Good Reading : April 2007
22 goodreading ı APRIL 2007 The crowded life of ex-cop and now PI Gemma Lincoln has been the subject of three previous Gabrielle Lord novels: Feeding the Demons, Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing and Spiking the Girl. In the first book to feature Gemma, she faced a serial killer and demons from her childhood, as she and her half-sister Kit disagreed over the guilt or innocence of their father, due to be released from prison for murdering Gemma’s mother. At the end of Spiking the Girl – described by critics as ‘a superbly written psychological thriller’ – Gemma found out that she was pregnant. In Lord’s latest book, Shattered, out this month, Gemma has to cope with pregnancy, relationship problems – and, of course, brushes with criminal minds and deeds, including the murder of a police superintendent. Gemma’s pregnancy itself is problematic; there’s a lot of vomiting. Did Lord herself have a difficult pregnancy? ‘God, yes, I did projectile vomiting from the minute I fell pregnant!’ she tells me. ‘I used to do morning, midday, after- noon and evening sickness – I lost nearly two stone. I was just so toxic. I was only eighteen or nineteen, I was furious about it in many ways – I couldn’t stomach it, metaphysically, I kept trying to throw it up.’ Our reviewer (see review on page 30) makes the point that males seem to be pretty nasty characters in Shattered, whereas the females are much nicer. ‘Dubious blokes do litter the pages,’ agrees Lord, ‘but I would also say that the women are quite damaged too. Gemma Lincoln herself has been deeply scarred by the events of her childhood; little Naomi is a sex worker. And I don’t think Natalie’s deeply attractive [Natalie is the widow of the murdered policeman, herself an ex-detective] – she’s a hard, ambitious woman who reveals herself in her anger as a very unpleasant person. I think the women match the men. And a lot of women will feel very familiar with those types of guys. The trouble is that they’re often gorgeous, they’ve got that danger flare around them which makes them very attractive. Until you grow up and lear n – which some of us never do.’ Then Lord makes the very valid point that all writers must make: that ‘kind, well-adjusted, sane people don’t make for conflict, they don’t make for drama, and they don’t make for books. So unfortunately I’m stuck with the neurotics!’ Gemma worries about bringing a baby into a world she sees as full of ugliness, trouble and sorrow. Should Gemma even have the child or not, given that her relationship with the baby’s father is in freefall? This is one of Lord’s major themes: the damage children can suffer in childhood. ‘Well, none of us is perfect, so we never get perfect parent- ing and it’s absurd to think that we can do it or should be able to do it,’ says Lord fir mly. ‘But I think if there was a statistical cover story lord & lady GABRIELLE LORD’s cleverly constructed, tense, atmospheric novels have been gripping readers since Fortress burst onto the scene in 1980 and was made into a successful film. Lord’s latest, Shattered, features PI Gemma Lincoln. ALISON PRESSLEY talks to the writer who’s been described as Australia’s First Lady of Crime.