Today Jenny joins us to discuss Good Money.
BLBR: Congratulations on the release of your debut novel Good Money Jenny, and prior to that being shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.
Can you tell us a bit about Good Money’s path to publication and the extent to which gaining that critical recognition of your manuscript influenced that?
Jenny: That shortlisting changed my fortunes as an aspiring author. I went from a struggling nobody barely able to get anyone to read the manuscript, to fielding enquiries from publishers and an agent. In no time, I’d signed with Curtis Brown and under the experienced eye of Clare Forster, the manuscript went through further revision. Ultimately I signed a two-book deal with Scribe.
BLBR: One of the things I most enjoyed about Good Money was its authentic representation of modern Australian society, and the depth and diversity of your characters played a key role in that. Do any particular characters within Good Money embody the traits of people close to you?
Jenny: The inspiration for Stella is a meld of various friends working in the community sector. They do incredible work at the coalface of socio-disadvantage. Stella came into being at the demise of my attempt at literary fiction. After a five-year battle with the structure I admitted defeat and immediately started working on something very different – Good Money. In terms of her traits, Stella burst into my psyche as an angry and disruptive influence, in much the same way as she appears in the novel. I often describe her as burnt-out and frustrated and in early days of writing I imagined myself pitching the novel to publishers saying: you’ll love it; it’s about a middle-aged woman who is tired and emotional – pause – who solves crimes!
BLBR: I found the links made between corporate subterfuge and lower level crime really interesting. To what extent did you research this and other topical subject matter featured in Good Money?
Jenny: As a librarian I love research. I spent lots of time reading up on corporate malfeasance, particularly among mining plutocrats. There were some great Fairfax articles on the subject too. When it came to the plot, I had to cut back on the material and complexity (accepting that most people don’t share my fascination with the finer points of commercial joint ventures). The geological society put me in contact with some helpful people for relevant mining details. And as for low-level crime, most Melburnians have some familiarity with violent gangland criminals and their nefarious activities and there is a plethora of written material on the subject.
BLBR: I was pleased to see that this is only the beginning of the Stella Hardy Series. Are you able to give us any hints as to what kind of trouble Stella might get herself into next?
Jenny: A lot of debut crime writers are encouraged to do a series. At first I baulked, it seemed a stretch that someone like Stella would solve more than one crime in her lifetime. But I came to see the benefits – the voice was there and I could continue the same off-kilter style of crime fiction. Besides, I love a good series myself. In Too Easy, the second Stella Hardy, she deals with street kids, corrupt cops, a bikie gang and a superstitious Vietnamese-Australian gambling addict.
BLBR: It’s always interesting to hear what writers enjoy reading for pleasure. Can you share with us a recent favourite novel, and/or a title you are particularly looking forward to?
Jenny: This year there have been many remarkable debuts: Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek, Emma Viskic’s Resurrection Bay and Tania Chandler’s Please Don’t Leave Me Here. I’m currently rereading Wolf Hall – enough said.
Series-wise, I love Boris Akunin’s crime series featuring Erast Fandorin, a 19th century Russian detective. And Black Rock, White City by A. S. Patric was a revelation this year, so fiercely intelligent and original, it has curvature of the genre – in a cool way!
Down the track I’m looking forward to reading Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson.
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