During most of the six months since I last posted to this blog, I’ve been doing what sociologist Corey Keyes calls languishing. The uncertainty caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic was exacerbated in my hometown of Melbourne, where we achieved the dubious honour of World’s Most Locked Down City. That happened sometime in October, I think. Hard to say, as time seemed to fold in on itself.
In the wake of a cascade of cancellations caused by Melbourne’s fifth and sixth lockdowns — the Yarra Valley Writers Festival, (live events) cancelled the night before it was due to open; Melbourne Writers Festival, cancelled as late as it could be; even Terror Australis in Tasmania, falling foul of a rare snap lockdown in that state — I couldn’t bring myself to plan anything for months. It was all too demoralising.
And then I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccination benchmarks in my home state of Victoria, a prerequisite for ending lockdown, were achieved ahead of schedule. Venues started planning to re-open. Tickets for live shows went on sale.
I admit, I went a bit crazy. I organised trips to regional Victoria, bought tickets to live shows, booked restaurants, arranged catch ups with friends and family.
In the interim, a few fun things happened. One of my Melbourne Writers Festival panels, ‘Cautionary Tales’ with Debra Oswald and JP (Josh) Pomare, was recorded as a podcast. As a fan of Josh’s work, and with Debra’s novel, The Family Doctor, being my top crime reads of 2021, I was delighted to have the chance to talk with both writers about their work. You can listen to the podcast here.
Secondly, in the lead up to the (online) Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival, I was among some Sisters in Crime and Brothers-in-Law interviewed for Arts Hub by Thuy On for the article, Why Australian crime writers are killing it. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Guest of Honour, Dr Garry Disher, for TAF2021, which involved delving into his riveting PhD exegesis, ‘The Search for a True Home: A Critical Review of Recent Australian Rural Noir’. I also got to interview JP Pomare about choice of place in his body of work; it was my third interview with Josh for the year — and a sign of how interesting an interviewee he is that we never seemed to go over the same ground.
Also in November, I had the great honour of launching my dear friend Christos Tsiolkas’s new novel 7 1/2 for Readings. Although the event was online — Melbourne only just re-emerging from our sixth lockdown — Christos and I got to sit side by side at his place for the interview, which made it special.
And finally, in the lead up to Christmas, I received news that a short story anthology to which I am a contributor will be published by Fremantle Press in 2022. The contributors, who go by the nickname, ‘The Kelly Gang’, include Robbie Arnott, Alice Bishop, Zoe Bradley, Sam Carmody, Jake Cashion, Lorin Clarke, Claire Coleman, Laura Elvery, Kirsten Krauth, Matt Neal, Bram Presser, Mirandi Riwoe, Jock Serong (co-ed.), Mark Smith (co-ed.), Neil White (co-ed.), Gina Williams AM and Michelle Wright. After 2020, when I thought I might never write again, editors Jock, Mark and Neil gave me then greatest possible incentive with this opportunity to be published alongside so many writers I admire (among whom I count several personal friends). I look forward to being able to release more details about the project in the new year.