished, because they remind me that it always feels hard, that's just how it goes, I've felt that way before (many times) and it hasn't killed me yet. Which is a roundabout way of getting to my point -- I frequently receive emails and letters from people who'd like to be writers but don't want to waste time producing work that might not get published. I understand why they feel that way, but truly, it's like me saying I'd like to swim in the Olympics but I don't want to train. I wrote four manuscripts in seventeen years before Frantic was published. Often during that time I felt frustrated because I wanted to be a better writer sooner, I wanted to be published NOW, I wanted my books on the shelves already, dammit! But I know it was all for the best because that time has served as my apprenticeship, my swim training, my ten thousand hours. There are no shortcuts. It's hard work, and lots of it, and determination when you don't know if you'll succeed. For fifteen of those seventeen years (that is, right up to the point when the publisher bought Frantic) I didn't know if I'd make it, but I did know that I was never going to give up. And hey, if I can do it, so can you!
Now onto some books I've read and enjoyed lately -- Michael Connelly's new one is The Reversal and I think it's right up there with his best. I wasn't so enamoured of the one before, Nine Dragons, so to see him back in top form is a pleasure.
I also loved loved loooooved Lee Child's latest two, 61 Hours and Worth Dying For. My local council library has a great range of ebooks so I've recently been downloading them from right back at the start of this series, and it's interesting to see how Child's writing changes and the character of Jack Reacher develops over the years. Great stuff!
Okay, enough yak from me. Next month I'll be posting the first chapter of VIOLENT EXPOSURE here on the site so you can get a sneak peek!
August update. I owe you all apologies once more! But I have a good excuse: I've been writing! I started a PhD this year so I've been busy working on that and on book 5 too. Oh and finishing the copy edits on VIOLENT EXPOSURE. We have an absolutely smashing cover and I can't wait till it hits the shops on December 1! I'll be out and about doing lots of signings then too. Heaps of fun :)
Congratulations to my friend Patrick Eden who won the Debut Dagger Competition! Good on you, Patrick, you have a bright future!!
Events coming up: I'll be speaking at Yamba's Festival of Comedy, Music and The Arts on August 20th and 21st. First will be the fabulous sunset cruise and dinner on the beautiful Clarence River alongside brilliant Aussie literary author Robert Drewe and fellow Pan Macmillan author and all-round great guy Peter Watt on Friday night, followed by individual talks at Yamba's Pacific Hotel on Saturday afternoon. More info is here.
On Saturday September 11 I'll be at the 20th anniversary lunch of the Gold Coast Writers Association. This is one active bunch of people! Check out them and their lunch here.
Some new reviews have popped up recently. Friend and fellow writer and most elegant blogger wabi roared through all three of the books quick-smart and liked them a lot! US writer and paramedic Greg Friese of Everyday EMS Tips reviewed Frantic and also liked it a lot, and interviewed me via Skype for a podcast which should be appearing here soon. Meanwhile check out the other authors he's interviewed. It's a great mix of fiction and non-fiction for those interested in paramedic life.
That's it for now! Happy reading :)
May already? I do not know where the time goes. It's hard to believe it's been two months since I've written here. Apologies to anyone who's come past to see what's been going on and found nothing!
It's been hectic, let me tell you that. The tour with the Big Book Club was a smash. I had so much fun and met such wonderful people everywhere we went! Thanks to all the fabulous library staff who hosted us, and to all of you readers who came out to listen to me talk and have a chat afterwards. It was a brilliant couple of weeks. Thanks so much to Ali of the Big Book Club who took care of the driving, the schedule, and the checking in and out, and to Benette who came along to WA making the end of the tour a real girls' road trip :)
The rewrite of book 4, Violent Exposure, is done and dusted and with the copy editor now. I'll get it back again in a month or so to see what she queries, then it goes back in for type setting. This is the one that'll be out at Christmas. As I said last time, put it on your Santa list now!
Editors can be the forgotten people in the publishing process. The author's name goes on the front of the book and nobody else sees how much time and effort the editors have put in to help get that book as good as it is. I'm so fortunate to work with wonderful editors, both in-house and freelance, who come up with great suggestions about how to make each book better. If anyone tells you that big publishers don't bother with editing, take it from me that they're wrong wrong wrong. The help I get is absolutely fantastic. Pan Macmillan, Cate Paterson, Bri Collins, Nicola O'Shea - I thank you!
I'm underway with book 5 and while this point always feel like being back at the bottom of the mountain again, it's also a little exhilarating. So many choices! So much promise in the unwritten idea! That feeling will last maybe another few days :) just kidding! It hangs around slightly longer than that, but not much. I find it's one of the great challenges of being a writer to keep that hope and excitement alive when you're slogging up to base camp 1 and the fog is closing in and you fear you're going to fall off the track at any moment. There's no easy way to do it; it doesn't really get any easier, because each book is a whole new book; and nobody can do it for you. I think it was the writer Natalie Goldberg who said if a friend says they're writing a novel all you can do to help is wave and wish them well.
Here on the website there are a few new things: go to the Cold Justice page to see the amazing Dutch cover, and to click through to read the first chapter of the book. I've also added an Appearances page that at the moment lists two events which I'll also describe below.
In other news, I had a marvellous time teaching workshops on editing and suspense recently for the Queensland Writers Centre. It's great to be in that classroom setting and see people bouncing ideas around.
Congratulations to my friend Patrick Eden whose crime manuscript has been shortlisted in the UK Debut Dagger Award! This draws entries from all over the world so I'm mega-pleased for him. Fingers crossed that his name is read out as the winner on Friday 23rd July at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. This is a fantastic event and if you are a crime fan it is so worth going. I went in 2008 and hope to go again next year. Info is here. It truly does feature some of the biggest and brightest names in crime fiction.
Speaking of crime fiction, have you read any of the Millennium trilogy? I've been so flat out working I haven't read much of anything lately except edit reports and my own manuscript but I did get out to see the movie of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a couple of weeks back. Brillliant stuff! If you get the chance, do go and see it.
I'm speaking at a couple of events this week. First is Thursday night, 27th May, at Griffith University's launch of their Friends of the Library group. I am a big supporter of libraries! If you are too, and you're interested in coming along, more info is here.
Then on Friday the 28th, it's the night of the Literati dinner. You may have read my raves about this before - it's a fantastic idea and always goes off with a bang. The dinner seats guests in groups of eight on tables for ten, to be joined for each course by authors who rotate around the room. So for your entree you might be sitting next to an illustrator or publisher/author, for your main next to a thriller writer, for dessert next to a fantasy author. It doesn't matter if you haven't read their work or even if you've never heard of them. Everyone I've spoken to about it has had a great time and I can tell you the noise from the conversations and laughter going on all over the room is incredible. Then the next day, Saturday, come along to Robina Community Centre for a full day of FREE!! author talks. It's a brilliant line-up, and as for me I get to interview authors Marion Halligan and Sonia Orchard about the joys and difficulties of writing in different genres. Go here for more information but do it now as tickets for the dinner are just about sold out and the Saturday sessions are rapidly filling too. You don't want to miss out!
I think that's enough for now. I promise to try to update this page more often (stop laughing, you people out there who know me well!)
Happy reading to all,
On tour! Monday March 22 sees the start of my seventeen-events-in-ten-days tour with the Big Book Club! It kicks off in Brisbane, then I go to the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Sydney, and Perth, with a couple of virtual events via Skype with libraries in South Australia. I talked to the organiser of the tour today and she said the events are filling quickly so if you're interested in coming along make sure you reserve your spot. Most events are free and include morning or afternoon tea. Check out the full schedule on my appearances page.
Cold Justice continues to blitz the bookshops, and recently was number 5 on the top ten Australian fiction bestsellers list. I'm so excited that I get to go out and talk about it again! Reader feedback has been incredible - people have emailed to say how more than ever they can't stop reading, staying awake till 2 am, reading while driving (please be safe!), and ignoring hungry families and dirty houses. Yes, down with housework, sez I!! I'm always delighted to hear what readers think, so please send me an email and let me know.
Meanwhile Violent Exposure, the fourth book in the Detective Ella Marconi series, has been edited and is looking fantastic. It's been scheduled for publication in December, so start your Christmas list now and put this at the top!! And in more good news I have a contract for books 5 and 6, and they will be out in 2011 and 2012.
Okay, enough for now. Hope to meet you at one of the events in the next two weeks,
More on COLD JUSTICE. Allow me to begin this dispatch with a quote:
"All three books feature the very likeable and very human Detective Ella Marconi ... Howell pays lovely attention to details, and writes with a good deal of psychological insight, exploring the ongoing effects of the loss of a child through violent crime, and the way it can fracture a family. She also explores relationships in the workplace and the home, covering themes of office politics and sexism and the effects of working in high-stress trauma-related jobs. Howell sews all of these ideas into the plot with a neat hand, while building empathy for Ella Marconi. The detective is a complex and appealing character whose passion for crime solving is both endearing and compelling and keeps the pace of the book racing."
Thus spake Lucy Clarke in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Mail this week. Nice or what!!
Hello and welcome to the many new readers who came here after reading about the book in those papers, or in WHO magazine, the Herald Sun, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Hornsby Advocate or Notebook magazine, just to name a few, or after seeing me speak in Melbourne, Wagga Wagga (hello ladies! Thank you for an amazing day), or Sydney. It's fantastic to walk into an event and see so many people there, so many friendly faces, so many interested readers! It was great to meet staff at so many bookshops too - hi to all the folks at the Dymockses in Collins Street in Melbourne, at Book City in Wagga, at the wonderful Better Read Than Dead and Kinokuniya and Gleebooks in Sydney. Hi also if you came here after hearing me on radio, and hi to the wonderful presenters I've had the pleasure of chatting with - Eric on Drive at Eastside in Sydney (sorry about those tears, it really truly honestly wasn't your fault!), Shane, Sean and Bree on SYN Radio in Victoria, Kieran Weir on ABC North and West SA, Gaytana on Radio Southern FM VIC, Cosi, Rabbit and Amber on SAFM, our own Mary-Lou Stephens here on the coast, and all the rest of you lovely people.
And it's not over! Tonight (Tuesday 16th Feb) I'm talking with Rochelle Jackson and Derek Guille on The Crime Couch on ABC 774 Melbourne at around 8pm (Melbourne time). On Friday the 26th I'll be having a darn good chat with Leon Compton on The Guest Room at 1130-1230 on ABC Darwin, and that night between 9 and 10 I'll be discussing .... ooh, lots of things! with Steve Austin on ABC 612 in Brisbane.
This Thursday, the 18th of February, I'll be speaking at Elanora Library from 1030. It's billed as an older adults event but I've been told by the lovely library staff that everyone's welcome, so if you are under-age (how long since anyone's called you that??) don't worry about being barred! They would like you to rsvp however, so they know numbers - give them a call on (07) 5581 1671. Read more about it and the other upcoming events at the library here. Books will be for sale on the day thanks to the ever-smiling and always-gorgeous uber-bookseller Benette, of Angus and Robertson, Southport Park.
The following Thursday, the 25th, I'll be back in the ol' home-work town of Tweed Heads, at the great library there, for an event from 10 am. They too need you to rsvp so they know numbers, so ring them up on 07 55 693 150 and tell them you're coming. Books will be sold on the day by those amazingly nice folks at Angus and Robertson, Tweed City.
Aaaand -- if you don't live here on the coast, do not fret!! To my enormous delight, COLD JUSTICE has been chosen as the March read for the Big Book Club! This means that from 21st to 31st of March I'll be doing events in NSW, QLD and WA. Exciting or what?!?! I'm not sure yet which locations I'll be visiting, but ask your local library if they participate in the Club or check your state listing on the website (they're not up yet but meantime you can check out where fellow crime author Lenny Bartulin is speaking this month). Man oh man, am I fortunate or what, to take part in this?? Thanks to the lovely people at Big Book Club - and hey, I'm not just saying that, I've met lots of them and they really are great :) Hi Ali!
Okay, I think that's it -- for now anyway :) If you've just read Cold Justice, or any of the others, why not drop me an email, or have your say on the messageboard?
'COLD JUSTICE' APPROACHES! That's right, the next book in the Ella Marconi series, COLD JUSTICE, hits the shops on Monday. It's my third and the thrill of seeing it on the shelves is as strong as ever! Also, it's available for the special price of just $25. Bargain or what!?! And I can't wait to get out there on promo and meet readers and talk about crime books in general - I love hearing what people are reading and always come home with a big list of TBRs.
Before we get into the schedule, however, let me say I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and new year, and wish you all the best for a great 2010, and give you two weblinks.
Uber-publishers Pan Macmillan have put together a book trailer for Cold Justice and it is STUNNING. Check it out here. Ooh, that music gives me the shivers!
The second link is to the first chapter of the book. I haven't got it up here on my site yet but again those lovely folks at Pan Macmillan have come through in a big way and put it up on theirs. Go now and read it here. Now aren't you busting to read more???
Oh - good news - did I tell you that the Dutch publisher Unieboek has bought the rights and so it will be released in the Netherlands probably next year? And now the UK has come on board too! It'll be out through Pan Macmillan UK, also next year. Say it with me: hooray!
Speaking of on board - classy segue there - we had a fantastic time on the Pacific Dawn courtesy of P&O. It was great to see the books in their giftshop and talk to people about writing and publishing and books!
Okay, now let's talk about talking.
First up I'm in Melbourne, on Friday 5th February, talking with fellow author PD Martin and Sisters In Crime honcho Jacqui Horwood. This is at 8 pm at Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne. More info is here. Don't miss it - it's going to be great!
Then on Saturday 6th of Feb I'll be in Wagga for a lovely literary lunch arranged by the fine folks of the Wagga City Council and Northcott Disability Services, for which the lunch will be raising money. More info is here.
The next day - Sunday the 7th - I'll be talking to the energetic bunch that is the Sydney group Partners in Crime at the Friend in Hand Hotel in Glebe. That kicks off at 4 and you can either just turn up or for more information you can call Janine on 0417 674 074.
Then it's off to my homeground of Hornsby, where I'll be speaking at the council library on the evening of Tuesday the 9th. I'm really thrilled about this, because as a little kid I spent many happy evenings choosing books in that library while dressed in my pyjamas (yes really) and as I've mentioned here before went to Hornsby Girls High School and HOW GOOD IS THIS my HSC English teacher is coming along, as are some of my old school friends, plus I believe a cohort of current staff and students! For more info go to the council's website here.
Later in the month, on Thursday the 18th, I'll be at Elanora Library back here on the Gold Coast. That starts at 1030 am and I'll post more info about it here soon, or you can call the library itself on 07 55 811 671.
The following week, on Thursday the 25th, I'll be at an event at Tweed Heads Library. I don't have any further info about that yet but feel confident that when I do, YOU will be the first to know!
Feel confident also that at all these events there will be cheery booksellers with stacks of copies of Cold Justice as well as my previous books.
Apart from that I'll be speaking on radio at different times and in different places, including with Anne Delaney on ABC Riverina on Monday Feb 1st at 9 am, with Mary-Lou Stephens on her evening show on ABC Coast FM, and with Kieran Weir on ABC North and West SA on Tues Feb 9th at 1045am.
And when I get back home, what will I do? Why, start work on book 5, of course, as well as get stuck into the edits on book 4 - Violent Exposure - which by the way has passed the stringent quality testing of both my agent and publisher - can I get a WOOHOO?? - and then in March I'm starting a creative writing PhD at the University of Queensland. Roll on 2010!
Cold front coming soon! In twelve weeks, to be precise. That's right, my new book COLD JUSTICE is coming out on February 1st! I can't wait! What you can't see on the cover are the incredible author quotes we've been given, by my two alltime crime writer heroes, no less!
The wonderful Michael Robotham said in part:
"A MURDER, A SECRET AND A DETECTIVE WHO WON'T LET GO . . . THIS IS KATHERINE HOWELL'S BEST BOOK TO DATE"
while the inimitable Tess Gerritsen said
"COLD JUSTICE RACES LIKE A SPEEDING AMBULANCE . . . THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR!"
As you can imagine I am THRILLED that they both liked it so much. Blurbs don't come easy in the writing world: each author is putting his or her name and reputation on the line when they write one, and so it means a whole lot that Tess and Michael wrote these for Cold Justice.
I must apologise for the delay between my last news post and this one. I had a few events on but mostly I've been head down working away on the next book! It's called VIOLENT EXPOSURE and it's coming along really well. It's number four in the Ella Marconi series and will probably be out early 2011. Each book is so exciting - new characters to get stuck into, and of course time with my old mate Ella :) Working with her is like settling down with an old friend! There's nothing like any of it and I am so fortunate to be able to do this for my job.
I have a few signings coming up in the lead-up to Christmas, and I hope that YOU - yes you - can come along and say hi, and maybe buy somebody you love a copy of FRANTIC and THE DARKEST HOUR so they'll be all ready for COLD JUSTICE!?!
First I'll be at the Angus and Robertson store in Brookside Shopping Centre in Brisbane on Saturday 14th November, from 10-12.30. Come and say hi! I'm bringing chocolates (!!!) and also some cool footage of emergency ambulance runs so you can see what it looks and sounds like in the cabin. Watch out for that crazy car!
Later I'll be at Angus and Robertson in Southport Park on Saturday 19th December, again from 1030, again with the chockies and the videos. Christmas will be darn close by then so come and tell me what you've bought for your friends and family (I know I'm going to need ideas) and hey, why not grab a personalised copy of one of my books to give to that special impossible-to-buy-for somebody!
Then I'll be at Angus and Robertson in Burleigh Heads in Monday 21st December, from the same time. Time is REALLY going to be short by then, and you are so going to need a chocolate to get you through your shopping frenzy, so come and have a chat and then we'll both feel better :)
Oh, oh, guess what - I'm going on a cruise! The marvellous people at P and O Cruises have a bookclub! and COLD JUSTICE is their bookclub pick for early 2010. Which means that I am fortunate beyond words as I get to set off from Brisbane on January 16th on the lovely Pacific Dawn for a week's cruise to Vanuatu, and speak to the bookclub meetings along the way! Oh I tell you . . . when my publicist Jane emailed to tell me, it was a good thing she wrote "this is not a joke"! Thank you so much P and O :) it's going to be fantastic!
Okay, I think that's it for now. Time to dive back into VIOLENT EXPOSURE . . . Mick and Sophie from Frantic are baaaaaack . . . !
WINNER!! It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that my second book. The Darkest Hour, has just won the reader's choice category of the Davitt awards for crime writing! My fabulous publishers Pan Macmillan very generously flew me to Melbourne for the presentation, and as usual it was a gala evening run with panache by the inimitable Sisters In Crime. This organisation does so much for crime writing in this country, running regular events and holding both the Davitt awards for adult and young adult novels and true-crime books and the Scarlet Stiletto awards for short fiction. Speaking of which, that competition is closing soon! Go here for more info on both the Sisters and the comps.
Pan Macmillan is also the publisher of the winner of the best book award, A Beautiful Place To Die by the lovely Malla Nunn. I was hoping to meet Malla there but she was in the States, and gave her acceptance speech via a phone held to the microphone! It was great to hear her. I haven't read her book yet but from all accounts it is wonderful. I have it in my to be read pile!
The Darkest Hour, as I said, is my second book and recently came out in the UK to great reviews (scroll down to see the links). Click here to read the first chapter. And click here to read a great summary of the awards night and see a pic of me proudly clutching my award!
This week I'm off to Maitland to speak at the VIEW club anniversary lunch on Wednesday the 26th. If you're in the area and would like to come along, call 02 4932 5505 for more information. And of course the week after that, on Friday September 4th, I'm speaking at the Maitland Library function at the Family Hotel on High Street. Call 02 4933 6952 to book. Great things to look forward to!
And OOOOOOH! Guess what!!! You can now see the cover of my new book, COLD JUSTICE, here. Isn't it fantastic! It says there the book will be out in December but it won't, I'm afraid -- you'll have to hang on until February. But that's not that far away!!
The Darkest Hour continues to spread across the UK ... ... in the best possible way! Following my mention last time of the great review in The Guardian, there's been another fantastic one in The Sunday Times, in which Joan Smith writes that the book
"races along at a tearing pace; the author’s insights into a job fuelled by adrenaline are authentic and suggest that this is going to be an original and exciting series of novels"
while the Barking and Dagenham Recorder goes a step further to say that
"Author Katherine Howell is a former Sydney paramedic and is set to do for that profession what US author Patricia Cornwell did for forensic pathologists."
Things have been busy here at Writing HQ. I'm working away on book 4 (still untitled ), doing the copy-edits on Cold Justice (coming out in Feb, that's right, Feb 2010, and very much worth the wait! I'm really pleased with this one), and gearing up for some school talks, firstly to the Crime Writing HSC students at ye olde alma mater Hornsby Girls High School then to a wider group of students at Lindisfarne College. So looking forward to both! But what about you? I hear you ask. What about you who're not in school, don't you get to listen to my ravings too? Yes indeed! Grab your diary and turn to Wednesday August 26th, because I'll be speaking at Maitland VIEW club's anniversary lunch that day. It's at East Maitland Bowls Club, a fantastic place (I'm a member!), and costs $25. Call 02 4932 5505 for more info and to book. Then flip forward to Friday September 4th, colour in the hours 6-8 pm, and ring the Maitland Library on 02 4933 6952 and say you want to reserve your spot for the event at the Family Hotel, 605 High Street, Maitland. All it costs is $10 which gets you canapes and wine and a wonderful ear-bashing by yours truly! Who could ask for more??
And what about *your* function? Well, don't feel left out! You can book me to speak to your writing group, school class, club meeting, what-have-you, by going to Speakers Ink. Some of the topics I talk about include writing crime fiction, how to increase suspense in your writing, how I turned the often-traumatic events of my fifteen-year paramedic career into the stuff of good fiction, and about the journey to becoming a writer. You can find out more at my listing here.
Till next time,
The Darkest Hour hits the UK! and also a bit of a chat about the book import restrictions. Good news! The Darkest Hour is out in the UK! It came out last week and I was THRILLED beyond words to get this fantastic review in The Guardian, in which Joanna Hines calls the book "A finely paced and engrossing second novel by this talented Australian writer". Hooray! The book is available all over the place - if you can't spot it in your local bookshop, ask them and they should be able to get it in for you (it's published by Pan Macmillan).
For the Aussie readers here, the release of my third book, Cold Justice, has been put back from December this year to February next year. The reason is that Sue Grafton's new book will be Pan Macmillan's big December release - and there is no shame in being bumped for Sue Grafton! Keep an eye out here for a sneak peek of the book and cover soon - we're working on a website update right now.
Now, a serious word in your ear. If you're an Australian reader, booklover, author, would-be author, whatever, you will no doubt have heard about the Productivity Commission's report that recommends the lifting of parallel import restrictions. People have asked why anyone can be unhappy if it means cheaper book prices, but there are a number of problems.
The first is that the Commission doesn't KNOW if it will lead to cheaper prices. They have even admitted this in their report, when on page 177 they say "there is *little reason* (my emphasis) to believe that most of the reduction in wholesale prices enjoyed by booksellers would not be passed on to consumers". That is, there is no certainty that it will be passed on, and even then, they say 'most' of the savings, not all. Some stores already charge over the recommended retail price and there is no rule that would make any shop drop their prices if they could buy the books more cheaply. I don't begrudge them this - they're running a business to make a profit, so naturally they'd be happy to buy their stock at the lowest possible price. (And now you know why Bob Carr and the Dymocks board are so keen to have the restrictions lifted!)
The next problem is that in comparing the price of books here to books elsewhere, and deciding that Australians pay too much for books here, the Commission admits that it has not taken into account the cost of freight to bring the cheaper books from overseas. This means when they looked at books that would be sold to the shopper, they've totally left out the cost paid by the shops to bring the book into the country. The shop is going to cover that cost by adding it to the book's sale price, and just because some online stores will ship here for free doesn't mean the bricks and mortar stores will.
The Commission admits that lifting the restrictions will have an adverse effect on employment rates in printing firms and publishers. In these grim financial times, when stimulus payments are being made to encourage people to keep spending, it makes no sense to change a system in order that some consumers may save some money at the cost of any number of jobs in an industry which also brings in considerable export money.
It's interesting to note that the only other English language market which allows parallel importation is New Zealand. This means that the UK and US see their markets and publishing industries as worthy of protection, and I cannot understand why we are so keen to let ours be destroyed.
The Commission suggested in its report that as the lifting of restrictions will affect authors' incomes, perhaps an increase in grants may be the answer. I feel very strongly that it is not. As things stand now, I support myself from my writing because my work appeals to sufficient readers, both here and overseas, to sell in numbers that bring me an income. I do not want a handout: I want to earn my money because my work deserves it, I want to continue to feel proud that my Australian stories, initially bought by an Australian publisher, are now earning money for them and for me, helping them employ editors and marketers, helping all of us put money in our Australian economy.
In the Sydney Morning Herald recently, academic Jim Bright discussed how Australia cannot compete with nations such as China and India in manufacturing and such work, and that what we need to do instead is "develop and own intellectual property such as patents that we can sell or licence to the rest of the world" (SMH, MyCareer, 4-5 July 2009, page 4). This is what authors do: we write texts and then sell the licences to different parts of the world. We are in effect primary producers, as we produce the material which supports the entire publishing industry. We the authors will be the ones hardest hit by the removal of the restrictions because those restrictions enable us to make use of territorial copyright. If I sell my book to a UK publisher who can import cheaper copies into Australia, what Australian publisher will sign me up? And yet those very copies being imported and sold in my local bookshop earn me only half the royalty I would have earned if published here, that is, just 5% of the recommended retail price, because they are deemed 'export copies' by the UK publisher. My ability to make money from my creative work has been severely affected because I lose the income I once earned from selling the Australian rights as well as earning less from every copy sold, but the nation as a whole is also affected because the money from the sale of that book does not stay here but goes back to the UK publisher, supportingtheir staff, their printers, their shareholders, who then spend the money in their economy.
If you are an aspiring Australian author, things look grim for you too. With less money coming in, Australian publishers will be cutting back on their staff. You think it takes a long time to get an answer on your manuscript submission now, you just wait. They will have less money for development of authors, fewer editors with less time, and smaller amounts of money to put into marketing when your book does get picked up.
If you are a reader - and God bless you - things aren't rosy for you either. Yes, you might save a few dollars on your books. Unfortunately your favourite Aussie authors' incomes will be cut so much that they have to get a dayjob (for the few who are fortunate enough to write fulltime) or had to pick up more hours in their part-time job. They no longer have much time to write, and now you have to wait much longer for their next book. Some will lose their contracts completely and you won't see any more of their work at all.
So what can we do? What we do best - WRITE. Write letters. It is so important it's giving me a pain in my chest. Seriously. Go to the Australian Society of Authors website for a template of letters to write and a list of politicians to write them too. And for more good clear information on the subject please read this and this.
Please. Please. Write.
Maclean. Just a quick reminder for any of you living on the mid-north coast of NSW that tomorrow (Sat 27th) I'm talking at a lunch at Maclean Services Club on River Street from 1230. It's a fundraiser for the local hospital so come along and let's help them buy some stuff to help the patients! I'm so looking forward to it and am grateful to my good friend author Peter Watt for organising it all. It's going to be a blast! Look forward to seeing you there :)
Reading and lunch. I'm such a lucky person! Publishers send me copies of books and the one I've just finished reading is an absolute doozy. It's written by Tom Reynolds, author of the fabulous website Random Acts of Reality and London ambulance officer. The book is an incredible insight into day-to-day life in that job and I cannot recommend it highly enough. My own books show a lot of ambulance work but being thrillers they focus by necessity on the more exciting cases. Tom's book takes you right to the scene of all sorts of cases, from 'man-flu' to foot warts to domestic violence to the delivery of surprise babies to the frequent stabbings taking place in the city to the often-heartbreaking transport of old folks with dementia who can't understand why you have to move them and shriek in pain no matter how gently you do it. Truly, honestly, if you have any interest in ambulance life make sure you get a copy of this. If you have a friend or relative who works in the job this book will explain a lot! And Tom, being the ultra-wonderful and generous soul that he is, has made the book available for FREE FREE FREE!!! Simply go here and you can read and download it for nix, zip, nada. Yes indeedy, FREEEEEEEEE! Of course, if you like to hold an actual paper copy in your hand (my preference too), you can go here and buy a copy. Whichever way you go, make sure you get a copy.
Another marvellous book I've just finished is Cate Kennedy's book of short stories, Dark Roots. I met Cate at the Literati event the other week and we really hit it off. This collection is amazing! I haven't been a big fan of short stories in the past but Dark Roots has changed that. Cate is the most lovely warm and funny person and a fabulous writer. In her stories she manages to encapsulate emotions that I never imagined could be described, and I tell you I both laughed out loud and curled up sobbing while reading. Incredible, moving stuff. I've just started on her memoir of time as a volunteer working in Mexico Sing, And Don't Cry and had to tear myself away to write this post. I can't wait until her novel The World Beneath comes out in September. Can't wait!!!
Now, let's talk about Saturday the 27th of June. Good friend and great author Peter Watt has organised a literary lunch at Maclean Services Club, River Street, Maclean. YOU are invited! No need to book, simply turn up at 1230 pm and choose and pay for your own meal, and listen to me talk about books, writing, ambulance work, oooh, who knows what else? It's going to be a great afternoon. Books will be available and the local hospital auxiliary will be running a raffle. I can tell you now I'll be buying a stack of tickets - hospital auxiliary groups do amazing work and raise heaps of money to buy equipment that make patients' lives better and easier. I've been wanting to meet YOU for ages now so please come along!
June news. The Literati event last week was FANTASTIC! Truly, if you live on the Gold Coast and didn't come along, you missed out on a great night of fine food and drink, and interesting and lively conversation, all MC'd by local author Michael Jacobson. Then on Saturday the 31 authors headed for the various libraries and talked with each other and with the audience about topics ranging from creativity to crime writing, the difficult second novel to making a living from writing. Each year the event gets bigger and better and I can't wait to see what the wonderful Maryanne and the great library staff produce in 2010!
Just in case my infrequent posts here leave you wanting more of my oh-so-hilarious writing voice, I am blogging this month at the Varuna Alumni blog. The first post is up now and the next ones will go up each Monday. Varuna is an amazing place in the NSW Blue Mountains where writers can stay to work on their, well, work, and attend courses and be mentored and learn loads of stuff in workshops. More info here. Writers who've attended the selective courses can join the alumni association which has developed into a great community of people and I'm delighted to be part of it.
Remember how last news I mentioned my Dutch friend who'll now be able to read my work in her own language as the rights have sold there? She makes these amazing handcrafted quilts and bags - check them out on her website. She ships all over the world and will make something special and original for you - just ask!
Here at Howell HQ the copy edit of Cold Justice has gone back to the publishers and I am again facing the start of a new book. This is book 4 in the series, as yet untitled, and due out in Australia in December 2010. It's both a daunting and thrilling moment to set off on this journey. It's like climbing a mountain - you know it's going to be hard, and much of the trip is in the fog, and you're scared that you're lost and will never find the end, but somehow you do emerge from the cloud to crest the summit and stand jubilant with your fists in the air. There's nothing like it and I am so fortunate that I do this for a living. Thanks to all you readers who make this possible for writers like me.
Mayday! **UPDATED** I seriously don't know where the time is going. What's that they say, the older you get the faster the time goes? Anyhoo, here we are, and it's May, and generally I have a book released in May. Not so this year, I'm sorry. During the writing of Cold Justice last year I went through a number of personal upheavals (to put it mildly) and it's hard to do anything let alone write in such times. So this year the new book is out in December - just in time for Christmas! That's right, put it on your list now: Cold Justice, out December first. It's going to be an absolute ripper, and has already started to sell overseas, the Dutch being the first to nab it, at the London Book Fair. I am really pleased about this as I lived for a year in Holland when I was a kid and have always had a soft spot for the place. Now my good friend Regine can read it in her own language instead of battling through the English version.
Speaking of December first, I'm going to be talking at an event that night at Hornsby Library and I cannot wait. I grew up and went to school in the area and am so looking forward to getting back there and seeing lots of people I haven't seen for years.
That's a long way off, of course - though you know it will be here like *that* - but this month there's another event I'm excited about. It's the Gold Coast Literati, a wonderful evening of dinner and conversation on Friday May 29th then a fantastic morning of author talks on Saturday May 30th. All the details are here but I can tell you that last year it was a highlight for me and it's well worth putting in your diary. Even if you can't make it to the dinner, the line-up of authors at the various Coast libraries the next morning offers the chance to meet your favourite writers plus some new ones, buy their books and have them signed. Brilliant!
Recently I was waiting for the copy-edits of Cold Justice to come back, and getting into still-untitled book 4, but also found time to read a few books. I really enjoyed Adrian McKinty's 'Fifty Grand', a rocket-ride of a story starring a young female Cuban detective so real I can't quite believe she doesn't exist. I haven't been able to find out when it'll be released in Australia but that's sorta irrelevant because I recommend you get your hands on a copy now, however you do it. Check out these reviews on Amazon and you'll see I'm not the only person saying so, and read the first chapter for yourself here.
Another good read is Barry Maitland's new book in the Brock and Kolla series, 'Dark Mirror', which will be out here in July (more about it here) and also - oh wow, this one blew me away - Mark Billingham's 'In The Dark'. Go to his website for more info and to read the first chapter.
I now have the copy-edit of Cold Justice back and will soon be finished with it, and then back it goes to the publishers for type-setting. The whole thing strikes me as funny sometimes -- funny strange, not funny ha-ha. Here is this thing I made up in my head, sitting in a room in my house, and now it's part of a process involving all these different people in different jobs and different parts of the world and in a few months it will be on the shelves for people like you to pick up and read. Doesn't it seem funny to you? No? Oh, so it's just me then . . . ;) Never mind, move along, nothing to see here!
Til next time, happy reading!
**UPDATE**** Thanks to all the paramedics who sent me photos of themselves; have a look at them here. AAAAAAAND check out the fantastic blurb for COLD JUSTICE here in Pan Macmillan UK Translation Rights catalogue from the London Book fair. Scroll down to page 13. Yeehaw!
Hello hello! So here we are, and it's April already! The edit of Cold Justice is back with the publishers and early feedback is multiple thumbs-up, which makes me very happy. There will no doubt be more changes but it's all to make the book better so that makes me very happy too. Meanwhile in L'Office Katherine, book 4 is underway - it's an exciting time, starting off with a whole new story, thinking about what's going to happen to Ella and the paramedics. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the tentative title was 'The Bare Bones' - cancel that thought, it's too close to some recent work by Kathy Reichs. Which reminds me, a few people have said to me, but aren't titles copyright? Generally speaking, they're not - you can name your book any old thing. The hazards are that if, as would've happened with the Bare Bones, it's too close or the same as the title of a recent book, you run the risk of confusing readers. When I come up with a list of possible titles I hit Amazon and Google and see what else is out there and when it came out. At the moment this one goes by the handy moniker "untitled book4". Catchy, no?
Heard some good news recently - Suzi, the author of the NeeNaw blog has scored a book contract! I am not surprised: her writing is fantastic and the stories she tells on her blog are great. It's one of three I list on my links page, and if you are interested in ambulance goings-on I can't suggest more strongly that you nip on over to her page or the others and have a read.
Last post I talked about how I was deep into a proof copy of Harlan Coben's new book 'Long Lost'. It was a great read! He now has some good stuff up on his site about it here, including an excerpt from Chapter One and a video of him talking about the book. Check it out!
Just yesterday I finished another proof, this time of Linwood Barclay's 'Fear The Worst'. This will be released in July - Australia is the first country in the world to get it!! - and is definitely one to put on your MUST BUY list. Oh boy! This guy just gets better and better, and he started off at excellent. His website is here and you can read about his other standalone thrillers plus an earlier mystery series. There is nothing there *yet* about 'Fear The Worst', so you'll just have to take it from me that this is not a book to miss.
Another proof I've been reading is Dennis Lehane's 'The Given Day'. I so admire Lehane. I loooove his series about PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro - did you see the movie Gone Baby Gone? It was good but the book is way better - I love his standalone Mystic River - that movie was excellent! - and now he's produced this wonderful historical epic set in Boston in 1919. I don't think it's been released in Australia yet but it too is another to watch out for.
So - where am I getting all these proof copies? Let's just say The Source is extremely generous, in all ways. I am very fortunate.
Talk to you again soon,
March update. Apologies for my absence - it's been a hectic month of editing and the work continues even now. But the new book Cold Justice is shaping up beautifully! It's in the schedule for a December release and I can't wait to get out there and talk to people about it. I'll be posting some information about the story here soon so you'll be the first to learn a little of what happens next to our good friend Detective Ella Marconi, and also the first to see the cover art when it's done. I love every step of the process: the writing, editing, putting together the back cover blurb, choosing the cover - everything. And I am so fortunate in the wonderful people I work with on all this too. Agent Selwa Anthony, publisher Cate Paterson, editor Mary Verney - I salute you.
One month ago today, terrible bushfires swept through many parts of Victoria. If you saw any of the coverage you know how horrific it was for so many people. My good friend and fellow crime author Adrian Hyland was lucky to come through it all, and wrote a moving piece about how his community pulled together around a school which you can read here. Today in The Age this article looks at how people are coping now. You can still show your support by donating at various places, including the Red Cross.
Finally, I'll tell you a secret. Yes I should be editing but it's not every day one gets one's hot little hands on a manuscript proof of Harlan Coben's new book 'Long Lost'! This hits the shops in April and I tell you what, you will be blown away. What is it with Harlan, that he just gets better and better? His website page about the book is here - so far there's just a space and a 'coming soon' message where an excerpt will be, but check back reglar-like and I guarantee when you read it you won't be disappointed.
Okay, back to work ... or Harlan ..... :)
Free books! The offer is still open: wherever you are in the world, if you work in the emergency services, send me a photo of yourself with or without your colleagues, in front of your vehicle or station, and say in your email that you are happy for me to post the picture here on my site (page coming soon) and I will send you a copy of Frantic. AND THEN if you post a review of the book anywhere on the web and email me the link I will send you a copy of The Darkest Hour! Seems like it's still Christmas, doesn't it?
Speaking of Christmas, I finished the third book in my series about paramedics and Detective Ella Marconi, 'Cold Justice', just before the big day. Best present ever :) and then once it was sent off I fiiinally got my hands on Tess Gerritsen's 'Keeping The Dead' (known as 'The Keepsake' in the US). Another fantastic read! I tell you, if you are into thrillers and have never read her work you are missing out. Go now, to the bookstore! Also check out her website for all the info on her and her books.
'Cold Justice' has since received the big thumbs-up from the publisher and is now going through the first round of editing. I can't wait to get cracking on the work. Meanwhile I am noodling around with the story for book 4, tentatively titled 'The Bare Bones' and due out in 2010 :)
Till next time,
Quick note. Hi again, just a short one as I am writing like a crazy woman to finish Cold Justice. It's going really well btw!
Monday the 22nd I will be at Angus and Robertson in Kotara, Newcastle, from 1030. I will be fully equipped with chocolates so if you're in the centre doing your last-minute Christmas shopping (as I will be doing, before and after the signing) please come along and say hi and we'll share a chocolate hit. Imagine the energy boost! And signed books make a fantastic present -- I'll sign not only my books but anything, by anyone!
Hope to meet you then,
December again, oh my. First up, welcome to all of you who have come here as a result of Norm Rooker's review on EMS Responder.com (scroll down to near the end). For those of you in the States, as Frantic and The Darkest Hour aren't released there yet, you can get Frantic from Amazon Canada, or Amazon UK, or you can go direct to the source and buy either, or both - go on, it's Christmas! - from Pan Macmillan. ORRRRR if you are in the emergency services - and hats off to you, you wonderful people - how about this: be one of the first 25 people to email me a photo of you and your colleagues in front of your ambulance, fire truck, police car, whatever you have, outside your station, and I'll post it on the site here and send you a copy of Frantic as a thank you. AND THEN if you post a review of the book on Amazon or wherever and send me the link, I'll send you a copy of The Darkest Hour. Free books! Who could ever ask for more??
I'm not long home from an incredible two weeks at Varuna, The Writers House. If you are a writer, whether you're in Australia or overseas and whatever your stage of development, I highly recommend you check this out. They run a number of different programmes, some residential and some not, some selective and some not, so there is scope for everyone. And let me tell you that there's something in the air at that place which just keeps the words flowing. The first week I was there I worked with the director Peter Bishop - anyone who's been there can tell you what a wonderful person he is - and Anna Solding reading manuscripts for the HarperCollins Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development. I thoroughly enjoyed this and want to thank everyone who submitted work. We are really proud of the list and I look forward to seeing some of these books on the shelves over the next few years! I'm also looking forward to speaking to some of the applicants who missed out - I know what it can mean to be able to talk to somebody who's read your work and can talk over your concerns and hopes with you.
For writers in Australia, there is another issue we need to talk about: parallel importation. The Federal Government has set up a Commission to look into whether the current restrictions on importation of books are justified. What happens now is that an Australian publisher can buy a book from you, the author, and produce it and sell it here. If you sell the book first to a UK publisher, say, the restrictions mean that the UK publisher can't just dump the remaindered copies onto the Australian market, undercutting the local prices and losing you valuable royalties because remainders earn you NONE. If the restrictions are removed, the overseas publishers can do that just as much as they like. Put yourself in the shoes of an Australian publisher - why would you buy an Australian book if you know a bunch of remainders are soon going to land on the doorstep of every bookseller in the country at a much cheaper price? You wouldn't even bother - yes, you love Australian authors and books and writing but in the end you are running a business and you don't want to lose your job and those of the people around you. From the writer's point of view, the loss of royalties may mean the end of a fulltime writing career. For the readers you will be waiting longer for your favourite author's next books because they have had to go out and get the dreaded day-job. AND the other big question is: the UK and the US have the same parallel import restrictions -- if they don't allow it, why on earth should we?? For more information you can see what the Australian Society of Authors has to say about it here, what an Australian publisher says here, and the whole thing from the Goverment, including the terms of reference of the commission, and most importantly how to have your say (and please, please do), here.
Finally, let's talk about Tess Gerritsen, shall we? If you've been here before you know she's one of my favourite authors and that each new book of her fills me with such glee! Unfortunately this time, with the release of her latest Keeping The Dead (that's the UK and Australian title - in the States it's The Keepsake) I am on a tight deadline and while someone special has bought it for me she won't let me have it until I have finished writing book 3! So cruel ...
Til next time,
From the heart. Last time I wrote I said I'd tell you about a case I once did that has stayed in my mind.
Obviously having worked in the job for fifteen years I did a LOT of cases, countless countless cases, and many of those have stuck in my head. This one, for example, and the murders I went to, and some of the many suicides. But for now I'd like to tell you about a call to a man who couldn't be woken. My partner and I tore around there and were met out the front by neighbours, and the looks on their faces told us everything. We went into the house and past the living room where an old man sat clutching the arms of a chair. The neighbours said he was blind and lived with his son who was his sole carer. Usually the son would be up first, and make breakfast and bring it into his dad, but this morning when the old man woke up to silence, he'd felt his way into the son's room to see what was the matter. He'd felt his son in bed, felt his face, then felt his way downstairs and around to the neighbours for help. I have this theory that people always know: to feel that somebody is cold and stiff misleads no-one, but - understandably - they cling to hope, and that's why they call us, and why they manage to keep it together, for a while at least. We went upstairs and into the son's room where he was dead in bed, aged only about forty, no health problems, the book he'd been reading before he turned the light off was on the floor, and he looked just like he was asleep. A good death, in the eyes of paramedics, but not at the age of forty and not when you're your father's sole connection to the world. I looked at my partner. He was driving that day which meant that I was the treating officer, which also meant that it was my job to tell the father that we couldn't help his son.
'Want me to do it?' he said.
I shook my head.
I remember so clearly walking down those stairs, knowing that I was about to drop a bomb into this poor man's life, telling myself not to cry, don't cry, hold it together, you are a professional, just don't cry.
I knelt before the man and put my hand on his. He grasped my fingers. His eyes were watery, questing, looking for me though he couldn't see. 'I'm so sorry,' I began, and he put his head back and howled.
The windows of ambulances are tinted so dark for many reasons - one of them so you can't see the paramedic crying in the back.
Read these ; thank a paramedic yourself by mail here or in person at 10.30 am on Thursday 20 November 2008 in the following locations:
Sydney - Masonic Centre, Corner Castlereagh and Goulburn Streets, Haymarket
Western Division - Wellington Ambulance Station, Thornton Street, Wellington
Northern Division - Hamilton Ambulance Station, 75 Denison Street, Hamilton
Southern Division - Best Western Centretown, 77 Lagoon Street, Goulburn
Or just smile and feel thankful the next time you see an ambulance drive past.
UPDATE - also read this.
Signing my life away ... Well, not really - I'm just signing a few books :) The first date is tomorrow, that's Saturday the 1st November (November already!?!?!) at Angus and Robertson in Greenhills Shopping Centre, from 11 am. The second is the following Saturday, the 8th November (November already!?!?! oh wait, I just said that) at Angus and Robertson in Kotara, again from 11am. I'll be bringing ye Davitt trophy along to both, so if you're out and about come along and say hello! Tell me what you've been reading lately and I'll be all kinds of jealous, because I'm too flat out writing book 3 to have any time to read.
I'll be posting again about this closer to the date, but I'd also like to mention Thank A Paramedic Day, Thursday November 20th. This is the first year it's being held, and I think it's a great idea. I can tell you that when I was still in the job, those days when I arrived at work to find a thank you letter waiting for me were real highlights - it's just so lovely to know that what you do for somebody is appreciated. I think too that in certain cases you build what feels like a bond with people and it's good to hear later how they went, and that they felt you were significant in their lives too. Anyway, more from me on that later, but for now you can read this for more info.
Okay, that's it for now. When I next write I think I'll tell you about a particular case I did once, that's stayed in my head for years .... one of many, really ..............
And the winner is ... I am thrilled, delighted, humbled and stoked to be able to say that Frantic has won Sisters in Crime's Davitt Award for best crime novel by an Australian woman in 2007. (I've just tried to upload a photo of the award but it's not working, sorry.) The awards night at the Celtic Club in Melbourne was fantastic. We had a lovely dinner then laughed til we almost bust listening to Judge Liz Gaynor talk about her experiences working in the legal world. Partway through we learned that a woman had collapsed in the bathroom and off I went to do my paramedic thing. Luckily I was back in time for the presentation and was so pleased to hear my name called!
The judges' report runs thusly:
"This first crime novel about an ambulance officer written by a former ambulance officer (who has now given up her dayjob) sets off at a breathless rush with sirens blaring and barely pauses to draw breath. The plight of a mother whose child is abducted raises the stakes in an effective thriller which makes vivid use of Sydney as a setting."
I'll say it again: thrilled, delighted, humbled and stoked.
This and that. I had a fantastic time on the Gold Coast. The talk at Rotary went really well - what lovely people. I didn't know much about Rotary but by the end of the night was wondering about joining.
Staying with friends Benette and Dave was great, and the signing at their shop was fabulous.I met so many nice people - it's always fascinating to talk to readers about what books they like, what they're reading now, and then often we get onto their own life stories. That's what I like best.
There are a couple of new reviews up for Frantic: here's one from Susanna Yager in the UK Telegraph, and if you can read French, here's one in that language from a blogger. Nice!
Speaking of French, I was delighted this week to receive my author's copies of Urgence Ultime. It's a beautiful hardcover and it thrills me just to hold it.
On Friday the 10th October I'm off to Melbourne for the Davitt awards. This is held by Sisters In Crime, a great organisation for both readers and writers of crime fiction (and it's not only for women, blokes are welcome too). It's a fab opportunity to mix and mingle, have a nice dinner and a bit of a knees-up, plus see Judge Liz Gaynor both present the awards and face a grilling by Dr Sue Turnbull about her life and times. Awards are given for best crime novel, true crime, young adult and reader's choice. Part of the judging process last year was the Connex test: seeing whether the book could hold the reader's attention through the vagaries of Melbourne's public transport system. This year the challenge was whether it would stand up to the rigours of the 3 am Red Eye from Darwin to Melbourne.
It's going to be a great night, and it's at the Celtic Club, corner of La Trobe and Queen Streets, kicking off at 7 pm. Bookings are essential, and for that and more information call 0412 569 356. Hope to see you there!
Meantime I'm also buying a house ... those of you who've done this know what a time-muncher it can be. I've been lucky in that everything has gone smoothly. Fingers crossed it will all be finished in the next couple of weeks.
Now it's back to book 3 for me - the working title is COLD JUSTICE. Like it? I do!
Until next time,
On the road again. This morning I'm hitting the highway north, going back up to Tweed. I'm looking forward to speaking on Thursday night at Gold Coast Rotary, and then to Saturday the 20th when I'll be at Angus and Robertson in Southport Park from 12 midday. My wonderful friends Benette and Dave run this store, and if you live on the Coast this is the place to shop! They are so full of enthusiasm for books and readers, and put on the best events. If you're after more info you can call them on 07 55 328 889.
Speaking of books and friends, my mate Declan Burke of fabbo crime blog Crime Always Pays has his great book 'The Big O' coming out in the US next week. Check out these reviews at Euro Crime and Aust Crime Fiction, then do yourself a favour and nab a copy! Declan is on the road for meet and greets in the US in October and you can see his schedule here.
Tell him I sent you!
Okay, time to finish packing and get going,
September goings-on Well, Tassie was great fun! Since then I've also been down to Melbourne for the Ned Kelly crime writing awards night. Good buddy Leigh Redhead was a stand-out in the debate, and the awards went to the most deserving Chris Womersley (for best first fiction with The Low Road) and Michael Robotham (for best fiction with Shatter), while Marele Day was winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Her Claudia Valentine series is excellent.
Back here at Writing HQ things are going well, and it looks like we've settled on a title for no 3. Will let you know ...
This Saturday, 6th September, I'll be at the Angus and Robertson store in Salamander Bay from 11 am, to talk books etc with whoever comes along. Why not you?? :) For more details ring the shop on 0249 827 826. Then on Saturday the 20th I'll be at the Angus and Robertson shop in Southport Park, from midday till 1pm. My great friends Benette and Dave run this store so how about it, pop in and meet all of us. For more info on that you can call them on 07 5532 8889.
Something else I'm looking forward to is going back to high school this week to talk to the HSC English Extension students about crime writing, and speaking to Rotary on the Gold Coast later in the month.
Must go, lots to do,
You can dance, you can jive Can you guess I went to see Mamma Mia last weekend? At the drive-in no less! Call me an ABBA dag if you like, but it was so much fun. I went with two of my cousins, a second cousin and one of her friends. The seven-year-olds were in the front seat, we slightly more grown-up types were in the back, and we sang our hearts out. Faaantastic.
But onto booky news: I'm off to the cold cold isle of Tasmania this weekend, for the Tasmanian Living Writers Week. On Saturday 23rd August I'm speaking with fellow crime writers Adrian Hyland, Debi Marshall and David Everett about crime writing and exactly why we do it. That's in Launceston in the Tram Shed, in the Inveresk Rail Yards Precinct, from 2.30 to 3.45 pm. It's free and there's no reserved seating so make sure you get there early! For more info you can call 03 6233 5940. Then on Sunday 24th I'm speaking with Bradley Trevor Grieve, Katherine Scholes and Adrian Hyland about selling internationally. That's in the Jones and Co Room, in Henry Jones Art Hotel, 25 Hunter Street in Hobart, from 3.45 to 5 pm. Again, no reserved seats, and call the same number as above for further info. Lots more info on all the events for the week is here. It's going to be great!
Deux gamins en arrêt cardiaque. Bon Dieu! Bon Dieu indeed: Frantic is out in France! You can see the cover of Urgence Ultime and read an excerpt here. Then while you're in a clicky mood, nip on over to the UK newspaper Mail on Sunday to read an article I wrote about a case I did some years back, and see one of the photos taken by a canal somewhere near King's Cross in London on one of the many, many marvellous days I had on my trip.
It truly was wonderful. Early on I was in London, meeting up with my UK publishers who are a great bunch of people (Hi Imogen, Rebecca, Sophie, Julie, Anna, Charlie, Maria and Katie!). I met the lovely Nina Sebastiane for my interview on Bookzone - last time I checked the interview wasn't up yet but I can highly recommend the site for fascinating interviews with such crime authors Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Connelly and R.J. Ellory.
While travelling about it was great to see my friend Kate Morton's new book The Forgotten Garden advertised just about everywhere. There were billboards, ads and excellent reviews in newspapers and magazines, and the book itself was front and centre in every bookshop I went into. It's a great book and I'm so pleased for her!
I had a wonderful time with my sister and her family, and all their friends, and then on the 17th it was onto the train north. And who should get off the very same train in Harrogate but my good friend Kathryn Fox? We found we were staying in the same hotel, and (possibly in an attempt to keep the Aussie rabble contained?) they even had us in adjoining rooms. That night we went out to dinner with her UK publishers Hodder and US author Cody McFadyen, a charming man whose site has his report on Harrogate plus excerpts of his novels - as if I don't have enough books already, now I'mdetermined to add these to my collection. Go and have a read!
After dinner we went to the Festival's opening night party. Being with Kathryn Fox was a blast - she seems to know everyone in the crime writing world and introduced me to them! David Hewson was a standout, but as Cody says on his blog, all the authors were friendly and generous with their time. David, I have you on my to-be-read pile ... along with books by ex-cop Karen Campbell, Robert Crais (who I did literally walk into - then looked up at the face above this extreeeeemely bright Hawaiian shirt and thought, "oh my God, you're Robert Crais!" while managing to maintain exterior calm and just say, "Hi..."), and Tom Rob Smith, who I swear looks in real life so much like Chris Martin that Katie from Pan Macmillan UK and I stood there trying to work out which one of them he was and comparing the photo in the back of my copy of Child 44 with the person across the room. Finally she, being much braver than I, grabbed my hand and yanked me over to him and said, "Hello, is this you?" and what do you know, it was him, and not Chris Martin, and he laughed and kindly signed my book.
One of the many things I loved about Harrogate was that everyone there was a crime fan, so while standing in a line to have a book signed by Jeffrey Deaver it was no difficult thing to get chatting with fellow queuers. In this way I met crimeficreader whose marvellous and information-packed blog It's A Crime is a frequent stop for me on my browsing, and she then introduced me to fellow bloggers Karen from Eurocrime and Maxine from Petrona. It was great to be able to put a face to these names and web-voices! Hello also to Michael, Dave, Amanda, Janet and Marion.
Some of the highlights of the sessions for me were listening to Jeffrey Deaver read from his hilarious diary and realising that he procrastinates almost as much as I do! and hearing Tess Gerritsen speak for an hour on her own, after her interviewer failed to turn up, and learning that she too feels hopelessly lost in the middle of writing each book. If you've read any of this site you'll know what a huge fan I am of Tess's work, and it was wonderful to finally meet her. Her agent Meg Ruley is lovely too, and as she represents other medical thriller authors such as Michael Palmer we had a good yak about the genre. (Very important side note: Tess is blogging again! Read her Harrogate report and tales of her adventures with Meg Ruley looking for Hadrian's wall, and check out her out on Tuesdays, too, on Murderati.) I also got to speak briefly to Ali Karim, editor of the great online crime sites The Rap Sheet and Shotsmag. If you're into crime fiction and want to keep abreast of what's going on, bookmark all these sites when you visit them - even better, use an RSS feeder like Google Reader to get the latest posts from your favourite blogs on a single page.
All in all, Harrogate was one of the many highlights of my trip, and to come back to Australia seemed like a bit of a let-down. But not for long! because I was off again immediately to the Byron Bay Writers Festival. This is one of my favourite festivals and the anticipation and excitement were palpable at the Thursday night opening party, despite the three days of constant rain. Unfortunately it continued to rain overnight, flooding the site (I heard the water in the marquees was knee-deep) and requiring that Friday's sessions be cancelled. I really felt for the festival director, Jeni Caffin, and her extremely hard-working staff and volunteers, because while we the authors and attendees were disappointed, we spent the day in restaurants and bars, relaxing around the fireplaces, while they had to do what they could with the site in the rain and decide whether Saturday and Sunday could go ahead. Luckily for everyone the rain stopped that afternoon, the sun came out, and between that and some very hard work at the site (thanks also to the people from the Splendour in the Grass festival who came along to help out), and $15,000 of gravel, the weekend sessions went ahead as planned. My session on Friday was to have been with my great buddy Leigh Redhead,; it'd would've been our first session together, an event we've been looking forward to for four years, but of course that was washed out, but the Sunday session with fellow crime authors Sydney Bauer, Jarad Henry, and true crime author and journo Liz Porter was an absolute smash. Sydney and I then repaired to the bar where we ran into Marele Day and a good friend of mine, editor Judith Lukin-Amundsen. It was so cold outside it seemed like everyone eventually retired into the warmth, and so I also got to talk to friends Charlotte Wood, Susan Wyndham and Debra Adelaide.
Speaking of Debra, she's on tour for Books Alive at the moment, and is coming to East Maitland on Wednesday the 13th August, for lunch and a talk. Bookings are filling fast so don't miss out on hearing this fascinating and truly lovely lady speak, particularly about her new book The Household Guide to Dying. Sound ghoulish? Well, it's not -- it'll make you laugh out loud, and yes it'll make you cry too, and isn't to feel emotion what we want from books? I can't recommend this highly enough! It's part of the Books Alive picks, which means if you buy it in August you'll also receive a free copy of the new Michael Robotham book, Bombproof. Now this is another top read -- again, laugh out loud funny, but no tears this time, just a fast and exciting story that you'll only be able to put down once the cat/dog/kids are chewing your leg off in hunger. And even then ... if you want to, you know, kick them aside for just a few minutes longer ... we'll understand.
Michael's touring with Books Alive at the moment, too, and I was lucky enough to hear him speak here last week. My good buddy Leah Giarratano is also out and about, though I missed her last week at Singleton -- why? Because I tried to book it the day before and they were full! Don't make that mistake, if you want to see Debra on the 13th get on the line to Kylie on 024933 6952 and reserve your spot.
You can see the rest of the schedule for Debra, Michael, Leah and the other Books Alive authors here.
One final thing: on August 29th the Ned Kelly crime awards presentation is being held in Melbourne. It's a free event, part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, and a great opportunity to meet many of the country's crime authors as well as hear Leigh and Jarad debate with Tara Moss and Joel Becker on whether crime fiction should be more than simply entertaining. More info is here. I'm going along -- hope to see you on the night!
It's great to be away, but good to be home, too. Yes, I'm back! Full details of the Great Pomgolian Adventure are still being compiled and will be up in the next few days (including what happens when I bump into (and I mean that literally) Robert Crais, and some musings on just how many crime bloggers go to that Harrogate Festival anyway??) but I *had* to get on and post about the fantastic author, Books Alive Ambassador and all-round nice guy Michael Robotham --- he's speaking tomorrow night (Thurs 31st July) at Easts Leisure and Golf Club in Tenambit Street, East Maitland. TOMORROW NIGHT! That means you'd better get on the horn and call Kylie at Maitland Council on 024933 6952, or drop her a line at kyliel@ maitland. nsw. gov. au (just remove the spaces from that email address), and bags your place before it's too late. Bookings are essential so they get the number of canapes right. It costs $10, and runs from 6 till 8 pm. If you haven't read Michael's work, you are really missing out: his books leave me speechless with admiration.
See you there!
Last post before takeoff; fasten your seatbelts please. That's it, folks -- I'm off! This time next week I will be luxuriating in the beeyootiful summer weather on the lawns of Hampton Court Palace or thereabouts. Last time I dropped by Henry's place it was five below zero and we went ice-skating on that same lawn - well, on the rink set up on the same lawn. I'm so looking forward to being there, and especially spending time with my sister and her family! Among other plans are some promo for the July 4th release of Frantic and meeting the great folks at Pan Macmillan UK, a number of perambulations about the metropolis with the fantastic London Walks, and rounding off the stay with a fun-filled few days at the Harrogate Crime Festival. Then it's back to Oz in time for the excellent Byron Bay Writers Festival. I love this event! And this year it's particularly special as I get to be on a panel with my bestie Leigh Redhead. There ain't much that's cooler than that. Or than her!
Due to the vagaries of software and my access while I'm away to the interweb yokeybus (as Declan Burke calls it) I can't post the details of my Thrilling Pomgolian Adventures on this page. Instead they'll be appearing in all their finery over at the message board.
One thing I'm going to miss out on while I'm away is the launch of Kate Morton's second book, The Forgotten Garden. It's on July 4th at Mary Ryan's in Paddington in Brissie, kicking off at 6.15 pm, and you need to rsvp on 07 3368 1694 if you want to go. I loved Kate's first book The Shifting Fog (known in the UK and elsewhere as The House At Riverton), and judging by the excerpt The Forgotten Garden is going to be every bit as good!
Okay, enough chat, I need to finish packing and head to Sydney. It's a busy couple of days before I get on the plane for London: among other things I'm attending careers night at my old high school (I *loved* high school! and am looking forward to being there again and meeting everyone) and then on Tuesday night it's off to Rouse Hill for the Dymocks event with Sydney Bauer and Kathryn Fox. Hope to see you there!
PS I wanted to add the details of a signing I'll be doing in East Maitland. It's at the Angus and Robertson store in Greenhills Shopping Centre, on Thursday the 12th June, starting from 6 pm. Helen and her lovely staff will give you $5 off when you buy The Darkest Hour or Frantic on the day -- you can't beat that! For more info call the shop on 02 49 346 500. Hope to see you there!
Home once more. What a fantastic two weeks that was! First on the Gold Coast, where the signing and then the Literati on the Glitter Strip events could not have gone any better. A big hello and thanks to Ross and staff at Angus and Robertson in Tweed City, to my ambo friends who dropped past, and to all the lovely people at the dinner but especially Benette and David and the rest of the fabulous gang from Angus and Robertson Southport Park.
Then it was on to Sydney, and then later Melbourne. A big thanks to Annmarie and Anthea of Geelong City Libraries, for their wonderful organising of the Newcombe and Queenscliff events --- I hadn't been to Queenscliff before but now I really hope to get back there! It's a beautiful spot. And such nice people too!
'The Darkest Hour' has scored some excellent reviews recently: top of my list is Sue Turnbull's piece in the Sydney Morning Herald's Spectrum section on May 17th. It's not on the web, unfortunately, but allow me to quote a little: "As with Frantic, I galloped through this book with my heart racing. Howell may have left the ambulance service but she can still drive a narrative at full speed with the sirens blaring. Pass me the oxygen, someone."
There's a good article here too, which appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin's Paradise magazine also on the 17th May.
This week I received my copies of the German Frantic, otherwise known as Herztod. It's a beautiful thing! I studied 3 unit German for the HSC but it doesn't help me much now as I flip through this. Although, that study was maaaaany years ago... But anyway what a thrill to get my first Kundenrezension - otherwise known as Customer Review - on Amazon Germany. I don't know what she said but I'm guessing she liked it, as she gave it five stars!
This week I'm speaking to Jan Goldsmith on Melbourne's 3CR at 11.30 am on Thursday 29th, and then in June there's an event I am REALLY looking forward to: the meeting of the criminal minds -- well, I mean, it's those smart and lovely ladies Sydney Bauer and Kathryn Fox, plus me -- at Rouse Hill. All the info you could possibly need is right here. Tell all your friends -- sheesh, you know I am!
The day after that I am off overseas in time for the UK release of Frantic on July 4th. It's now available for pre-order at Amazon Canada and Amazon UK. While I'm there an article I wrote will be published in the Mail on Sunday, so look out for that one. I'm rounding off that trip with three days at the Harrogate Crime Festival - it's going to be HUGE!
Happy reading to all,
'The Darkest Hour' is on the loose! *UPDATED* Well, it's here! The Darkest Hour is looking stunning on shelves all over the country. I don't know about other authors but it always make me kinda stop and gulp when I walk past a shop and see it there! My baby ...
I've done a few interviews already and have some real goodies and great events coming up:
1 - I know it's late notice (I'm writing this the night before) but on Wednesday May 7th I'll be talking booky things with Carol Duncan on Newcastle ABC radio. Click on the link to find out how to listen in your area.
These next few are rehashed from the news further down the page but they're well worth repeating, don't you reckon?
2 - On Thursday 15th May from 4 pm I'll be at Angus and Robertson in Tweed City Shopping Centre to sign copies and say hi. For more info you can call the shop on 07 55 244 371.
3 - Then on Friday 16th I'll be at the Gold Coast Library's 'Literati On The Glitter Strip' Literary Feast. This is a fantastic idea, where twenty five authors move from table to table for each course of the dinner, so everyone gets to talk to everyone. It's to be held at the Gold Coast Arts Centre and starts at 7 pm. See here or call 07 55 817 441 for more details.
3 part 2 - Then on Saturday 17th May the authors scatter to the various libraries on the coast for free events; I'll be at Southport Branch speaking about 'Stories from the front line of crime and how the process of writing can help deal with trauma' alongside my good friends psychologist and thriller author Leah Giarratano, ex-cop and author of the incredible 'Crime Scene' Esther McKay, and true crime author and journalist Paul Anderson. Call the library on 07 55 817 201 for more info on that.
Now this stuff is new:
4 - on Tuesday May 20th I get to have a darn good yak with Derek Guille and true crime author Rochelle Jackson on ABC 774 in Melbourne. That's at 7.30 pm, and again follow the link to see how to listen in your area.
5 - Thursday May 22nd, still in Melbourne - let's have tea! Morning AND afternoon, for a *very* good cause, the Cancer Council: morning tea's at Newcombe Library, 10.30 am, then afternoon's at Queenscliff Library at 2.30 pm. More info here
6 - there's more to add, but for now I'll just give a long-distance heads-up that I get to talk to the wonderful Jan Goldsmith on Melbourne's 3CR on Thursday May 29th, and then looking waaaay ahead to Tuesday June 17th, Dymocks in Rouse Hill has arranged an absolute ripper of an event: 3 crime writers for the price of one! That's right folks, it'll be me, Sydney Bauer, and Kathryn Fox. **It'll be at Vinegar Hill Memorial Library in Rouse Hill, from 7.30 to 9 pm. Cost is $5 and you need to book on 8889 5200. How could you possibly go wrong??
7 - okay, so this isn't an event, instead it's a fantastic review from a guy who keeps one of the most detailed Australian crime fiction websites around. His review of The Darkest Hour is here and his blog about all the various goings-on in the crime fiction world is here.
Interwebby fun and games Marshal Zeringue, he of multi-blogs Campaign for the American Reader, Writers Read, and the Page 69 and Page 99 tests (look out for The Darkest Hour on the Page 99 site soon), has tagged me for the 123 meme.
How it works is this:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.
So here goes ... the nearest book is James Lee Burke's 'Bitterroot'.
Sentences 6,7 and 8:
"Can you explain to me what your son is doing with Sue Lynn Big Medicine?" he said.
"Dancing, the last time I saw her."
"You were an officer of the federal court."
I love this book and wish I could post more! but you'll have to read it for yourself.
And now I'm tagging Damien from Crime Down Under, Karen from AustCrimeFiction, Perry at Matilda, and my friends and fellow authors Josephine Pennicott and Louise Cusack.
'The Darkest Hour' approaches! Not long now till my new book is out! It's always an exciting time, and there are a few things happening. Good Reading magazine has picked The Darkest Hour as their book group selection for the May issue, so there will be some info about the story plus discussion questions. The magazine is available from newsagents and some bookshops, and libraries usually have copies too.
On Thursday 15th May from 4 pm I'll be at Angus and Robertson in Tweed City Shopping Centre to sign copies and say hi. Then on Friday 16th I'll be at the Gold Coast Library's 'Literati On The Glitter Strip' Literary Feast. This is a fantastic idea, where twenty five authors move from table to table for each course of the dinner, so everyone gets to talk to everyone. It's to be held at the Gold Coast Arts Centre and starts at 7 pm. See here or call 0755817441 for more details. Then on Saturday the authors scatter to the various libraries on the coast for free events; I'll be at Southport Branch speaking about 'Stories from the front line of crime and how the process of writing can help deal with trauma' alongside my good friends psychologist and thriller author Leah Giarratano, ex-cop and author of the incredible 'Crime Scene' Esther McKay, and true crime author and journalist Paul Anderson. Call the library on 0755817201 for more info on that.
Looking further down the track, I'm off to the UK in June in time for the release of Frantic! Can't wait.
******************* UPDATE ******************
I received my author copies of The Darkest Hour! It's such a thrill to open the box and take a copy out, to see the colour cover for the first time, to heft the weight of it and flip through the pages and inhale that lovely new book smell! I feel very proud.
Till next time!
Festival and blogs. Well, the Somerset Festival is over for another year, and what a fantastic three days it was! So well organised, beautiful setting, my student minder whose job it was to make sure I got to the venues on time, had everything I needed, and then didn't talk too long was an absolute charmer (hi Jono!), and the students, teachers and librarians in each session audience were so interested and asked the best questions! Hi to Liz and the gang from Tamborine Mountain High, to all the Somerset Wordsmiths, to Deborah (how's Borneo?) and the readers and writers from Robina High, and a big thank you to the great bookshop volunteers and everyone involved in the organising and running of the event.
Onto some bloggy news: my friend Peter Canning, an American paramedic who blogs about his experiences, recently had a very near miss in his ambulance. Read it and shiver.
Here's another interesting paramedic blog - the author is doing some military training at the moment so has invited readers to send in the stories of their greatest successes on the job, and of their most disturbed/disturbing patients.
The overseas release of Frantic is creeping closer! It's listed now on Amazon in Canada (available July 4), the UK (also July 4) and Germany (available April 1). Not sure when it will be on sale in France, Italy and Russia, but when I find out I'll let you know.
And I realised the other day that The Darkest Hour hits the streets in just six weeks! Seems incredible. I'm so looking forward to holding a copy of the finished book . . .
Finally, this is where I go when I want to laugh.
Aussie crime writers galore Ever wanted to know why Sydney Bauer chose a male, Boston-based attorney as her main character? Or what Peter Temple believes his character Jack Irish would say if he met Shane Maloney's character Murray Whelan? Wouldn't you love to know the eerie ink between PD Martin's real life and her first book Body Count? Or how Adrian Hyland's Emily Tempest came into being?
Well, this is your lucky week! Because three Aussie crime and book blogs have come together to interview crime writers about their books, their writing lives, and what they're up to next, and are posting the results on their sites. Check out Matilda, Crime Down Under, and AustCrime for all the goss. Then stay and have a browse round - these are three of my favourite sites and well worth checking out.
Much excitement coming up for me - the Somerset Celebration of Literature is on next week, and I'm fortunate enough to be speaking to three student groups and also to be on a panel with Garry Disher, Leah Giarratano and James Phelan, discussing suspense and excitement in our novels. Talk about suspense - I'm feeling it now! If you're going, do come up and say hi.
Till next time,
Reading, writing, writing, reading. Some authors are very strict about when they read. That is, they won't read when they're writing, particularly in the same genre. I'm the opposite: I find I NEED to read. It helps sometimes to be reminded that it's all about one word after another, you build a sentence then a paragraph then a chapter. Sometimes too it shows me again the power of words, just what a thrilling experience it can be to immerse yourself in a story, and what it is I'm trying to achieve. I don't worry about adopting too much of another author's tone or voice, as I figure even if it does weasel into the first draft, it'll be all reworked later on.
So here's what I've been reading lately:
C is for Corpse, the third book in Sue Grafton's marvellous series. I wish Kinsey Millhone was my friend.
The Big O, by Declan Burke. I'd seen mentions of this around the web, then read a review of it here on Karen Chisholm's great Australasian Crime Fiction Database, so nipped over to the publisher's site where I read a pdf excerpt
then promptly plonked down my money! The book is an absolute ripper, and Declan's no shy retiring type either, as you can see on his excellent blog.
I've also read a biography of John Keats - just for something different, you know how it is - and a most wonderful book that made me cry, The Children by Charlotte Wood. Go here to click through to an excerpt. I love Charlotte's work! A tremendous Aussie author.
Okay, well ... I guess now it's time to get back to writing.
Only twenty four years late. Don't you just love it when you find an author you've never read before, and adore their work, and then realise there are NINETEEN more books in the series waiting for you?!?!? Yes folks, I've recently read the first book in the Kinsey Milhone series by Sue Grafton, 'A is for Alibi'. That came out in 1983 and she's just released 'T is for Trespass'. By all accounts the series is powering, so I'm feeling all happy about the prospect of spending many more hours in Kinsey's excellent company. And hey, if you want to make yourself cry, go to the page on Grafton's site about their cat Emma and read the tribute written by her husband. Oh MAN.
In booky news closer to home, the edits of The Darkest Hour are done and back with the publisher, so next step is copy editing and then page proofs. Editing is weird - well, the whole writing process is weird, really - you swing from feeling like the ms works okay, the story cooks along nicely, then to feeling absolutely certain that no bigger pile of hogwash has ever been created. A book I've found helpful in the midst of all this is Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. It's funny and down to earth and puts into words lots of the things I've been thinking and feeling. Hooray for Anne! and thanks to good buddy Leigh Redhead for telling me about it.
Till next time!
Pre-Christmas round-up. So here we are, almost at the end of the year. It's been a huge one for me - first book out - great reviews - second book finished and with the editor now - third and fourth contracted - I met so many wonderful people at festivals and bookclubs and seminars - three of my uni friends have books out or contracts - and next year I have a likely trip to the UK in time for the release of Frantic on the 4th July and oh what a lovely coincidence, The Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate is on just a couple of weeks later! Imagine - the chance to meet the gods of the business like Tess Gerritsen and Robert Crais!
It's been a great year for reading too. Currently I am deep into Don Winslow's 'The Power of The Dog', which I saw recommended on the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club, then spotted in my local book emporium. Only got it yesterday and I'm already halfway through. Incredible story and characters. When I finish I'm going to rush out and see what other books of his I can get my hands on.
Speaking of reading, Peter Rozovsky on his blog Detectives Beyond Borders has a fascinating discussion on when and why good crime series go bad. How to keep each book fresh yet not too different from the ones before is a question pondered by every author of a crime series.
Let's end on a lovely note -- presents! Books are always good :) but for the person who has every book already, what better gift could there be than a piglet? This is where I go.
Wishing you all a happy festive season and a wonderful 2008.
Home again. Newtown was great! Our panel was well-attended, and it was fascinating to listen to Leah Giarratano talk about her work as a psychologist with both victims and perpetrators of crime.Thanks to Derek and Maggie and the other staff from Better Read Than Dead bookshop for superb organisation on the day.
Hello to Carolyn, who I met on the plane to Sydney - how was your reunion? Hello also to the woman whose name I can't remember - hope your daughter stunned them all in the exam!
The website's been updated. Click here to see images of the cover of the A format of Frantic (the smaller size) which comes out at the start of January, and of the cover of The Darkest Hour, which will be published in May. There's a little bit of info there about the book also.
Till next time!
Newtown in November Been busy lately, getting underway with the new book - both in terms of research and actual writing. It's an exciting time, with so much potential in the ideas in your head, although when you start to write you realise again that first drafts are never all that good! Especially when you've just come from working on the nth draft of the previous book. Still, this is the challenge of writing - or should I say just one part of the challenge. My dad asked the other day was it easier with each book, and I said not really: though with every book you learn things and decide to do it differently next time as a result, each new book is still a brand new thing, and brings its own problems. And its own joys too, of course!
Now, a question: what are you up to on Sunday November 11th? If you live in Sydney you might like to check out the Newtown Festival. It's chockful of great activities, markets, live music, AND a writers tent, where you can come and listen to me rabbit on about crime writing with fellow writer Leah Giarratano! We're on at 11.30 am, and you can read more about the writers tent happenings here. Should be a corker!
Onto books I've recently read: I could not put down James Lee Burke's 'The Tin Roof Blowdown'. If you've been to my links page you will have noticed my passion for his work, and this book is simply fantastic. It's a crime story set in and around New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and twists your guts up in knots to 'see' what happened, through the eyes of local cop Dave Robicheaux.
Okay, that's it from me!
Skin Privilege/The Bone Garden Well, the structural edit of Panic is done. I posted it back last week, and now it's been read by my lovely editor Kylie and has received the official stamp of approval! It'll be off for copy editing next, while I get on with the new book. Exciting times!
As I mentioned the other week, I was saving Karin Slaughter's Skin Privilege until that edit was done, and let me tell you once I started I tore through it in two days flat. Fantastic book!! And now I'm onto Tess Gerritsen's The Bone Garden. Wow! I am in complete awe of her skill as a writer and storyteller. Please, if you like quality crime fiction, go and buy these books or hunt them down at your local library. Don't miss these two!
Time for some work on the brand new first draft,
till next time,
A bit of reading for you. Had a fantastic time at the Brisbane Writers Festival on Sunday. The organisers really know their stuff! And the venue was lovely - in and around the State Library, right on the banks of the river. The day was hot but there was a constant breeze off the water. My co-panellists Mark and Chris are lovely guys and we had a great time sitting around talking before we went on, just about books and writing and authors and what we're working on now. The panel itself went well, and the audience had lots of great and well-thought-out questions afterwards, as did our moderator John Roe.
One of the ambulance-related websites on my links page, Random Acts of Reality, has had some great posts lately. Check out this one about a job Tom recently did himself, and also this then this then this for three perspectives (respectively cop, paramedic, nurse) on a single case done in the States.
Okay, it's back to the structural edit of 'Panic' for me!
Let's do lunch! Got to see the new Bourne movie last week - oh MAN! I so love that series, and this instalment was no disappointment.
The week before I made a quick trip to Brisbane for a talk by Karin Slaughter. Such a lovely person! Entertaining speaker as well - she talked about growing up in the days when the Green River killer was on the loose in Atlanta, and how that affected her and other kids' lives. Bought a copy of her latest book Skin Privilege and am keeping it as a reward for when the structural edit of Panic is done. :)
Brisbane Writers Festival tomorrow! Looking forward to it very much. If you happen to be around the Blue Marquee at 320, stop in and say hi.
I'm speaking at another event the following Sunday, Sept 23rd. It starts at noon, at Tracie's Garden Restaurant on Marine Parade in Kingscliff. It's a fundraiser for Kingscliff Friends of the Library, and 20 bucks gets you pasta and dessert (drinks not included). Book your ticket through Kingscliff Library on 02 6674 1607. See you there!
What The Dead Know. If you've visited my links page, you've seen my thoughts there on the marvellous Laura Lippman, and how keenly I've been waiting for her new book 'What The Dead Know'. Well, I nabbed myself a copy last week and tore through it in less than two days. A fantastic book. Lippman has an amazing talent for keeping you guessing about just where you're going, and having you feel deeply involved with her characters. Highly recommended, and while you're at it track down a copy of 'Every Secret Thing'.
Received some great news on 'Panic' during the week - it got the big thumbs-up from agent and publisher and editor! Next comes the edit, a process which I always enjoy because I learn a lot and can see the book improving.
Couple of appearances coming up - first is online, doing a guest blog on August 30th at Sarah Weinman's great crime fiction site Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind. Then on Friday September 7 I'll be speaking at Tweed Heads Library from 10 am. On Sunday 16th September, 320 pm, I'll be on a panel about reading and writing thrillers at the Brisbane Writers Festival, and prior to that I'm very much looking forward to reading my co-panellists books, 'Golden Serpent' by Mark Abernethy and 'The Low Road' by Chris Womersley. Most of the events over the festival are free, so why not have a squiz at the programme and see what catches your eye? And if you're there on the Sunday, come up and say hi.
Byron postmortem. Well, what a ripper of a festival! Congratulations to the Northern Rivers Writers' Centre and the many volunteers for a wonderful three days. The weather was perfect too.
The workshop on Thursday went really well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the other days, going to panels (including all the crime ones), meeting writers, spending time with friends, and talking to readers. Great to meet all of you!
I also found time to start work on the next book. 'Panic' is currently being read, and I feel at such a loose end. I'm cooking up some great characters and look forward to starting to write.
SCU and Byron I had a fantastic day at Southern Cross University yesterday! Ellie from the Co-op Bookshop had it all so well organised, the space in the library was great, and lots of people came along. It was wonderful to see so many writing students there. The course is obviously powering. Lots of insightful questions too. Thanks everyone for attending!
This morning I'm off to Byron for the Nuts and Bolts workshop. Should be a great day. The festival itself kicks off tomorrow, and I'll be at the SCU tent 1130-1230 on Saturday, and 11-12 on Sunday, so come on up and introduce yourself! To help plan your schedule, Damien on Crime Down Under has the perfect wrap-up of the panels that would interest crime fans.
Till next time,
July already - what? I don't know about you, but I can't believe how fast this year is going. I guess it's because I spend all my time finishing up Panic, so the days are simply flying by.
The talk with the bookclub at Boardwalk Books went really well, as did the one with the Pottsville writers group. Everyone at both events was lovely and friendly, and many interesting and thought-provoking questions were tossed around. There is nothing to compare to meeting people who've read the book and want to talk about it!
There's another article about Frantic published today (Sunday 15 July). It's in the Sydney Sun-Herald. Journalist Genevieve Swart describes the book as having "action plotted as tight as a tourniquet". What a great phrase!
UPDATE -- the article is now online.
If you have a copy of the book you'd like signed, send me an email with your address and details and I'll post out a bookplate. Also, I now have a PO box if you'd rather not email. See the contact page for the address.
Well, I think that's it for now. Better get back to work!
News, reviews, and talks. Hello! Well, here it is, mid-June -- hard to believe Frantic's been out for six weeks. By all accounts it's selling really well. Thanks to all those readers who've emailed me! It's always so lovely to hear that you like it.
There are some new reviews out: Reg Anderson in the Courier Mail (9th June) said "Frantic is a ripper of a yarn, told with verve and feeling for the characters and place. Howell is a natural storyteller", while Sue Turnbull in the Sydney Morning Herald (16th June) described the book as "an adrenaline rush of a thriller ... as addictive as it is exhausting", and ended by saying she can't wait for the next book in the series.
I'm doing a few talks next month. First up is at Boardwalk Bookshop in Kingscliff on Tuesday the 3rd of July. It kicks off at 10 am and everyone's welcome! Call Nikki at the shop on 0266 754 777 for more info and to RSVP.
Next talk is on Saturday the 14th July, at Pottsville Beach Neighbourhood Centre, Elizabeth St, Pottsville, in the Sandbar Room. That's from 1 to 3 pm. To RSVP and for further information you can call the PBNC on 02 6676 4555, or Rosemary on 02 6676 0874. All are welcome, and they ask for a gold coin donation to cover afternoon tea. We won't have books there for sale on the day, sorry, but bring your copy along and I'll be pleased as punch to sign it for you.
Third on the list is a talk at Southern Cross University in Lismore, on Wednesday the 25th. I have a real soft spot for this place! and am delighted to be going back and speaking. The event will be in the uni library, starting at midday. For more info call Luke at the uni Co-op Bookshop on 0266 214 484.
Finally, the Byron Bay Writers Festival! This is one of my favourite events, and I've been going for years. Who else remembers last year, freezing cold, pouring rain, but wasn't it GREAT?!? The organisers always put on an excellent three days. This year I'll be part of the workshop on Thursday 26th, titled 'Nuts and Bolts - so you want to be a writer.' The festival programme describes it as "a full day seminar covering the businesses and practicalities of being a writer", with a huge range of topics including the publishing process, the role of the agent, what manuscript assessors do, and how editors work. The panel I'm on will discuss the methods and merits of teaching writing, and it's on from 3-4 in the afternoon. The other panellists are John Ryan, extension English teacher from Richmond River High School, Dominique Hecq, Senior Lecturer and PhD Coordinator in the Writing Faculty of Higher Education, Swinburne University of Technology, and Janie Conway-Herron, BA Course Coordinator, convenor of the Writing Program in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University. Entry to the workshop is separate from the festival entry passes, but it's just $55! (Even less for students/concession.) You can't beat that for what's described as "a fat toolkit of insider knowledge for emerging writers and those who are just plain curious". Cos let's face it, a lot of the publishing world is a total mystery, and every bit of info helps. Go here for more information.
Hope to meet you sometime soon!
Audio book. Frantic is now available as an audio book! Click here to see the details and to listen to an excerpt (it gives me goosebumps!). You can buy it direct from Bolinda Audiobooks, or talk to your local bookshop about having them order it in for you. They're a great idea for those long car trips, or for loading onto the ipod for going to work.
There's a couple of new reviews of Frantic out now. Peter Canning, Connecticut paramedic and blogger describes the book as "an incredibly accomplished thriller", while in The Courier Mail, reviewer Reg Anderson wrote "Frantic is a ripper of a yarn, told with verve and feeling for the characters and place. Howell is a natural storyteller".
I've recently received some great feedback from ambulance officers in various states. It's wonderful to hear that you enjoyed the book and found it so true to life. Thanks!
Who? Check out the latest WHO magazine! It came out yesterday, the first of June, but the cover's dated the 11th. There's a interview with me starting on page 44. Thanks to my ambo friends who kindly agreed to pose for the photo!
UPDATE ----- you can now see the article here.
Herztod. What's that mean, you say? It's a German word; the literal translation is 'heart death'; and it's the title of the German release of Frantic! Check out the cover. Pretty flash!
Another of the radio interviews, this one taped when I was in Melbourne, is available here. Vincent O'Donnell is a lovely guy and interviews a wide range of people from all over the arts world as you'll see if you scroll down the page.
Things are really moving now with Panic. It's always exciting to finally have the manuscript ready, and a great moment when you send it off to the publishers - even though that just means the beginning of the next phase, the editing. It's hard work but wonderful at the same time, because the skill and advice of good editors can make a book so much better. I'm so fortunate to work with great and talented people: my agent, her assistant, and the folks at Pan Macmillan!
Lastly, thanks to all of you for coming by. We're getting so much traffic we've had to increase our bandwidth! And we're looking at the messageboard too, which appears to have an inbuilt hatred of punctuation.
See you next time!
Home again! I had a FANTASTIC week. Spent Monday in Melbourne, in both rain and sunshine, doing various press and radio interviews, then flew up to Sydney that night. First thing Tuesday I headed into the city to meet with lovely publicist Kate and go to the ABC studios for an hour-long chat with Richard Fidler. I so enjoyed that! The rest of that day was filled with more press interviews and photo shoots. Wednesday I did a number of phoned radio interviews to various regions across the eastern states, then went to Ashfield Library to give a talk. It was great to see so many people there, not only friends and family but interested readers! Thanks to all of you for coming along.
The rest of the week was just as busy. I had a wonderful time. The Pan Macmillan publicists who took me around and saved me from getting lost, the journalists and the photographers were all just lovely and made the entire week very easy.
Thanks to the readers who've written to tell me how much they liked the book! And to those who've sent their launch photos as well. Much appreciated.
The Who Weekly article hasn't appeared yet, but there's a new review up here.
So it's back to normal for me now - sort of. Have another couple of interviews this week, but am very much looking forward to getting back to work on PANIC, then starting on the as-yet-untitled book 3!
Signing and travels. It's Saturday morning, and I'm off to the Angus and Robertson bookshop in an hour for the signing. I'll be there till midday, so if you're in the Tweed area, why not stop in and say hi?
Monday I'm off to Melbourne for the first day in a hectic week of interviews. One I'm really looking forward to is Conversation Hour with Richard Fidler on the ABC. It's on Tuesday, from 11-12 midday. The link has information on how to find your local station, how to listen over the web, and how to download a podcast also.
On Wednesday I'll be at Ashfield Library talking about Frantic, from 1-2 pm. You can get more information here. I'm really looking forward to that one too.
Lastly, the Who Weekly article will apparently be out in next Friday's issue.
Have a good week - see you next time!
Suspense article The article is now up! You can access it here, or via the link on the bio page.
We're collecting together photos from the launch to post here too. I took my camera on the night but then completely forgot to use it! So if anybody has digital pictures they wouldn't mind sharing, I'd love to see them please. Just email them in, by clicking that little envelope up there on the left. Thanks!
Call me forgetful. I realised this morning that I left a couple of important things out of yesterday's news: the lucky door prize winners!
Third prize was four books (Leigh's three, and my one), kindly donated by Angus and Robertson bookshop. This was won by Lisa - congratulations! I'd like to add here that Tanya and Carol from Angus and Robertson did a sterling job. They had no cash register and no EFTPOS machine, and were writing out receipts by hand, and they still managed to sell 60 books! And then they gave US flowers!?!?!?!?!?
Second prize was to have your name given to a character in Leigh's next book. This was won by a dear friend of mine, psychologist Nerida Saunders. I look forward to seeing what Leigh does with her!
First prize was your name as a character in my book. This was won by another good friend of mine, ex-paramedic Graham Strong! He's now going into 'Panic', so look out for that next year!
Till next time!
So how was it? It was wonderful! We had about 85 people turn up, the cafe was packed full. I was thrilled and touched that so many people came along to celebrate. Leigh Redhead launched the book with great style and humour, and then I got up to say a few words. Looking out over the sea of faces was amazing. So many smiling friends, both old and new! And it's hard to believe that this time last year the book hadn't even been signed up.
Thanks so much to everyone who came along. You turned the afternoon into a fabulous event.
Launch day! The day is finally here, and I'm really excited. The book's been out for a week or more but I'm so pleased that this afternoon I'll get to celebrate its existence with friends, many of whom I haven't seen for ages. Leigh and I have cooked up a great lucky door prize idea as well! I'll tell you more about that - and who won - next time I post here. I'm aiming to have photos put up then too.
My article on suspense is in the process of being added to the site. It's a VERY potted version of my thesis - but then that's what happens when you boil 14,000 words down to 1200. Hope you find it interesting, anyway. If anybody wants a list of the references I used for the thesis, just send an email. Oh - the link to the article is on the bio page. Or just check back here and I'll let you know asap when it's up.
I've had a hectic week, with numerous live radio interviews (did anyone catch the 3CR one? I really enjoyed speaking to Jan there). There are plans afoot for a one hour conversation with another station on the 22nd, and also trips to Sydney and Melbourne. I'll post details here once things are confirmed.
Meantime the end of 'Panic' is drawing closer! It's going really well. But all I can say is, poor Ella ...
Till next time!!
Frantic is in the shops! Not only have I seen it there with my own eyes (and signed a few copies too) but friends are sending me pictures of themselves next to store displays! It's really a tremendous feeling.
There's a review in the May issue of Good Reading magazine, with Alan Gold describing the book as "a confident, well-explored and satisfying novel." In the same issue, look out for the interview with my good friend Leigh Redhead.
Another magazine to keep an eye out for is Who Weekly. There's an interview with me, plus pics, in an upcoming issue, possibly the one released on May 4th. Check it out!
Finally, on Thursday the 3rd, if you're not doing anything at 11.30 am, why not tune in to 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne, where I'll be discussing Frantic with Jan Goldsmith? It's at 855 on the am dial for locals, and for the rest of us, complete and simple instructions about how to listen over the web are here.
See you next time!
New on the site. Hello! Not long now till the book hits the shops. Quite a few libraries have placed orders too, so you can borrow from your local if you prefer. Either way, I look forward to hearing what you think.
We've just added a short synopsis and first chapter excerpt for Panic - click on over to the books page for a look.
On the links page we've listed a few more of my favourite writers.
Finally, I see on my webstats programme that we're getting visitors from all over the world. Welcome - it's great to have you drop by!
The book! Imagine it: twelve years of hoping and praying and working on learner novels, three years of drafting and editing, one year in production with the publisher, and then ... you get the box from the post office, rip the top open with your car keys because you can't wait any longer, and there it is! Your book. It actually exists.
I sat in the car and just held it for I don't know how long. Then I read the dedication and the acknowledgements, flipped through the pages, put my face into it and inhaled.
It's so strange to see text that I worked on for so long, on computer screen and on A4 manuscript pages, here in real book form at last. Strange, but wonderful too.
I don't know when I'll read it. At the moment it's much too close, and I need some distance. Maybe I'll never read it? Have to wait and see.
Just three weeks now till it hits the shops! The in-store date is April 24th, although some stores may take a few days to put it on the shelves. Angus and Robertson in Tweed City (such lovely people!) are holding a signing the week after the launch, on Saturday 12th May, 10-12 midday, so if you're in the area, stop in and say hi! I'd love to meet you. Tell me what you like to read, too - I'm always on the look-out for a good book.
Till next time!
Latest news. Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by.
RSVPs are starting to come in for the launch - it's going to be great to see so many people there!
If you're in Sydney, I'll be speaking there later in May. One confirmed date is Wednesday 16th, at Ashfield Library - check it out here. There are other possible dates and locations, and I'll post them here as soon as we know.
What I'm reading now ... Well, I never finished Christine Falls. Hard to say why - just not my cup of tea, I think.
Pelecanos was great, as always.
I've just started David Morrell's Long Lost, and so far so good! Morrell wrote First Blood and a stack of other thrillers since. I recently came across his writing book 'Lessons from a lifetime of writing', and found some great advice in it. I borrowed it from my local library first, then bought a copy, I liked it so much. Well worth a look.
I see Laura Lippman's 'What The Dead Know' is out in the US now (and getting great reviews too!), but not here yet. I sometimes buy books I really want from Amazon or similar, but I think this time I'll make myself wait. After all, I am on deadline! -- It's coming along really well too. Look out for a short synopsis and excerpt on the books page soon!
Launch news! Get out your diaries - 'Frantic' will be launched on Saturday the 5th of May, at Cafe La Cucinna in Tweed City Shopping Centre, Tweed Heads South, from 4 to 6 pm. Crime writer Leigh Redhead will be doing the honours (thanks Leigh!). All are welcome to this free event, but to make sure we have enough cake and champagne, we're asking that you please RSVP by 28th April, either to Angus and Robertson Bookshop on 55244371, or right here, to me, by email. Look forward to seeing you there!
The early reviews have begun! The March issue of Bookseller and Publisher describes Frantic as “a fast-paced and involving read”, and “a real page-turner (that) will certainly appeal to fans of medical-based crime thrillers”.
Better Read Than Dead bookseller Derek also has some nice things to say, describing Frantic as "a fast-paced compelling mystery" and "a great read."
What I’m reading... I have two books on the go at the moment, ‘Soul Circus’ by George Pelecanos, and ‘Christine Falls’ by Benjamin Black (the pseudonym of Man Booker prize-winner John Banville). I really enjoy Pelecanos’s series of novels featuring Washington PI Derek Strange. Pelecanos has also written for the HBO TV show ‘The Wire’. It’s only been on pay TV here in Australia, but is highly recommended if you like your crime shows gritty and real.
I’m not far into ‘Christine Falls’ yet, only having read the first chapter so far, but I feel that tug of wanting to get back to it and find out what’s about to happen.
Launch of Frantic Planning for the Tweed Heads launch of Frantic is underway, and details will be posted here soon. One thing we do know: it will be a free event and open to everyone!