Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: Sam Hawken, author of The Dead Women of Juarez

The Dead Women of Juarez was one of my favourite summer reads of 2012. It’s a hard-boiled crime novel set against the backdrop of the real life horror taking place in the Mexican city of Juárez, across the US border, where as many as 5000 women have been murdered since 1993.

I recently posted a review of this book here. The book’s author, Sam Hawken, was kind enough to agree to answer some questions by e-mail from Texas about his work.

What was the inspiration for writing The Dead Women of Juárez?

The story of the dead women is inspiration all by itself. I first found out about the problem while visiting Amnesty International’s site looking for something else entirely and immediately I thought it would make for a good story. It’s hard to beat real life when you’re coming up with ways people make other people miserable.

One of the things I liked about your book was the way you were able to set a hard boiled crime story against the backdrop of such horrific real life events, without trivialising or sensationalising them. Crime fiction is an excellent way of holding up a mirror to society’s problems but it can be hard to do. Was that something you were conscious of when you were writing and was it difficult to pull off?Read more

Interview: Timothy Hallinan

The Queen of Patpong is the the fourth book by Timothy Hallinan set in Thailand featuring the character of Poke Rafferty, a Filipino Irish PI, but the first one I’ve read. As the book opens, Rafferty is living peacefully enough in Bangkok with his ex-bar girl wife Rose and Miaow, a young street kid they have more or less adopted. Until a very bad man called Howard Horner enters the story. He’s a security contractor in Afghanistan with a link to Rose’s past as a prostitute. Most of the book is an extended journey through Rose’s past, starting when she was a young girl called Kwan living in a poor village in the Thai countryside, through to her journey into the sex trade in Bangkok.

It’s one of the most interesting and unusual crime novels I’ve read recently. Tim was kind enough to answer some questions about his work for Pulp Curry.

I’ve just finished reading The Queen of Patpong. It’s your fourth Poke Rafferty book, but the first I’ve read. What made you want to set a crime novel in Thailand?

I’ve lived there off and on for 30 years, and it’s the most interesting city I know – just a total collision between sleaze and spirit, luxury and poverty, sprawl (it’s the third-biggest city in the world in terms of area) and small towns, because a lot of the little neighborhoods that make it up were once towns that the city ate, and they remain very insular. Read more

Interview: David Whish-Wilson, part 2

Below is part two of the interview with David Whish-Wilson, the WA based author of Line of Sight. Part one of the interview can be viewed here.

Is the history that you based Line of Sight on well known within WA? What was the reaction locally to the book?

The murder of Shirley Finn is probably Perth’s most notorious unsolved murder, notorious because of the persistent (and correct) rumours of police involvement. You might even say that Shirley’s murder has achieved the status of myth – the kind of myth that develops when there’s so little on the public record, and which functions to fill in the gaps left by unanswered questions. As a writer, of course, that frontierland between truth and fiction and myth and legend is an interesting region to explore. The good news is that Line of Sight has been very well received over here, and it’s gratifying to have been contacted on a number of occasions by ex-policemen and ex-prostitutes and others from the period who have expressed their satisfaction that finally this story has been told in a fairly truthful manner, even if it’s a work of fiction.

I did toss up whether to write the murder of Shirley Finn as a work of fiction, or of non-fiction, and in the end decided for a couple of reasons to write it as a novel, primarily because there’s so little on the public record about her murder, and specifically because people are still very afraid to speak on the record.… Read more

David Whish-Wilson Interview part 1

David Whish-Wilson’s Line of Sight was one of my favourite crime fictions reads of 2010. A re-telling of the events following the murder of a notorious Perth brothel madam, Shirley Finn, the book deals with crime and corruption in seventies WA. It’s a fantastic piece of hard-boiled noir writing, unusual for the Australian scene. I’m obviously not the only person singing it’s praises, as Line of Sight is in the running for best first fiction book in the upcoming Ned Kelly Awards.

A review of Line of Sight appeared on Pulp Curry last year. Since then, I’ve been hassling David for an interview. A few weeks ago we finally pulled it off. As finding a time to talk by phone proved difficult, David very generously agreed to provide written answers via e-mail to my questions. His detailed responses are fascinating, particularly to someone such as myself with little knowledge of life in the West. Instead of cutting them back, I decided to run the interview in two parts. Part two will appear tomorrow.

Line of Sight takes as its starting point the real life murder in the seventies of a Perth brothel madam called Shirley Finn (known as Ruby Devine in the book). How did you come across the story of Finn and what made you think it would make the premise of a good crime story?Read more

Interview: Garry Disher

Garry Disher is a veteran of the Australian crime-writing scene. He is the author a series of books featuring the professional hold-up man known as Wyatt. Disher wrote six Wyatt novels in the nineties and a seventh was recently released by Text and took out the top prize in the 2010 Ned Kelly awards. Disher has also authored a number of books featuring Hal Challis and Ellen Destry, two police working on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular, about an hour’s drive southeast of Melbourne, where Disher also lives. I talked to him for the issue 5 of Crime Factory about the difference between writing hard-boiled characters and police procedurals, why after over a ten-year break he decided to write another Wyatt book and the state of crime fiction in Australia.

It’s been over 10 years since the last Wyatt book, Fallout in 1997. Why the break and what inspired you to give Wyatt another outing after such a long time?

The break was to try and get established with the new series of police procedurals, the Challis and Destry books, which for me was a completely different way of looking at plot and structure. I wanted a break from Wyatt because there was basically one book a year and I thought I might get stale on them.… Read more