Learning from masters

by | Nov 12, 2022 | Newsletter

First, I’d like to apologise for the fact this October newsletter is being sent out mid-November. After thinking I had escaped the clutches of the dreaded Covid I caught it, which has left me feeling rather ill and not at all motivated to do anything. Now, with that out of the way, let’s move right along.

Recently I had the chance to see Australian author Jane Harper while she was on tour promoting her latest book. There was a great turnout, including members of the crime writers group I belong to, so it was fab catching up with them and hearing where everyone is at with their latest manuscript.

And it was fab listening to Jane, who was amusing and forthcoming with fascinating answers to questions put to her. It is always interesting to learn how other authors think and their processes, in this case, in particular to hear Jane doesn’t put anything in a novel to identify the era. In this book she made no reference to Covid, phone models aren’t mentioned, there is nothing to ‘date’ it. That hadn’t occurred to me, but it had occurred to an astute reader present; I hadn’t noticed it in her books, nor had I thought to do it. What a great concept I thought, and a rather sensible one.

Being a pantser myself, not a plotter, I was awed by her plotting technique, which sounds painstaking and detailed. My writing had stalled, frustratingly, and I felt like a seagull stuck in mud, flap-flapping, trying to extricate myself. But maybe, I thought, there’s something in Jane’s method I could modify for my less structured approach – her success certainly can’t be argued. So I set aside the laptop, picked up my trusty Shaeffer and a wodge of copy paper, and started writing freehand. Lots of great ideas started to flow (At least I hope they prove to be to be great ideas. There’s nothing like writing something late at night or early in the morning and thinking it’s pretty darn good, only to look at it later and realise it’s not your finest work. It bends the other way, too, and can be better than you thought). Is there something more tangible with pen and paper, more control perhaps? I was a great feeling to be on the move again, I can tell you.

Many protagonists can carry upwards of twenty books in a series. Realistically, others aren’t so lucky, particularly if they live or work in a small town or their occupation isn’t police officer, but something where contact with murder victims is limited. Following this line Jane decided Exiles was to be the third and final Aaron Faulk outing, but she was determined to give him the ending he deserved. I’m sorry to hear he won’t be around for further adventures, but I’m sure Jane’s fertile imagination will continue to entertain us with future releases.

The last hoorah for Aaron Faulk. Golly, it’s a fitting end.(And don’t we all love a story where everything is tied up satisfactorily with a giant bow?)

Did you know . . .

  • A moose calf can outrun a human by the time it is five days old
  • In Alaska, apparently there is a law that prohibits a person throwing a moose out of a plane (This raises so many questions)
  • Online someone has actually asked the question, ‘Can a car drive under a moose?’ Seriously. And no, you can’t, dimwit

Take care, and happy reading,

P.S. If you’d like to drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

On my bedside table at the moment is yep, you guessed it, Exiles, by Jane Harper.

Federal investigator Aaron Faulk attends a festival in South Australia wine country, where a baby is left in her pram, her mother nowhere to be found. A year later the mother, Kim Gillespie, is still missing. Aaron is back in the area visiting friends, trying to figure just what happened that night (and previous to) Kim’s disappearance.

The only Jane Harper I haven’t read is the first Aaron Faulk, The Dry, which has since been made into a (very) good movie starring Eric Bana. If you enjoy Aussie outback noir, may I also suggest getting your hands on her standalone, The Lost Man, a blinder of a read, and up there in the top five books I have read in the last few years.

I am out with lanterns, looking for myself

Emily Dickinson

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