January 19 2021
I'm now on the home run with the new crime novel-- provisionally called Lying in Wait-- and today it stands at 81 thousand words. I'm wrapping the last sequences of action and I'll have a clear month then to go over and over it. Another writer friend will do the read through for me in case I've made some kind of fatal error and once she gives it the okay together with suggestions for improvements etc, I'll feel more confident about presenting it to the Allen&Unwin judges.
January 3rd 2021
A new year and a new book I hope as I hit the 65,000 mark in my new work in progress tentatively called Lying In Wait.
I now have the last third to run with where all the different strands come together in what Hitchcock called 'the surprising inevitability' which should be the gold standard for this sort of crime novel -- I like Graham Greene's description of some of his works as 'entertainments' and that suits my work. But I hope they're informative and in a way comforting to the reader. I hope everyone has a good year this year.
I don't know what happened to November! Maybe because I'm flat strap writing a new crime novel, I failed to update this site. So far, there's fifty thousand words down and I'm half way through. It's amazing how a story picks up and starts running with itself, it seems, whereas of course it's all determined by the writer, but it's true that as energy builds in the story this seems to have an inspiring effect on the brain and ideas come up that are useful and exciting for further plot development.
October 24 2020
The WIP (work in progress) is gathering speed and I'm enjoying adding to the story cards and outline. I lived and worked (as the teacher's wife) in a bush school and the schoolteacher and his wife in WIP feature quite strongly in this new thriller. Two children disappeared 20 years ago and the detective (who was the local police officer during that time) has returned to investigate new evidence which appears to point to a particular suspect. But the detective's investigation back then failed and he was compromised by a secret affair with the teacher's wife, mother of the missing children. Was he too close to her to see the truth back then and will he be able, now that time has passed, to solve the mystery?
September 21st 2020
Still writing the beginning of the new WIP (work in progress) now at 11,000 + words and still waiting to hear if either of the two publishers to whom I've sent Death in the Family are interested in publishing it. Meanwhile, life goes on quietly here with some new plants in the garden and a strong pilot outline by the US screenwriter adapting the Gemma Lincoln series to television being delivered for review. Nothing much is happening in the world of film and television at the moment as the limitations on numbers of people can bring production down to a trickle. But we persevere and writers write, and producers hope that the future will bring improvment to their business. Everyone's hoping that 2021 will be a much better year. L'shana tova to all my Jewish friends.
September 7th 2020
The dreaded Chinese bat disease -- Covid 19-- is still causing untold misery here specially in Victoria where the heavy lockdown continues, destroying businesses and driving people crazy. The whole world now has viewed the arrest and handcuffing of a young pregnant mother in front of her kids. People are saying 'I don't recognise my country any more.' So I just keep on writing and reading, walking and gardening. I havne't heard anything yet from any of the three publishers to whom I sent Death in the Sanctuary but that's not unusual. It's always a wait and now that everything is so much slower and books can only be launched digitially, I feel sorry for any new writer who's trying to get established. It's not a good time. Let's hope the advance in treatment with drugs and a vaccine starts to deliver us from the need to crush our economy. Too many politicians have never run a small business.
Hard to believe but it's been nearly three weeks since I last wrote here and things have changed. I've decided to send Death in the Sanctuary to three publishers -- the only three it seems that are still accepting submissions. Allen&Unwin have announced a wonderful crime writing comp open to all crime writers -- old hands and newcomers -- where the winner will receive a prize of $25,000 dollars advance and a publishing contract. THere is over a year in which to write the winning work and so I'm off to a flying start with a new novel set in the country. I used to live in a tiny township north east of Scone where my late first husband was the teacher and it's fun to be back in country town NSW again. Aiming for this competition will give me a deadline to write towards.
July 28 2020
Despite everything, writers are still writing and publishers are still publishing. Death in the Sanctuary, my latest novel, will be coming out in 2021 with Ventura publishing and I'm now beginning a new thriller set in a country town like the one in Fortress, a small township in the foothills of the Barrington Tops. It's a great setting for what I hope will be a great story. Llife goes on despite the virus and the state of the rest of the world. The rain is very welcome too.
July 4 2020
SLowly, AUstralia is returning to 'normal' apart from Victoria, the state which seems to be out of control when it comes to fighting Covid 19. But the rest of the Western world is being tested in very challenging ways. Writers no doubt are noting this and it won't be long before the riots and violence in the USA and similar less vigorous public displays seen here over the last month or so will start to feature in stories. A writer needs to stay detached and free from ideology otherwise they might find themselves writing political pieces. We live in interesting times as the Chinese curse says.
My new novel Death in the Sanctuary will I hope, appear in 2021. Now I'm working on another one. I'm trying to have a Sabbatical but the ideas keep knocking at the back of my brain and I tend to want to write them down.
Here are some of George Orwell's suggestions on good writing:
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.
When I was a kid, I noticed what I used to call 'slogan talking' where people would just repeat fashionable phrases of the day. I was a perceptive kid and scrutinised the adults in my circle very thoroughly. Writers need to be careful of not falling for this because genuine communication requires thoughtfulness and consideration.
June 17th 2020
Slowly Sydney is stirring and our local cafes and restaurants are once again open for business -- social distancing rules applied. There's more traffic on the roads and it's starting to feel that with the winter comes the Spring of reactivating Australia's economy. There are still recalcitrant State Premiers who are keeping borders closed and there's a High Court challenge to this as being unConstitutional so it will be interesting to see how that goes. Meanwhile, my new novel which sneaked up on me, disguised as a writing exercise, is coming along. I'm working on the main character, a detective who's come back to the place where twenty years ago, he was the young police officer in the country town of Squatters Springs, during which time two children went missing and have never been found. He's returning to the place of his greatest failure because new evidence has been found. Will he finally be able to solve this mystery?
May 31st 2020
Unbelieveably, we're still in lockown and not fully back to work despite having 0 new infections. In Queensland, the voters are getting a bit bolshie and demonstrating about the State government's closed border tactic. It's quite possibly unconstitutional and a challenge is being brought to the High Court concerning the Premier's closed border policy. Queensland is THE tourist destination for most of the rest of Australia, especially in the cooler months of winter which are fast approaching. Victoria, too, has closed its borders and yet has the highest infection rates. On the writing front, I've started a new thriller set in the country where I started out with Fortress in 1980. The writing team I'm part of are pitching our mooted TV series to production companies and although nothing much is happening in any world today, let alone the production of television series, the time will come when producers (why do I always misstype 'procurers'?)will be needing content.
May 7th 2020
We're still in lockdown here, with some minor restrictions eased. At least people can go to the beach now as long as they don't 'linger' and keep their distance from each other. I'm reasonably unaffected by it because writing is a solitary art and at the moment I'm working with a creative team and pitching an outline of our project to various production companies. This is a good time for mending the sails and getting things in order so that we can come out on the other side of this ready to start working on a TV series -- if it's picked up. As well as this, there's also the writing discipline of my writers' group which demands some work every month. The weather is the beautiful Autumn time we love when it's pleasant to be outside in the sunshine.
April 27th 2020
Thank goodness the lockdown seems to be easing. I notice our American cousins are also getting pretty stroppy about being kept under house arrest as we are. Locking off the beaches is so unAustralian that I wonder why there hasn't been a peasants' or at least a surfers' revolt! It's also troubling to see how many petty officials appear to enjoy enforcing the 'rules' and it's a way to better understand as to how totalitarian governments maintain order by way of these 'useful idiots' who side with the oppressors rather than their fellow citizens. I haven't worked on the maybe-new-novel idea except for mentally playing with some secrets/reveals that are exciting -- I really should start storylining in earnest. This time of nil outside distractions is the perfect time for writing.
April 22nd 2020
Still no sign of the Government lifting the lock down laws. It's time to get Australia back to work. The cost of this lockdown is shocking. Eight hundred thousand Australians have lost their jobs, people are attempting to work from home while at the same time home-schooling their children or operating as a small day care centre for inquisitive and active toddlers. Domestic violence rates are climbing and alcohol sales are increasing. Governments and bureaucrats aren't known for their flexibility but if ever we needed a fast moving, fast deciding bunch of politicians, it's now. Some police officers have released their inner fascist. (We've all got one, but civilisation goes towards keeping it in check.)
I'm writing a new novel, it seems, despite my decision to have a Sabbatical this year. I joined a writers' group and once a month, we submit what we're writing to the group -- now virtually -- for comment and suggestions. I wrote the beginning of something that's now calling in the plotting and pinning down ideas for further development.
April 15 2020
It's a strange time we're living through -- living being the operative word for many of us. This nasty virus is so unpredictable; in some cases, it's barely noticed and no one knows how many people may have already contracted it without knowing, and in other cases, fatal. The lock-downs are largely being honoured although many people are questioning the need for such severity especially here in Australia where the curve has been well and truly flattened. It doesn't make such a difference to my life because the writer's life is already spent largely in lock down if one wants to get any work done. But I think of the families with young children, cooped up, attempting home schooling while the parents or parent attempt/s to work online at the same time, where basic commodities are being stockpiled by drongos who make it hard for others. I'm also stunned at the number of citizen informers who seem to enjoy dobbing on their fellow citizens. Dobbing has traditionally been seen as a very low act, in fact, I can't think of a more UN-Australian activity. We all feel so grateful to the medical teams of doctors, nurses, assistants etc who are working at the front line.
April 3rd 2020
Unbelievably, it's April and the coronavirus has dominated every news outlet with tallies of infections, deaths and recoveries all over the world. Economies are staggering and goodness knows how the debt incurred with huge Government intervention can ever be paid back. Australia is experiencing a taste of a socialist state, and I hope this is only a very temporary situation and that as soon as the threat is over -- and who knows how long that might be? -- all this Big Government can be removed, and we can get back to individual and corporate enterprise, and flourishing small businesses once more, the backbone of our economy. Meanwhile, I continue to story line a new thriller.
March 29th 2020
I'm living quietly at home at the moment in self-isolation and it isn't all that much different from my usual routines. My dear husband goes out for shopping. But I do miss being able to jump on the bus and meet a friend at Circular Quay, or go to a concert in the Opera House. But these are small inconveniences and all these things will be restored one day. It's so sad to read about Italy and Spain and the high losses of life there.
I'm supposed to be having a Sabbatical this year but I felt the stirrings of a new thriller a few weeks ago and started making notes. I'm returning to the country with this one, set in a small town similar to Sunny Flat, the setting for Fortress, my first published novel now over forty years old! Small towns in Australia are very interesting places where the usual human dramas exist but in a more obvious way, because almost everyone knows almost everyone's business!
March 20th, 2020
The corona virus is changing the world in a most dramatic and eye-watering way. At this stage, there's no way of understanding what the consequences will be. Dick Chaney's 'unknown unknowns' come to mind. Already, people are adapting, socially distancing or isolating, working from home (will they ever get us back into the offices after this? Like the women who'd worked during the Second World War, who no longer wanted to limit their lives to the home once peacetime came? In my case, my life doesn't change too much except I'm avoiding outings (a writer has to avoid them if they want to get novels written) and doing more reading than I normally do. But there is the feeling that things are out of kilter beyond my garden wall. I hope that the brilliant researchers come up with a vaccine or working drugs very soon -- that will result in a global sigh of relief. In the meantime, we can rediscover the simpler life that once was standard to our grandparents and further back.
March 12th 2020
The coronavirus seems to be driving people insane without even infecting them. THe 'toilet paper wars' indicate a change in the culture of Australia and not in a good way. I can't imagine Australians in earlier times behaving like this. Toilet paper was often cut-out squared of newsprint hanging from a nail in the outside dunny! Now we have glamorous bathrooms and scented toilet paper. Cancellations everywhere. Such a shame. I'm still waiting to hear if Death in the Sanctuary will be published or not. Patience is a virtue necessary to my profession. Meanwhile, I'm getting on with other work.
March 6th 2020
Still waiting to hear from the publisher whether I'm 'in' her list for this year or not. There's a lot of waiting in this job. But I'm catching up with my reading -- I have a stack of unread books and I long to read the great novels again, English, Russian and French writers of the 19th and 20th centuries.
We're all rejoicing in the huge rain dump across the nation; great follow up rain to the unexpected flooding rains of February. Our poet Dorathea Mackellar summed it up a hundred years ago: 'I love a sunburnt countrey, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges of droughts and flooding rains... It's beauty and its terror, the wide brown land for me.'
Unbelievably, it's March already. I still haven't heard back from the publisher whether my book has been accepted or declined. It's an interesting life, being a writer. We have to learn to navigate uncertainty with skill to avoide going nutso. Despite it being my Sabbatical year, I couldn't help jotting down some notes for a new thriller. For me, devising an exciting plot is the only show in town and setting up the challenge for myself is part of the fun.
February 27th 2020
I just read a lovely letter from a young fan in Colarado who wrote: 'I would like to encourage you to write more books because you have a talent for writing mystery books.' It's always good to be encouraged! Thank you, Emma.
I still seem to be rewriting my Death in the Sanctuary and really understand whichever writer who said one never finishes a book, but abandons it. It's true. I think a person could endlessly write and rewrite and improve one large text like a novel's 100,000 words for a lifetime. But the marketing people want it done rather more speedily. Then onto my Sabbatical which seems not to be happening just now. We shall see.
February 16th 2020
I'm preparing my Death in the Sanctuary for submission to publishers, making sure it is as perfect as I can get it (without a copy edit) and that all the details requested by the publishers are complete and accurate. These days, free-lancing without an agent means that I have to be my own agent and this isn't always easy. Writers are often a peculiar mix of intro and extraversion, wanting the work to be accepted but reluctant to push it the way an agent can. Meanwhile, the work with the US screenwriter and Australian producer continues to be interesting and exciting. It would be great to see the Gemma Lincoln novels translated to film/TV. All the fires are out now and the dams are filling from the runoff. Warragamba, the dam that waters much of Sydney jumped from 42% to 71% capacity amid much rejoicing especially from gardeners.
February 10th 2020
After the big bushfires came the wonderful rain! The flames have mostly been put out and the dams are filling as water rushes down parched river beds once more. Here on my coastal position, we've had 342mls of rain! The drought has been broken in many places and the words of the poet Dorothea MacKellar whose poem 'I love a sunburnt country' have once again attested to the truth about Australia and from a hundred years ago that 'droughts and flooding rains' are part and parcel of this huge continent. The bushfires, bad thought they were, were not as bad as several previous ones and overall, bushfires are declining. Now there's flooding in many areas. If only the authorities would put in more dams. Once again, massive megalitres of beautiful fresh water is rushing out to sea.
Still no word from the silent publisher and I'm hopeful of hearing from her soon.
February 2nd 2020
Already the year is starting to stride away! I'm still waiting to hear from the publisher to whom I sent the synopsis and first ten pages of Death in the Sanctuary but I'm used to waiting -- like all authors. When I was commissioned, this part didn't happen because the deal was done, but I'd rather complete a whole book beforehand and then I don't have the pressure of having to deliver by a certain date, and promise a follow up book the next year. I'm moving into a different stage of my writing life and now I don't have to take the money first! At the moment, I'm writing minibiographies for the characters in the mooted TV series based on Feeding the Demons. This is fun.
I'm very pleased to see that Great Britain has freed itself from the unelected bureaucrats in Brussells and reclaimed its sovreignty. My husband said 'We've got our mother back!'
January 22, 2020
The two page synopsis and first ten pages of Death in the Sanctuary have gone off to the publisher and now it's waiting time. In the meantime, I'm writing brief biographies for minor characters in my first Gemma Lincoln novel, Feeding the Demons, which came out years ago and which is being pitched as the pilot for an eight episode series based on the five Gemma Lincoln novels by an enthusiastic Californian screenwriter. This is an exciting possibilities and my very talented nephew is also involved. He is a very experienced film maker. Between the three of us, I'm hopeful that something very interesting will evolve.
January 13th 2020
I'll be sending off Death in the Sanctuary to a publisher this week and crossing my fingers that she likes it. It's difficult for writers and publishers in this age where reading is no longer the most popular pasttime as it was in days gone by. Now a book has to compete with very good stories (mostly) 24/7 on multiple platforms for very little outlay. Why would a buyer spend money on a hard or even soft cover book? I'll put that question on my FB and see if there are any hopeful and helpful answers.
January 7 2020
It's frightening how quickly time goes these days. I think the universe is speeding up. Here, in spite of the dreadful fires it's time to start afresh. The firefighters have been marvellous -- brave, tireless and because of their efforts, countless lives and properties have been saved. We think of those who have lost everything except the clothes they were wearing. There's talk of a Royal Commission into these fierce fires and that can only be a good thing. Time to implement the Bradfield project and pipe water down from the monsoon north of the country into the dry lands of the southern areas.
Coming up for Christmas and the smoke and the terrible fires are leaving their mark on our nation. I hope in future there will be massive clean-ups of the combustible material on forest floors. Over the last two decades, misguided forest management has allowed piles of kindling to build up.
Still fiddling with Death in the Sanctuary. It's true that a work is never finished, just abandoned. I'll be abandoning this work in later January 2020.
THinking of the young people involved in the dreadful volcano eruption accross the ditch in New Zealand. Such a tragedy for them and their parents and siblings. I feel sure questions will be asked as to why this tour landed on White Island at all.
Just about to finalise the cover for Death in the Sanctuary. I've chosen a striking image created by a very talented designer, Nina Backovic. She also designed the cover for Sisters, this year's novel.
Unbelievably it's December and Christmas and Chanukkah just weeks away!! Where did it go? Still working out the best way to go with the cover of Death in Sanctuary and I'm still going through it for the umpteenth time and still finding cuts to make -- all in the service of leaner, cleaner, meaner... I've just about cracked the Chrissy shopping and now I'm hoping to settle down into a nice summer (sorry about the Solar Minimum kicking in for the poor souls in the Northern hemisphere) and do more reading and work in the garden. Water restrictions come in even harder next week but we have to do that while we pray for rain.
In two more days it'll be December and another year, another book and another set of beautiful jacket designs to choose from. The woman who designed SISTERS' cover, is Nada Backovic and she is brilliant! She's just sent me through nine possible images for Death in the Sanctuary -- making it hard to pick one. But there is one that three people now have all chosen as their favourite. I'm waiting to hear what my daughter thinks of them. Then as nothing much happens in publishing until the new year, I'll keep going through the text for those little infelicities that still lurk in the details.
My husband and I have a tradition -- of reading to each other on Sundays and we've just started on Middlemarch (which is my all time favourite English novel.) The lovely leisurely pace of the novel, reflects a time when horses set the limit for speed and people had entertainments such as cards, sewing, reading, painting and journalling -- pressing flowers, walking -- now we are bombarded 24/7 with movies, TV, games, Instagram, FaceBook, and all the other things that I don't know about. I'm looking forward to reading the scene with the beautiful, self-obssessed Rosamund (with snake-like neck) in which she lifts eyes 'forget-me-nots under the water' because of her disappointment that the benevolent Dr Lydgate is leaving and all at once he is bewitched. Later, he calls her 'his little basil plant' -- Basil was supposed to grow best on the brains of a murdered man.
I've been reviewing Death in the Sanctuary and cutting areas of description of the convent, which although interesting, hold up the forward thrust of the story. But to pick up where I left on the 22nd concerning the imagination, I believe the simile of it being like a language is helpful. The imagination also helps a person have dramatic dreams -- which are very useful in the journey to 'Know Thyself' -- the inscription over the portals of the temple at Delphi. A writer's first resource is the Self -- in all its conscious knowing and unconscious mysteries. The more a person 'knows' his or her self, the deeper and richer their writing will be. It is essential to remember Solzenitsyn's warning that: the boundary between good and evil runs through every human heart. Thus a writer needs to face their inner darkness before they can be fully human. But not live there!!!
I thought I'd start reviewing my writing life -- and maybe even a little of my more personal life -- in these pages over the coming months. I'd always written poems and short stories during my school days. We had to write 'Compositions' which were free writing on given topics such as 'A Day in the Life of a Penny' (This was during the days of Imperial measurements) or vaguer titles such as 'An exciting event' etc. I loved doing these because they allowed me the use of my imagination. I believe all children have wonderful imaginations but over the years as they grow, this is curtailed by various factors -- unhelpful adult comments, the constant use of watching digital stories where everything is already visually presented and there's no need for the imagination to be used and like an unused well, the lovely flowing of images and ideas slowly dries up and one grows into an adult who says 'I wish I had your imagination.' The imagination is like a language; use it or lose it. More to follow.
After putting Death in the Sanctuary aside for two weeks, I'm ready to come back to it for another sweep through. Already I've seen minor issues that need to be addressed. Nothing like coming back to a work with a fresh eye. I'm planning to write some journalistic pieces now that it's almost complete and while it finds a publisher. I've recovered from bi-lateral lung cancer and I think people would be interested in hearing about that journey from almost ten years ago. Also looking forward to reading all the books that are stacked up in piles some even on the floor!
November 9 Finally, I think I've got the final section of Death in the Sanctuary (once The New GIrl) sorted out. It's been a difficult child, this 18th novel of mine and has taken me a long time to rewrite and reorganise. A stringent structural edit took out about 20,000 words which left me with more story to find. However, I've done that now and I believe it's flowing well. Now I need a stern, impartial eye to review it and point out the flaws I've failed to notice. Eventually, I'll be satisfied sufficiently and then send it to a publisher.
Unbelievably it's November already and I'm still labouring over the final sections of Death in the Sanctuary. But pleased because we had 13 mls of rain overnight after a very dry stretch. I lost two fish from my pond to crows -- didn't realise they were keen fishers and now have had to grille the pond. However, now that the Crow Takeway is close to them, the crow family haven't visited for a week now. They are highly intelligent birds. Now, back to the drawing board...
Still fighting to get Death in the Sanctuary right. Too much early exposition interfering with the main focus -- that is he story I'm telling about the mysterious girl picked up by Greek fishermen from where she's been drifting in the ocean on a tiny life raft. You would think that by the 18th novel, I'd know how to set up the story! So moving chunks of it into smaller bites into other places, or discarding the chunk altogether.
I'm also going to make a brief video wherein I talk about my Cretan novel, SISTERS, and the research that I did for it in Crete and how that features in the novel. The Gestapo headquarters house in Kissamos, the huge cistern up in the mountains that the runners used, many of them just kids, to get information past the Germans from the Allied soldiers and airmen hiding up there and take it down to the bay where it could be handed over to the relevant people, all feature in SISTERS.
Just sent the cover design for Death in the Sanctuary off to the brilliant designer, Nada Backovic, who created the beautiful cover for Sisters. Nada sent me nine draft covers to choose from and honestly, I wanted most of them! But had to finally settle on the winner. For DITS, I need something a little gothic, a little dark, but with rays of light penetrating. It's a spooky story set in a 1960s convent boarding school, standing on a remote headland on the wild south coast. I thought I was finished it but now I've decided that the last third just doesn't cut the mustard so it's been thrown out and now I'm writing it yet again. So important to get that last section right -- and satisfying.
How quickly the time goes! I'm waiting for a call from my nephew, Al Morrow, a talented producer who together with US screenwriter/producer Sandra Kobrin and me, is devising a great pitch for making the five Gemma Lincoln PI novels into a television series. It's been very interesting so far to be part of this process. Of course, achieving this outcome would be marvellous and similar to winning one of the classic races at Randwick, but you have to have a horse in the race, and we've got a good one! More info as it comes to hand.
A weekend away at the Music in the Hunter weekend organised by Ida Lichter and David Constable of Constable Wines at Pokolbin was a blessed three days in the beautiful Hunter region. Mendelssohn, Brahms, Beethoven and a couple of new ones (for me!) Webern and Crusell. Magnificent playing -- the Goldner String Quartet lead by Dene Olding -- erstwhile concert master of the SSO who were joined by the Tinalley String Quartet in Mendelssohn's joyour Octet and David Griffiths was brilliant on the clarinet. Magnificent playing -- world class - an then some! An imaginative dining menu accompanied by Constable wines completed the wonderful indulgence.
But now, it's back to work and I'm still wrestling with the ex-New Girl, soon to be Death in the Sanctuary, I think.
I'm still battling with the last section of The New Girl. Also, I need to find another title as there's another novel called the New Girl that was published fairly recently. I'm now looking at Murder at the Convent sort of ideas -- something smart, kinetic and alluring. Like we'd all like to be. Then working with two other very talented producer/writers to create a perfect pitch for the Gemma Lincoln novels as a television series. Very interesting work -- challenging and constantly being revised into more and more improvement.
Sisters was released into the US on September 1 and I'm hoping that American readers will enjoy it. The novel received a very good review in The Australian national newspaper last weekend, and I was really pleased for that. If people don't know about the existence of a book, how can they ever buy it?
As to the work in progress, The New Girl, I'm almost finished the rewriting and will be talking to the artist in the next few days concerning an evocative cover image. Spring has arrived and all is well.
Any US visitors to this site, please note that my latest novel Sisters is due for release in the USA on 1st September and that currently there's a Goodreads Giveaway operating on Goodreads site -- there are 50 free copies available so log on
See if you can get hold of a freebie. I'm very happy that people in the US can get to read my novel S
I'm a third through the rewrite of The New GIrl and enjoying sharpening it all up. THere's now a new prologue that sets the story up better than the way I originally had (thanks to editor Louise) and a lot of slashing and burning! "Kill all your darlings" is the rule and my favourite bits (like the self-washing toilet that I discovered in Sougia, southern Crete, and which originally featured in Sisters) had to go, sadly.
There's now a Goodreads giveaway operating on Goodreads new reads and fifty ecopies of Sisters will be won by fifty lucky people who enter the competition. Good luck. Sisters becomes officially available in the USA on September 1st. So, exciting times for my novel.
I'm rewriting The New Girl, going through the very thorough notes and suggestions that my editor has listed. It's slow work but I'm enjoying finding answers to some of the questions she's posed. It will be a much stronger book because of her work.
Sisters is released in the US on September 1st and I hope it will find a wide, discerning audience there.
I thought for a bit of fun I'd include the very -- very -- simple recipe for what the Cretans call 'Horta' or Dandelions. Next time you're digging them up, wash the greens, steam them or cook them in a little water, drain, throw a good slurp of olive oil over them, some lemon juice, salt and pepper etc, and they are quite delicious. You'll need a good pile of them because they cook away to almost nothing!
I love them. A bit like baby spinach -- and they're free!!!
June 4th 2019
The New Girl is currently being edited by Louise THurtell and I'm waiting for it's return by doing a bit of self promotion, so necessary these days in which authors are expected to work at getting their books noticed. If people don't know a book exists, they can't order it or buy it.
I'll be having a Sabbatical after The New Girl gets off my hands and refreshing myself in order to see where the imagination takes me in the coming year.
March 19 2019
Sisters is finally making its way into the shops. It's been a long process, held up by unforeseen circumstances but now I'm hoping it goes out into the world and is well received. This is the worry time for writers. Will people like it? Will it be well reviewed? Will it sell? I'm hopeful that such a good story, well-researched --I lived in Crete for months in the northwest town of Kissamos where the story is set in order to get things right -- well, as right as a non-resident is able, with strong characters, facing difficult choices and often in some danger, create a novel which has been described as 'unputdownable'. Wilkinson publishing has been very supportive (thank you Jess!) and although it's been a 'difficult birth', the result makes me happy. I hope it'll bring the same satisfaction to all my readers.
I apologise for the long delay between posts; pressure of work, and some tricky health issues have made life a little more complicated that it normally is. Now I must get back into The New GIrl which I hope to have ready for a structural edit by the end of next month. Happy reading.
December 23 2018
The official publication date for Sisters (used to be known as The Woman Who Loved God) is now January 8th 2019.
I've been busy writing -- or rather trying to write -- because it's hard this time of year with all the interruptions caused by the season. I spent the afternoon making mango mousse, the traditional food my family demands at this time of the year. It's quite wicked, packed with mangoes, whipped cream, sugar and air. But once a year, it can only do us good.
Can I wish all readers a Happy Christmas and a wonderful new year -- may all your dreams come true!
November 24th 2018
The novel once entitled The Woman Who Loved God is now titled Sisters and it's OUT! It's available for pre-order before publication date in December. Please click on the Wilkinson Publishing link on the front page of this website. The name was eventually changed because people are scared of the G-o-d word!!!! But it's exactly the same as described here. Greta Maitland, Sydney screenwriter, gets a postcard from Crete telling her that her younger sister Xanthe (pronounced 'Zan-thee' has been missing for some time and the Cretan police have run into a deadend. I visted Crete three times, twice on research trips and lived there for several months, gathering the 'feel' of the place and the Cretan people -- the Irish of the Mediterranean as they are sometimes called. Sisters is an exciting and thought-provoking novel, about family relations, whether or not 'I am my brother's (sister's?) keeper, examines betrayal and misunderstanding between couples, and is finally a ringing statement about choosing life!
At the moment, I'm writing the outline of my new thriller - The New Girl - set in a remote country boarding school, in the '60s where the gloomy corridors and weak electric lighting create a spooky background for a fast moving, gripping story. Better go and finish it!
My absence from updating my news is because I've been flat out writing and doing outlines of my work
July 18th 2018
January 19th 2018
Apologies for leaving such a long gap between news reports. I've been busy finding a publisher for my new adult novel "Sisters: a Soul THriller' having two short stories published, one in the US in an anthology called Sydney Noir, the other in a collection edited by Lee Kofman called "Split' and writing a new thriller, The New GIrl, set in a 1960s boarding school.
Look out for "SIsters: a Soul THriller in November December of this year, 2018.
Finally, I should first wish everyone a Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, Chanukka or whatever season is celebrated.
The Woman Who Loved God is still being read by a new agent, and I'm still waiting to hear the judgement! Patience is required, plus getting on with other work, mostly at the moment, to do with the new 48 Hours Trilogy, The Vanishing, The Medusa Curse and The Crocodile Heist (my personal favourite because of the large crocodile involved!) I'm also mulling over and making notes for a new adult thriller.
My frog pond is finally producing results and I've had two batches of frogs' eggs in the little cave made by the overhanging rock in the pond. Now I'm hopeful of spotting little taddies soon.
Here it is September (2017) and I haven't kept this page up to date very well. I'm still looking for a publisher for The Woman Who Loved God as the novel is now with a number of publishers, waiting for someone to love it. In the meantime, I'm getting on with writing a new YA novel, storylining and organising another exciting read for young people.
Any time now, Book 2 of the 48 Hours Trilogy will come back to me for polishing. The first book The Vanishing came out earlier this month with the second book The Curse of Medusa coming out next year. I'm also dreaming about a new adult thriller set in a convent in the 'fifties or 'sixties, before the massive changes of Vatican ll shook the whole thing up.
Very spooky, very Gothic. So I'm not sinking into any kind of retirement.
The Woman Who Loved God is off to the USA seeking an American agent. I hope someone over there loves it.
The first book of the new YA Trilogy The Vanishing is almost ready to go to the Bologna Book Fair where I hope there will be lots of interest in it.
I'm currently writing a short story for an American publisher (if they like it!) to go into a collection called Sydney Noir. I"m setting mine in CLovelly -- the least noir suburb I've ever lived in, but you never know...
Other writing plans too...
January 31st 2017
Just sent my edited manuscript off to Fiona at Curtis Brown and now I wait to hear back from her concerning her thoughts on which publishers to approach with this work. It is a departure from my genre novels, more a return to the stand alone novels I wrote in the '80s and '90s and I hope it doesn't disappoint those looking for a straight forward thriller. This one, The Woman Who Loved God, is a devious tale, but I hope ultimately very satisfying.
Jamuary 2nd 2017
I'm now working my way through the edited typescript of The Woman Who Loved God. Nicola O'Shea, the editor, has made some very good suggestions to tighten and clear up the first section of the novel, and provide a cleaner through-line of the main narrative. Her suggestions also strengthen Greta's motivation to go to Crete, not only to search for her missing sister, but also to try and discover more about their mother's early life and why she is/was the way she is/was.
I hope to deliver it into the hands of my agent by the end of this month or the first days in February. Then, I sit back and wait for the offers!!!! Well. that's the plan.
The first book in the YA Trilogy, 48 Hours "The Vanishing", will be off to Bologne Book Fair in April. I hope it finds many excited buyers from all over the world.
I've delivered The Woman Who Loved God into the hands of the highly regarded editor, Nicola O'Shea, for her structural editing. I"m hoping I've got the structure largely in order, but one never knows -- as the poet Emily Dickinson said 'The mind is too close to itself' for disinterested judgement.
Soon I'll be back on the YA trail with 48 Hours, however the first book will not now be coming out until September 2017 and that seems a long time away. In the meantime, I have some ideas for another YA work and also another adult novel.
Please message me any time on Facebook. Love to hear from readers.
September 23rd 2016
Here I am, doing yet another draft of The Woman Who Loved God. It's a happy way to pass the time until the books of the new YA Trilogy, '48 Hours" come back to me from the Scholastic editor, Angie Masters. for polishing and improvement. (I need a personal editor, come to think of it, to polish and improve me!!)
I feel very satisfied in the writing of TWHLG and hope that readers will find it an enjoyable journey, even thought it's a little different from my usual straight thriller novels.
It's been too long since I added to this site. I've been writing The Woman Who Loved God and now I have a strong first draft which I'm letting rest for a while. I'll come back to it with fresh eyes, I hope, and take it to the next draft.
I've also been rewriting the ending of Book 3 the YA Trilogy "48 Hours' about Jazz and Phoenix, my two intrepid teenage investigators.
Also some gardening and listening to music, reading and writing other more journalistic pieces.
Just hit the 10,000 words mark with the Woman Who etc. Once I've got ten thousand locked in, I feel I'm really getting into the book.
Too many interruptions this week -- all of them very pleasing and necessary -- but they take me away from the focused attention I need to apply when writing. Next week is less crowded.
Just came back from eight days on Lord Howe Island where -- in a place where only 350 people live permanently and a tourist population of never more than 400 -- a man who spoke Hebrew (which I'm learning) then I bumped into writer Kathy Lette, who co-wrote Puberty Blues and who I hadn't seen in about thirty years, then finally, a guy who was staying at the same accomodation as we were, said 'You don't remember me, but I was the guy at Taronga Zoo who got you into the Komodo dragon emclosure when you were researching a book! I was able to tell him that I used the info I gained from that somewhat scary close encounter with the great disembowelling lizard in two books -- one adult and one YA (Monkey Undercover) How's that for amazing meetings in a tiny place.
I'm currently writing The Woman Who Loved God, an adult novel, and waiting to hear what's going on with 48 Hours, which was bumped into this year for publication. I'll keep you posted as to its progress.
The five Gemma Lincoln novels and Dishonour have all been optioned by a Melbourne producer and she's hoping (as am I!) that the ABC will take one -- or both -- on to fulfil their Australian drama content. Fingers crossed.
Happy New Year and welcome to 2016 everyone!
January 16th 2016
This is the year I can finally write the novel I've been hatching for many years: The Woman Who Loved God -- freed from the constraints of the classic thriller structure which for many books now, has formed the scaffolding for the now 37 novels for adults and Young Adults that I've written over the years.
This novel, set in Crete (mostly) the island in the Mediterranean from whence came my great grandfather, Konstantinos Koukousagis, provides the background to a novel about two women -- sisters - and their lives, interrupted as each one pursues goals that lead to very unexpected outcomes. Of course, I'll be using my 'training' in the thriller mode, to create and maintain tension and suspense, but I feel much freer in this book to let my imagination play a lot more with ideas that have preoccupied me for some time. Wish me luck.
I've been absent from these pages for a few months, working to finish Book 3 of the '48 Hours Trilogy" -- well, it's finally written but just recently I heard that it will not be coming out until 2017 -- so apologies to anyone who was hanging on it!
Now I'll do a springclean of my home which is long overdue and catch up on some reading before I start writing my soul novel The Woman Who Loved God.
June 5th, 2015
Storylining Book 3 of the 48 Hours Trilogy -- making this book the best of the three as it's the last one. Then I'll write it, the Scholastic editors will see any problems/additions and then it's up to me to write the first draft of the book. That will be fun.
Book 2 of the 48 Hours Trilogy is now safely with the editors and I can have a little break before starting to storyline Book 3. Working with Scholastic Publishing is always rewarding because I send my storylines through and the editors take a look. They often make very helpful suggestions or comments that I can incorporate into the first draft.
Unfortunately, I developed a head cold and instead of leaping around, I've had to settle for sniffing around and taking it easy.
The weather has been gorgeous until today -- just now it's turned very cold and dark with rain threatening. My fish are all just hanging at the bottom of the pond. They need warm days and nights to get them going. Roses just about finished.
I had two very fine letters from young fans in the USA. I love answering those letters and always include a postcard of myself with Pushkin, the non-wonder cat.
Busy finishing Book 2 of the 48 Hours Trilogy -- just tidying it up now and this week I'll send it off for editing.
Yesterday, we attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Coogee Beach down the hill. Getting up at 4am wasn't too hard. I thought of all those beautiful young men and their officers who died to uphold liberty -- in the face of Germany's aggression. We still have to fight for those ideals today. The Anzac spirit reminds us of this lest we forget.
I'm writing Book 2 of the new 48 Hours Trilogy, in which two clever young investigators take on a frightening case that has baffled the police so far. Jazz Mandell and Phoenix Lyons don't much like each other, but they know that they need each other...
November 8th, 2014
There are now four or five good reviews of Dishonour which is pleasing. I'm hopeful of overseas sales but that is out of my hands. I was interviewed by the BBC for a program called 'Foreign Bodies' as was Peter Temple and spoke of the way a writer is influenced by the times and the place in which they live -- I defended Australia against charges of 'racism' as it's my experience that apart from the odd dickhead, Australians are largely a tolerant lot of people who do believe in the 'fair go'.
Now it's back to work in the YA field, writing a new Trilogy '48 Hours' in which two intrepid teen investigators solve three gripping and dangerous crimes.
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