The Booktopia Book Guru asks Emma Viskic Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Emma Viskic

author of Resurrection Bay,

Ten Terrifying Questions


Viskic, Emma - Resurrection Bay1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I’m a Frankston girl, but without the surfer chick cool or ability to tan. Frankston was blonde brick suburbia by the time I was a teenager, but in my primary school years it was a wonderland of building sites, bushland and swamps. I attended the local schools, and then went on to study classical clarinet at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Rotterdam Conservatorium in The Netherlands.

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

At twelve and eighteen it was an even split between being a writer and a clarinettist. Books and music have always been a way for me to make sense of this world, and escape it, but I’ve never been much of a spectator: once I could read, I wanted to write, once I could listen, I wanted to play.

Music consumed most of my time through my twenties. I played in anything from aged care homes, to the Phantom of the Opera, and concerts with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. But by the time I was thirty, I was missing writing with quiet desperation, so I began writing a book. It was like diving into a pool after years away from the water: it wasn’t pretty, but I was finally back in my element.

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

That happiness is boring. (Although I still hold that it is in books.)

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?

I cried the first time I heard Allegri’s Miserere, and I’ve cried every time since. It’s a sacred choral piece with a soaring soprano solo: quiet and sublime. It works because it sounds effortless, but of course it isn’t. Allegri agonised over every note and the singers have practised for hundreds of hours.

I love that same apparent effortlessness in Fred Williams’ landscapes. They’re so simple, but they transport you to the Pilbara. You can smell the eucalypts, feel the hot wind on your face. I admire Peter Temple’s writing for some of the same reasons: he captures so much with so few brushstrokes.

emma viskic 25. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Writing is wonderfully all consuming. When it’s going well, I fall into the story and emerge hours later, blinking and confused, but happy. The downside is that not all days are good ones.

6. Please tell us about your novel, Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay features Caleb Zelic, a profoundly deaf investigator who has always lived on the outside. When a close 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. The investigation takes him places he’s rather not go, including to his hometown and estranged family. As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.

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

I hope they’re excited, exhausted and moved, but mainly that they carry a piece of Caleb with them. He’s very real to me and I hope he becomes real to them.

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

In no particularly order: Hilary Mantel for her wry wit and keen eye, Kate Atkinson for her subtleness. As well as Peter Temple, there is a long list of Australian writers I read and reread: PM Newton and Malla Nunn for their characters and depth of ideas, Kate Grenville for her liquid prose, Shane Maloney for his humour.

one-life the-big-ask












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

To make each book better than the last one.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Nothing you write is a waste of time. Some days you slog through a thousand soulless words and write one beautiful sentence. Don’t regret those thousand words – they led you to that sentence.

Emma, thank you for playing!

Grab your copy of Resurrection Bay here!

Resurrection Bay

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 … Read more.

Grab your copy of Resurrection Bay here!

COMING SOON: Graham Potts, author of upcoming novel No Free Man answers our Ten Terrifying Questions

no-free-manThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Graham Potts

author of No Free Man

Ten Terrifying Questions

To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Victoria, attended primary school in South Australia, high school in Queensland, TAFE in New South Wales, and university in Canberra.

What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. At eighteen, I had no idea what I wanted to be. At thirty, I just wanted to be left alone to write.

What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I believed answers were easy to come by.

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?
Dust and Ashes by Anatoly Rybakov 1994 – I read this book when I was sixteen and it was the first book that showed me what Graham Pottsgood writing could do.

The Pearl Earring by Dorothee Golz 2009 – a digital reinvention of Vermeer’s work; it’s easy to become convinced that everything has been done before until you see something that breathes new life into a masterpiece.

To Have and Have Not, the 1944 film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart alongside Lauren Bacall in her debut – I learned a lot about dialogue and character from great films like this.

Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I don’t think I chose to write at all. I’m pretty certain writing chose me. Sometimes I wish it hadn’t but, most of the time, I’m glad it did.

Please tell us about your latest novel…
No Free Man is about an assassin looking for a way out, a thief ready to kill for answers, a secret operative who thought he got away with it, a crime kingpin who wants it all, a president who will burn her country down to save it, and the agent who has to piece it all together before it’s too late.

What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope there is a little something for everyone.

Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Matthew Reilly: he persistentlThe Tournamenty pens fast-paced stories full of energy and adventure. I learned the hard way how difficult this is. Reilly gets criticised a lot for his writing, but doesn’t get praised enough for what he gets right – and he gets it right every time.

Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I won’t lie to you: I rarely plan ahead. In fact, I didn’t really plan to get this far.

What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Get good, get original, get it done, get it out there, get rejected, get over it, get better, and go all in.

Graham, thank you for playing!


Grab your copy of No Free Man here!

No Free Man

Graham Potts

no-free-manVolkov forfeited his future when he was paid to forget his past. Forced to adapt, he ultimately became the world’s most wanted killer – feared, vicious and brutal. A tool of the Organizatsiya, a Russian crime syndicate that forged him into ‘The Wolf’, he’s pursued by American spies and Australian agents, torn between his need to survive and his desire to be free.

When a shock encounter in Australia uncovers forgotten secrets and threatens uneasy allegiances, Volkov suddenly sees a choice – one he thought would never be his to make. With a billion-dollar international oil deal threatening to shift the global balance of power, will Volkov return to Moscow to wage war for the Organizatsiya … Read more.

Grab your copy of No Free Man 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

Michael Robotham beats Stephen King and J.K. Rowling to win Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of the year

FB_IMG_1443558403338Australia crime writing superstar Michael Robotham has won the prestigious British Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year.

A longtime Booktopia favourite, Michael beat the likes of Stephen King, Belinda Bauer and J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith).


“For all the fact that it’s lovely to have commercial success, to sell lots of books, to be able to be a full-time writer, something like the Dagger makes you feel you have the respect of your peers and you are part of a long tradition of very fine writers.”


Michael Robotham

In a 2014 review of Life or Death, we remarked ‘What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor. He’s just a wonderful writer.’

It’s always nice to see the world agree.

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

Life or Death

Review by Andrew Cattanach

There seems to be two types of people in this world. Those who love Michael Robotham, and those who haven’t heard of him yet.

life-or-deathIt can be difficult for a crime writer to receive critical acclaim and popularity. Books by design are denser than any cop drama on TV, asking questions designed for reflection rather than ratings. Formulas are examined and broken down, cliches noted, thin characters ridiculed.

What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor.

He’s just a wonderful writer.

Life or Death starts with an intriguing premise. Audie Palmer is on the run, having escaped from jail. 10 years of beatings and torture are behind him. But what’s the twist?

He has escaped just one day before he was due to be released.

In Audie Palmer, Robotham has created a character we can all root for. Lucky in his unluckiness, stoic, brave, principled. He is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by a crime he swears he didn’t commit. But can we trust him? Can we really trust anyone?

While Audie is the heart of the story,  there is plenty of meat around him, an ensemble cast of crooked politicians, kind-hearted criminals and shady FBI agents, not to mention a missing seven million dollars. The waters are murky, and Robotham revels in it.

Life or Death is for the crime fan who likes a story, not just an account. Brilliantly written, intelligent, funny, sad and meticulously mapped out, it’s easy to understand why there has already been so much interest in a big screen adaptation of the novel.

There is nothing more exciting than an author operating at the peak of their powers. With Life or Death, Robotham is doing just that, further strengthening his hold as one of Australia’s finest crime writers. Find out why Audie is on the run, before it’s too late.

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

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


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