Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9mm interview: Garry Disher

One of the things that stuck out like a sore thumb, when looking back over the 9mm series thusfar a couple of months ago (when it was at 72 instalments) was that I'd been a little light on Australian crime writers - one out of 72 (okay, "a little light" is an understatement). As I was living in Australia for a bit this year, and became more exposed to Australian crime writing, both at the Sydney Writers Festival and beyond, I'm looking to rectify that moving forwards.

Thank you to those who've suggested authors they'd love to see included in the 9mm series as it moves forward. Along with Giles Blunt, who was featured in August, another highly requested crime writer was Australian Garry Disher, an award-winning and prolific author who has written almost 50 books across the crime, literary, history, children's and young adult genres. He has also written short stories and writing handbooks. For keen crime readers, Disher is best known for his Wyatt novels, as well as his Challis and Destry series. His crime novels are published in several countries and languages, have won awards in Australia and Europe, and been listed as a "Best Book of the Year" by Kirkus Reviews. After 13 novels across his two series since 1991, last year he published the standalone BITTER WASH ROAD to rave reviews.

But for now, Garry Disher becomes the 86th author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: An interview with Garry Disher

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
I’ve long enjoyed and admired John Sandford’s Prey novels featuring Lucas Davenport—but more for the sneaky plotting than the character of Davenport.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
I don’t remember my childhood books, but by the age of 10 I’d outgrown them, and there were no Young Adult novels in those days, so I went straight to adult novels, and enjoyed (without always understanding them) the James Bond thrillers, the war novel The Cruel Sea and some British ‘kitchen-sink’ realist novels like Room at the Top.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles? 
Before embarking on the Wyatt crime novels I’d published history textbooks, two novels, two story collections and dozens of short stories in literary magazines.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I like to watch crap American crime shows on TV (although these days much TV crime drama is first rate), read, watch films and walk on the beach.

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?
Apparently there exists an informal tourist trail that tracks down the Mornington Peninsula locations I employ in my Challis and Destry novels – such that I get comments like, ‘You know that nature reserve in Snapshot, well, I can’t find it’ and I have to reply that I’m writing fiction. So maybe people could look for what is real and what is imagined when they visit the place.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I’d be the generally overlooked but watchful guy at the edges of the main action, so maybe a character actor rather than a star.

7. Of your writings, published and unpublished, which is your favourite, and why?
My novel, THE SUNKEN ROAD, which sank without trace in Australia but was nominated for the Booker Prize by my English publisher.  It’s a ‘literary’ rather than genre novel, and takes risks with format and structure.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a online or physical bookseller’s shelf?
I probably celebrated with wine and a pizza with my girlfriend – I honestly don’t remember.  I always knew I’d be published, so it wasn’t overwhelming.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I once attended a festival with the children’s/Young Adult novelist Gary Crew. Someone (an adult) presented me with one of his books to sign, and I didn’t let on but scribbled in it, "...from the other Garry".

Thank you Garry. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch.


You can read more about Garry Disher and his books here:


Have you read Disher's Wyatt novels, or his other crime novels? Are you a fan of Australian crime writing?

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