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An Australian writing about crime

Updated: May 1, 2018

Writers would always prefer to talk about what they are writing rather than what they have written. I was reminded of this recently at a talk given by Thomas Keneally who has been talking about his novel about the two wayward sons of Charles Dickens who were sent to Australia for at least a couple of years.

I hope he finishes writing it soon; it sounds fascinating. It is about colonisation and Australia as a place for dumping rubbish people.

Keneally quoted a line from Oscar Wilde, from The Importance of Being Ernest. I will try and find it now.

Here it is:


I don’t think you will require neckties. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia.


Australia! I’d sooner die.


Well, he said at dinner on Wednesday night, that you would have to choose between this world, the next world, and Australia.


Oh, well! The accounts I have received of Australia and the next world, are not particularly encouraging. This world is good enough for me, cousin Cecily.

Tom and his daughter, Meg are writing a detective series, which caught my ear because I am making a fist of a crime novel myself. Keneally said he had never read a crime novel until he started to write one. He described the experience of reading crime as being given a cast of characters, one of whom is the murderer and when you find out, you realise you knew all along. Keneally said reading detective stories are ultimately unsatisfying which is why people find them so addictive.

This is certainly my experience. I also hadn’t read a crime novel in living memory. I read “Girl on a Train” by Paula Hawkins and I did know who did it and I knew exactly when I knew.

(email me and I’ll tell you exactly when)

My daughter, Dom who is reading the crime novel I’m writing, said that she read a single sentence and knew who the killer was.

Which is okay, because my novel is less like “Girl on a Train” and more like “One Drop of Blood” which is a story by Cornell Woolrich and the winner of Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine story contest, October, 1962. It was described as “an example of the contemporary inverted detective story.”

The first two thirds of the story deals with the crime – and the events leading up to it; the last one-third of the story deals with the detection and how the detective proved it.

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