Prefer your crime fiction with an archaeological twist? L.J.M Owen, author of upcoming archaeological mystery Olmec Obituary, answers our Ten Terrifying questions


The Booktopia Book Guru asksolmec obituary

L.J.M Owen

author of Olmec Obituary

Ten Terrifying Questions

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Growing up we moved around a fair bit, so I’ve lived on a dusty sheep farm, in a glittering city and amidst a beachside rainforest. The most honest answer I can give, though, is I was raised and schooled between the shelves of numerous libraries.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a palaeontologist or archaeologist; I was obsessed with history and prehistory.

At eighteen I envisioned being the head of a school of archaeology or biological anthropology in a quiet little university somewhere; it was my idea of order and peace in a painful and chaotic world.

By thirty I wanted to become someone who helped others in their journey of self-transformation, which eventually led to creative writing. I wanted to explore both the harsh realities of our existence and provide a haven from them; to open doors to alternative ways of thinking and being. The Dr Pimms series arose from that desire to create a place of escape.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At eighteen I placed a lot of weight on first impressions, believing they were a good indicator of whether I would become friends with someone or not. Since then I’ve learnt it’s definitely not a good idea to judge a book by its cover – but it’s also essential to follow your gut instinct if you sense something is off in someone’s behaviour. Taking time to get to know someone before forming an opinion about them is my approach now.

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4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc. – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

As a young teenager I escaped into the Eddings’ Belgariad series every chance I could. I loved the wide cast of characters and banter between them that exposed cultural differences. The comfort I found in this series fed my desire to create another story world for us to all run away to.

Reading Orwell’s 1984 was life changing. The idea that I could imagine an entire other world based on a set of underlying assumptions from my own society then extrapolating was a valuable lesson. It encouraged me to challenge self-satisfied dogma whenever I encountered it, much to the chagrin of those I questioned. But once armed with the idea that things can be other than they are I was irrepressible.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Witches series, which examined a variety of social truths and feminist issues in an incisive and entertaining way, gave me hope that I could find my own voice and explore social themes with similar subtlety one day.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I’m most comfortable communicating with people via writing. It allows me to think through what I’m trying to express. I love archaeological discoveries and processes and wanted to find a way to share the knowledge from my studies with people. Fiction made the most sense.

6. Please tell us olmec obituaryabout your novel, Olmec Obituary.

Olmec Obituary is the first novel in a new Australian crime fiction series: Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. It’s the journey of an archaeologist/librarian who solves ancient mysteries from across the globe, with plenty of forensic science, culinary exploration and historic trivia along the way.

At the beginning of Olmec Obituary we meet a rather unhappy Dr Pimms who is yearning for her former life as an archaeologist and struggling with work and family. Elizabeth is quickly drawn into investigating evidence from a royal Olmec cemetery deep in the Mexican jungle. Her sense of elation is short-lived, however, as her position on the team is threatened by a volatile excavation director, contradictory evidence, and hostile colleagues. Elizabeth must strive to determine the cause of death of a 3000-year-old athlete before being fired.

So far readers of all ages, from teens to retirees, have provided very positive feedback, with an equal male/female split across all age groups. Those who enjoy archaeological, historic or forensic crime fiction – similar to Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series or Kathy Reichs’ TV series Bones – consume the book then demand the next one!

Younger women seem to identify with the main character, and men who are technically-minded or normally read sci-fi, fantasy or steampunk have been fascinated by the forensic detail in Dr Pimms’ investigation. The series is cosy crime fiction, so no swearing or sex scenes, but I do caution parents of younger readers that there are adult concepts.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

The most important thing is a sense of relaxation and having escaped the everyday for a while. If they pick up an understanding of the myriad ways humans define culture, or an appreciation for the work of archaeologists or librarians, or question underlying assumptions in their own lives, then all the better. But the most important thing is for them to be entertained.

Dr Pimms 1

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

A year ago, as an avid reader and nascent writer, I would have given you the name of a specific novelist. Now, after experiencing the passion, inclusiveness and support of the Australian writing community, I have to say it is the community itself – the readers who post regular book reviews; the authors who rise at 5am to write before their families wake-up; the editors who reach out to encourage. The dedication and generosity of everyone inthe Australian literary scene has been unexpected and refreshing.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

30 books, one a year, until they are complete. I’ve planned nine books for the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series, along with a book of recipes and a compendium of archaeology from the series. I have plans for another recipe book that examines evolutionary aspects of human nutrition and the domestication of plants and animals across the planet; a dystopian political novel; a novel featuring a 17th century Cornish girl abducted by Barbary pirates; an historic trilogy examining the depth and breadth of the Celtic world; a young adult Elizabeth Pimms series of twelve instalments; and an autobiography.

I’ve also planned two series of short stories: one set in a steampunk Victorian England with historically accurate epidemiology; and one set in religious institutions around the world in the first half of the 20th century.

I don’t expect to get a full night’s sleep for quite some time!

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10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read the books you love. Read the kind of books you want to write. Study the basics of storyworld, character, plot and theme. Sit down and write for at least an hour a day. Research how to improve your writing. Rinse and repeat.

And remember, you can do it.

Thank you for playing!

Grab your copy of Olmec Obituary here!
Read an extract of Olmec Obituary here!

Olmec Obituary

L.J.M Owen

olmec obituary

Yearning for her former life as an archaeologist, Australian librarian Dr. Elizabeth Pimms is struggling with a job she doesn’t want and a family she both loves and resents.

A royal Olmec cemetery is discovered deep in the Mexican jungle containing the earliest writing in all the Americas. Dr. Pimms is elated to join to team investigating the ancient skeletons found on site. Triumph is short-lived, however, as Elizabeth’s position is threatened by a volatile excavation director, contradictory evidence, and hostile colleagues. With everything working against her, will Dr. Pimms find the cause of deathfor a 3,000 year old athlete and those buried with her?

With the archaeological … Read more.

Grab your copy of Olmec Obituary here!
Read an extract of Olmec Obituary here!

GUEST BLOG: Emma Viskic on Resurrection Bay

I get asked one Viskic, Emma - Resurrection Bayquestion above all others about Resurrection Bay – why did I set out to write a deaf protagonist? The truth is, I didn’t. Although Caleb was always deaf, it took me a long time to catch on.

When I first started writing Resurrection Bay, Caleb strode onto the page almost fully formed: he was strangely obstinate, isolated and hyper-aware. But I didn’t know why. His relationship with his parents went some way to explain it, but didn’t seem enough.

Halfway through the second draft, I began to see glimpses of someone from my childhood, a girl I’d gone to school with. She shared many of the same qualities as Caleb: she was watchful, proud, frustrated, and profoundly deaf. I began to wonder if Caleb might be deaf, too. The idea terrified me. I’m a classical musician; sound is central to my world. I couldn’t imagine writing a book where dialogue and nuance of tone were absent. And how could Caleb function as an investigator if he was deaf? How could he be independent? So I pushed the idea aside. It wasn’t a case of ignoring the muse, so much as slamming the door in her face and sprinting in the opposite direction.

But the idea kept nudging the back of my brain. Two drafts later, things still didn’t feel right, so I gave in and experimented with a single scene. That scene became two, then three, then a chapter. By the end of it, everything about Caleb had clicked into place. After that, he took over, ploughing ahead whenever I faltered, driving the story with a blatant disregard for his own happiness and safety. To my surprise, his deafness created as many boons as it did probleEmma Viskicms. His observational skills made him an excellent investigator, and dialogue became more, not less, important. Even my niggling worry that Caleb’s deafness would become too central to the plot was alleviated: although it’s an important part of who he is, it isn’t all he is.

While Caleb barged on, I was left to answer myriad technical questions. Could he lip-read or did he use sign language? How hard was it to lip-read anyway? Very hard, it turned out, but some people have a gift for it. Caleb was going to have to be one of them because there was no way he’d agree to being paired with an interpreter. But the idea of using sign language intrigued me. If Caleb could sign, it would be a perfect opportunity to show him at ease, and to explore his relationships. So he became bilingual. He speaks English with most people, but signs with those closest to him.

Decisions made, I set about learning Australian sign language (Auslan) and spoke to people. I learned the difference between being culturally Deaf, which Caleb isn’t, and small ‘d’ deaf, which he is. I spent hours walking around with ear buds in my ears, trying to do day-to-day things like shopping and catching public transport. And failing miserably. The more I learned, the more I understood Caleb’s character and what drove him. He might have been giving me a slow clap and muttering ‘About time’, but I got there in the end.

Grab your copy of Resurrection Bay here
Read an extract of Resurrection Bay here

Resurrection Bay

by Emma Viskic

Viskic, Emma - Resurrection BayCaleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss.

When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city … Read more.

Grab your copy of Resurrection Bay here
Read an extract of Resurrection Bay here

About the Author

Emma Viskic

Emma Viskic

Emma Viskic has won two of Australia’s premier crime fiction short story awards: the Ned Kelly S.D. Harvey Award, and the New England

Thunderbolt Prize. A classical clarinettist by training, her musical career has ranged from performing with Jose Carreras, to a backyard wedding where the groom demanded to know where the fourth member of the trio was.  She lives in Melbourne’s inner north with her family and divides her time between writing, performing and teaching.

Grab your copy of Resurrection Bay here
Read an extract of Resurrection Bay here

Swedish author, Henning Mankell, dies aged 67

MankellHenning Mankell, Swedish crime writer and leading figure in Nordic Noir has died aged 67 from cancer. Leopard, his Swedish publisher revealed he died in his sleep.

In early 2014 Mankell visited an orthopaedic surgeon in Stockholm, believing he had a slipped disc. However tests revealed a tumour in his lung and neck, with evidence it had spread to other areas of his body. He went on to write a book about his experience –  Quicksand: What It Means to be a Human Being.

Mankell was best known for his Wallander series, with 11 of his approximately 40 novels starring Kurt Wallander, Swedish police detective. The series inspired a series of Swedish films featuring Rolf Lassgård and Swedish and UK TV adaptations featuring Krister Henriksson and Kenneth Branagh respectively.

Grab your copy of the internationally besteselling The Kurt Wallander series here

Among his accolades, Mankell received the Gold Dagger Award, the Astrid Lindgren Prize and the Erich-Maria-Remarque Peace Award. He worked extensively with AIDS charities in Africa, saying that “I don’t know why, but when I stepped out of the plane in Africa I had the odd feeling of coming home” (from his website).

Henning Mankell in Africa

He leaves behind Eva Bergman, his wife of 17 years and his son, Jon Mankell, a film producer who helped bring Stieg Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series to the big screen.

He has sold more than 40 million copies of his books. They have been translated in over 40 languages.

Henning Mankell’s Top 10 Quotes

GUEST BLOG: True lies by Gary Kemble, author of Skin Deep

Kemble, Gary Author Photo‘Fiction is the truth inside the lie.’ – Stephen King

I’m a journalist. Lies are not a valued commodity in my world. Unless, like Skin Deep’s Harry Hendrick, you’re uncovering other people’s, lies are a good way to get fired.

(In Harry’s case, uncovering other people’s lies is a good way to get killed).

So if I’m a journalist, what am I doing telling lies in my spare time? Well, as it happens, truth and fiction aren’t as far apart as you might think.

Jerry Jenkins, author of the best-selling Left Behind series, says the definitions of nonfiction and fiction have flip-flopped.

‘Nonfiction has to be unbelievable, and fiction has to be believable,’ he says.

Everything in Skin Deep has happened.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie.

But at each stage of fleshing out Skin Deep’s plot I asked, ‘Has this ever happened in real life?’ If I could find a real-world precedent, I would mould those true events into the lie I needed.

Have Australian Defence Force personnel ever been implicated in drug smuggling? Yes.

Have outlaw motorcycle gangs ever been used to traffic drugs? Absolutely.

Have property developers ever laundered money? Oh yeah.Left Behind

Did a Black Hawk carrying SAS troopers crash during an exercise off the coast of Fiji? Yes. (The true version of that incident is detailed in Rob Maylor’s excellent SAS Sniper).

Are there symbols created by Afghan Mullah Sensees designed to protect people from harm? Yes.

Of course, at some point as a writer you need to go off the beaten track and just make shit up.

As far as I know, no-one has ever had tattoos spontaneously manifest on their body.

Dreadnorts MC and Dead Ringers MC are fictional outlaw motorcycle gangs. I didn’t want any Hells Angels or Bandidos knocking on my door, accusing me of giving their club a bad write-up. (And it was actually quite difficult finding ominous-sounding names that aren’t real OMGs).

The protective sigil on Harry’s neck was originally going to be African in origin. The Australian SAS has deployed to various parts of Africa over the years, but it suited Skin Deep better to shift Rob’s story to Afghanistan.

So what’s the secret to telling convincing lies? Let’s hear from a guy who’s made a career out of it: Stephen King.

As King suggests, you should wrap your lie around a truth. Whether it’s characters, locations, or plot developments, thorough research can make the reader care.

‘Belief and readSAS sniperer absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything,’ King told Writer’s Digest.

‘Or a broken billboard. Or weeds growing in the cracks of a library’s steps.

‘Of course, none of this means a lot without characters the reader cares about (and sometimes characters—“bad guys”—the reader is rooting against), but the details are always the starting place in speculative or fantasy fiction. They must be clear and textured.

‘The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.’

So what are you waiting for? Go to it!

Grab a copy of Skin Deep here

Skin Deep

Gary Kemble

When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a mysterious tattoo on his neck, he shrugs it off as aKemble, Gary - Skin Deep bad night out.

When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper.

Harry’s search leads him to Jess McGrath. She’s successful, married; they are drawn to each other though they have nothing in common but unwanted tattoos and high definition nightmares. Together, they edge closer to unearthing the truth behind the sinister disappearance of an SAS hero and his girlfriend Kyla.

There’s a federal election looming, with pundits tipping a landslide win for opposition leader Andrew Cardinal. Harry knows there’s a link between these disturbing visions and Cardinal’s shadowy past, and is compelled to right wrongs, one way or another.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

Grab a copy of Skin Deep here

About the Author

Gary Kemble has spent his life telling stories. He wrote, illustrated and self-published his first story (Back from the Grave) aged eight.

His award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad, and his non-fiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online.

Born in England and raised in Brisbane, Gary lives on a farm in Scotland with his wife, kids, and a camera-shy weasel.

You can follow his adventures on Twitter (@garykemble).

Grab a copy of Skin Deep here

Michael Connelly on Bosch, crime and his amazing career

Michael Connelly is one of the world’s most acclaimed and highest selling crime authors in the world. He chats to John Purcell.

Grab a copy of The Burning Room here

The Burning Room Connelly, Michael - The Burning Room

by Michael Connelly

A bullet takes ten years to find its mark. Now Bosch must find the killer …

Detective Harry Bosch and his new partner investigate a recent murder where the trigger was pulled years earlier.

In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die a decade after the crime. So when Orlando Merced finally succumbs to complications from being shot ten years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but any other evidence is virtually nonexistent.

Partnered with Lucia Soto, a rookie detective who made her name in a violent liquor store shoot-out, Bosch begins to see political dimensions to the case – a case where, despite the seemingly impossible odds, failure to find the killer is simply not an option.

But not only does Soto soon reveal a burning obsession that could make her a loose cannon, the one piece of evidence they have on the Merced shooting also points in a shocking and unexpected direction that could unsettle the very people who want Bosch to close out the case.

It’s looking like Orlando Merced may not be the investigation’s only victim – and that includes Bosch himself.

About the Author

Connelly, Michael - Author PhotoMichael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.

After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.

After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly has followed that up with 18 more novels. Connelly’s books have been translated in 35 languages and have won the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Macavity Award, Los Angeles Times Best Mystery/Thriller Award, Shamus Award, Dilys Award, Nero Award, Barry Award, Audie Award, Ridley Award, Maltese Falcon Award (Japan), .38 Caliber Award (France), Grand Prix Award (France), and Premio Bancarella Award (Italy).

Michael was the President of the Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004. In addition to his literary work, Michael was one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of Level 9, a TV show about a task force fighting cyber crime, that ran on UPN in the Fall of 2000. Michael lives with his family in Florida.

Grab a copy of The Burning Room here

Michael Robotham on his brilliant new novel Close Your Eyes

Michael Robotham is one of Australia’s most loved crime writers, and one of the highest selling both home and abroad. He chats to Sarah McDuling.

Grab a copy of Close Your Eyes here

Close Your EyesRobotham, Michael - Close Your Eyes

by Michael Robotham

I close my eyes and feel my heart begin racing
Someone is coming
They’re going to find me

A mother and her teenage daughter are found brutally murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince. Reluctantly, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, calling himself the ‘Mindhunter’, trading on Joe’s name, has jeopardised the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger.

With no shortage of suspects and tempers beginning to fray, Joe discover links between these murders to a series of brutal attacks where the men and women are choked unconscious and the letter ‘A’ is carved into their foreheads.

As the case becomes ever more complex, nothing is quite what it seems and soon Joe’s fate, and that of those closest to him, become intertwined with a merciless, unpredictable killer . . .


Robotham, Michael - Author PhotoAbout the Author

Born in Australia in November 1960, Michael Robotham grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were bestsellers with combined sales of more than 2 million copies.

His first novel ‘The Suspect’, a psychological thriller, was chosen by the world’s largest consortium of book clubs as only the fifth “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries. It has been translated into twenty-two languages, including some he’s barely heard of.

His second novel ‘Lost’ won the Ned Kelly Award for the Crime Book of the Year in 2005, given by the Australian Crime Writers Association. It was also shortlisted for the 2006 Barry Award for the BEST BRITISH NOVEL published in the US in 2005.

Michael’s subsequent novels ‘The Night Ferry’ and ‘Shatter’ were both shortlisted for UK Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger in 2007 and 2008. ‘Shatter’ was also shortlisted in the inaugural ITV3 Thriller Awards in the UK and for South Africa’s Boeke Prize. In August 2008 ‘Shatter’ won the Ned Kelly award for Australia’s best crime novel. More recently, ‘Bleed for Me’ – Michael’s sixth novel – was shortlisted for the 2010 Ned Kelly Award. His upcoming novel, ‘The Wreckage’ will be released in June 2011.

Michael can most often be found working in his ‘pit of despair’ (basement office) on Sydney’s northern beaches where he funds the extravagant lifestyles of a wife and three daughters.

Grab a copy of Close Your Eyes here

GUEST BLOG: Kathryn Fox on the journey towards working with James Patterson

Bestselling Australian author Kathryn Fox writes about the events leading up to her collaboration with James Patterson

katthryn-foxEleven years ago, I was an author with a debut novel close to release. I was also an avid fan of crime fiction, which is what inspired me to write in the first place. James Patterson was one of my favourite authors.

When I heard he was coming to Sydney for a visit, I couldn’t wait to hear whatever pearls he may have for his fans and budding writers.

I knew the bookseller who hosted the evening and was thrilled to just be there. After James delivered a captivating talk, this bookseller held up an advanced copy of Malicious Intent and asked if James would be interested in reading an exciting new Australian crime author.

I held my breath. This hadn’t been why I was there. I felt bad for James, who graciously accepted the book and said he would read it. The poor man had been on a gruelling schedule and was flying out at 6am the following morning.

After the event, I had my copy of his book signed, and waited to apologise for my novel being foisted on him. While I assured him I didn’t expect him to read it, he kept his hand on the cover, not letting it go.

We chatted as he relaxed with a well-earned glass of red. Despite the early morning start to follow, he was incredibly kind and generous with his time and advice. We talked as staff cleaned the venue.

James_patterson_I floated home, flattered that for a moment in time, James Patterson not only knew my name but had spoken to me like a fellow author. I didn’t expect what happened next.

The following morning I was off to the surgery for my day job as a General Practitioner. The bookseller called to say that the copy of Malicious Intent had been returned via courier. We assumed James hadn’t had time to read it, but were touched that he had thought to return it, let alone at his expense.

I was lucky that I’d had at least some time with the absolute master of pace and thrillers while he was in the country. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Then the bookseller told me to wait. There was a letter inside the book.

On it was a testimonial handwritten in pencil. I listened with a drilling in my chest. James Patterson liked my book! Not only that, but he’d generously written a testimonial, knowing it would be used for marketing purposes. That meant he was helping my career get off to an incredible start.

I don’t remember if I cried or squealed. One thing was certain. It was going to be framed and hung on the wall at home, where it still hangs. My publisher couldn’t believe it! They wanted chose to use the quote, “Kathryn Fox has created a character readers of Patricia Cornwell will adore.”

Little did I know that attending the signing as a fan to James Patterson fan would have so much influence in my life. Four or five years and four books later, I was lucky to attend the International Thriller Writers Festival in NY. James Patterson had star billing.

I eagerly lined up to have his latest book signed. The queue by other authors to meet the man snaked for half a floor of conference level. Nervously, I introduced myself, having no expectation he’d remember our first encounter.

He did more than that. He said he preferred the Australian covers of my books to the US or UK versions.

private-sydneyAfter seven novels, I received an email one Friday night. James Patterson was asking if I’d like to co-write a book with him. After re-reading the message multiple times, this time I was in shock. It didn’t take long to respond with a yes.

Then reality hit. I was about to collaborate with the world’s biggest selling author. Even so, it was time to do a pros and cons list.

Pros: Learning from a master storyteller, the author who could teach just about everything there is to learn about pace. And this was the man who had been extraordinarily kind at the beginning of my career, not to mention someone I greatly respected and admired.

Cons: There weren’t any.

This is actually the second book in the series, so for Private Sydney, the characters were already established. I developed the initial plot outline. We discussed it in detail, made changes and adaptations. I wrote the first draft, James worked on that, and the process continued until we came to the final version.

We caught up in person again on his recent trip to Australia, eleven years after our first meeting. I was still a fan but this time I was also a collaborator. That was pretty special.

And the bookseller who originally showed James my first book feels proud to have contributed to the ‘birth’ of Private Sydney. I have him, and a lot of other people to be grateful for.

I hope readers enjoy this labour of love!

Oh, and I can’t wait to see what the next eleven years brings…

Grab your copy of Private Sydney here

private-sydneyPrivate Sydney

By James Patterson & Kathryn Fox

The world’s bestselling thriller writer teams up with Australia’s bestselling crime writer for the latest action-packed instalment of the PRIVATE series.

Even for Private Investigations, the world’s top detective agency, it’s tough to find a man who doesn’t exist . . .

Craig Gisto has promised Eliza Moss that his elite team at Private Sydney will investigate the disappearance of her father. After all, as the CEO of a high-profile research company, Eric Moss shouldn’t be difficult to find.

Except it’s not just the man who’s gone missing, all evidence he ever existed has vanished too. And there are powerful figures pulling the strings who want Moss to stay ‘lost’.

But when a woman is found brutally murdered and a baby is missing, Private are suddenly drawn into another frantic search. And this is a case Craig has to throw everything into, because he may well be responsible for sending the killer straight to the victim’s door . . .

‘It’s no mystery why James Patterson is the world’s most popular thriller writer . . . Simply put: nobody does it better.’ Jeffery Deaver

Grab your copy of Private Sydney here


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