What: A crime writer, freelance journalist and pulp fiction scholar. His first novel, GHOST MONEY, a crime story set in mid-nineties Cambodia, appeared in 2012. His second novel, GUNSHINE STATE, was published by 280 Steps in September. His short fiction has appeared in a number of print and online publications, including Beat to a Pulp Hardboiled 3, Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels, Phnom Penh Noir and the 2016 anthology of Australian crime fiction, Crime Scenes : Stories.
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
GUNSHINE STATE was one hell of a read! Tell us a little about how this book came together.
Thanks. GUNSHINE STATE is the fusion of two literary ambitions.
Firstly, I love a good heist story but not a lot of them have appeared on the local crime fiction scene. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing what I hope is a quintessentially Australian take on the heist genre and GUNSHINE STATE is it.
Second, there was a period in my life several years ago when, for various family reasons, I was spending a lot of time in Surfers Paradise, a city in the sub-tropical south of the Australian state of Queensland, where a decent chunk of GUNSHINE STATE is set. For US readers, Surfers is a very strange place. It was a small settlement hacked out of mangroves swamps in the forties that by the sixties had become Australia’s foremost beach holiday destination. It was modelled on similar places in Florida, so it has this weird faux Miami vibe, traces of which are still visible. Nowadays, the local authorities promote Surfers as a family friendly destination, but it has a very shady history.
From the sixties to the mid-eighties, Queensland was run by a group of corrupt cops known as the ‘Rat Pack’, who were involved in everything from prostitution, drug trafficking and illegal gambling, to political intimidation and murder. Surprisingly, only a handful of Australian crime novels have touched on the darker aspects of Queensland’s history, and spending time there, I decided I wanted to add to that list.