Today, I’m interviewing Lynne Cook, winner of the Emerging Author Award in the Thunderbolt Prize. Her winning entry, Change of Plan, was also Highly Commended in the Fiction prize.
First of all, Lynne, congratulations on your win! How did you come up with the idea of your winning story, Change of Plan?
Thanks, Sophie! The idea for Change of Plan came – as many writers report! –from a news item; in my case, the report of a fatal cliff fall. I wanted to write a completely different outcome for the story, one which acknowledges the strength and resilience of those in dangerous relationships. We read that Pammy has had a less than satisfactory relationship history but – even though the resolution of the story isn’t one I’d generally recommend! – she survives. She acts to take control of her story. It’s very tempting for a writer to put on a (generally ill-fitting) super-hero outfit at times and try to change the course of history …
What attracts you to writing crime fiction?
Who doesn’t love solving a mystery, putting the pieces of a jigsaw together? For me, crime fiction is the writer setting the reader a challenge; the fun (and thrill) is in joining the suspenseful ride of working out just what the hell is going on, predicting the next move. Crime fiction throws up intriguing characters. I love the psychological play.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and writing career?
I’ve worked as an English teacher and have studied and taught German literature too. In the last couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to complete my first novel (Finding the Words), to work on a collection of short stories and begin a second novel. In 2014 I was one of 5 lucky writers to win a place at Varuna, the National Writers House in Katoomba, to take part in the Short Story Focus Week. It was a terrific experience. I’ve also been involved with the South Coast Writers Centre for the past 4 years; a dynamic and creative bunch of people.
What do you hope winning the Emerging Author award will do for you as an author?
I hope that winning this award will give me the confidence to trust my instincts and voice in writing. It is wonderful to be able to list the Emerging Author award (and being Highly Commended in the Fiction prize) on my writing CV!
What do you look for in a good story or novel?
I’m into quirky. A character or situation can be, on the surface, accessible, likeable, even predictable. But then the expectations and predictions are subverted. Character layers are progressively revealed; the situation is thrown open to other perspectives. I love also the way humour can deepen the impact of a text, even in its darkest moments.