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‘Ice-pick-sharp, packed with intrigue, action and spine-chilling suspense. Devour will keep you gripped from the very first page’ Kathryn Fox

Larkin's Latest

Welcome to my blog, Larkin’s Latest. News on thriller authors and great books to read, the writing process and festivals, incredible people I interview and exciting story locations, courses I run, and things that make me laugh!

I take my hat off to great teaching

October 29, 2012

I was privileged to give at talk at St Kevins primary school recently and the Northern District Times has done a lovely news piece on the day. I take my hat off to the insightful teaching at Brett Salakis who encourages his young students to problem-solve and to think about what might be issues of the future. I was there talking about Antarctica and climate change as one of the threats facing this huge continent, and indeed the whole planet. The children were really enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. I came away feeling that there really is hope we can solve the weighty issues facing us all. St Kevins appears ready for the challenge.

To read the story click here.

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radio marinara

October 25, 2012

Thanks to Bron for a great chat on 3RRR on 21st October at 9:30am, about Thirst, my time in Antarctica and what I discovered about ice and Antarctica’s oceans…

Follow this link to the Podcast. As this is of the whole morning show, you can find the start of the interview by forwarding to 23:01 and clicking play. Enjoy!

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last thriller writing course of the year starts tomorrow evening

October 24, 2012

 

 

 

 

If you have been thinking about trying your hand at thriller writing, then take the plunge and enroll in the Sydney Writers’ Centre’s last thriller writing course of the year, which kicks off tomorrow evening at 6:30pm and runs for 5 weeks. By Christmas you could be on your way to writing a best-selling thriller!

If you come along you’ll learn:

  • the eight “must haves” of a good thriller
  • how to find the story you want to tell
  • story structure, and how to incorporate key turning points
  • character creation – attributes, motivations
  • how to craft the all important opening lines
  • the dos and don’ts of action scenes
  • building pace and suspense
  • how to craft a satisfying climax
  • what literary agents/publishers look for in a thriller. 

Here’s a link to the site and I very much hope you will join me:http://sydneywriterscentre.com.au/thrillerwriting.htm

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talking to HSC literture students on crime writing has got me thinking…

On 14th November I will be addressing HSC literature students at the Wesley Conference Centre on the topic of crime writing and I am really looking forward to it. Crime writing is an elective HSC subject and the students must answer one question on the set texts (which includes P.D.James’ The Skull Beneath The Skin) and one that is creative crime writing.

As I prepare my speech I find myself playing with ideas on three main themes:

  1. how crime fiction encompasses a very broad range of sub-genres today
  2. why crime fiction, and particularly thrillers, tap into the hot issues of our time
  3. how the cultural background of the authors influences their presentation of right and wrong: is a government assassin the hero or the villain?

As I see it, what all crime fiction has in common is:

  • A crime has taken place or will take place
  • The hero or heroine must defeat the villain (note, hero is almost always successful – but not always)

But what fascinates me is that whilst the detective, PI or forensic expert is still hugely popular there are so many heroes from other areas of expertise: journalists, psychiatrists, doctors, military, hey, even a glaciologist.

What I find even more fascinating is how the big social, political and, more recently, environmental issues of our time are key themes in crime fiction.

So why does crime fiction tend to tap into social, political and environmental issues, more than other popular genres? Is it because the authors are all crazy left wing political activists who need a soap box? Hmm, I don’t think so. The crime fiction genre naturally taps into these issues because they are stories about a crime or potential crime, and what a good crime novel will do is explore the culture, the background, the childhood and so on of the villain and ask why that person has their world view, however sick or warped it might be. How they come to believe that what they are doing is right? What kind of world does a terrorist come from? Who has taught him or her to think that way? Why do they see no other option? Or what kind of world allows priests to abuse children or young adults to take a gun to school and kill as many of their school mates as possible? As the detective tries to discover ‘whodunit’, a good crime fiction novel will reveal, slowly and gradually, the killer’s world view and motivation. By doing so, the author reveals the issue at the heart of the story as well as bringing the reader a well-rounded, believable villain. A villain who is evil simply because he is, really doesn’t make for a credible character, in my opinion.

Anyway, I’ll keep any further details of my talk to myself until I’ve had a chance to share it with the students attending. Only fair they get to hear it first. But if you have any thoughts on these topics, I’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment below.

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Telling Truths: crime fiction and national allegory

October 18, 2012

I am over the moon today because I have been invited to present a paper at the University of Wollongong’s crime fiction convention on 6 – 8th December 2012. As a thriller author I will focus on how thrillers reveal the truth about global social, political and more recently environmental issues facing the world today. I will use Ian Rankin to frame how I see one of the key differences between thrillers and procedural crime fiction:

“In the crime novel it’s more of an internalised chase, one detective up against one individual, you’re very much inside the head of the detective and you’re fairly static, you’re not shifting all over the globe.
When you come to the thriller, what you tend to have is some kind of wide ranging conspiracy involving governments or terrorists, and you tend to have an ordinary person who’s thrown into this and has to try to make sense of it, so you get this externalised chase which goes all over the globe.”
Thrillers tend to tap into big picture, global issues which are key to the story and the hero must prevent the catastrophic event from happening or save people from a terrible injustice, be it the assassination of a U.S. president (David Baldacci’s The Innocent) or a pharmaceutical company experimenting on unsuspecting Africans (John Le Carre’s The Constant Gardener) or the exploitation of the world’s resources threatening the lives of millions (my own thriller, Thirst) or the abuse of women in Sweden (the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy).

I will reveal how the underlying themes in thrillers reflect the fears of the time and why, perhaps, so many people choose to buy thrillers as a way of dealing with those fears.

To find out more about the convention, which is open to the public, please go to this site:

http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/research/istr/UOW121005.html

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