Congratulations to Lucy Sussex for winning the History Publication Award of the Victorian Community History Awards for her new book Blockbuster, Fergus Hume and the Mystery of the Hansom Cab. Her book explores the history surrounding the world’s first true best-selling crime novel which was written and published here in Australia in the late 1800s. I have just interviewed Lucy about Blockbuster, and the award is well deserved.
Lucy’s book is a fascinating read that explores the people, the intrigues and the growing pains of the Australasian region at the turn of the twentieth century, and the tumultuous birth of the mystery novel as we know it today. It’s a damn good read and you will look at Melbourne though fresh eyes, which ironically will tint Melbourne with colourful shades of the past.
If you can, try and read the Mystery of the Hansom Cab first. The book is set in Melbourne, and portrays an eerie parallel to today’s city, as well as offering insights into why Melbourne is now arguably the cultural and sporting hub of Australia.
In addition to interviewing Lucy about her book, I took the chance to ask her about her writing practices, as she has extensive experience as a writer and editor. See an extract of those questions below.
Q What are you currently reading?
A For me rather than for review: crime writer Michael Innes
Q How long did it take to research and write the book Blockbuster?
A About two years
Q What is next in terms of book writing?
A I’m not entirely sure: there are several good bio projects on the back boiler, also a Victorian crime novel with quantum physics and werewolves, about 3/4 completed
Q Tell me about your approach to writing – do you write every day?
A Try to, depending on schedule, what else is happening.
Q Do you write out a plot first or see where your ideas take you?
A Only with crime and short stories on the whole, because so much depends on the end.
Q How do you think you’ve evolved creatively
A Into a platypus with steampunk goggles and a flowery fascinator
Q What is the hardest aspects of writing?
A Its so slooooooooooooooooooow if you’re doing it properly
Q What lessons can would-be authors learn from Hume’s story?
A Never sell your copyright!