7 March 2008

Adelaide Writers' Week, Final Day, Day #4 for me

Other things have intervened in the last 2 days, so there are things I've missed. People tell me there was a stunning session with Germain Greer yesterday, and then on Wednesday I missed sessions with Ian McEwan and Geraldine Brooks.

Adelaide is in the grip of what looks set to be one of our longest hot spells ever. Even the white plastic chairs feel warm to the seat, and there were many less people in attendance today. Hand fans were briskly being waved and even water spray bottles were in use.

So much going on in Adelaide just now: the Festival of Arts (of which AWW is a part), the Fringe Festival, and tonight WOMAdelaide kicks off. Tomorrow night the Crows host a home final in the AFL pre-season cup. To cap it all, a state public holiday on Monday for Adelaide Cup ( a horse race).

My purchase today: RENDEZVOUS AT KAMAKURA INN by Marshall Browne.

A real treat for crime fiction addicts this afternoon. Elsewhere I have grumbled about programming Gabrille Lord and Garry Disher in rival Meet the Author sessions.
Here are some snippets from the sessions I attended.

Session 1: Meet the author: Marshall Browne

In 2000 he won Best First Crime Novel in the Ned Kelly Awards for THE WOODEN LEG OF INSPECTOR ANDERS.

Browne began writing in the 1970s as a "Sunday morning" writer, when living in Hong Kong. Marshall Browne seems an unlikely author, coming over more like the banker that he's been most of his life.

He was very candid about how his novels develop, how his ideas often begin as images, seen early in the morning, sometimes when he is half asleep. Incidents and details often emerge from his own life. The book gradually emerges from his sub-conscious, which he is in thrall to. He doesn't plot the book prior to writing and researches as he needs to. He often mixes real characters with fictional.

He is really one of Australia's lesser known crime writers, but there is plenty in the 12 already published novels, some out of print. Indeed at AWW he warranted a larger audience.
He is currently working on 3 books: the sequel to EYE OF THE ABYSS will be published later this year, the 4th Inspector Anders is in draft, and next year will work on his 4th book in the "Melbourne" series. His bio says he works 40 hour week.

Session 2: Meet the Author: Gabrielle Lord

Gabrielle Lord appears a number of times elsewhere in my blog, and her latest book SHATTERED shares top spot in my best reads for 2008.

She has collected 2 awards: The Ned Kelly Award for best novel in 2002 for DEATH DELIGHTS, and a Davitt Award in 2003 for the best Australian crime novel by an Australian woman in the previous year for BABY DID A BAD, BAD THING.

Gabrielle began by describing what led to the writing of her first published novel FORTRESS in 3 weeks. She says that for any book, writing is only 5% of it. getting to the writing stage, for her is the hard part and accounts for 95% of the effort. She plans and researches all her books meticulously. The depth of research is what results in the meticulous details. She interviews experts and finds that most enjoy talking about what they do, especially if they recognise that you have made some effort to get your head around the topic,a nd can ask focussed questions. Gabrielle has done work experience in surveillance, attended victims of homicide meetings, done courses in anatomy, stood on the streets with prostitutes, toured morgues.

She believes most central characters will be flawed - that is what makes them so interesting. "Angels" are generally not very interesting, and she constantly looks for very human stories. She is always looking for stories to engage the reader.

Gabrielle says writing a book is a lot like knitting. Complexity emerges to keep the author intrigued. She sets herself problems and challenges. At the same time her setting is Australia because she tries to focus on what she knows.

She talked briefly about her 12 part thriller for YA, designed to be a continuous story, in 12 parts. Each will be self contained but all 12 will add up to a whole. They will come out on a monthly basis and be named January, February, etc.

Gabrielle feels very strongly about issues such as women's rights, e.g. in Islamic communities both here and abroad.

Session 3: Friday Crime
A panel with Marshall Browne, Garry Disher, Gabrielle Lord, Denise Mina.
Garry Disher won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2007 for CHAIN OF EVIDENCE. In April, oz_mystery_readers are discussing this book.

The panel at first individually attempted to explain why crime fiction is becoming so popular.

Garry Disher:
  • it has always been popular, the real question is why it has become so acceptable
  • enormous diversity in the genre
  • some approaches "literature"
  • fed by the popularity of true crime books, and TV shows
  • strongly narrative, lots of acvtion
  • social barometer, tells us about the "real" world
  • gives us vicarious pleasure, often darkly humorous
  • at one level can be very re-assuring as justice is often restored
  • main characters are often just like us
  • "who dunnits" have been replaced by "what makes people tick"
  • the reader is the investigator
  • an exploration of our darker side
Gabrielle Lord
  • dramatic shift from cozies - those days have gone
  • sees herself as a relationship writer rather than a crime writer. Crime is the vehicle to draw the story along - the hook
  • how do people connect?
  • how do people tell the truth in fiction?
  • creation of tension
Marshall Browne
  • basically only 2 genres: books you like & those you don't
  • novels are places where you can explore the exotic and bizarre
  • the main thrust is the developing story
  • character driven fiction
  • determined to conquer the writing of shorter novels
Denise Mina
  • thought about writing under an alias - how about MissDMina?
  • fan of literary fiction
  • crime fiction often seen as trash
  • literary fiction should aspire to having the readership of crime fiction
  • move for crime fiction to be taken seriously
  • crime writers are expected to write about 1 book a year, and they often make a pretty good living (if they are successful)
  • crime writing lays the author's politics bare
  • social & political issues become part of the novel's underlying fabric.
So that is Adelaide Writers' Week for another 2 years.
Today's events ended at about 5 with drinks and nibbles - very civilised.


Marg said...

I love Marshall Browne's definition of genre!

Thanks so much for posting about the festival.

When I lived in Adelaide I used to love Festival time - all the Fringe events and things like that! Fantastic!

And a Crows grand final - icing on the cake. Even if it is just the NAB cup! Go Crows!

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the comments Marg. Glad I was able to help you enjoy it from afar. I enjoyed the 4 days I went and yes AWW is a really great event. In the audience there were a lot of "tourists" who identified themselves as from Melbourne, from Sydney etc. The fact that it is part of the Festival of Arts is really great, because the city is really alive with lots to do. Just a pity this week about the heat.

Marg said...

If I remember I might try and make it over for the next AWW. I have accomodation so I just need to get there really!


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