I’m writing this from my childhood home of Cambewarra*, where I’m spending a couple of weeks with my mum, working on my second novel (slowly), and trying not to think about the odds that the giant huntsman spider I spotted outside the front door yesterday managed to make its way inside overnight…
Another reason I’m in Cambewarra (no, not to avoid the school holidays – that’s just a coincidence) is because I’m kind of on ‘exchange’ with my younger brother Damien, who usually lives nearby but is currently in… Hollywood! He’s one of the 12 film and TV music composers from around the world selected to take part in the acclaimed ASCAP Film scoring workshop, under the guidance of Emmy-award winning composer, Richard Bellis. It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m very excited for him.
But enough about him. I’ve got news!
Firstly, All Our Secrets made Australia’s Ned Kelly Awards longlist – for Best First Crime! My publisher, Penelope Todd of Rosa Mira Books, is now busy looking at options for making All Our Secrets more widely available in Australia, something I’ve long hoped for (especially given its strong Australian setting). At the moment it’s only available as an ebook (apart from via this website). Fingers crossed this is about to change.
Then, within a week of the Ned Kellys announcement, the New Zealand equivalent – the Ngaio Marsh Awards – revealed All Our Secrets as a finalist for Best First Novel! One of the judges commented, ‘A very assured debut with some wonderfully drawn characters. This pulled me in right from the beginning.’ The winners of both awards will be announced early September.
A few other writerly things have happened since my last post (thankfully, since it was around six months ago), starting with a writing retreat on the Kapiti Coast, an indulgent weekend of workshops and discussions with a fabulous mix of writers. Inspired by the experience, Janis Freegard and myself decided to reform our writing group which, for numerous reasons, had fizzled out over the past few years. We’ve since expanded and are meeting regularly, which has been hugely motivating – and has resulted in some new writing I’m relatively happy with.
In May I braved Wellington’s ‘Murder in the library’, along with Annaleese Jochams (author of Baby) with Brannavan Gnanalingam (author of Sodden Downstream, among others) as the interrogator (pictured below).
I survived the grilling, and a few weeks later, enjoyed the chance to ‘pitch’ All Our Secrets to other writers at the New Zealand Society of Author’s Pipitea Book Pitch. The same week I was a guest speaker at the Flash Fiction Awards in Wellington, along with Janis Freegard and Tim Jones, and chaired by Constance Talbot. It was a fun night of discussion (somehow Cambewarra got a mention!) and listening to local finalists read their stories. To me, 1,000 words is short, so I’m full of admiration for writers who can tell a great story in 300 (or less).
I’m now looking forward to reading at the WORD Christchurch writers & readers festival in September, where the winners of the Ngaio Marsh Awards will be announced, and taking part in Rotorua Noir, New Zealand’s first-ever crime and thriller writing festival, next January.
Hopefully, I’ll have more to update you on before then…
*Cambewarra, aboriginal for ‘mountain fire’, is on the South Coast of NSW, has a population of 238 (probably including the aforementioned huntsman spider), and just got its first ever mention in the American VARIETY magazine (thanks to Damien).