Tell us about your latest creation:
Hades is Book One of the Bennett/Archer series, and is available December(ish) 2013 with Random House. Hades Archer, the man they call the Lord of the Underworld, surrounds himself with the things others leave behind. Their trash becomes the twisted sculptures that line his junkyard. The bodies they want disposed of become his problem – for a fee. One night, a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost’. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything. Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on. Frank is now on the hunt for a very different kind of serial killer: one who offers the sick and dying hope at murderous cost. At first, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. Soon, he’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they’re after.
I grew up in Bankstown, but I’m now an Eastern Beaches girl. My family have been Eastern suburbs people from way back, and while I’m not a beach bum myself I do enjoy running, writing and drinking chilled wine alongside it.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:
I’ve wanted to be everything you can imagine. At fourteen, I was determined to be a tattoo artist. I got my solo pilot’s license for a Cessna 150 at 16 and told everyone I was going to teach people to fly. I spent my late teens managing restaurants and bars and joined the navy at 18. So on the job front I’ve been around. But that was employment, and I’ve never considered writing possible employment. I’ve been writing and telling stories from a very young age and have used it at different times to actively create my own person, to escape from my chaotic world or to develop my skills in the hope of showing people into my little universes. It’s always been more of an instinct than a desire to be paid.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
I consider HADES my best work – thus far. I wrote four other novels before HADES that together accumulated 200 rejection letters, so I suppose HADES has been the only thing to break through into the public domain and I am proud of it for that. I am determined to improve as a writer and am excited to go on exploring my own tastes and interests, so I don’t have any plans for HADES to remain my best.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
My office is trashtastic. And it’s a part of the living room. So things fall over in it all the time and it’s constantly invaded by episodes of Dr Phil. It’s littered with water bottles and coffee cups and books and scraps of paper. The desk chair is covered in cat hair and you can hear the main road from it. But a more beautiful or ordered place isn’t available to me, and I don’t think it would help the work even if it was. When I was a kid, I shared my family home with five of my siblings and at times half a dozen of Sydney’s most dangerous and disadvantaged children, so noise was something I learnt to deal with. When I want to get out of here I wander down to a variety of busy beachside cafes and make a mess of the tables there. Watch people, insert them into the text. I think you have to go exploring now and then to keep the work fresh. People are far more unpredictable and complex than you imagine, and you only learn how by being among them as you write.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
Tragically at the moment I’m unable to read anything other than what’s necessary for my PhD, but I’ve been a big crime reader for many years. I’m a dedicated Peter Temple fan and have learnt much from him about masculinity and beauty and sorrow in the lives of cops.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
I grew up rummaging through my mother’s true crime collection while my friends were reading Goosebumps and the Chronicles of Narnia. There were scarce funds in our house for children’s literature so you read what you could get. I was a big newspaper reader.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
I’d be Joe Cashin from Peter Temple’s ‘The Broken Shore’. When I was younger and more emotional I would have said Anne Rice’s Lestat DeLioncourt, but I don’t want to live forever.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
I run. I’m a big of a fitness junkie at the moment but I’m sure it won’t last long. One of my favourite things to do is go to dinner with a loved one, drink and eat too much and fall into deep and philosophical conversations. Surprise you? Every now and then when the mood strikes me I strap some kind of funny hat to my cat and photograph him. Share these on Facebook with witty captions. I like to throw the ball for my dog at the local park. Lie around in the sunshine.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
I suppose the proper measure would be my last meal. Salami/anchovy pizza, and a bottle of nice Merlot.
Who is your hero? Why?:
I don’t have a particular hero in mind. I believe as a society we’ve spent a bit of time normalising the idea that you should be considered a hero because of your place in the limelight, your celebrity, your grandiose achievements. I was watching one of those medical reality TV shows the other night and watched a guy stitch up some assault victim’s heart while it was still beating. I didn’t even catch the doctor’s name. He’ll win no award for it. I have a supreme respect for law enforcement and medical professionals.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
The competition of other forms of entertainment. It is getting extremely difficult to be bored at any given time any more. Riding the bus is becoming an orchestrated audio/visual experience. I’m concerned the humble book might get pushed aside by effortless and endlessly diverse hand-held and mobile entertainment.