Creative Writing


This latest book by Barry Maitland is extremely well crafted, written and plotted, with many surprising twists upon the way. The shifting between characters and locations is excellently handled.It is a great page turner you anxiously want to find out what happens next . The depiction of characters is splendid and there are some great landscape descriptions.

Barry Maitland grew up in London and went on to work as an architect and urban designer in the UK. In 1984 he moved to Australia as Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. The Marx Sisters, the first in his London-based Brock and Kolla crime novels, was published in 1994 and 12 more have followed. In addition he has published four crime novels set in Australia. Barry’s novels have been published throughout the English-speaking world and in translation in various other countries.

In his latest book of the series featuring Detective Chief Inspector David Brock, we enter the exclusive high stakes world of fine art – when the Russian wife of the owner of one of the most valuable private collections of modern art in the UK is found dead, and follow Brock as he uncovers forgery, murder and fraud in an international market .Brock was given the job by higher ups as allocated by the Assistant Commissioner . Nadya Babington was spectacularly beautiful, but outwardly seemingly rather cold, having escaped and divorced her first husband, Sergei Semenov, in Russia .She had just received threatening emails from Russia. Julian Babington, her husband is a major corporate lawyer. And then there is Nadya’s troubled son Miki . Brock visits dealers and galleries in London’s West end as well as Hanover, Bremen, Miami and New York with his new colleague Molly Fitzherbert from the Art and Antiques department .He also follows up tracing his own painting by Kurt Schwitters that he was gifted previously – is it real or fake ? Was Julian coercively controlling Nadya ?

There are many complicated and unexpected revelations .We learn about forgery in the high art world and conservation but also dual identities and major corruption. As well we meet the vicar (the Rev. Alwyn Bramley-Scott) of an ancient church that Nadya was linked to, and ponder if she was having an affair with one of Miki’s friends, Callum McAdam – who is a sensational copyist of famous art works (is he linked to the corruption? Why are he and Nadya so interested in the old church?) We also meet Egor Orlov (a top restaurant owner) and Pavel Gorshkov as well as Rosa Lipmann, gallery owner and various members of Brock’s and Kolla’s teams .Throughout the book there is also interwoven Brock’s relationship with has de facto wife Suzanne and her grandchildren.

Simultaneously Brock’s old colleague Detective Chief Inspector Kathy Kolla, now leading one of the Metropolitan Police Murder Investigation teams, finds herself accused of corruption by another police officer. With her entire career threatened, Kolla will do almost anything to clear her name.Was Kolla’s upmarket home in London a gift based on the proceeds of illegal shenanigans by her now dead ex Martin Connell? Or? Eventually all is cleared up .At one point both Brock and Kolla are suspended from duties , but there are many revelations and dramatic plot turns along the way .
A captivating, multi layered book.
Category:Crime & Mystery
Publisher:Allen & Unwin
Imprint:Allen & Unwin
Pub Date:November 2021
Page Extent:320
Format:Paperback – C format
Subject:Thriller / suspense


Varuna the National Writers’ House has announced the recipients of the Varuna Residential Fellowships for 2022.

The writers and their projects are:

The Eleanor Dark flagship fellowship

  • Katherine Brabon, for her work of autofiction ‘Body Friend’. It follows the narrator, a writer and woman who lives with an autoimmune disease, as she navigates practical, psychological and philosophical questions of living in an unwell body.

The Eric Dark flagship fellowship

  • Lauren Fuge, for her nonfiction narrative work ‘Voyagers: Our journey into the Anthropocene’. Voyagers: Our journey into the Anthropocene. Journeying through remote landscapes across the Earth and beyond, Voyagers seeks to understand how human exploration has driven us into the Anthropocene.

The Varuna poetry flagship fellowship

  • Madison Godfrey, for their collection of poems ‘Dress Rehearsals’, a collection of poems written from a non-binary perspective, exploring what it means to wear womanhood into the world when it constitutes both a bullseye and a ball dress.

The Jerra Studio flagship fellowship

  • Heather Taylor Johnson, for her hybrid nonfiction work ‘Dear Vincent’

The Ray Koppe/ASA young writer’s fellowship

  • Sarah Stivens for her poetry manuscript ‘Therapeutic Discomfort’

Varuna residential fellowships

  • Adele Dumont for essay collection ‘Bezoar’
  • Renee Treml for children’s graphic novel ‘Breathe’
  • Stephen Carleton for playscript ‘Brutal Utopias’
  • Liz Evans for ‘Catherine Wheel’
  • Benjamin Hickey for suspense novel ‘Common Ruin’
  • Rachel Bowen for YA novel ‘Hyena’
  • Kylie Ladd for commercial fiction ‘I’ll Leave You With This’
  • Gurmeet Kaur for poetry collection ‘Instructions on English’
  • Tanya Davies for fantasy/speculative fiction ‘Killing Widows’
  • Robyn Cadwallader for historical fiction ‘Not Less Than Anything’
  • Hugh McGonagle for novel ‘Peninsula’
  • Rebecca Giggs for narrative nonfiction ‘PET: The future of the animals we keep’
  • Kelly Gardiner for YA novel ‘Roar’
  • Catherine Moffat for crime novel ‘Snapper Point’
  • Carol Major for novel ‘The Chinese Woman’
  • Chris Womersley for novel ‘The Empire’
  • Amanda Curtin for historical fiction ‘The Longhair Fella’
  • Katia Ariel for memoir ‘The Swift Dark Tide’
  • Michelle Michau-Crawford for novel ‘What’s Home Supposed to Mean, Anyway?’
  • Sian Campbell for novel ‘When This is All Over’
  • Bruce Nash for novel ‘Woman Without a Password’
  • Sonia Orchard for creative nonfiction ‘Womankind’
  • Jannali Jones for YA novel ‘Yenda’.

Varuna received more than 400 applications for residency fellowships from published and unpublished writers.

For more information about the fellowships, see Varuna’s website.

About Varuna: (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Varuna, The National Writers’ House is Australia’s national residential writers’ house in the former home of writers Eleanor Dark and Dr Eric Dark. In 1989 their son Mick Dark gifted their home to the Australian public through The Eleanor Dark Foundation. Due to this extraordinary act of philanthropy, Varuna has become Australia’s most eminent residential program for writers.[1][2]

Since 1989 Varuna the National Writers’ House has inspired the creation of new Australian writing and provided support for a thriving writing community and growing Alumni. Along with its Residential Program, Varuna also has a lively literary program, including the Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival, Varuna Open Day and various workshops and consultations.

Located in Katoomba two hours from Sydney, in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales Australia, Varuna is a short walk from the centre of town, and a short walk from the edge of the escarpment looking down into the magnificent Jamison Valley.[3][4]

In 2020, Varuna expanded its capacity to accommodate writers by building an accessible studio. This new building opens up opportunities for writers who have previously been unable to stay in residence at Varuna.

Featured image : Drone view of Varuna taken by  Black Forest Cherry Photography.



This is a mesmerising, powerful book. It is superbly written with the language evocative and visually exciting.

The themes of the book include the inspiration for art, whether the restoration of an art work actually preserves it or rather destroys its ‘aura’ (for example do the modern day pieces of marble fitted onto the Pieta really help?) and what makes a work of art iconic ? (for example, the Pieta, Bernini’s St Theresa, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa).

The book also looks at despair and attempted destruction of artworks. As well, there is the distinction between European and Australian First People’s arts as exemplified by the Empress Josephine’s garden, Michaelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s St Theresa, and the work of Kumanjayi.

There is also the interlocking of art and life, the quest for a feeling of self and identity and the stressful relationships between children and parents. Continue reading MICHAEL FITZGERALD’S ‘PIETA’ : A MESMERISING READ


A most thrilling, exciting adventure for all of us who are Phryne Fisher fans.

Eagerly anticipated this is the first Phryne Fisher mystery since 2013. (Not forgetting the TV series and the film Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears).  It is Greenwood’s sixty fifth book, her twenty first Phryne Fisher mystery.

Kerry Greenwood is the author of more than fifty novels, a book of short stories, six non-fiction works, and the editor of two collections of crime writing. Her beloved Phryne Fisher series has become a successful ABC TV series, ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’, which sold around the world. She is also the author of the contemporary crime series featuring Corinna Chapman, baker and reluctant investigator. The most recent Corinna Chapman novel was The Spotted Dog. Continue reading DEATH IN DAYLESFORD by KERRY GREENWOOD


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


Featured photo – Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales

The Sydney Writer’s Festival has concluded for another year and was once again a great success. Events were held around Sydney between the 16th and the 22nd May.

Here are some of my favourite portrait photos from the events that I attended :-


Ann Goldstein
Ann Goldstein
Anna Broinowsi
Carmen Aguirre
Carmen Aguirre
Deepti Kapoor
Deepti Kapoor
Don Watson
Don Watson
Frank Moorehouse
Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest
Mark Tedeschi QC
Mark Tedeschi QC
Stan Grant
Stan Grant
Susie Orbach
Susie Orbach
Vivian Gornick
Vivian Gornick

Calibre Prize Now Open

The Australian Book Review, Australia’s oldest and premiere literary publication, welcomes entries in the ninth Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, Australia’s premier prize for a non-fiction essay.

All essayists writing in English are eligible, regardless of where they live. Entrants are encouraged to use the publications’ online entry system.

Essays must be between 3,000 and 7,000 words and must be written in English.

Judges: Delia Falconer and Peter Rose

Deadline for entries is 19 January 2015

First Prize: $5,000 and publication in Australian Book Review

Visit the Australian Book Review’s website on for more details.

Editor Peter Rose has requested that  writers read the Frequently Asked Questions page carefully before submitting their entry.