Review: Hangman by Jack Heath & The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I’ve read two debut thrillers this month I’d like to share.

The first is by Australian author Jack Heath who has published over 20 YA novels but has now burst onto the adult fiction scene in a very big way with Hangman.


Sociopath Tim Blake goes by the codename Hangman and is contracted by the FBI as a last resort for his crime solving genius in complex cases. His genius comes with a hefty price tag though and in a despicable arrangement known only to one person within the FBI, he is permitted to take a life for every one he saves.

Despite the unpalatable agreement, Tim Blake is an anti-hero you find yourself backing and the pace of the plot is equivalent to any James Patterson crime novel.

Hangman is the first in a gruesomely dark series to feature Tim Blake and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Warning: you’ll need a strong stomach though.

Hangman has also been optioned for television by the ABC in USA so fingers crossed we see Tim Blake on the big screen soon.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is an explosive and impressive debut. Juliette is a sociopath and not coping well after her boyfriend Nate broke up with her six months ago. Juliette is determined to win Nate back at all odds, including joining his airline and training as an airline steward in order to be closer to him.

Juliette really will stop at nothing to achieve her goal, including a little digital stalking, breaking and entering and general harassment. And that’s just for starters. Her daring made me nervous and more than a little edgy at times and the pages flew by as I admired her ingenuity and cringed at her constant need for Nate.

Juliette’s obsession and stalking extends to a few supporting female characters and I hope I never come across a woman like her in real life. Juliette’s master plan is slowly revealed to the reader and her motivations come into shocking focus.

The author’s experience working as a cabin crew member in the airline industry has given her the tools to portray the industry encompassing both characters to perfection. I enjoyed this setting enormously and relished the details of their work schedule, airline culture and lifestyle.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is a psychological thriller and one of the most exciting books I’ve read this year.

Review: The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jack Serong

9781925355215Jock Serong has written a clever and unique Australian crime novel weaving together the folklore of cricket, both the backyard variety and the international, into a classic piece of noir. The novel is told from the point of view of Darren Keefe, the younger brother of former Australian Cricket captain Wally Keefe. Darren’s life is literally flashing before his eyes as he lies gagged and bound in the boot of a car on his way to what he expects is his certain execution.

Darren recounts his childhood growing up with Wally; their epic battles in the backyard and their rise through Australia’s cricket ranks. Wally is a stoic, stubborn opening batsmen who accumulates his runs without ever giving the opposition a sniff of getting him out. While Darren is the more brash, younger brother, taking risks and entertaining the crowd. These traits are reflected in each brother off the field. Wally, the more responsible and sensible, is quickly elevated to the Test team and then it’s captaincy while settling down to start a family. Darren, meanwhile,  is the larrikin everyone loves to watch and wants to know who flits from scandal to controversy on and off the field. All the while moving closer to his possibly imminent end inside the boot of a car.

This is one of the funnest crime novels I’ve read in years and is definitely the cricket/crime novel I never knew I wanted to read. This is going to be THE book for summer. Perfect for reading in front of the cricket itself.

Buy the book here…

Meet Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed


Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Cass.

We met almost by coincidence at the recent Brisbane Writers Festival although I had heard about you through a mutual friend and had already read and admired your debut novel, The Promise Seed.

Promise seedThe Promise Seed (UQP) is your first published novel. How did you get published – an agent or through the slush pile?

I have been fortunate enough to have had a rather exciting path to publication. The first major encouragement was in 2012 when, through the Brisbane Writers Festival’s program ’20 Pages in 20 Minutes’ I was given 20 minutes of one-on-one critique and advice on the first 20 pages of the manuscript with Farrin Jacobs, then an Editor at Harper Collins UK. The following year, I submitted the completed manuscript to the Queensland Literary Awards, and was shortlisted in the Emerging Author category. As part of the prize, I was awarded 25 hours of mentorship with an experienced editor. I was lucky enough to be connected to Judith Lukin-Amundsen. Her thoughtful criticism and questions played a huge role in strengthening the structure of the manuscript and readying it for submission to University of Queensland Press, who then offered me a contract. Madonna Duffy and the team at UQP have provided me with incredible support and advice along the way.

So…no agent OR slush pile!

What is the significance of your title, The Promise Seed?

Each child is born innocent and vulnerable, entirely guileless. Each child is born full of promise. How that child develops depends on so many factors – physical environment, social nurturing and community support. What sort of adult that child grows into depends on the opportunities and love and care that are devoted to his or her growth – much as with a seed that will not sprout and grow without the right environment. Many of us are so lucky in the circumstances of our birth – we are born into a country without conflict or poverty; or born a gender or race that is ‘socially acceptable’; or have advantages and opportunities available to us that we accept as our right in the natural order of things. So many children do not have those advantages, and their promise is stunted before it really has a chance to grow.

Where are you based and how does this impact on the setting of your novel?

I spent my childhood in Stanthorpe, and I live and write in Brisbane. The Promise Seed is set for the most part in south-east Queensland. The sense of place is quite important in the novel because the old man feels a strong connection to the places of his youth. They are inextricably linked to the events of his past and the memories of his family.

For the boy, the sense of peace and calm he finds in the old man’s garden counterbalances his mother’s peripatetic lifestyle; it feels more like ‘home’ to him than the series of shifting houses and relationships to which she has exposed him.


You portray both an old man and a neglected (and worse) young boy. What inspired these characters?

The Promise Seed is very much driven by the two main characters. I recall quite vividly the day I sat down and wrote the first few pages – the old man’s voice was very strong in my head – and those pages have changed little from that day to this finished publication. The old man was perhaps a conglomeration of many elderly people I have known and respected in my life: my grandparents (I still have one grandmother alive, who is 107!), elderly neighbours, and others in my community. I find it fascinating to consider the lives these people have led, throughout world wars and other conflicts, depressions, and the many societal changes that have become commonplace as the years have passed. I think we sometimes forget the richness of the lives they’ve led.

The boy is also representative of the many children like him, who grow and develop despite the lack of love and care they should be afforded. Many years ago, I was a volunteer for Crisis Care, the after-hours section of the Department of Family Services, and I have no doubt that this has informed this aspect of my writing, along with topical issues such as the Child Protection Commission, and current investigations into institutionalised abuse. I strongly believe that how we care for and protect our most vulnerable is a mirror that reflects our society’s empathy and compassion.

How do these two connect in the novel?

The boy creeps slowly into the old man’s garden, and eventually into his heart. They connect through simple pursuits – gardening, playing chess, chickens – usually through the old man teaching the boy about these things. Older people have a lot to offer young people; even if they don’t have specific skills or talents, they are able to impart the wisdom of the life they’ve lived and the experiences they’ve survived.

Conversely, young people can offer older people youthful enthusiasm, naivety, and open, unsophisticated trust. Children can remind their elders of what it is like to be genuinely excited in the world.

Despite their differences, the lives of the old man and the boy intersect through their common experiences of betrayal and abandonment, and through their shared trauma. As the story progresses, the similarities between the past and the present become more apparent.

Life can be very hard. What would you like to see childhood as being?

This is an interesting question; it appears quite simple but is actually very complex, because of course the goal posts shift depending on who you are talking about. If you consider children in developing countries, I would most like to see them provided with clean drinking water, shelter and safety, and enough food and medical care. Those would be the priorities. In countries like Australia, we often take those needs for granted (although of course, we do still have families who struggle, particularly Indigenous children who still lack some of those basic provisions).

But in general, if we move beyond those primal needs, I would like to see all children be provided with the intellectual stimulation and support to engage their critical thinking; I would like children to feel safe and secure in their family and within the relationships they have with the adults that surround them; I would like childhood to be a place that nurtures tolerance, compassion, empathy and an acceptance of difference. I would like childhood to be a greenhouse for all those seeds of promise that are born every day, an environment where each child can learn, love and flourish, and grow to become a happy and well-adjusted adult member of our society.

I would like to see more insight into the needs of our children, and how they can be enabled to get those needs met, whether that’s through their own families, through external circumstances, or even through coincidence.

Your writing is assured, and lyrical in parts. Could you quote a few sentences or extract from the novel you are particularly pleased with and tell us why?

This extract actually follows on quite nicely from your previous question:

‘I thought about the luck of the draw in where you’re born, and where you end up. You draw the short straw, and what shred of hope do you have of a normal life? If you’re born someplace with none of the advantages that others take for granted, how do you get along in life? And if you don’t know any different, how can you hope for something better? How can you have a shot at what’s possible if you don’t even know what’s possible?

The families I saw around us gave off the simple comfort of loving and being loved. Of having the security to hope and the confidence to dream.

My sister had no chance to hope. No opportunity to laugh and grow and play. To love, to mourn, to take risks, to try. And my wings were clipped early too. No choice in the matter.

The boy…what does he hope for? Where does he dream? How high will he fly without someone to show him the way?’

I think this encapsulates one of the themes of the novel – the chances life gives us, and what happens if life snatches them away.

How else do you spend your time?

Well, I have six children, so that answers that question!

I cherish spending time with my husband and our children, and with our lovely circle of dear friends. And I love to read!

What have you enjoyed reading?In the Quiet

I am a voracious reader and also write reviews on the books I’ve read, which I publish on my facebook page. Some of my recent reads by Australian authors which I have thoroughly enjoyed are ‘The Other Side of the World’ by Stephanie Bishop, ‘In the Quiet’ by Eliza Henry-Jones, ‘The Strays’ by Emily Bitto, ‘The Eye of the Sheep’ by Sophie Laguna, ‘The Night Guest’ by Fiona McFarlane, ‘The Light Between Oceans’ by ML Stedman, ‘This House of Grief’ by Helen Garner, ‘All the Birds, Singing’ by Evie Wyld, and ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’, by Richard Flanagan. Some of my favourite authors are Kate Atkinson, Rohinton Mistry and Boris Akunin.

So many books, so little time!

All the best with your new book and thanks very much, Cass. Your responses are generous and thoughtful and reflect the high quality of your writing.

It’s been a pleasure talking ‘writing and reading’ with Boomerang Books. Thank you so much for inviting me to participate!

Eye of sheep

Books with the word ‘Girl’ in the title

In the last two months, I’ve read three books with the word girl in the title. In December I read Gone Girl, in January I read The Girl on the Train and I just finished reading The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan. I started to wonder if this was a recent trend in book titles, but when looking back over books I’ve read in previous years, I discovered plenty of books with the word girl in the title.

Just for fun, I’ve decided to list them here in the order they were read:

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
A young girl is lost in the woods after stepping off the nature trail while walking with her family. She listens to her walkman for comfort and her favourite baseball player, Tom Gordon.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larssonmillennium trilogy Stieg Larsson book covers
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo burst onto the book scene several years ago, and readers couldn’t get enough of the Millennium Trilogy. Lisbeth Salander – genius hacker with a photographic memory, extremely poor social skills and a mysterious past – is an unforgettable character. Together with Blomkvist, they investigate a disappearance.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
This time Blomkvist helps Lisbeth Salander who finds herself in trouble. Knowing the author has passed away in 2004, certainly increased interest in the series.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg LarssonWild Girl Kate Forsyth
The final in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is about ‘the trial’ and I found it the least enjoyable of an otherwise exciting and gripping trilogy.

The Wild Girl
by Kate Forsyth
This is the story of Dortchen Wild, a young girl growing up in the medieval town of Hessen-Cassel in Germany. Dortchen lives next door to the Grimm family; the brothers being famous for their collections of fairytales. It is a little known historical fact that Dortchen told the brothers almost 25% of their stories, this is her story told by Australian author Kate Forsyth.

Cemetery Girl
by David J. Bell
Caitlin is found dirty and dishevelled 4 years after she goes missing and her parents struggle to find out where she’s been all that time.

just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth
just_a_girl is about fourteen year-old Layla, provocative, daring, reckless and a tease. Set in the Blue Mountains, this is a book for mature readers (in my opinion).Girl on the Train Hawkins

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Blockbuster novel that needs no introduction, also now a major motion picture starring Ben Affleck.

The Girl on the Train
 by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is gaining popularity and is a cracking read with flawed characters. Rachel catches the same train to London each day and enjoys looking at the houses and sometimes imagining the lives of those who live there. One day she sees something that will change her life forever (and it’s not a murder).

The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan
I finished this recently and adored it. If you like the writing style of Australian author Kate Morton then you’ll love The Girl in the Photograph. An historical fiction novel told in the the past and present, this is a haunting and atmospheric mystery.The Girl in the Photograph Kate Riordan cover

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White is on my TBR pile, and almost qualifies, while I’ve given an honourable mention to Kiss the Girls by James Patterson.

So, how many of the titles above have you read? Do you have any books to add to the list? What have I missed?

Review – When The Night Comes by Favel Parrett

9780733626586Past The Shallows was an exceptional novel and Favel Parrett has out done herself with her new book. When The Night Comes is a story of growing up, both as a child and as an adult. It is about journeys into the great unknowns. And that anything in life is possible.

The story alternates between two points of view; Isla, a young girl who has moved to Hobart with her mother and younger brother to leave behind their life on the mainland. And Bo, a Danish sailor who crews an Antarctic supply ship, the Nella Dan.

Parrett’s writing is truly mesmerizing. Her words immediately draw you in and you are swept away. Poetical, evocative and truly moving Parrett will not only have you immediately falling for her characters but she will also have you falling in love with a ship.

Favel Parrett has carefully crafted an exquisite novel. Skilfully written, elegantly constructed, beautifully told and an absolute pleasure to read and experience.

Buy the book here…

Aussie New Releases To Look Forward To

There are several books by Australian authors being published in the last six months of the year that I’m really looking forward to, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The first is already out, and it’s Kate Forsyth‘s Dancing With Knives.  Set on a farm outside Narooma in NSW, Dancing With Knives is a rural murder mystery and a story about love and family secrets.

Rebecca James (author of Beautiful Malice and Sweet Damage) is gearing up for the launch of Cooper Bartholomew is Dead in early October.  Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is a psychological thriller centred around the death of Cooper Bartholomew, and his group of friends, one of which is keeping a dangerous secret.

Kate Morton (author of The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Keeper) is releasing her fifth novel in October this year and I’m so excited about it.  Untitled and simply called Book 5 for now, we don’t know what’s it’s about yet, but given she’s one of my favourite Australian authors, I’m sure it’s going to be a delicious page-turner.Matthew Reilly book cover The Great Zoo of China

Matthew Reilly is releasing a block-buster action monster-movie of a novel (his words) called The Great Zoo of China on 10 November.  China has discovered a new species of animal and is preparing to unveil their amazing find in the form of the largest zoo in human history.  The Chinese re-assure a media contingent invited to tour the zoo that it’s perfectly safe; however if Matthew Reilly is involved, you know that nothing’s ever safe.  You can click here to watch a short video of Matthew Reilly telling us about The Great Zoo of China, or pre-order it now and receive 30% off.

Candice Fox (author of Hades) featured here on the blog in January this year, and her latest book in the Bennett/Archer series Eden, is due out later this year.  Click here to read the Player Profile with Candice conducted by Jon Page.

Australian music personality Molly Meldrum has written a memoir called The Never Ever Ending Story, and is said to contain plenty of stories about some of the many rock and pop stars he interviewed throughout his career.  The Never Ever Ending Story is due to be released in November.

Another iconic member of the Australian music industry has to be John Williamson.  In the aptly named Hey, True Blue, John Williamson takes readers through his life story and his success as a singer.

So, that’s it from me, but what new Australian books are you looking forward to?

What Is It? Genre, Part I

In this What Is It? article we’re going to take a look at genre.  Identifying a genre of books you love can be exciting and rewarding, but readers can become lost in the terminology; so let’s look at the very basics of genre.

Fiction & Non Fiction
All books can be separated into either fiction or non fiction.  Fiction books contain stories that are ‘made up’ whereas non fiction books contain information that is factual.  A novel is the same as a book, but not all books are novels, so what’s the difference?  A novel contains ‘fictitious prose’ which means a non fiction book will never be a novel (because it’s not fictitious).

From there, there are literally thousands of genres that fall under the headings of fiction or non fiction.  An easy way to think of genre is by considering the categories of shelves (or sections) in a bookshop.

Fiction shelves in a bookshop will house crime, romance and fantasy novels.  Each of these categories is a genre.

Non Fiction shelves will usually include: travel, art and history books, and each of these is a genre.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the fiction genres that may be new to you.  Most readers will recognise science fiction, horror, YA (Young Adult), classic and short story genres, but what about these:

Cozy mystery: a murder mystery without violence, usually featuring an amateur sleuth.

Farm lit & rural romance: romance novels that take place in the outback or towns in rural areas.  (Australian authors of note in this genre include: Nicole Alexander, Loretta HillRachael Johns, Fiona McCallum and Rachael Treasure).

Historical fiction: a story that takes place in an historical setting and which can include fictional accounts of famous people from history.  Popular historical fiction books from Australian authors include: The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Maralinga by Judy Nunn and Cloudstreet by Tim Winton.

Urban fantasy: a book with supernatural themes (such as magic, werewolves, witches, vampires) that take place in a real-world setting, hence ‘urban.’  In other words, the setting is not a make-believe world.WordItOut-word-cloud-441198

Let’s take a closer look at some of the genres within non fiction that you may not have explored.

For Dummies: the yellow and black instructional manuals tackle every topic under the sun in an easy-to-read and understand format.

Literary criticism: essentially the study of literature, or other books. Authors and works are subtly and overtly analysed and interpreted resulting in positive and negative criticism of existing works.  If you are reading (or have read) a great classic and want to know more about it, then the literary criticism genre is a great resource.

Survival: books detailing the survival of individuals from tragedy, natural disaster or crime can be inspirational and informative.  An Australian survival book that comes to mind is Everything To Live For by Turia Pitt.  An international bestseller is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.

Travelogue or travel writing: the author informs the reader about their travel experiences.  Travel writing (and TV shows) continue to increase in popularity and give the reader the opportunity to experience travel and adventure from the safety of their armchair.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to genre.  Stay tuned for the next instalment in the series, What Is It? Genre Part II.  In the meantime, please leave a comment below and let us know what genre is your favourite.  Mine is historical fiction.

“You don’t know a high-water mark until you’ve seen a lot of low water.” Winner of the Best First Fiction Ned Kelly Award

Review – The Midnight Promise by Zane Lovitt

“You don’t know a high-water mark until you’ve seen a lot of low water.”

9781921922930I was totally blown away by this book. This is crime fiction at its absolute best. Zane Lovitt literally bursts on to the literary scene with this book and I can say without a doubt is destined for huge things. This is not a new writer who has potential, this is a new writer whose skill and talent just oozes out of the page. From the structure of the novel to Lovitt’s distinct style, from the black as night dark humour and cynicism to the deep recesses of human emotion and frailty this is the most original, absorbing and utterly compelling crime novel I’ve read in a long time.

The Midnight Promise is told in ten cases. Cases, not short stories. Although the magic of this book is that they each work perfectly on their own. And I want to be clear here, this is not ten short stories mashed together. This is not ten short stories that form a novel. Think of the ten cases more like vignettes or episodes. They are self contained but together they combine to make something truly special. As you read, everything slowly starts to form together and cases you thought had no bearing on each other actually play a vital role in the story.

As you put the individual pieces together, a bigger picture is formed, a wider story is told and you’ll be in awe of what you’ve just been reading. You are following an intricate and subtle arc that is slowly but surely spiraling down. And this is the genius of the book. You think you’re reading ten cases, ten separate stories that have no bearing on each other but they have all been leading to a certain point, a midnight promise. A deal made at rock bottom, never to get here again. But the journey to rock bottom is what is important, as well as realizing what rock bottom actually is.

There are only a few authors who I can still vividly remember the first time I ever discovered them. The moment, the feeling, stuck in my reading memory: George Pelecanos (The Big Blowdown), Don Winslow (The Power of the Dog), Laura Lippman (Every Secret Thing), Ken Bruen (The Guards), Peter Temple (The Broken Shore), David Simon (Homicide), Adrian McKinty (Dead I Well May Be). You knew you’ve just read a writer who you will follow anywhere. I’m adding Zane Lovitt to that list.

Buy the book here…

Player Profile: Jenn J McLeod, author of House For All Seasons

Jenn J McLeodJenn J McLeod, author of House For All Seasons

Tell us about your latest creation:

My “come home to the country” women’s fiction story collection started with House for all Seasons (March 2013 and to lovely 5-star reviews). BLURB: Bequeathed a century-old house, four estranged friends return to their hometown, Calingarry Crossing, where each must stay for a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy. Surrounded by the past, the women discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house – forever.

9781922052049Where are you from / where do you call home?:

A city girl (Sydney)for a long time, I “came home to the country” in 2004 to focus on my writing. I run a B&B for people w/ pets in a small rural hamlet in the Coffs hinterland

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I was supposed to be a multi-disciplined musician (like my Dad), study at The Conservatorium (like my Aunt), be a famous opera singer (like my cousin – whose sons – Ben and Alexander Lewis – are now making their own musical mark internationally).

I chose to write — the computer my keyboard of choice — leaving the old upright piano to languish in the living room and the daddy longlegs to weave their web around the piano’s soundboard and strings while I weave my stories.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The reveiws and feedback on my debut (House for all Seasons) has been overwhelming, but as a writer grows and gets a feel for what their readers want, I think the best is always ‘yet to come’. I’m going with that! I have four books planned in my Seasons Collection. (The Simmering Season in March 2014 and two more after that – all going to plan!)

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

When not mopping floors and making beds in the B&B, I write everyday (and half the night) from my humble, homemade desk tucked in the corner of the living room, and find my muse in Strawberry and Daiquiri (two fluffy white mutts – little heartbeats always asleep at my feet – that’s when they’re not impatiently nosing the dinner bowl or sleeping on the leather lounge).

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I am always writing, but I was once told, “to be a great writer, one must be a great reader”. So I do try to read. I read new releases by author I know. I read the occasional ‘hype’ book to work out why it’s hyped! I read a classic when I can, but with such a huge author network, my TBR pile of books is toppling.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I started reading late in life. My early ‘reading’ (inspiring my love of stories and words) were more likely song lyrics, stage productions and musicals. (I used to write poetry and lyrics.) I still love seeing all the Disney production with those wonderful musical numbers that tell stories. Fairytales from my childhood with music! Bliss!

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’m not sure who I’d want to BE, but I LOVED Loretta Boskovic in P.A. O’Reilly’s The Fine Colour of Rust. I’d love her “I don’t give a …” attitude! A modern day heroine for sure!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Make beds and mop floors – and garden. SURPRISE! :)It’s a very special part of the world where I live and my property requires time and effort to tame the flora (and fauna)!

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

There is not enough space to answer this question. What DON’T I love! When I first left the city, I bought a small cafe in a small country town. (Not that I’d ever run a cafe before. I’d drunk lots of coffee so how hard could it be? Hard!) But that’s how much I love food and coffee!

Who is your hero? Why?:

My Dad, because he tolerated everything I put him through as a brat! (But why does this question say say hero? What about heroines? 😉 We need more heroines in our lives, which is why I write the women’s fiction characters I do.)

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Keeping up! There are so many books coming out these days. We need to read by osmosis or something. (Download a brain chip, or like Google Glasses have a book in front of our eyes 24/7.) Maybe then I can get through my TBR pile.

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Player Profile: Richard Beasley, author of Me and Rory MacBeath

6994290Richard Beasley, author of Me and Rory MacBeath

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Me and Rory Macbeath” is a novel set in the 1970’s about the friendship between two boys (Jake and Rory) who meet at the start of the summer when they are both twelve. They have the kind of fun together that kids did in summer back in the 70’s. Rory has a very violent father though, and the childhood of both boys is ended abruptly by a terrible event that happens as a result of that violence. In the trial that follows, the female defence barrister is the kind of person I would like to be a member of my chambers now, although we would probably have to up the wine budget.

Me and Rory MacBeathWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney, grew up in Adelaide, and have lived in Sydney most of my adult life, or at least the part of my adult life that has involved being a lawyer/barrister.  I have never lived more than 1 kilometre from Randwick Racecourse. My bank manager and my trustee can tell you why

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was a kid I wanted to be a test cricketer. That was in the 1970’s. I still want to be a test cricketer. It looks like I still have a chance. The Dream lives on.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Me and Rory Macbeath. It’s a better story than my first two books. And it has much less swearing.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I wrote my first novel when I was a “baby-barrister”. I had a ‘readers room’ on my floor, which was literally an old broom closet, about 1metre x 1 metre. It’s famous now for having had “Hell has Harbour Views” written in it, and for having the child of one of our floor members conceived in it. My second novel I wrote in my current room in chambers. It is a windowless room, with 1960’s wood panelling. It’s the sort of room that requires even my clients to take 3 Prozac tablets before walking inside. It’s not a creative space. I wrote “Me and Rory Macbeath” at home, in our study, with our dog at my feet. That was much nicer. She’s much better company than other barristers too, and gave me more incisive feedback on my first draft than they or my previous publisher did.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love reading Carl Hiassen. He’s the funniest writer ever, and I really like crime books that don’t have police in them. For more serious reading, I’ve loved everything by Cormac McCarthy I’ve read over the last few years, and Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell books.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

“The Catcher in the Rye”. My Year 10 English teacher recommended it. He started calling me “Holden” shortly afterwards. My mother still calls me Holden. And “The Great Gatsby”. It’s very hard for me not to order a custom made shirt every time I think about that book, which is daily.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

A male barrister who doesn’t want to be Atticus Finch hasn’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I’d kind of like to be Winston Smith from 1984, because the world, its governments, and big corporations all make me feel like him sometimes. Obviously I want a different ending, with Winston leading some kind of overthrow of Big Brother.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I cook a lot. I am really good. I’ve watched all the celebrity chefs on TV. I am as good as them all, and tidier. I would win Masterchef easily if I went on it, but I don’t like “dorm” accomodation, and would miss my family.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Red meat. Red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

In Politics: Gough Whitlam. I like the huge size of his vision. I was only 11 when he was dismissed, but I thought it was dodgy even then. As someone who now has legal expertise, I now think it was illegal. I want Gough reinstated.

In Books: F Scott Fitzgerald. I learntThe Great Gatsby off by heart when I was 17. There will never be another book like that for me. I bored dozens of girls reciting it from when I was 18 until I was about 25. They all married men who strongly resemble Tom Buchanan for some reason.

Music: John Lennon. I just love his songs. I love his playfulness with words. I liked his attitude. I even like Yoko.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The survival of good bookshops is a key. That is one part of retail that I hope survives the online revolution and finds a way to thrive. I’m kind of optimistic though. My kids read a HELL of a lot more books than I did when I was in Primary School. So do their friends and classmates. So that make me hopeful.

Website URL: You don’t want a lawyer
Twitter URL: @richardcbeasley