Can you give us a brief outline of Liar’s Candle?
Liar's Candle is set in 1996 and follows Paula Connor, a detective from the local area command, as she interviews Cheryl Manning, a young woman who seems to have murdered her husband. In the course of a night-long interview, Paula's assumptions about the choices open to women are turned upside down.
Although your novella could be classified as crime, it subverts some of the traditional tropes of the genre. Did you set out to play with genre?
I definitely wanted to see what I could do with some of my favourite (and not-so-favourite) tropes, and try to present them in a way that seems fresh to the reader. Broadly, I think crime fiction uses crime to tell stories about who we are as human beings. It's the human element that I find so fascinating.
How do you find your Creative Writing PhD fits with your creative process more broadly?
One thing I've really embraced by studying Creative Writing at a postgrad level is that writing is a learned skill and you can be creative to a deadline. It's really tempting to wait for a Muse to descend from Mt. Olympus and take over the writing process, but in my experience I get a more reliable, satisfying result from just plodding along with it myself, even when I'm not feeling very inspired.
Often Australia’s literary scene is perceived as split between Sydney and Melbourne. What do you think of the Illawarra as a home for a writer?
I think most of the writing process has to happen between a writer's ears, so it's possible to thrive anywhere. But the Illawarra is a great place in general - everything from mountains to oceans, with the Sydney scene still close by. There's sometimes an exclusive dichotomy assumed between 'country/outback writers' and 'city/urban writers', but there are a lot of us 'suburban writers' too.
What are you working on now?
As part of my PhD I'm writing Children and Drunks, the sequel to Liar's Candle. It's set in 2017 and centres around the now-adult Manning children as they come to terms with their mother having killed their father - and as they learn a few unpleasant truths about themselves along the way.