Category Archives: Melbourne Writers Festival

Melbourne Writers Festival: Adrian McKinty & Australia’s pulp history

GoneThe Melbourne Writers Festival is upon us and I’ve got a a few slots in the program I wanted to pull on your coats about.

This coming Wednesday, August 27, I’ll be in conversation with crime writer, Adrian McKinty at St Kilda Library. I have written a bit about McKinty on this site, including reviews of his books Falling Glass, and his Shane Duffy trilogy, The Cold, Cold Ground, I Hear the Sirens in the Streets, and In the Morning I’ll Be Gone,  and his latest stand alone, The Sun Is God, and I’m looking forward to talking with him in person.

It’ll be a pretty relaxed affair and it is free. Proceedings will kick off at 6.30pm.

Also, join me on August 30 at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, for a walk down the dimly lit back alleys of the lost world of Australian pulp paperback publishing.

For a few decades in the second half of last century, Australia’s pulp scene burned brightly with tales of jaded gumshoes, valiant servicemen and women, sexually bored housewives, jazzed up beatniks, daring spies, and violent youth gangs.

It was disposable fiction, designed for a coat pocket or bag, to be read quickly, and discarded.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Outback Heiress

Outback Heiress Horwitz 1963

“Her past was a secret but she couldn’t hide her feelings for this daredevil cropduster!”

It wasn’t just men who wrote for Australia’s burgeoning pulp publishing industry in the fifties, sixties and seventies, many women did, too.

One of these was Irena Dickman AKA Rena Cross, the author of today’s Pulp Friday contribution, Outback Heiress, published by Sydney company Horwitz in 1963.

Biographical details for Dickman, like many local pulp authors, are thin on the ground. She was born in England and arrived in Australia in 1950. She appears to have been one of the stable of local writers put together by Horwitz in the early sixties.

The Austlit site credits her with twenty books. Her subjects included nurse and doctor yarns and torrid tales set in Sydney’s Kings Cross. The latter include Model School (publishing in 1963 under the pseudonym Christine James) and Flat 4 Kings Cross (three editions of which were published, in 1963, 1965 and 1966, under the name Geoffrey Tolhurst).

The Keys of Corruption another of her books (written as Rena Crane), was an Australian take on one of pulp’s favourite obsessions in the sixties – wife swapping.

If this post has piqued your interest about Australian pulp, join me on August 30 at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, for an illustrated talk about the hidden history of Australian pulp publishing in the fifties, sixties and seventies, part of the Melbourne Writers Festival.… Read more

The lost world of Australian pulp paperback fiction at the Melbourne Writers Festival

Kings Cross Black Magic Horwitz Publications 1965

Part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, join me on August 30 at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, for a walk down the dimly lit back alleys of the lost world of Australian pulp paperback publishing.

For a few decades in the second half of last century, Australia’s pulp scene burned brightly with tales of jaded gumshoes, valiant servicemen and women, sexually bored housewives, jazzed up beatniks, daring spies, and violent youth gangs.

It was disposable fiction, designed for a coat pocket or bag, to be read quickly, and discarded. But it also offers a fascinating keyhole glimpse into Australian society’s subconscious and not so subconscious desires, obsessions and fears in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

I’ll be talking about some of the authors, how they worked, what they wrote and why the era of pulp ended. Accompanying the talk will be a selection of covers from my personal collection. The lurid, the profane, the weird, I’ll be showcasing them all in glorious colour.

Tickets are $22/$19 and can be purchased from the MWF website here.

I hope to see you there.