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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!

more from crimefest 2013

June 13, 2013

Jeremy Duns and I sat in the bar very late talking about thrillers, how we write them and what inspires us. Yes, this photo is at 2am, as you can probably tell!

One of the many great things about writers’ festivals like CrimeFest is the chance to engage with other authors who are equally passionate about thrillers.

There was a fair representation from the southern hemisphere at CrimeFest 2013.

One such is New Zealander Paul Cleeve – the photo was taken on the morning after a big night, so no surprise we are slouched on the sofa.

Another Antipodean, although she has lived in Scotland many years, is the lovely Helen FitzGerald. Knowing that Helen is far from home, I asked her if she wanted me to bring anything from Oz for her. I thought she might ask for Vegemite or perhaps some TimTams (like the UK’s Penguin biscuits). But no. She wanted those delicioulsy naughtly Cheezels. So I pack of box of Cheezels, survive interrogation from UK Customs and deliver them to her, slightly battered and dented, at CrimeFest in Bristol. Here is a link to her post announcing I am now her FAVOURITE AUTHOR! https://twitter.com/FitzHelen/status/340755899528404992/photo/1

And it’s all because of the Cheezels! Has nothing at all to do with my thrillers. If only I’d realised before now that the road to author stardom is bribing people with yummy nibbles!

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crimes against humanity in fiction – a talk for national law week

May 4, 2013

I am honoured to be supporting Australian National Law Week, the aim of which is to raise awareness of legal services and people’s rights in the community. I have been asked by Albury City Council to speak on Tuesday 14 May 2013 at 6pm at the the Library Museum on the topic of crimes against humanity in fiction, especially crime fiction and thrillers. I will address why, in a violent world, crime fiction is so popular. In fact, crime fiction is one of the biggest selling genres of fiction worldwide.

So if you live near Albury, NSW, please join me on 14 May. I look forward to meeting you.

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John Birmingham’s Cheeseburger Gothic blog features extract from THIRST

May 2, 2013

Delighted John Birmingham chose an extract from Thirst for his tell-em-how-it-is, hilariously funny and deeply thoughtful blog, Cheeseburger Gothic. No wonder John was a finalist in the Best Australian Blog competition 2013. Congrats, JB!

Having just signed up with UK literary agent extraordinaire, Phil Patterson, of Marjacq Scripts, I read this piece on literary agents and nodded sagely in between laughs. JB says it loud and clear with a motherfucker or two thrown in for good measure: if you’re an aspiring author and your manuscript is ready, then GET YOURSELF AN AGENT! They are worth their weight in gold. Here’s his blog on agents.

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books that changed me

February 3, 2013

The Sydney Morning Herald asked me to name five Books That Changed Me, and here is the link to the interview, which was published today. As a thriller author I suspect it won’t surprise anyone to discover that John Grisham and John le Carré are on my list. But what about Enid Blyton and Charles Dickens? How did they get on my Top 5?

Below is the interview transcript, in full, and I’d love to know which authors have inspired you to love books, or to write them:

Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series enthralled me as a child. Here were books packed full of the kind of adventures I wanted to experience. I imagined I was George, the tomboy: if only I had my own mysterious island, like the character! Through Blyton, I fell in love with books and their power to transport me into a magical world: treasure, smuggling, kidnapping and ruined castles and a brave dog that fearlessly bit nasty people. What more could a child with a vivid imagination want!
I have wept and laughed through all of Charles Dickens’ books but Oliver Twist has to be my favourite because of the great characters and Dickens’ biting, witty turn of phrase: “Tears were not the things to find their way to Mr. Bumble’s soul; his heart was waterproof”. What I learned from Dickens was that the novel can be both entertaining and poignant social and political commentary. I realised, then, that all creative endeavour seeks to explain the human condition.
I have always been fascinated by the “what if?” of science and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park ignited my fascination for science-based thrillers. Crichton was a master of taking his research and turning it into high-drama, disaster thrillers. His stories were about topics he felt passionate about and only once, in my opinion, did he press his point of view too far, in the highly controversial State of Fear. The lesson for me: thrillers are about entertainment. They can be thought-provoking. But never tell your readers what to think.
John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief blew me away not only because it was about environmental destruction and a conspiracy that reaches all the way up to the U.S. president, but because the hero is a clever and resourceful woman, Darby Shaw. This for me was ground-breaking – for once, she wasn’t the helpless damsel in distress. Most exciting of all, this was one of the early, high-profile environmental thrillers, and was part of a new sub-genre that included Michael Crichton.
In The Constant Gardener, John le Carré – the master of the spy thriller – reinvented himself and produced a powerful political thriller. This book challenged the genre, with its far-from-traditional hero and its less-than-happy ending. Le Carré demonstrated so beautifully that it’s not what you say, but how you say it, and I believe that his mastery of language makes him one of the greatest authors of our time. “A good writer can watch a cat pad across the street and know what it is to be pounced upon by a Bengal tiger.”

What books changed you?

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thriller writing classes – Sydney, Brisbane and Perth February 2013

January 28, 2013

Last night I was on James O'Loghlin's show on ABC radio and the topic was writing courses: do they help budding authors?

Naturally, because I run creative writing classes, as well as write my own thrillers, you would expect me to say, Yes, they can help. Until I actually started to plan and write my first thriller, I had no idea of the hard work, discipline and techniques involved in writing a best seller. I do now. I leaned my craft the hard way – by reading masters of the thriller genre. As I read great thrillers I asked, what worked well and how did they do it? But I also did an introductory class in creative writing because I wanted to discover if I had the talent to write fiction. What the class did for me was give me the confidence to believe I might be good enough.

Lets not forget that creative writing is a craft, just like painting or sculpture, and just like singers and dancers, certain skills need to be learned. As authors, it is our job to craft the novel so that the language and structure doesn’t get in the way of the reader’s enjoyment. It is not good enough to simply have a great idea for a novel, although this of course is critical. It is how we tell that story that matters. I’m not saying that the structure should be obtrusive or rigidly adhered to, but genre fiction without a structure is like a body without a skeleton – a gooey mess.

For me, the central characters are the key to a reader's enjoyment of a book. That's why I always talk to my students about creating engaging, well-rounded, credible characters that readers want to follow throughout the story. I believe an author should know their characters inside out, know how they speak, walk into a room, their fears, vulnerabilities and ruling passion, and so on.

So, I am delighted to be running courses / workshops in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth in February 2013, and if you have always dreamed of writing your own thriller, or have already started, then I hope you will come along:

4 February Join me in Sydney for a 5 week evening course from 6:30pm, every Monday. To book, or find out more about the course, follow this link to the Australian Writers' Centre. Here are some details about what the course covers:

•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
and, What literary agents/publishers look for in a thriller.

16 February I'll be at the Brisbane City Library running a thriller writing workshop. It's a day workshop, absolutley free, thanks to the wonderful people at the library. This is your chance to learn writing techniques and to discover more about the thriller and crime fiction genres. The night before, on 15 February, I'm doing an evening talk on writing my current thriller, THIRST, set in Antarctica. Here is the link to the talk.

23 February I'm thriller to be running an afteroon workshop at the Perth Writers' Festival. To discover more about the festival, the panel sessions or this workshop, please follow this link. Here a taster of my thriller writing workshop:

EIGHT PILLARS OF A GOOD THRILLER
Want to write a gripping thriller that readers can't put down? Author LA Larkin will take
you through the crucial elements of thriller writing in this fun and informative workshop.
Learn how to develop plot, bring characters to life, create suspense and how to write
that critically important opening chapter. 2-5pm

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