author of Sinister Intent
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
My name is Karen Davis and I was born and raised in southern Sydney. I went to catholic schools; St Joseph’s Girls High and Marist College (it was co-ed for a period of time) at Kogarah. I grew up in a dead-end street full of kids. Afternoons after school were spent riding our bikes until called in for dinner. Weekends comprised of playing tennis, pool hoping, listening to Abba and playing Charlie’s Angels with my neighbours (I always had to be Kellie – Jacqueline Smith’s character, because I thought she was gorgeous) I had a great childhood.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be a famous singer. It was never going to happen.
At eighteen I was finishing my Higher School Certificate in the hope of getting enough marks to join the police force. Somehow, between having a great time with my friends, I managed to get the required marks to be accepted into the police academy.
Why join the police force? It was careers week and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I left school. I wanted to have a job where I could help people and maybe make the smallest bit of a difference. I didn’t want to work nine to five. I also wanted a career that promised prospects and excitement. I certainly got the excitement and then some.
At thirty I was working at the Licensing Enforcement Agency. I was studying to become a detective. I was content with my career and with one beautiful daughter (the other was yet to come) I was also happy in my private life.
I think at eighteen you look at everything differently. You have your whole life ahead of you. You can’t imagine anything bad happening. You think your parents are going to be around forever. I remember thinking I would probably be married to my long term boyfriend by my early twenties. I would have children – a boy and a girl – at some stage. I’d be a competent police officer with a nice house in the suburbs. Life experience has taught me that things do not always turn out as expected. And that is not always a bad thing.
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 have not always been a writer but from the age of about sixteen I’ve been a reader. My mother always had a lot of books around so I was widely versed on a variety of different types of books. Everything from Mills and Boon romances to Wilbur Smith’s Egyptian adventures. I loved them all. So I can’t say one author or novel influenced me over any other. I think I have learnt to appreciate all types of writing.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Well I can’t play an instrument, paint or draw to save my life so I guess writing is one of the ways I express myself. Having been a police officer for twenty years before ever attempting to write anything other than a police report, I did not sit down at the computer one day with the desire to write a book. After leaving the police force in 2007 suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, my mother, an author, suggested I put some of my stories down on paper. So what started out as therapy grew into an uncovered passion for writing.
Sinister Intent is the story of a young Detective, Lexie Rogers, and her struggle to overcome her demons after a vicious knife attack leaves her traumatised. As the newest member of Bondi Junction’s detective office, she is determined to prove that the events of the past will not contaminate her future. When a local bikie is killed in what seems to be the beginnings of a bikie war, Lexie’s first murder investigation unearths a sinister world of crime, deceit and misplaced loyalties. Fighting a growing attraction to her partner and unsure of who she can trust, Lexie forms an unlikely alliance with one of the bikies whose life is in jeopardy. Though as the stakes turn personal what Lexie discovers is that she too is in grave danger. She knows too much. What follows is a frantic race to find the killer, before the killer finds her first.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Obviously my first priority is to hope the reader is entertained and immersed in the story. Though what I would like a person to take away from the book is knowledge and a sense of authenticity. I write fiction derived from reality. My own experiences and that of my prior colleagues helped form a lot of this book. I am trying to convey the point that police are human. They have frailties, fears, insecurities and even demons to deal with. After reading Sinister Intent I hope the reader has developed a greater understanding, perhaps even empathy towards Police (and all emergency services) have to deal with. Someone once said to me that they thought all police do was give out tickets and take reports of stolen cars and property. Not even close!
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Now that I have gone through the process of writing a manuscript and discovered that it is very hard and time consuming labour of love, I’ve developed an admiration for all writers, authors and anyone else who has ever given it a go, because it is no walk in the park. Having said that, I have to say the author I most admire is my mother – the late Lynne Wilding. I love her books (all twelve of them that are a variety of mainstream fiction) but of course I’m biased. Thought mostly I admire her for her determination and perseverance. It took her ten long years of rejections before finally becoming published. Therefore she is my role-mode. A perfect demonstration that success can be attained if you don’t give up.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
My goal for the past five years has been to finish my manuscript and make Sinister Intent as good as good as it could possibly be in the hope it would eventually become published. I am over the moon and consider myself extremely lucky that my dream has been realised. I guess now I hope it sells well. Of course I really hope people like the book and enjoy reading it. Now my goal is to make book number two better than book number one. I think I’ll take it one goal at a time. I’m not greedy.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
I don’t really feel qualified to give anyone advice, so all I’ll say is; if you love to write, keep doing it. Study and analyse the books you like to read. Write what you know, what you enjoy. Put your heart and soul into it. My first and second manuscripts were rejected and the thought of starting again was almost too overwhelming. So I had a bit of a break and then started from scratch – this time writing about crime fiction – something I knew about. I started writing seven years ago- pretty much full time. Some days I wanted to throw my computer out the window. That’s when I would think of my mother, and her ten year struggle to get published. If you give up you don’t get!
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.