Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot: Lucy Sussex

1. It's been some time now since you wrote a crime novel (THE SCARLET RIDER). Do you see yourself returning to the genre at any time in the future?

I already have -- two short stories, both of them revisiting crime stories from the 1860s. "New Ceres" had an interesting female detective, a French detecting Duchess, and I rewrote an 1866 Mary Fortune story around her, with a different whodunnit. That's "Mist and Murder" at The other came about because Paul Collins was putting together an anthology for schools on genre, and I got crime fiction. I again rewrote an 1860s crime story, Andrew Forrester's "The Unknown Weapon", putting it into modern dress. That's forthcoming. All of these are by-products of my research into the history of crime fiction. Currently I'm revising my book on the Mothers of Crime Writing for publication. In my spare time I have a Victorian female detective novel in (slow) progress, which being me involves string theory and werewolves.

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

Well, we're still negotiating the contract, so I can't talk about it. Non-fiction, I can say that. Travel. Involves my great-grandmother, intrepid traveller & collector of husbands.

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?

Historical yes--it was genuinely pioneering in the mid-19th, and there's been a lot of interesting stuff since then. I review, so I see a lot of crime fiction. Mostly it's the smaller names from overseas, who tend to be pretty bloody good. I think I got all of the last Golden Dagger shortlist, and have no argument about the winner, Peter Temple. There's various people around who should be better known. Dorothy Johnston, for instance. Diverting into true crime--Stephanie Bennett should have won shitloads of awards with the Gatton Murders, and it's a terrible shame that she didn't. Grahame Hurley's Portsmouth mysteries. Qiu Xiaolong paints a great, Dickensian picture of modern China. You meant Australian? Hmn. I haven't got fannish & excited about anything new & local in the last couple of years, but who knows what will turn up in the review envelope tomorrow?

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

I would like every publisher to spend more money on editing -- it's criminal how books are sent into the world with a hem down, or a bra-strap showing. The standard overseas is super-high and if they're cheap with the editing it'll just hurt the author's reputation in the long run. I'd like to see some more film/tv of Australian crime fiction. Preferably gritty & filthy.

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

Intertextuality rools, ok? Given the vogue for real characters as detectives I'd like to posit Ellen (Mrs Henry) Wood as detective in a legal thriller. Although known as a formidably respectable Victorian novelist, she was a major developer of the clue-puzzle in long form. She also had an uncanny ability to read a crime in a newspaper & predict whodunnit. Her son quotes her as saying if she had been male she would have been a good lawyer, something impossible for girls in the early C19th. Kerry Greenwood agrees that Mrs Henry Wood for the prosecution is a truly scary thought. I'd like to pit Ellen against Rumpole for the defence and watch the fur fly.


Lucy Sussex is the author of The Scarlet Rider. She has also written a number of sf and children's stories.
The Lucy Sussex website

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 3, 2008 12:46 PM.

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