Australian Crime Fiction Snaphot: Marshall Browne

1. You are currently running two crime series (Inspector Anders and Detective Aoki) as well as a series about a one-eyed German banker Franz Schmidt. Do you find these series of novels feed off each other or are you able to keep them completely separate?

I aim to keep DP Anders, Hideo Aoki, and Franz Schmidt in entirely different universes. I find it necessary to keep them - and their worlds - sharply differentiated in my mind. The way I work is to have a couple of novels on the go at any one time. I'll do a version on one, taking say six months, then put it aside and take up the other. For that six months (or whatever) I'm working in a straightjacket - of that series, that character. This is helped by them being of different nationalities, having markedly different personalities and physical characteristics, and living in different countries. Apart from anything else, the variety keeps me interested!

2. What do you have planned for your next publication?

My next will be "The Iron Heart" the second outing for Franz Schmidt. It's a historical thriller set in Berlin in early 1939 and follows on from his late 1938 anti-Nazi escapades in southern Germany. In October, I spent nine days in Berlin doing top-up research and have since done a final revision. A fourth Inspector Anders is drafted, set in Prague where I researched in 2006, and I'll work more on that this year.

3. Do you read much Australian crime fiction? Can you give us a few standouts that you've read recently? What do you think of the current state of the Australian crime fiction scene?

I've been reading Gary Disher of late - "The Dragon Man" - with much enjoyment, and intend to move on to his acclaimed "Chain of Evidence". I admire Gary's professionalism - I was on a panel with him at the Perth Writers" Festival last year and will be again at the forthcoming Adelaide Writers' Festival (also with Gabrielle Lord). Unfortunately, with limited time available I don't read a lot of fiction, and tend to focus on the Europeans. A large part of my working life as a banker was spent in Europe and Asia and my ideas have come in those areas. Henning Mankell and Michael Dibdin have given me good reads as has Ken Bruen - the minamilist Irishman, whom I've met. Recently I see he's quoted from one of mine in his black-humoured police procedural "Blitz". However, I could claim a fourth series in my Melburnian Trilogy - three historical mysteries set in my birthplace, spanning 1888-1900. In each, a private detective, name of Otto Rudd, works around the main characters on the mystery at the heart of each novel - all of which climax in a sensational court-case. This year I'm planning to start on a fourth - Melbourne 1905 - so I'll be busy.

4. What do you think could be done to better promote Australian authors either at home or abroad (or both)?

The biggest boost an Australian crime-writer could get, in my opinion, is to have his character appear in a feature film (internationally or locally produced) - or a long-running TV series (like Rebus). Shane Moloney had some success with TV. Obviously this is hard to achieve. I've had numerous approaches over the years from film producers overseas and in Australia but all fizzled out - funding seemed the central problem. More gatherings of crime writers and readers, in Australia, promoting Aussie writers would get the tick from me. Mary Dalmau's recent initiative - introducing an annual Reader's Feast Crime and Justice Festival - the first to be held in Melbourne July 18-20 2008 is an exciting development of this type. It's to be under the patronage of Ian Rankin and Kerry Greenwood.

5. If your fictional character could meet any fictional character, who would you like it to be and why?

DP Anders and Aurelio Zen working on a case together? This has actually been suggested by a couple of critics! Of course, both detectives are essentially loners, and I'm sure would drive each other crazy. It would certainly have that effect on Anders' sidekick, Matucci.


Marshall Browne is the author of, most recently, Rendezvous at Kamkura Inn, and Inspector Anders and the Blood Vendetta. He won a Best First Novel Ned Kelly Award in 2000 for The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders. You can read a review of Inspector Anders and the Blood Vendetta.
Marshall Browne's publisher website.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 3, 2008 9:34 AM.

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