Soggy spring provides outback crime novel inspiration

In Australia it’s been raining. A lot. The impact has been devastating for many communities, and I am among those who have been significantly impacted. But if there is one thing I’ve learnt having grown up on the land and living a big part of my life in rural Australia – you can’t control the weather.

However, you can use it for inspiration in your next crime novel.

I am taking my sweet time with the new crime fiction novel which Candice Fox and I planned on a napkin during the Sisters in Crime festival weekend, and it’s a whole new experience for me. Despite being tempted to launch in and write randomly every spare moment I have, I am holding onto the incredible opportunity of being around seven of Australia’s top crime writers for a whole weekend (for those who are new, check out my website for the full story). Even though Sulari Gentill seems to be able to write brilliant books as a ‘pantser’, I’m determined to change my approach and put the time into figuring out what is going to happen and when. It’s already made a big difference to how the story is evolving, and I’m finding plot holes and fixing them before I’m knee deep in them!

Forget dry dusty outback scenes, this crime novel will show a whole other side of the Australian outback in flood.

Although water is life and people in these far-flung Australian landscapes have lived through more droughts than they’d care to remember, there are so many devastating and heartbreaking stories that are not being told in the news from this flood so I will be using these as inspiration in my narrative. Like the family who have not been able to return to their home for several months because the roads are cut off by floodwaters, only to discover when a neighbour flew over in a helicopter that their beautiful homestead which they had been hoping was spared was under water. Then having to wait for goodness knows how long for the water to recede to go in an assess the damage.

Or the families who haven’t left their remote properties in months and are getting groceries and mail via helicopter, and are spending their days waist deep in water trying to save their livestock while dead animals float by. Whole towns are cut off, entire crops have been wiped out, and all the rural businesses who rely on being able to move around and get from here to there have ceased trading.

All the while watching the skies and wishing it would stop bloody raining!

Please don’t despair though, there are flood stories that will warm your heart and give you faith in humanity again – but then again, it is a crime novel so be prepared for a plot twist you didn’t see coming!