Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Antarctic research and green room misogyny: an interview with LA Larkin

Kia ora and haere mai, welcome to the 35th instalment of 9mm for 2018, and the 207th overall edition of our long-running author interview series.

Thanks for reading over the years. I've had tonnes of fun chatting to some amazing  writers and bringing their thoughts and stories to you.

You can check out the full list of of past interviewees here. If you've got a favourite writer who hasn't yet been featured yet, let me know in the comments or by message, and I'll look to make that happen for you.

Today I'm very pleased to welcome 'British-Australian' thriller writer LA (Louisa) Larkin to Crime Watch. She is the author of several action-packed thrillers which take readers to fascinating locales. Her storytelling has been likened to Michael Crichton by The Guardian and Alistair MacLean by The Times. I grew up loving the tales of Alistair MacLean (my father recommended him to me as an adolescent), that wonderful combination of exciting, page-turning tales that took me as a reader into fascinating new-to-me worlds. Louisa is herself an adventurer at heart, and brings those sensibilities to her thriller writing. In the video below she talks about the inspiration for DEVOUR.


Born in England, Louisa studied literature at the University of London’s Royal Holloway College. Now living in Australia, she's worked in a variety of corporate careers, including for one of Australia's leading climate change consultancies. Her passion for the environment comes through in the thrillers, which are globally minded and weave in 'big issues' among the page-turning threats.

Louisa spent time in Antarctica as research for her two thrillers set there, THIRST and DEVOUR. The latter introduces journalist Oliva Wolfe, and was inspired by a real-life British Antarctic expedition that planned to drill 3km into the ice in search of ancient life that had never had any human contact. Louisa also writes humorous animal mysteries under the name Louisa Bennett.

But for now, LA Larkin becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH LA LARKIN

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
I don’t have a favourite and I have a very wide taste in reading. I’ve loved James Rollins’ Sigma Force series, not just because I love adventure stories but because Commander Gray Pierce develops across the series. At the other end of the reading spectrum I have really enjoyed Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series set in and around London about a Met police officer who becomes the only apprenticed wizard in England and has to solve spiritual crime. I’m big on strong female central characters as crime fiction heroes, so of course I adore the trailblazing Jane Tennison, and more recently, Meg Gardiner’s Caitlin Hendrix character.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Famous Five and Secret Seven = adventure.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I’ve written little stories and poems since I was a child, but always kept them to myself. I once adapted Joseph Conrad’s lesser known novel, Arrow of Gold, into a play. My first manuscript was my first published novel, The Genesis Flaw.

4. Outside of writing, touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Swimming, Pilates, Spin, Zumba, walking the dogs and traveling to remote locations like Antarctica or volunteering at a South African wildlife reserve. When I’m exhausted with all that, I read novels.

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?
I live in Sydney, Australia, which is an amazing place. But I think visitors should get out of Sydney and take a beach house in Jervis Bay, or enjoy the wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, or trek through the Blue Mountains.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I always did like a challenge!

7. Of your writings, which is your favourite or particularly special, and why?
The new one I’m working on, which I can’t tell you about. I can tell you why. Because it’s the most challenging book I’ve ever written and it touches my heart every time I sit down to write it.

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 bookseller’s shelf?
First question: Squeal, followed by a glass of wine.
Second question: Squeal, followed by a glass of wine.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
I was on a panel at a writers’ festival and in the green room, waiting for our panel discussion to start. I went to join my fellow panellists. One of them looked around and said he wondered when L.A. Larkin would turn up. I said I was already here. He looked shocked, then proceeded to tell me that if he’d known I was female he wouldn’t have read my action thriller. Apparently, women just can’t write this kind of thriller! I couldn’t believe it.


Thank you Louisa, we appreciate you chatting to Crime Watch. 

You can read more about LA Larkin and her books at her website, and follow her on Twitter. 

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