I grew up in a home bursting with books. My father was in the Royal Australian Air Force – we moved roughly every three years – and my parents were passionate advocates of reading and the importance of access to a library of ideas, no matter where we lived.
Between a childhood spent on the move yet steeped in literature, and a naturally dramatic personality, it’s no surprise I became a storyteller.
At home, and at libraries all over Australia, I read everything from Little Golden Books to The World Book Encyclopaedia. As my family moved so frequently, my companions wherever I went were the Pevensies of Narnia, a horse named Flicka and the Hardy Boys. I grew up with the characters created by Diana Wynne Jones as they too learned independence and responsibility. Miss Marple and the Dragonriders of Pern were always at my side.
Writers like Eric Frank Russell and Lois McMaster Bujold were as influential on my character and my writing as surely as Shakespeare and the Brontes. I’m still always picking up new influences, from modern writers like Emily Larkin and Neil Gaiman as well as classics by PG Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Before you figure I am always and forever reading, I’m a traveller too. My early years spent moving from state to state led to itchy feet. After moving out of the family home, I lived in Perth, then met Tim Richards and we decided to have adventures of our own. We moved to Egypt to teach English as a Foreign Language, then went on to Poland.
After we finished teaching, we kept travelling: we’ve been to the UK and US, to Thailand, Germany, Hungary, Syria, Jordan, France, Italy, Slovenia, Czech, and Canada – and we’re not done travelling yet.
The places I’ve visited – London, Hungary, Canada – often appear in my work, but the home of my heart is the place I write about most often.
Melbourne, Australia. The town we chose to live in always. The city I love so much she is practically a character in her own right in books like The Opposite of Life and short stories like Near Miss. I even researched the Marvellous Melbourne of the 1890s for my Holmes♥Watson romance, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy.
Given my background and all my literary influences, it’s hardly astonishing that my storytelling is eclectic: crime, adventure, fantasy, horror and romance – separately or combined.
For all the different genres I write in, everything I write generally includes the same tone and the same type of themes. They are full of the families one is born with and the families we make for ourselves. The protagonists all face challenges they’ve made for themselves as well as external threats that test them. They’re full of people who’ve made mistakes who seek to learn and to make better choices.
Whether you’re reading a vampire adventure in modern Melbourne, a Holmesian mystery in London or a racy lesbian romance in the Middle East, you’ll find humour, heart, friendships and love.
I told The Local Lowdown in the Weekly Review about my favourite places in Melbourne in the April 14 City edition.