‘My Obliging Significant Other’ (Moso) is more your arty type than your literary type so I wasn’t entirely convinced he’d want to accompany me to yet another writers’ festival, (especially as it had been raining most of the week). It wasn’t until I mentioned the words: country roads, river crossings, vehicular ferry, pub lunch, dirt tracks, MUD that I sparked his interest. Ah, the power of words! At this point, I should mention Moso had just bought a Mistubishi Pajero 4 x 4
With my choice of words having done the trick and with a hand on heart promise I’d only attend a one hour crime writing session, we took the M2 out of Sydney and drove to the St Albans Writers’ Festival.
St Albans is a quaint, historical village on the Macdonald River, 118 kms north west of Sydney. It has links with the early colony of New South Wales (think convicts, early settlers, explorers, bushrangers etc)
The session I’d chosen to attend, ‘Writing Crime Fiction, with authors Barry Maitland, Michael Robotham, PM Newton and Nigel Bartlett’, was both informative and entertaining.
One of the topics the panel discussed was the importance of setting and place. Here is briefly what they had to say:
PM Newton: Pam knew she had the right character but after many re-writes she realised she’d put her character in the wrong book.
Barry Maitland: Barry finds the location first and sees the character in the place. This could be because he trained and practiced as an architect in a previous life. We are all shaped by a place as are out characters.
Nigel Bartlett: Nigel said place is multi- layered, it’s more than geography, also politics, people. Events could only happen in that place.
Michael Robotham: Michael said Place becomes a character. He also said the worst advice he’s ever been given was, ‘to write what you know.’ He said you should write what interests you, what fascinates you.
Gina Amos: In my mind the springboard for a story lies in the setting. During the planning stages of my books I begin with the location, followed by the crime. My writing project at the moment is a series of four crime novels set in Sydney. The seasons act as a backdrop to the life and career of a young female detective, Jill Brennan.