Category Archives: Cambodia Darkness and Light

Victorian Premiers Literary Awards 2010: the results are in

The results are in for the Victoria Premier’s Literary Awards.

After being shortlisted in the category of Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer, my manuscript Cambodia Darkness and Light unfortunately didn’t get the gong. That honour went to Peggy Frew for her work, House of Sticks.

But in a surprise announcement, Michelle Aung Thin, the other shortlisted writer in the unpublished manuscript category and myself, walked away with Unpublished Manuscript Fellowships. These include a financial stipend and a workspace at the Wheeler Centre. Supported by the Wheeler Centre and the Readings Foundation, these fellowships are new addition to the awards and I’m thrilled to have received one.

Thanks to Mark Rubbo for sponsoring the fellowships and to the Wheeler Centre for putting more flesh on the bones of the competition’s long-standing commitment to emerging writers.

And while I am at it, congrats are also in order for Peter Temple who took out the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction for Truth. It’s not every day genre fiction wins major awards and that’s two strikes Temple’s racked up. Hopefully, his success will further cement the status of crime writing in Australian literature.

The awards ceremony itself was a blast. The crowd, most of whom were live tweeting the proceedings, was great. I particularly enjoyed meeting Lisa Dempster, Program Manager for the Emerging  Writer’s Festival and Angela Meyer, whose blog Literary Minded has a great wrap of the proceedings. It’s not every day my partner Angela Savage and I get tagged as night’s cutest couple, and in glorious sepia tones no less.

As to where it all goes from here with my manuscript, hopefully it’s a few more steps towards eventual publication.

That’s why it’s great to now be in the very capable hands of Benython Oldfield of Zeitgeist Media Group. Yes, I have an agent. I’m really looking forward to working with Benython, whose agency represents a wide range of writers whose work has an Asian theme, including a number of authors from the region.

Is Philip Marlowe spinning in his grave?

Now it’s official.

Yesterday my crime novel, Cambodia Darkness and Light, was short listed in the category of best unpublished manuscript by an emerging writer in the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

The judges said the following about Cambodia Darkness and Light:

Ex-cop Max Quinlan is working his third missing person’s case, and he’s already out of his depth … He’s in Cambodia, on the trail of disappeared Melbourne gem-trader Charles Avery, hired by his deep-pocketed sister. Avery is the kind of man ‘everyone had met’ but ‘no one knew’ – and he’s deeply enmeshed with the Khmer Rouge. This is a fast-paced, richly atmospheric spin on the Chandler-esque disillusioned gumshoe, keenly informed by the turbulent politics and history of Cambodia.

It’s not everyday you get your work compared to one of the masters of crime fiction, Raymond Chandler. Hopefully, he’s not spinning in his grave too much at the suggestion that my Vietnamese Australian ex-cop turned missing person’s investigator has anything in common with Philip Marlowe.

Best of luck to the other two shortlisted writers in the unpublished manuscript category. Peter Temple’s crime novel Truth is among the books shortlisted for the Vance Palmer fiction prize. Hopefully, its inclusion will continue to push crime fiction, particularly, Australian crime fiction, further into the literary mainstream in this country. You can find the full shortlist in all categories along with all the judges comments, here.

The winners will be announced on September 28.

As anyone who has tried to get their first book published will tell you, it’s a long road. I’m thrilled with the shortlisting and hope it’s the next step on the way to Cambodia Darkness and Light eventually seeing the light of day on bookshelves.

Interestingly, my wonderful partner and crime writer Angela Savage was the recipient of the prize for unpublished manuscript in the 2004 awards. This lead to the publication of her first book, Behind the Night Bazaar. Her second book, The Half Child, also featuring the Bangkok-based female PI Jayne Keaney, has just been released with Text and is available in bookstores. Jayne’s second outing sees her embroiled in an adoption scam in the sleazy southern Thai town of Pattaya. It’s a great read.

And while we’re on the subject of prizes, a huge congratulations to Australian author Garry Disher who has picked up a Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction for his book, Wyatt. A review of this book, the seventh featuring the professional criminal and hold-up man, Wyatt, featured on Pulp Curry earlier this year (if you haven’t seen it you check it out here). After receiving considerable international praise, it is great to see the Wyatt books get the attention they deserve locally.

I’m interviewing Garry about Wyatt, the process of writing and the state of crime fiction in Australian for the next issue of Crime Factory, due to hit your computer screens in a few weeks time.