Good Reading : October 2017
GOOD READING OCTOBER 2017 25 Spot light on crime gr The Ngaio Marsh Award IS PRESENTED EACH YEAR IN NEW ZEALAND TO RECOGNISE THE BEST IN CRIME FICTION AND THRILLERS HERE ARE THE RECENT WINNERS Many of the characters in the ‘Rowland Sinclair Mysteries’ are based on real people, but are any of the happenings in A Dangerous Language inspired by actual events? Yes. Many of the happenings in A Dangerous Language are inspired by actual events. The mystery of the Pyjama Girl gripped Australia in late 1934 and the years that followed. Her body was preserved and displayed in the hope of identifying her. The Great Air Race finished in Melbourne in 1934 and was won by a red de Havilland Comet called Grosvenor House. Egon Kisch did come to Australia on the Strathaird; h e did jump from the ship and break his leg, and he was made to sit the dictation test we know as the White Australia Policy. Robert Menzies was the Attorney General who made it his mission to keep Kisch off Australian soil. The Duke of Gloucester did make a royal visit and dedicate Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on Armistice Day. Why do you include snippets of real news articles from the 1930s in the ‘Rowland Sinclair Mysteries’? Originally I did it to show readers that the most unbelievable parts of my story were not the bits I’d made up. Historical fact is often stranger than fiction. Now I do it because readers seem to like them. I find the extracts after I’ve completed the manuscr ipt, so the process is, I suppose, a kind of reality check, to make sure that the events of each chapter ring historically true by finding a newspaper article that relates. How does living on a farm in the Snowy Mountains affect your writing? Aside from my dogs and three cats there is no-one around to care that I spend the day sitting cross-legged in bed, writing in my pyjamas while watching old British cr ime shows on television, such as Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War and, occasionally, Game of Thrones. We’re a little out of town so it’s generally not convenient for people to drop in. In many ways, it feels separated from the world here. Perhaps that’s what makes it easy for me to connect with other worlds. You once said: ‘Perhaps a legal career is a natural precursor to writing fiction.’ In what way? The law is a storytelling profession. It works on narratives, conflict and champions. There are truths to be unearthed and great overarching causes. And, of course, justice to be served – theoretically. Most importantly, being a lawyer teaches you that facts are a matter of perspective, that a well-told plausible fiction can be more seductive than hard facts, that people often make decisions on emotion and whim and without logic, and that every decision has unforeseen consequences. With respect to technique, the law trains you to write quickly and logically and to choose words precisely the first time, which is a very useful skill for a wr iter. A Dangerous Language by Sulari Gentill is published by Pantera Press, rrp $29.99.