I’ve been tagged by Australian crime writer David Whish-Wilson to take part in the Next Big Thing meme that’s making the rounds among writers — a great way to find out what some of my favourite writers are up to and to give readers a heads-up on what to look out for in 2013.
1. What is the working title of your current/next book?
The Dying Beach, forthcoming July 2013.
2. Where did the idea come from?
I visited Thailand’s Andaman coast for the first time in 2009 and thought, ‘This place is so beautiful, I must find an excuse to come back.’ That excuse was to set my next novel in Krabi province, requiring a return fieldwork visit in 2011.
In between visits, I sketched out a story. My partner, fellow crime writer Andrew Nette, worked for a Thai environmental organisation in the late 1990s and I raided his files for ideas. I had a character inspired by a spunky young tour guide I’d met in Krabi and created a role for her as liaison between a zealous Australian volunteer and local villagers affected by a proposed power plant.
The novel opens with the young woman’s body washing up on a beautiful beach.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Crime fiction – as if the body in the opening chapter wasn’t a dead giveaway.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
When I first created Jayne Keeney in the late-1990s, I had Jacqueline McKenzie in mind for the role. But working on TV series in the US has made her too glossy and brittle these days. Emilie De Ravin could play Jayne Keeney and her CV could do with something interesting.
Dev Patel is a shoo-in to play Jayne’s lover and business partner Rajiv Patel. Joel Edgerton could play Australian volunteer Paul O’Donnell, or maybe the lovely Nathan Page.
Casting the young Thai activist Chanida Manakit, known by her nickname Pla (Fish), presents a challenge as Pla is a dark-skinned southerner and most successful Thai actresses have pale skin and Western features.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Jayne Keeney doesn’t buy it when the death of a young tour guide in Thailand’s south is explained as an accidental drowning and sets out to investigate in a case that brings her face-to-face with unscrupulous businessmen, embittered thugs, environmental zealots and deadly cobras.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Dying Beach will be published by Text Publishing, which also published Behind the Night Bazaar and The Half-Child.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Just under 11 months. This is the first novel I’ve written entirely while holding down a day job. Previously I’ve had extended periods of leave in which to write full time. Not surprisingly, this one took longer than usual.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Of other Australian women writing detective crime fiction, my books are probably closest to Leigh Redhead’s: her PI Simone Kirsch and my Jayne Keeney would hit it off if they ever met. I share a Thai setting with crime writers John Burdett and Christopher G Moore.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the environmental activists working in difficult, even life-threatening circumstances in Thailand in the 1990s, and by the attitude of local villagers, many of whom have a profound understanding of conservation in the face of market pressure and the forces of modernisation and ‘development’. I wanted to give these villagers a voice in fiction as the Thai environmental activists do in their advocacy.
At the same time, I wanted to showcase the beauty of the natural environment and traditional culture in Thailand’s south.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Sun-drenched beaches, sex, death, corruption and cobras – what more could you want in a crime read?
I’m thrilled to tag the following four writers, whose posts will appear on their blogs in a week’s time:
Wendy James wrote my first favourite read of 2012, psychological thriller The Mistake.
Sulari Gentill took out this year’s Davitt Award for A Decline in Prophets; her 2012 release Paving the New Road is my favourite in the Rowland Sinclair series so far.
Margie Orford, aka ‘the queen of South African crime thriller writers’, is author of the Clare Hart series. The title of her next book is Water Music; I’m keen to know more.
Greig Johnston‘s short crime fiction ‘No Through Road’ was one of my favourite stories in the Australian anthology Hard Labour published by Crime Factory in 2012.
Angela – Thanks for sharing what’s coming up for us Jayne Keeney fans. 🙂 It sounds like a terrific read and I like your choices of acting talent too. Well, I will definitely be among the first in line when it releases.
Thanks for the encouragement, Margot. I suspect all writers, crime or otherwise, fantasize about having their work filmed and casting the characters makes for a fun daydream.
The Dying Beach has a great premise and location. Add this to a story in the hands of a fine writer. Can’t wait to read it.
Christopher, you’re makin’ me blush!
On Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 9:45 AM, Angela Savage
Glad you think so, Dad.
Can’t believe I missed this little nugget of news but am chuffed to discover it now – can’t wait to read Jayne’s next adventure
Thanks Bernadette. As always, I will eagerly await your review of Jayne’s next outing.
Hi Angela, It sounds really intriguing and right up my ally – love the idea of big bad power plant/corporation V local people and a feisty central character. I will absolutely buy it! I am also going to read your husband’s work. Would love to meet him and hear about his time working for the environment in Thailand in the 90s. I volunteered for Greenpeace quite some time ago and I am aware of some of the amazingly brave things they do.
Thanks for dropping by, L.A. I think you will enjoy the environmental themes and the activist characters of The Dying Beach — although like the Australian volunteer in the story, you might find yourself wrong-footed by the premise.
I’m looking forward to reading Thirst over the summer — a great escape from 40 degree celsius temperatures!
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The Dying Beach sounds good to me: environmental issues, embittered businessmen, etc. What’s not to like? Well, the deadly cobras not so much. There aren’t snakes in New York, well, maybe on Wall Street, but not in my neighborhood.
Very funny Kathy 😉
No snakes in my neighbourhood either, though quite a few lounge lizards…