Jenny Spence, author of No Safe Place
Tell us about your latest creation…
‘No Safe Place’. It’s a thriller set in Melbourne and Sydney. The central character is not a detective – just a woman who is unexpectedly thrown into a crisis and has to use all her wits to solve the problem and stay alive.
Where are you from / where do you call home?
I’m from Melbourne originally, but Sydney is home now.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?
I always wanted to be an author, but I didn’t think that was a full-time job. I had all sorts of wild ideas about the sort of job I would do, but it usually involved making things. I ended up working in IT for 25 years.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?
My best work is the book I am writing now, but the one after that will be even better. I hope I will never stop improving.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?
I can’t say my desk is tidy, but my computer is, with all my files properly sorted and grouped in sub-folders.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?
I read everything: crime, ‘highbrow’ books (such as Proust, George Eliot and so on), contemporary fiction (I love Hilary Mantel, Cormac McCarthy and numerous others) and anything else that’s well-written.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?
The book that had the biggest impact, because I was so young when I read it, was ‘Great Expectations’. I also read and loved classic children’s books: ‘Little Women’, ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘Seven Little Australians’. We got all our books secondhand, so it was a long time before I saw anything new.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?
I could be someone from an AS Byatt book, or from one of the Brontes – but they all led tragic lives. I think I’d rather be myself.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?
I daydream a lot, but that’s part of the writing process. I do Pilates, go for long walks, knit and sew, try to learn languages (Swedish is the latest) and read up on renovating old houses, as that is something we are about to start doing.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?
Of course that depends on how I’m feeling. Our favourite restaurant is South-East Asian, and the must-have dish there is Miang. As for drink, I can’t go past fresh, pure, cold water.
Who is your hero? Why?
Tom Uren, the former MP who lives in Balmain, the same suburb as me. He is a great socialist, humanitarian and champion of the environment, who survived hell as a prisoner of the Japanese in WW2 and is magnanimous towards his captors.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?
Surely we will always have books, even if they are in digital form – a pity, because I get much more pleasure from the hard copy version. But with this craze for doling out information in bite-sized snippets, will there be people with the attention span, the ability to concentrate and the will to sit down and read them?