Today’s Q&A is with Sandi Wallace whose rural crime novel, Dead Again, was released this week. Welcome, Sandi, and thanks for participating in Sunday Spotlight.
When did you start writing and what was the catalyst?
As a shy, imaginative bookworm, I became addicted to crime and adventure stories in film and print at a very young age – hooked by the likes of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. And around then, I began to dream of being a crime writer. Yet, it seemed inevitable that I take a roundabout route to that dream, working different jobs and accruing life experiences, and so the first novel I wrote was Tell Me Why.
How many novels have you written and published and what prizes, if any, have they won?
I’ve had two rural crime novels published so far. My debut and the first book starring Georgie Harvey and John Franklin, Tell Me Why, very excitedly won the 2015 Davitt Award Readers’ Choice and was also shortlisted for the 2015 Davitt Award Best Debut. My new novel, Dead Again, is the next Harvey and Franklin book and can be enjoyed as part of the series or as a standalone. It is out April 2017, and the third book, Into the Fog, is expected for release in 2018.
What inspired Dead Again?
As someone who lives, works and plays in the Australian countryside, I know our environment is both beautiful and ruthless. We cannot be complacent about drought, fire, flood and infestation that can ravage communities, and bring out the best and the worst in people. The backstory to Dead Again is the devastation of a wildfire event—and readers will see this through their own experiences, whether they picture Black Saturday, Ash Wednesday, fires in Canberra, the Blue Mountains, Perth or along the Great Ocean Road—and how it continues to impact on people and communities for years afterwards. In my fictional story, there is the added pain of loss where there are no identifiable remains and arson as the cause of the fire. Added to that, as a crime writer, I am ever inspired by motivation. The drivers of why people do things, how events cause them to act and react, how much they will risk for the truth, answers or justice, and I wanted to explore and test those motivations amid the wildfire backstory, and current-day accidents and crimes that may or may not link with the main story but keep my protagonists on their toes.
What genre would you like to try your hand at writing and why?
Well, as a life-long self-confessed crime fiction addict—I love reading, writing, and watching it—I can’t see myself diverging from the genre, and plan to continue my series and write standalone crime and domestic noir novels. But in the future, I’d also like to write children’s or young adult mysteries, as my love for crime stories stems from my early-age addiction and it would be wonderful to pay-it-forward to today’s young readers.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing (work and/or play)?
Not much beats enjoying a good crime book or movie in front of the woodfire at home, glass of red wine in hand, hubby alongside, cats on my lap and dog at my feet … but I also love exploring country towns, spending time with great people, browsing antique stores, gardening and trying to create metal sculptures, as well as fitness and strength training (I’m a personal trainer in my other life), canoeing, fishing and bike riding.
Lamingtons or pavlova?
Lamingtons … with jam and cream!
Do you think the AWW challenge has had any impact on the awareness and discoverability of Australian women writers?
Yes, I do! The Australian Women Writers Challenge has helped to connect a diverse, supportive community of writers and readers across the country. We are blessed with many talented women writers of all types of books but it can be difficult to hear about new authors and books, so the Challenge has been a boon in spreading the word of achievements of our women writers, and increasing the number of reviews of books written by women, as well as encouraging and sharing in many other ways.
Synopsis for Dead Again
It is almost two years since horrendous wildfires ravaged the tiny town of Bullock. Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey is on assignment in the recovering town to write a feature story heralding the strength of the community on the anniversary of the fires.
Meanwhile, in nearby Daylesford, cop John Franklin is investigating a spree of vandalism and burglaries, while juggling life as a single parent and his ambitions to trade his uniform for plain clothes.
When Georgie’s story connects with the crimes in Daylesford, she uncovers the appalling truth about a family man missing since the fires. And she is thrown back into conflict with John Franklin, a man she’s been trying to forget since their first encounter, eight months earlier.
About: Before pursuing her lifelong dream to be a crime writer, Sandi Wallace served stints as banker, paralegal, cabinetmaker, office manager, executive assistant, personal trainer and journalist – all providing fodder for her stories. But if she hadn’t turned to writing, she believes that she would have been a police detective. Sandi combines that interest in policing and her love for country Australia into authentic, gritty, rural crime novels. Her first novel in the Rural Crime Series, ‘Tell Me Why‘ (published by Clan Destine Press), won the 2015 Davitt Award Readers’ Choice. Sandi works as a personal trainer and lives in the hills outside Melbourne with her husband and furry family.