Dear guys and gals,

SHATTER launched this week Stateside, you may have noticed the ticker-tape parades and fireworks.

Given the current state of the US economy and publishing in general, I have everything crossed. It's a tough environment to gain any traction, but at least I have a house and a job. (Saying that, most of my friends don't think writing is a proper job. They don't understand how tough it is. It's like pulling teeth. It's like juggling hand grenades. Believe me, there is nothing more frightening than the blank screen or as dangerous as a laptop with a Sony battery - this sucker could blow at any time.)

Well another six months have passed and my slackness as a blogger has again been exposed. Hopefully, a few of you will take comfort from the fact that if I’m not writing blogs I’m writing a book, slaving away in my pit of despair (basement office), trying to turn words into wine (or wine into words. Oopshh, that’s another bottle finished!)

Spare a thought also for how difficult it is to concentrate when the mercury has climbed to 36 C and half of this great brown land is being turned into toast by fires or submerged by floodwater.

You can add to that 12 year old girls being eaten by crocodiles and one of my daughter's best friends from primary school being mauled by a great white shark off our local beach. It's a dangerous business, living Down Under.

The shark attack was particularly unnerving, given that we'd all been swimming at the same spot only a day earlier. Andrew Lindop went to primary school with my eldest girl and was out surfing with his Dad early one morning when the great white took a chomp out of his leg and thigh. I just watched him being interviewed on Sixty Minutes and really felt for Charles his Dad. He shed tears as he recalled those long long long minutes as they paddled furiously, praying for a wave that could carry them to shore.

What a wierd country I live in. There are floods in the north and the worst bushfires in Australia's history in Victoria. The death toll topped 200 and the bushfire season isn't over. More than 20 years ago, as a young journalist, I covered the Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia, in which 75 people died. Some of the stories were truly horrendous, with entire towns being wiped out by a blaze with more destructive power than the firebombing of Dresden.

This time last year I had just returned from London after our marathon overseas family holiday (or work tour depending on whether you’re reading this in the Tax Office.)

It was a truly brilliant trip, which has grown even better in the telling. Even my eldest daughter Alex (who spent the first seven weeks plugged into her iPod in the back of the car sleeping, waking only to say, ‘Have I told you how much I hate you for taking me away from my friends?’) has now conceded how much she loved her time abroad. Being at home this Christmas is ‘boring’, she told me yesterday, and then suggested we plan another great escape – this time to America.

Alex is in the process of editing our travel movie, which is four times longer than Baz Lurman’s ‘AUSTRALIA’, but features better acting, slightly less Botox and a more believable storyline. Admittedly, my body isn’t quite as buff as Hugh Jackmans, but I do have more body hair than Wolverine.

On the work front, it has been a stop start few months. I have started three different novels and abandoned each of them 20,000 words in. Shoot me, please!

These novels may get finished one day, but for the moment they are filling up my hard disk, while I embark on a new adventure with psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. The novel doesn’t have a title yet (it does actually, but I’m not going to tell you because it’s bad luck and some other writer might steal it.)

Now for a wrap-up of the year:

Depending on where you live in the world, SHATTER was either published early last year or will be published in 2009. You can see some of the reviews on my BOOKS page here.

The highlights of the year were being shortlisted for a few different awards.
- The Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger in the UK (which I didn’t win);
- ITV3 Breakthrough Thriller Award (which I didn’t win);
- South Africa’s Boeke Prize (which I didn’t win)
- and finally the 2008 Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction in Australia, (which I won – hooray! By then I was sick of being a bridesmaid).

I spent August touring Australia as the ambassador for the Books Alive Campaign, a government initiative to promote literacy and reading. I toured for thirty-six days in every state and territory going places I’d never been before, including Karatha in Western Australia and Hervey Bay in Queensland. It was both a humbling and humiliating exercise. In Kingston Tasmania, I had three people turn up – just enough for a hand of cards. There were fifty chairs set up, as well as tea, coffee and cakes to feed a horde. Compare this to Walpole in Western Australia, population 250, where 75 people turned up at the local hall. I’m a legend in Walpole. Maybe I’ll run for mayor.

As for 2009 – I’m hoping to tour Germany in May for the launch of Dien Wille Geschehe (SHATTER) and also plan to make at least one trip to America and perhaps Canada.

Well that’s my news. Three cheers for Obama. I hope his shoulders are broad enough.

Happy reading

Michael


WHAT I’M READING:


THE COLD SIX THOUSAND by James Ellroy
He is truly a master of the violent, hard-boiled crime novel.

THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO – by Junot Diaz
The 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner.



WHAT I’M WATCHING:


THE WIRE – I missed the first series so picked up the box set. With George Pelecanos among the writers, it’s got to be great.

DEXTER - the nicest psychopath you'll ever meet.

LIFE - Don't you just love Damien Lewis? He's my top pick to play the lead in any film version of SHATTER.


WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:
James Morrison’s new album: ‘SONGS FOR YOU, TRUTHS FOR ME’

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