Tuesday, July 22, 2014

9mm interview with PM Newton

As I pointed out in my blog post last week, strangely I have only covered one Australian author so far in the 9mm series. This wasn't a conscious thing, just the way it unfolded with various interviews and opportunities cropping up. However, since I made the move to Sydney several weeks ago, after a year of travels and other random times, I've found myself reconnecting with the Antipodean crime fiction scene, this time with a slight Aussie twist (don't worry, it's revitalised me to remain plugged in with all things Kiwi crime fiction too).

I've already been sent several Australian crime novels to review, and met some new-to-me Australian crime writers at the Sydney Writers Festival in May. One of those was former NSW police detective PM Newton, who garnered a lot of well-deserved acclaim for her debut THE OLD SCHOOL, and whose sophomore novel, BEAMS FALLING was released earlier this year. I really enjoyed that latter book - Newton has a terrific, exciting writing style (read my review here).

And now, PM Newton stares down the barrel of 9mm, in the series 74th instalment.

9MM: An interview with PM Newton

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Detective Emmanuel Cooper the lead protagonist of Malla Nunn’s series set in 1950s South Africa. He’s a fabulous lead who combines a lot of the expected tropes of crime fiction with some really unique characteristics. Damaged from his experiences in WWII he becomes a classic outsider/insider within South African society as it goes through the experience of apartheid being codified into law. Cooper faces the moral challenge of seeking justice in a fundamentally unjust world.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Probably the Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell. I was a horse mad kid and these were the first books about horses that I read which were not set in England but in the high country of the Snowy Mountains, with wallabies and wattle instead of fox hunting and village fetes.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) - unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I’d written about music and travel. I had gone to Mali because I loved the music and ended up working with a Malian music producer, taking photographs for the album covers and helping out with translating lyrics and writing the CD liner notes. My first big break was having an article with my photos published in a travel magazine about a trip I made to Timbuktu. I then wrote a crime novel that didn’t work, followed by a SciFi novel that didn’t work, before I returned to the crime novel and realised that I had the right character (Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelly) but she was in the wrong book.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I like to swim at North Sydney Olympic Pool and walk (and run very slowly) around the harbour bushland reserves of Berry Island and Balls Head. Nothing more lovely than being in amongst those stands of Sydney Red Gums and sandstone of the headlands, sitting and looking at the water, drinking coffee, reading, making notes on ideas. I’m a cricket tragic so I love going to test cricket in summer and watching it in the dead of night on TV during our winter. I love really good TV drama, so box sets like BSG or The Wire will keep me very happy.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Take a walk around those harbour headlands – on Berry Island walk the Gadyan Track, you can see rock carvings, shell middens, you can get a real sense of how beautiful this place is, was, has always been, and consider our place in it and the place of those who loved it long before we arrived.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
A question I have honestly never considered. I’m more interested in who could play my character Ned, as any TV talk has always tended to go along the lines of how ‘difficult’ it would be to cast an Australian/Vietnamese woman. And that just makes me cross, because after all this time there ought to be HEAPS of young actors who we could ‘see’ in that role. The fact that we can’t is pretty shameful.

7. Of your writings, which is your favourite, and why?
The one I haven’t written yet, because while it’s in that nascent, thinking about it, filled with potential stage, it’s still perfect.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication?
Not what I expected really. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful agent, Sophie Hamley from Cameron’s handling it all because I ended up with quite a few offers and found myself in the situation of having to choose. I’d anticipated I’d be lucky to have ‘a’ publisher interested and I’d just be pathetically grateful. Instead I felt quite stressed. Would I make the right choice? Would the ones I didn’t choose hate me, etc. Once I’d finally made the decision it was more a sense of nervous exhaustion rather than elation.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had thus far as an author, at a writers festival or other public appearance?
Finishing a really good In Conversation event with a marvellous interlocutor then throwing it open to audience questions and the first question being great admiration for my shoes and where did I buy them ….. But I’ve not been at this too long. I’m sure there will be more.

Thank you PM Newton! We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch


You can read more about PM Newton and her novels here:


Have you read OLD SCHOOL or BEAMS FALLING? What do you think of detective Nhu "Ned" Kelly and the Sydney setting? Are you a fan of Australian crime fiction?

No comments:

Post a Comment