Today I welcome Sandi Wallace—crime writer and indefatigable motivator of others—to my virtual sitting room.
Each month or so I'll be chatting with an author, publisher or book blogger about the emotional journey of writing. I'm so pleased Sandi's my first visitor.
For those of you who haven't come across her work just yet, Sandi is a new leading voice in Sunburnt Noir—crime fiction set in the Australian countryside or outback. Reading her Rural Crime Files series pulls me back into childhood, growing up on a farm, wandering along dirt tracks kicking up red dust.
From her very first book, Tell Me Why, Sandi has captured the essence of living in the Aussie bush as well as a legion of dedicated crime fiction fans...
1) Looking back, what spurred you on to first finish then publish Tell Me Why? What kept you going during the tough moments?
Since about the age of six, I’ve dreamt of writing crime novels and having a shelf of books with my name on the spine. But I needed to experience life to write about it, so there was an array of jobs for me to undertake first, as well as life’s ups and downs—all part of my writer’s apprenticeship.
Before I knew it, I’d reached my forties having published short stories, articles and regular columns, but no books. That motivated me to stop letting life get in the way.
Although there were further speed humps on the road to publishing my first novel, I continued to hone my skills, link up with positive people, and buoy myself with every small win. I believed my determination would eventually see me triumph over any setbacks. Maybe that’s what they mean about Taureans being stubborn and persistent?
2) What's the top piece of advice you would give to the pre-published version of yourself?
Writing books is not a race or a destination. The journey will bring amazing people and experiences into your life, so slow down, do your best, and enjoy every part of living the dream.
3) Which aspect of writing or publishing a book do you find the most emotionally challenging?
Tackling marketing as a creative can be tricky. I love connecting with readers and other writers, doing talks at libraries, festivals, on radio and the like, but I stumble somewhat on how to reach a broader audience and what I can do to stand out in the worldwide marketplace.
4) And the most joyous or rewarding?
Hearing how much—and why—my characters and stories resonate with readers!
5) Since first being published, what has surprised you the most about the writerly life?
It’s just as fantastic, but very different, to what I’d imagined. ‘Expect the unexpected’ has become my mantra.
6) Of everything you've ever penned—short or long, fiction or non-fiction—which piece is most quintessentially you?
As someone who lives, works and plays in the Australian countryside, I appreciate that our environment is both beautiful and ruthless. I’ve seen communities rocked by events like drought, fire, flood and infestation—sometimes consecutively—and watched as they brought out the best and worst in people.
My Harvey and Franklin series of rural crime thrillers [the Rural Crime Files] captures my love of country Australia and our people, fascination with policing, and lifelong addiction to crime fiction. My latest novel, Dead Again, explores the impact of a devastating wildfire event as a backdrop to the parallel stories of Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey and Daylesford cop John Franklin. Of all my work, I’d say Dead Again best captures who I am.
7) Looking to the future, what prospect fills you with tingles of anticipation?
Growing my readership—along with that row of books with my name on the spine—is my first focus.
My passion for crime fiction began at a very young age thanks to some brilliant authors, so I’d like to try writing for children or young adults in the future, to ‘pay it forward’ to another generation.
And if my books become TV series or films, I’ll certainly be tingling!
SANDI WALLACE is a life-long crime-fiction addict and author of the Rural Crime Files series. Her debut novel, Tell Me Why, was shortlisted for Best Debut and won Readers' Choice at the 2015 Davitt Awards. In 2017, Sandi released the second instalment in the series, Dead Again, alongside her first collection of short crime stories, On the Job. She is currently working on the third Harvey and Franklin rural crime thriller, Into the Fog, due for release in spring 2018. Sandi lives in the gorgeous Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne with her husband, two cats and a dog.