Books & Writing

into the night: no sleep till dawn

Plot, pacing, a sentient sense of place and a cast of complex characters propel the compelling new thriller from Sarah Bailey, INTO THE NIGHT.

Last year, Sarah Bailey’s debut novel, THE DARK LAKE was published.

Critically acclaimed, including by yours truly, who wrote: “Bailey has created a highly plausible, humanly flawed heroine in Gemma Woodstock, a compelling mix of brave, vulnerable, ambitious and torn”, readers nation wide wished and hoped that there would be a sequel.

That wish has been granted, the hopes realised, with INTO THE NIGHT, a novel that cements Bailey’s reputation as thriller writer of high calibre.

INTO THE NIGHT has Gemma Woodstock now stationed in Melbourne, part of the Homicide Squad, partnered with the sardonic, cynical Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet.

Investigation into a homeless man’s murder in Carlton takes a back seat when the killing of an emerging movie star takes place on a movie set in the CBD.

The movie is a zombie apocalypse extravaganza, called Death is Alive, and there is a sly nod and wink to On The Beach, by the naming of the imported female star, Ava James.

Ava Gardener is infamously attributed to saying Melbourne was the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.

The description of Ava James also alludes to other films- “despite her tears she tilts her chin in reflex with her handshake., with the confidence of a Bond girl.”

Like classic Agatha Christie, INTO THE NIGHT has a corps of characters that are suitably suspect – family members, spurned lovers, jealous film crew – and Bailey keeps them all on the boil.

Fleet is an exceptionally well drawn figure, fleet of acerbic, sarcastic and sardonic thought and word, and just as fallible as his partner in the personal fuck-up stakes.

I would have liked to see more of the character of Jonesy, her home town police chief, her superior and mentor, so nicely drawn in The Dark Lake, snatched from the claws of cliché by deft touches of irony and a prescient propriety, but that was not to be in this instalment of Gemma Woodstock’s adventures.

Despite the flinty Fleet and the rounded usual suspects, it’s Woodstock who is the bedrock of INTO THE NIGHT and Bailey continues to explore her heroine’s individual struggles as estranged wife, mother and daughter while plying her trade in the big league, building a career and navigating the pitfalls and short comings of her chosen profession.

INTO THE NIGHT is dedicated to the city of Melbourne and Bailey is adept at describing the diseased arteries of the city, the close to the bone habitat of the homicidally mundane

Warning: Pick up INTO THE NIGHT at bedtime and you’ll be reading into the night. It’s a cause not a cure for insomnia.

INTO THE NIGHT by Sarah Bailey is published by Allen & Unwin


Join Authors Margo Lanagan, Luke Carman, Oliver Mol and Manisha Anjali for a literary feast.

It’s a rare and intimate chance to eat good grub with literary legends.  A READING AT STEKI WITH A BANQUET is the latest in the Drinks with Friends event.

Set in the courtyard of the Steki Tavern, you will dine on a succulent banquet whilst hearing from New York Times bestselling author Margo Lanagan, NSW Premier Literary Award Winner Luke Carman, the author of SUGAR KANE WOMAN and recent opener at the Emerging Writers Festival Manisha Anjali, and Oliver Mol, winner of the inaugural Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and author of LION ATTACK! Continue reading GOOD GRUB WITH LITERARY LEGENDS: LATEST FROM DRINKS WITH FRIENDS


In the big game hunt for bestsellerdom, Wilbur Smith has few rivals.

When not shooting game, he’s been firing off best sellers for over fifty years.

Finally, he has penned a memoir, ON LEOPARD ROCK, which will surely scale the best seller lists on the strength of his fan base.

Subtitled A Life of Adventures, ON LEOPARD ROCK is certainly that, from his early childhood in Africa under the tutelage of his father, Herbert, – “He was my God” is quoted more than once in the tome – to the fame of an internationally published author, Wilbur Smith has had an adventurous life.

ON LEOPARD ROCK is subdivided into seventeen chapters, most of which carry the compartments of his life – child, boy, student, seafarer and so on. Continue reading ON LEOPARD ROCK: A LIFE OF ADVENTURES


Entries are now open for OutStanding, the LGBTIQ Short Story Competition.  OutStanding is Australia and New Zealand’s premier literary competition for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer community.

This year, writers are called on to produce a 750 word story with this year’s theme of The Next Big Thing. Continue reading OUTSTANDING SHORT STORY COMP NOW OPEN


Sir Michael Parkinson by Jonathon Yeo.

Featured image – Harold Pinter by Justin Mortimer.

It’s the Archibald Prize season at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and people are going in great numbers to check out this year’s exhibition which runs until the 9th September 2018.

Great Britain ,also, has its own annual portrait competition called the BP (British Petroleum) Portrait Award. The portraits are exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London. The London newspaper The Daily Mail calls it ‘the portraiture Oscars’ and artists from around the world are invited to enter. First Prize is $30,000.

Each year more than 2,000 artists, from over 70 countries, submit entries with over 250,000 people coming through the Gallery’s doors to see the work of the finalists.

I am sharing this with you because I have come across a superb publication which the National Portrait Gallery of London has published honouring this annual exhibition. It is called 500 PORTRAITS : 25 YEARS OF THE BP PORTRAIT AWARD. This publication celebrates excellence in portraiture from brilliant naturalistic work to the deeply expressionistic. Each  portrait, in its own way, is revealing of character and mood.

I can’t recommend this publication highly enough. 500 PORTRAITS : 25 YEARS OF THE BP PORTRAIT AWARD has been published by the National Portrait Gallery, London. Get the revised and updated edition (2015).  ISBN 9781855145702.



I picked this book up at a bookstore recently. One of my better choices. This is a lovely read.

Canadian writer, David Gilmour, was working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster whilst writing this work. It is autobiographical in nature and almost diary like in its form. The subject is his relationship with his son, Jesse, who goes through a difficult adolescence.

Jesse can’t stand being at school and is at an age when he can leave. David offers him a deal  that a lot of kids would only dream about. He  will let him leave school, and he doesn’t have to look for a job. He can even sleep in till midday or even longer if he wants to. The deal is that together they form their own  film club, and each week they are to  sit down, watch and discuss at least three movies. Jesse, of-course, accepts the deal. Dad is happy, he believes that the intimacy which the Club will generate will help him guide his son through the trials of adolescence and see him get to the other side, adulthood, in one piece. Continue reading THE FILM CLUB : FATHER AND SON MEET AT THE MOVIES


Emily O’Grady is the recipient of the Australian/Vogel’s literary award 2018 for her debut crime novel – THE YELLOW HOUSE -which will have readers on the edge of their seats, and demonstrates clear and telling insights into the human condition.

The plot revolves around a rough, dysfunctional family which includes ten year old Cub, her twin brother Wally, older brother Cassie and their parents. Living on an isolated property near an unused cattle farm and knackery, they are shunned by the local community due to crimes committed by the now deceased Granddad Les who resided in the yellow house next door.

Cub’s Aunt Helena and cousin Tilly move into the yellow house. Cub, the narrator, observer and detective, discover secrets and lies which were privy to everyone except her. Once these secrets are revealed, Cub has to face the family’s haunted past, demons and the skeletons in the closet. Continue reading THE YELLOW HOUSE : A RIVETING READ


It is one of those questions that has always intrigued me. Where do writers get their ideas from? What is the genesis of some of the great works of literature?  A new book ORIGINS OF STORY  by Jake Grogan explores this terrain. Grogan, in his tome, reveals the inspiration behind some 202 works and it makes for some very interesting reading.

One would never in a thousand years guess the very humble origins of one of the classic American Civil War novels Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell was a prolific reader and on a regular basis she sent her husband down to Atlanta’s Carnegie Library tro get a new batch of novels for her to  read. Mr Mitchell became increasingly peeved and exhausted by his wife’s regular requests for him to go down to the local library. In the end he said to her, ‘For God’s sake can’t you write  a book instead of reading thousands of them? By way of further encouragement he bought her a typewriter. Margaret Mitchell took up the challenge offered by her husband, sat down at her brand new typewriter, and she began work on her own novel. The rest is history….

John Irving’s THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP also had unlikely origins. Irving grew up not knowing who his father was. He became increasingly frustrated by his mother’s refusal to divulge his father’s identity. Irving confronted his mother and said if you don’t tell me who my father was I will write a book about our family as it is. His mother nonchalantly said she couldn’t care less. And so Irving sat down and started work on ‘Garp’. Continue reading ORIGINS OF A STORY: SOME VERY SURPRISING BEGINNINGS


007 is dead. Long live 007.

James Bond seems to have been around forever and a day, but in the latest continuation novel of his adventures, FOREVER AND A DAY, we learn that his secret service number preceded him and another agent, unnamed and unidentified, held the double O prefix.

In the strictest sense, FOREVER AND A DAY is not a continuation novel, but an origin story, a prequel to the first of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, Casino Royale.

After accomplishing his second assassination in Stockholm, James Bond is promoted to the Double O Section with his first assignment being the investigation of the death of his predecessor.

This takes him to Marseilles and the French Riviera where he encounters Scipio, an obscenely obese sadist, a literal Mr. Big of the European drug trade, set on implementing a plan redolent of Live and Let Die. Continue reading FOREVER AND A DAY: THE REBIRTH OF BOND

DEAR FAHRENHEIT 451: a librarian’s love letters and break up notes to her books

Sure to give book lovers fever, DEAR FAHRENHEIT 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break Up Notes to Her Books by Annie Spence fuels a burning desire to revisit or in some cases kindle the discovery of books gathering dust on shelves and in racks in libraries and homes around the globe.

In her title letter, she queries Fahrenheit 451’s pigeon holing genre. Science fiction or is it? Then goes on to say ‘ If we ever get to a point when you’re not included in the core of a book collection, we’re all fucked. Like “Our civilisation is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge” type fucked.

Since 1953, the talking walls are bigger and louder than ever. The modern day “firefighters” are armed not with kerosene but snarky Internet memes, reality TV, and the ability to simultaneously see more and less of the world around them.’ Continue reading DEAR FAHRENHEIT 451: a librarian’s love letters and break up notes to her books



Delve into the macabre world of True Crime at Gritty Lit True Crime Writers Festival (5 May) with workshops, author talks and book fair at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre .

Including presentations with acclaimed Australian crime writers including Larry Writer, Tanya Bretherton and Leigh Straw will shed light on the research and production behind history’s most infamous crimes. Fans can also meet and greet local writers at The Gritty Lit book fair. Continue reading GRITTY LIT TRUE CRIME WRITERS FESTIVAL