It was a good night. A decent sized crowd rocked up to Grumpy’s Green in Fitzroy to hear readings by Adrian McKinty, Leigh Redhead, David Whish Wilson and Megan Abbott. The jazz band After Dark My Sweet, were on fire. We even sold a few copies of the local edition of Crime Factory: The First Shift.
The highlight for me was meeting US noir author Megan Abbott. Not only is she a fantastic writer, she was incredibly generous with her time and thoughts about all things crime fiction and noir.
She read was from her upcoming book Dare Me. Dare Me is her most contemporary novel to date, set amongst the world of competitive cheerleading. I’d never thought about cheerleaders as akin to US servicemen or, better still, the modern American equivalent of gladiators. But talking to Megan about what inspired Dare Me, and the research she did for it, neither analogy sounds too far from the mark.
I can’t tell you how much I am dying to read it.
I won’t say anything more now. I managed to grab an hour before the launch to interview Megan for the next issue of Crime Factory. More details, plus an extract from Dare Me are also available on Megan’s website.
Megan wasn’t the only incredibly talented female author at the launch. Melbourne writer Leigh Redhead read from her first book, Peepshow, and gave us a wonderful little story about a punter who died in a strip club she’d worked in once. I suspect it’s not the first airing that tale has had, but it was the first time I’d heard it.
I’ve blogged on this site extensively about McKinty, Whish Wilson and Abbott. I finally got around to reading Peepshow in the lead-up to the Crime Factory Publications launch. Now I wonder why I waited so long to get into Redhead’s work.
The book is a great slice of home grown tart noir, a fast paced read that perfectly balances grit with humour. There’s lots of sex, country music and great characters. But two things about it are particularly worth commenting on from a critical perspective.
The stripper usually features as a background character in your average hard-boiled crime novel. It was good to read a crime yarn told from the perspective of one, by a writer who has worked in the adult industry and knows what she is talking about.
What I liked most about the book (which was first published in 2004) was the depiction of the bay side Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, which has since been changed massively by development and gentrification. A lot of people have gone on about the way that Shane Maloney writes about Melbourne. I found Redhead’s take far sharper and more interesting.
In addition to Peepshow, Simone Kirsh has appeared in Pie, Rubdown and Thrill City. The best starting point to find them is Leigh’s site.
By the way, if you couldn’t make the Crime Factory Publications Launch and are keen to get a copy of the local edition of the anthology, it’ll be available to Australian customers through our website in the coming days.