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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!

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Chance favours only the prepared mind

July 17, 2018

At ThrillerFest 2018 the wonderful Karin Slaughter used a quote from Louis Pasteur which really sums up what this writers’ festival is all about: preparing authors to be great authors.

I’m lucky enough to have had four books published: three with Hachette and one with Harper Collins. I have two new manuscripts. I’ve attended many writers’ festival in the UK and Australia. This was my first time at ThrillerFest and I have never felt so inspired. I learnt a lot, not just about how to make my writing better, but how to manage the business of being an author. I met new authors I hope will remain friends for life. I met best selling authors like Lee Child, Meg Gardiner, Steve Berry and James Rollins. All, without exception, were generous with their time and advice, and above all, inclusive and welcoming. Being an author can be a lonely business, and it’s great to be reminded that we are part of a warm and friendly author community.

Over the next few blog posts, I’d like to share with you some of the insights I gained from this experience and also some of the funny stories.

I’m going to start with the mega authors panel of Lee Child, Robert Dugoni, Peter James, Lynda La Plante and Karin Slaughter. This had to be one of the funniest panel discussions I attended. Why? Because they are consummate entertainers. Let me give some examples. Lee Child has an hilarious dry wit. The panel was asked about literary authors and whether they looked down on thriller authors. Lee jumped straight in. Thrillers keep publishers solvent. Sales from thrillers enable literary authors to do what they love. Literary authors are, he said with a wry smile on his face, ‘the barnacles on our boat.’ The audience loved it. Peter James was asked about how he went from a few thousand copies sold to millions. He replied, ‘You have to live a long time,’ then went on to tell us the ups and downs of his writing career.

The panelists’ stories of rejection and near-disaster reminded us all that the path to success as a writer is rocky, even for the best sellers. Robert Dugoni talked about his early career. His first few books didn’t do well. In fact, he was at ThrillerFest some years ago when his publisher told him he was being dropped. Robert had to reinvent himself as an author. It wasn’t until My Sister’s Grave that he got his big break.

Lynda La Plante stressed that ‘rejection does not mean no.’ Her first Jane Tennison novel was rejected many times because there was a female central character. But she kept going. Peter James’ first book, Dead Letter Drop, only sold 1800 copies in the UK. He switched from action thrillers to detective stories after he was burgled and the police officer who investigated the crime offered Peter help with police procedural information. This led to Peter’s hugely successful DSI Roy Grace series.

My final take-out from this panel is to pay attention to how the great thriller authors write but don’t be afraid to do what your heart is telling you to do. As Lee Child said, ‘a book needs the author’s personal integrity.’ He said, ‘the spark and life can be beaten out of it if you listen to everyone. We are all waiting for the next big thing, not the same thing reinvented.’

If you have any thoughts or questions on this post, please post them on my Facebook or Twitter sites. I’d love to help.

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Win 3 signed copies of my books in time for Xmas

November 1, 2017

WIN three thrillers!
If you haven’t yet subscribed to my quarterly newsletter which gives readers exclusive offers and sneak previews, now is the time.
Click on my website, and subscribe before December 17 2017, and you could win signed copies of my thrillers Devour, Thirst and The Genesis Flaw. On the home page, simply click the red envelope on the right hand side and sign up. Good luck!
The winner will be announced on 17 December 2017, by 5 pm AEST.

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Save 10% on my October Crime and Thriller Writing class

October 23, 2017

There are a few places left on my Crime and Thriller Writing weekend course and the wonderful people at The Australian Writers Centre have set up a special 10% discount for those who book this week for the 28th and 29th October 2017. Yes, this weekend coming!

To get the special 10% off all you need to do is click this link and then enter this promo code at the checkout: DEVOUR.

Perhaps you have a friend or relative who loves crime fiction and has always want to write their own novel? Or perhaps you know a budding author with a birthday coming up soon?

I look forward to seeing you all at the weekend!

Event: Crime and Thriller Writing class
Dates: 28 and 29 October 2017
Time: 10am – 4pm on both days
Location: Australian Writers Centre
55 Lavender Street
Milsons Point NSW 2061
Australia.

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Bloody Scotland an entertainment extravaganza

October 8, 2017

I wanted to share with you some of the many photos from my time at writers’ festival Bloody Scotland in September 2017. Not only were the panels and interviews fascinating but the evening entertainment was the best I have experienced at any writers’ festival. Torchlight processions,bands, hilarious podcasts, soccer matches – never a dull moment.
Thank you to the organisers for inviting me. I had a ball!

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‘Why is location so critical for thrillers?’ asks the Book Trail

August 17, 2017

In a few weeks’ time I fly to Stirling in Scotland to participate in crime fiction festival Bloody Scotland. I’ll be on a panel with authors Tony Black and J.G. Sinclair discussing the locations of our most recent thrillers, and how we use location to enhance mood and heighten danger. The Book Trail did a Q & A interview with me on this very topic and I’d love to share it with you here. If for any reason the link doesn’t work, it is transcribed below:

Why is location important?
You hear estate agents go on about ‘location, location, location.’ But the location of a novel is just as important. The right location can add a whole new level of interest for the reader. It can even become a character in the book, as Antarctica does in my previous thriller, Thirst. In Thirst I want the reader to feel a connection to the great white continent because it is the central character’s love of Antarctica that makes him its champion, and he will almost die trying to protect it.

Location is also a way to enhance the mood of a scene. A dark and dank abandoned warehouse can be menacing, whereas, the clear blue skies and sunshine after a raging blizzard, can suggest hope. I think one of the best examples to demonstrate the link between mood and location is in Joseph Conrad’s classic, Heart of Darkness. The jungle is a brooding presence that becomes increasingly threatening the closer Marlow gets to finding Kurtz. The jungle is almost a living, breathing character.

I choose the locations for my thrillers carefully. They need to be the best place to tell each story. As I write fast-moving thrillers, full of danger and menace, I can use location to enhance the threat, as I do in the opening chapter of Devour, in which Kevin Knox is left to die in an Antarctic ‘white out’, an extreme blizzard. If I’m writing an action scene, I like to locate it somewhere that makes it more threatening for my hero. For Olivia Wolfe in Devour, it’s a remote Antarctic camp, and an attack on her life when she’s alone in a tent at night.

Why did you pick the location you did?
I follow Antarctic scientific developments and expedition news, and came across the Lake Ellsworth expedition in 2012, led by Professor Martin Siegert of the UK’s Grantham Institute. I was fascinated by the idea that inside sub-glacial lakes, buried for centuries beneath thick ice, life could exist that has never before had contact with humans. A question immediately sprang to mind: what if bringing this microbial like to the surface was a very bad idea. This became the premise of Devour.
Your books are based on real events. Can you tell us more?
The premise of Devour was inspired by a real Antarctic expedition in 2012, in which a small team of scientists attempted to drill down through three kilometres of ice to reach sub-glacial Lake Ellsworth, which had been buried for centuries. Sadly, they didn’t succeed. But in Devour, they do succeed in bringing ancient microbial life to the surface. Little do they know the catastrophe they are about to unleash.

How on earth did you do the research you did?
I have spent time in Antarctica and this experience enabled me to write about this alien and savage place with a confidence I don’t think I would have had if I hadn’t been there. Antarctica is unlike any place I have ever been. I had not experienced such extreme cold before. It was only by going there that I could convey not just what it looks like, but also what is feels like, smells like, tastes like, and sounds like. I was lucky enough to get on a Russian, former scientific exploration ice breaker, heading for Antarctica. I also spent time at British Antarctica Survey in Cambridge and the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania, Australia, talking to their explorers and scientists, and learning Polar survival techniques.

Any tips for people in Scotland on how to deal with the cold (not on a level with what you’re used to!)
Antarctica is the last great untouched wilderness, a continent the size of Europe, and the location of the coldest temperature ever recorded, which is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F). However, if you travel to Antarctica in the summer, you will experience temperatures from −40 °C to a toasty 0 °C. I imagine Scotland knows temperatures like these. To avoid frost bite, keep your face, hands and feet covered as best you can, wear layers of clothing, and always ensure your ship, camp, or station knows exactly where you are at any given time. Blizzards can materialise very quickly and you may need rescuing!

Living in Australia, then England, books set in Antarctica….that is quite a scale in temperature! Where next? anywhere hot?
Prey is the next book in the Olivia Wolfe Thriller Series, and this one is set in warmer climes – South Africa.

You’re an adventurer at heart. What does adventure mean to you?
Everything! That’s why I tend to write action- adventure thrillers. Adventure means exploring our beautiful planet, testing myself, and expanding my mind. Without an adventure to look forward to I would go stir crazy.

Favourite cultural thing from each of the three countries
Australia: Favourite phrase: No worries! Favourite cultural thing: drinking wine outside the Sydney Opera House on a sunny day, watching the boats on the harbour.
England/Scotland: Favourite food: Fish and chips and mushy peas, and English/Scottish beer. Australians complain the beer from the tap is warm. I like it that way! Favourite phrase or word: Bastard! It sounds more biting when you say it with an English (or indeed Scottish) accent.
Antarctica: Favourite phrase: white out. It says everything in two words. Favourite cultural thing: meeting penguins and letting them pack my boots!

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