Q&A with Sulari Gentill, author of A Murder Unmentioned, shortlisted for the 2015 ABIA Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year
How did the idea to write your book originate?
The idea for this book evolved more than originated. A Murder Unmentioned is the sixth book in the Rowland Sinclair series. Each book now, seems to be a natural evolution of what has gone before, a new facet of the 1930s with its own place in the events and milieu of that tumultuous time between the wars. With every instalment of this series, I find more material, more questions to explore and consider in future books. The seeds of A Murder Unmentioned were sown in the initial pages of the first book—I just didn’t know it at the time. Each book after that seemed to give me a little more until eventually this novel evolved.
What’s your favourite thing about being a published author?
There are many reasons why writers wish to be published. For me, it’s primarily the notion that being read gives the characters in my stories an existence that is independent of me. I could die tomorrow and Rowland Sinclair would continue to live in the minds and imaginations of readers who have never known me. It’s a little like I’m connected to all my readers by a friend in common. Though writers are very human, publication give stories a kind of immortality.
What are some of the things you love about Australian bookstores?
Invariably Australian bookstores are owned and run by people who above all have a love of books and the written word. They are a depository of imagination, expression and ideas in world that still sorely needs all of those things. I love the physical act of browsing, of pulling books off the shelf, reading the endorsement cards from staff, opening the book to read the first page and holding it up against others that have caught my eye.
What’s the most recent Australian book that you read and loved?
Remember Smith’s Weekly by George Blaikie. I found and acquired the book as research for the novel I’m currently writing. It’s a wonderful, personal account of one of Australia’s most controversial and sensationalist old newspapers, and the extraordinary journalists and artists who worked on it.
If you could meet any Australian author, dead or alive, who would you like to meet?
Norman Lindsay. I find him fascinating as a writer, an artist and a human being. I’d like to think we could have a very lively conversation, though in reality I might be too star struck (or frightened given that he’s dead) to say anything but “Yes, Mr. Lindsay”.
What Australian book had the biggest impact on you as a child?
The Adventures of Blinky Bill – I read it when I was about 6 or 7 years old … when I was still a new immigrant. I remember trying to eat gumnuts.
After readers have finished reading your book, which Australian book would you recommend they read next?
Assuming they liked my book? of course they did! Robert Gott’s Will Power Series. Set just a little bit after the Rowland Sinclair series, they’re clever, wickedly funny and very Australian.