Meeting the Meanjin and Melbourne Books editors

According to Zora Sanders, deputy editor at Meanjin, if she has to read one more short story about children in the bush with an alcoholic father she might well head to the bush and take to drink herself. Not surprising if you have to read 30-50 submissions a week.

Sanders was at the Wheeler Centre on a typically cold, dark Melbourne Monday night along with Adolfo Aranjuez editor of Melbourne Books, which publishes the annual anthology Award Winning Australian Writing. It was a Writers Victoria event held in conjunction with the Society of Editors (Victoria) called Ask the Publisher: Short Fiction, facilitated by Editors Vic co-president, Liz Steele. BTW Aranjuez is also working with designer Nina Read on the new design-rich journal Fragmented and is associated with Voiceworks.

Hearing what ends up in that slush pile at the other end of the publishing email system is probably the most intriguing thing for writers to hear and was what made this event really worth going to. Continue reading

Crafting Crime Fiction

My latest piece for artsHub goes online today here.

For it I spoke with the lovely Pam Newton, author of The Old School, and Lenny Bartulin, who has written three crime novels featuring Jack Susko, and is now working on a more ‘literary’ historic novel set in Tassie. They will be leading a six week course in Sydney on writing crime fiction as part of the Allen & Unwin Faber Academy. Wouldn’t that be fab to be part of!

There’s so much in every interview that you wish you could include but there’s just never the space. Pam and I talked a lot about how she got into writing, which was actually a slow process over almost 10 years after leaving ‘the job’ ie.the NSW Police force. Only an ex-cop can say that convincingly. She also said some really interesting things about her masters exegesis, and how she became fascinated by a quote from David Lodge’s Consciousness and the novel on how a poem can capture qualia, a sense of shared subjective experience. ‘He said the novel is the most extended example of that, where you actually travel through time and space in the soul of another human being.’

And Lenny and I spoke about how much effort he puts into his research, including playing 5-card stud with himself so that he was sure every move was possible. And about the time he tried to ring the police to find out how they would investigate a particular kind of car accident only to find himself being asked to provide his name and details and feeling like he’d just initiated an enquiry into some very dubious author activities.

Faber Academy

Armed and Dangerous: The Craft of Crime Fiction with Lenny Bartulin and P.M. Newton
15 February – 31 March 2012
Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Course fee: $1,200 (inc GST)
Maximum of 15 students
For further details visit