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Category: Crime Talk

New Crime Imprint: Interview With Alisa Krasnostein (Publisher)

Marianne talks to Alisa Krasnostein about her crime imprint, Deadlines.

Marianne: Why did you decide to broaden the Twelfth Planet Press scope with your new imprint?

Alisa: The plan was always to broaden the scope of TPP into imprints for other genres. TPP is now 5 years old and it feels like the right time to expand and reach out to new readers. And most importantly, I came across the right crime novel for me to debut the imprint.

Marianne: Can you tell us what kind of crime novels you’re looking for with Deadlines?

Alisa: Like everything I publish, I’m looking for dynamic and original works that push boundaries to question, engage and enthrall. I look for strong, polished work that typically sits outside the interests of mainstream publishing. I’m not interested in gratuitous violence, misogyny and gore or sex scenes for shock value.

Marianne: Who can submit and how?

Alisa: We had an open submissions period in January which included scope for crime fiction. That period has closed and we’re still finalising the
remaining manuscripts submitted during that time. I’m currently developing some future projects for Deadlines and expect to be announcing those later on in the year. All the information will be posted on the Twelfth Planet Press website for now.

Marianne: Can you tell us anything about your first release?

Alisa: A Trifle Dead, by Livia Day, is fast paced, funny, very fashionable and hip and filled with the most delicious recipes imaginable. I recommend reading this with a well stocked pantry and fridge or in your favourite cafe. Here’s the blurb:

Tabitha Darling has always had a dab hand for pastry and a knack for getting into trouble. Which was fine when she was a tearaway teen, but not so useful now she’s trying to run a hipster urban cafe, invent the perfect trendy dessert, and stop feeding the many (oh so unfashionable) policemen in her life.

When a dead muso is found in the flat upstairs, Tabitha does her best (honestly) not to interfere with the investigation, despite the cute Scottish blogger who keeps angling for her help. Her superpower is gossip, not solving murder mysteries, and those are totally not the same thing, right?

But as that strange death turns into a string of random crimes across the city of Hobart, Tabitha can’t shake the unsettling feeling that maybe, for once, it really is ALL ABOUT HER.

And maybe she’s figured out the deadly truth a trifle late…

Marianne: What are your long terms plans for TPP?

Alisa: To keep growing and evolving and to keep publishing exciting, new and engrossing work.

 

Kylie Fox 2011 Top 5 Reads

Eona – Alison Goodman     The perfect sequel to the perfect book. Oh, to write just one sentence as well as Alison. <sigh>

The Brotherhood – YA Erskine        It’s not too often that a crime novel surprises me – this one did. I’m still raving about it to anyone who’ll listen.

Burn Bright and Angel Arias – Marianne de Pierres     Ok, I cheated and put the two together. Sue me! The world building is beyond compare.

The People Next Door – Christopher Ransom        One of my new favourite authors – nobody creates a mood, particularly one of darkness, quite like him.

11:22:63 – Stephen King        What can I say? A brick of Kingly goodness. The perfect way to end a year of fantastic reads.

Janette's Keeping It Real: Location, location, location!

Location, location, location

Article by: Janette Dalgliesh

I have a confession to make. I’d love to be a fearless traveller, jet-setting my way around the world, getting to know the intimate secrets of exotic cities and distant locations, trekking Nepal or riding bareback across Mongolia.

But the reality is, I like my pillow too much. I might talk it up big, but scratch the surface and I want five-star comfort, my own hire car, decent roads and an early night with a good book.

I’m not much of a traveller.

The good news is, I don’t have to be. I watch loads of documentaries that take me deep into remote rainforests, up impossible mountain heights and across windswept savannah. But my favourite way to virtual-travel, without a doubt, is between the pages of good crime fiction.

Location can appear so powerfully in crime fiction that it almost becomes a character in the story. For me, a strong sense of place is not essential in other kinds of fiction. As long as I have enough visual information to imagine the characters and figure out what they’re doing, it doesn’t usually matter what city or village or paddock they’re in.

But with crime fiction, that sense of place is enthralling. And without it, a book just won’t do it for me. Obviously that’s one reason I’m a fan of Tara Sharp, with her connection to the rarely-explored and rich variety that is Perth, one of my favourite cities in the world!

So why is location important? To begin with, from a purely practical point of view, the local legal system matters. Can civilians carry weapons? What powers do police or private investigators have? Are vigilantes accepted and encouraged? What other agencies – government or otherwise – might exist? Which drugs are legal, or at least decriminalised? How about prostitution? Bioethical issues?

At a deeper level, location provides a connection to the cultural and political landscape through which our heroes move, and the societal norms that prevail. What gender roles are standard? Are there tensions between the rhetoric of law-and-order and the reality of widespread corruption? Is there a war brewing, or are we in the aftermath of one? How are children viewed—as rare and precious beings, or a cheap and easy workforce?

Each of these can provide key narrative elements for a writer, in endless combinations.

But for me, the best part of a good location is the visceral, sensual flavour of it. The tiny details which bring a place to life. The crawling traffic. The hot dry dust. The frozen wastes. The malls and diners, the scrubby bush, the pubs and theatres and churches and brothels and dives.

Shane Maloney’s version of Melbourne is very like the real Melbourne that I’m familiar with, and he draws it for the reader with fine dexterity, backed up by excellent research. For his bumbling amateur detective, Murray Whelan, the political climate isn’t just a backdrop; it’s a crucial part of his life. Whelan connects with, and gets embroiled in, a variety of typically Melbourne sub-cultures. The older, darker forces of the union movement, the incestuous world of arts politics and the worst of sleazy sports corruption all come under the microscope—and they do it in ways that unmistakeably spell out “Melbourne”. This isn’t just about geography or the layout of a park; it’s about the soul of the place and I love to visit!

Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody books have a similar effect on me, even though her Egypt is that of the 1890s through to the 1920s, now long gone. She takes us from the archaeological digs of Dashur, Amarna and Luxor, replete with heat, sand and musty, bat-filled burial chambers, to the filth-strewn back alleys of Cairo and the colonial extravagances of Shepheard’s Hotel. I know this is fiction, but it resonates with my childhood memory of the old Semiramis Hotel, where I stayed in an opulent suite with my mother, and our trip to the Great Pyramids. That faint echo between her fictional, historical Egypt and the Egypt of my own  history, is sufficient to let me relax into the rest of her locations.

Alexander McCall Smith has written several different series of books, each set in different locations. The location I’m familiar with is Edinburgh, home to his 44 Scotland Street series. His description of “…the towering stone edifice of Warrender Park Terrace, with its giddy attic windows breaking out of the steep slate roofs…” takes me straight back my time in that city. I even lived in an apartment building up four flights of stairs, exactly as described in the first novel, 44 Scotland Street—right down to the musty smell in the flatshare bedroom. Ah, memories…

So it’s not surprising that when I read his No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, I feel confident relaxing into his depiction of Botswana and the world of Mma Precious Ramotswe, where formality and good manners are the order of the day  and the mysteries can as easily be a missing dog, a husband devoured by a crocodile or even suspected muti killings. It’s a wonderfully exotic and deeply foreign place for this white-bread, London-born, middle-class girl.

Janet Evanovich’s version of New Jersey, as seen through her Stephanie Plum series, is no less exotic. Although Plum is a product of “the burg”, a respectable, all-American, blue-collar corner of Trenton, she embraces the fact that crazy drivers, armed madmen, sticky heat and unbreathable air are all part of the landscape in Jersey. I suspect I’d find Plum’s Jersey utterly terrifying, but I love to visit through the pages of Evanovich’s books.

Perhaps one day I’ll get my travelling mojo on, and visit Botswana and New Jersey, and all those other places detectives do their thing. But for now when I catch myself jonesing for somewhere different, I’ll take myself off to fiction-land.

Where do you like to go?

Janette's Keeping It Real: Any Schmo Can Do It!

Any Schmo Can Do It

Article by: Janette Dalgliesh

You don’t need to be a cop to catch the baddies any more. Well, to be honest, in crime fiction you never did—from Nero Wolfe to our own Tara Sharp, private investigators have been outsmarting both cops and crims for decades.

But I’ve never fancied the life of a PI, so I’ve been checking out other options. Here are my top picks.

Forensics

I could be a forensic anthropologist like Temperence Brennan from Bones, or perhaps one of the criminalists on CSI or a forensic pathologist like Megan Hunt from Body of Proof.

It seems that would let me interview suspects, wield a gun (even better if it’s comical), collect clues and get my hands on any amount of sexy high-tech gadgetry. Best of all, I’m likely to be surrounded by cops who just aren’t quite as smart as me, so I’ll get to explain the science to them in condescending tones, and that has to be fun.

We know that the real world of forensic science is far more exacting and less glamorous than fiction would suggest. But in the real world, forensics simply refers to any discipline being exercised in a legal setting, so there are any number of forensic possibilities as yet unexplored in fiction.

Perhaps there’s an opening for a series with a forensic accountant (Cashed Out) or a forensic astronomer (Death Stars)?  Perhaps not.

Psychologist

Although the cops and other agencies have their own profilers, the real fun happens when you let the civilians loose on the scene.

There’s the expert who can tell when you’re lying, like Tim Roth’s wonderfully eccentric Cal Lightman in Lie to Me. With a dodgy past and a distinctly personal set of morals, he loves nothing better than to outwit the cops.

Or how about The Mentalist, reformed carnie and scam artist, played by Australia’s own Simon Baker. He can manipulate and second-guess his way through any case. But his recent success in catching—and killing—the man who murdered his wife and kids will land him in jail.

And all that walking around in a murderer’s mind can’t be fun. Poor old Cracker was a train wreck of a man, and I’m sure his job had something to do with it. No, that’s not for me either.

Amateurs

I’m using the old meaning of the word amateur, from the same Latin expression that gives us the word amorous, is “someone who does something for the love of it”. Amateur sleuths do it for the love of it, not in order to get paid or because they have another agenda (such as doing research).

Here we find Miss Marple and Lord Peter Wimsey, pottering about the English countryside or the streets of London, investigating murders simply because they can.

Amelia Peabody fits here, too, along with her archaeologist husband Radcliffe Emerson. During expeditions to Egyptian digs, she and her family tumble in and out of murder, espionage and intrigue in a most satisfying way.

But the true amateur sleuth either has a job which supports and allows for their ratiocination (as Amelia would say); or has independent means. Which leaves me out of the picture.

Writer

Now that’s more like it! These are some of my favourite crime fighters—the WRITERS.

Jessica Fletcher kept the social order in Cabot Cove for many years, catching murderers left right and centre. And in Moose County, reporter and crime-writer Jim Qwilleran relies on the sixth sense of his Siamese cat Koko to help solve mysteries.

These days, bestselling crime writer Richard Castle (the gorgeous Nathan Fillion—pause for moment of fangirl distraction) has teamed up with cop Kate Beckett to keep murder to a minimum in New York City. In a dizzying display of circular promotions, a real novel entitled Heat Wave was released in 2009. The novel features a fictionalised version of the already fictional Castle (are you still with me?)—who enters into a partnership with Nikki Heat, the character inspired by (the fictitious) Castle’s own (fictitious) relationship with (fictitious) Kate Beckett. Now the (fictitious) Castle even has his own (real) website.

No, that’s all too complicated for me.

Solution

I’ve got it! I’m simply going to let the sleuths and PIs and consultants and cops and writers do their jobs, while I kick back and enjoy from the comfort of my couch. I can even yell the solution at the TV screen when I figure it out before they do. Perfect.

Spectating Detective.

That’s the job for me.