Today we feature Christa A Ludlow whose latest release is The Dark Room. Welcome, Christa, and thanks for participating in Sunday Spotlight.
How many novels have you written and published and what prizes, if any, have they won?
I’ve published one historical mystery novel, Taken At Night, which was based on a manuscript which received an Australian Society of Authors Emerging Writers mentorship award. My latest, The Dark Room, is its sequel.
What is your favourite scene from your books?
There is a scene near the beginning of Taken At Night which is set on the Quarantine Station which was on Sydney’s North Head. I think it conveys something of the atmosphere there if you weren’t an upper class white passenger and it’s a bit spooky.
What inspired The Dark Room?
When I started thinking about writing a second book set during Sydney’s bubonic plague outbreak, I wondered what people would be thinking and fearing during that period. Not only would they have been frightened of dying from the plague, the Boer War was also going on and Australian soldiers were being killed. I thought that spiritualism and quack medical cures might be popular, and started researching. I found plenty of evidence that inspired some of the themes in the book.
Describe how you research and the challenges of incorporating research into your story:
I have a history degree, so I am familiar with many research sources. Reading the newspapers of the 1900s really helps me time travel. The National Library of Australia’s website Trove has a fabulous collection of digitised Australian newspapers.
I also read modern histories of the period to get an overview. I look at old maps and photographs, and read government reports to help me visualise the city as it was in 1900, the different people who lived and worked there. Sydney in 1900 was a busy port and it was more racially diverse than is often believed.
What is your all-time favourite book by an Australian woman writer?
My all time favourite book by an Australian woman writer would be Come in Spinner by Dymphna Cusack. I love the female characters, the challenges they face, the Australian character portrayed in the story, and the social issues of wartime. It is told with humour and sympathy.
If you could trade places for a week with any other person, famous or infamous or unknown, living or dead, real or fiction, who would it be and why?
A librarian of the library of ancient Alexandria, Egypt, before it was destroyed by fire (with the ability to read Greek and hieroglyphs).
When did you discover the Australian Women Writers Challenge? Do you think the challenge has had any impact on the awareness and discoverability of Australian women writers? Have you personally benefited in any way?
I only discovered the Challenge quite recently. It’s a great way to redress the balance. It’s too early for me to say if it’s had an impact, but I believe doing something is better than doing nothing.
Thanks, Christa, and good luck with your book.
Synopsis for The Dark Room
The second in the series of Sydney mysteries featuring Beatrix Spencer and Fergus Blair.
Seances in the Strand Arcade and stories of disappearing shop girls lead Beatrix and Fergus on a dark trail after a missing murderer.
About: Christa can be found via her blog.