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Episode 71

Join hosts Veronica and Darren for a blockbuster episode featuring an in depth interview with astounding crime writer Chris Hammer who chats about his latest release, The Tilt. A Reader's Cafe featuring some live reporting from a writer's festival, discussions about what makes someone a feral and why fairy bread is so good, a super fun Writer's Lounge with the always fabulous guest, author Laurie Bell. News and reviews and a whole lot more!!


When did you first admit that you were a writer?

After the publication of my third book (and my first crime fiction book) Scrublands. That was when I could stop working as a journalist and work full-time as an author.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Tin Tin, Winnie the Pooh, The Magic Pudding and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Tilt is my fifth crime fiction book. The inspiration comes from a visit many years ago to the Barmah-Millewa forest on the Murray River. It’s the largest redgum forest in the world. Back then it was drought stricken and dying, but I heard of how magnificent it could be when the water came -  a forest for eight or nine months of the year, and a wetland for three or four.

So I went back recently when the forest was flooded – and it was indeed inspiring.

Is there anything specifically Australian about your book/books?

Absolutely. My books are very Australian. The settings are distinctly Australian, mostly in regional and remote areas, although some times in the cities. But also the characters. I love a good Australian character, and the idiomatic nature of the vernacular.

Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?

Plenty – it’s crime fiction, after all.

Why do you think listeners should read your book/s?

As a reader, I love the immersive experience of a good book, the sort that I can really lose myself in. I hope that’s what I’m creating for readers: a compelling world, populated with intriguing characters, with a mystery its heart.

Is there a message in your books?

My books often touch on some of the issues of the day - in this case conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers - but I don’t seek to lecture readers or try to impose my opinions. But surely a little food for thought can only heighten the experience.

  1. Who is your most or least favourite character to write?

I don’t see it like that. It’s up to me as the author to make all the characters interesting.

What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?

A punk band in England asking if they could name themselves after one of my characters, Mandalay Blonde!

What genre/s do you write in?

My first two books were narrative non-fiction – travel writing with a purpose. I liked that very much, and learnt a lot in the process. But now I write crime fiction. The Tiltis my fifth crime novel.

As a writer, are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between?

I’m a pantser, although every time I write a book I seem to reinvent my process. I don’t recommend it – I wish I could just settle on one method!

How much research is involved in your writing?

Quite a bit, but I’m wary of doing too much research. The story is the thing, and I don’t want the facts to get in the way of a good story!

What’s your writing routine – if you have one?

Typically I write in the morning (no word targets or anything like that) then ruminate in the afternoon as I exercise, do housework etc. But this intensifies as the year goes on, until by the end I’m spending most of my waking hours inside the book.

Where do you write?

Anywhere. On planes, trains, airports. Hotel rooms, cafes. And in my study at home when I have to.

What’s your favourite writing food and drink?

Coffee. And coffee. And did I mention coffee?

Who helped you most when you were starting out?

Too many people to name them all: friends, family, work colleagues, and then my wonderful agent Grace Heifetz and publisher Jane Palfreyman. The Tilt is dedicated to Grace and Jane.

What’s the most useful writing advice you’ve been given?

It’s not about you, it’s about the manuscript.

What’s your writing goal for the next twelve months?

I’ve started work on a new Nell/Ivan book – which will hopefully be published in October 2023. The goal is to make it as good or better than The Tilt.

What inspired your book cover?

I love the cover for The Tilt– designer Luke Causby has done a mighty job with all five crime novels. But I can claim some of the credit for this one – Luke based it on a drone image I captured above Barmah-Millewa.

Who would you most like to read your book as an audiobook?

The two blokes who have already recorded it!! Dorje Swallow does the audiobooks for Australia and New Zealand – he’s done all five. Internationally, it’s Lockie Chapman, who also did Treasure & Dirt.

What words of advice would you give an aspiring author?

Try to enjoy writing and write something you think is good – not something you think others might think is good. And stick with it.

Any final words for potential readers or writers?

I love books – their power to take you away from the everyday, their power to fire your imagination, their power to instil empathy.

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Click below to learn more about this author's spectacular literary work!

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