Today, I am delighted to welcome Australian psychological suspense Author Honey Brown to my blog, to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Through the Cracks.
Honey lives in country Victoria with her husband and two children. She is the author of four books: Red Queen, The Good Daughter, After the Darkness and Dark Horse. Red Queen was published to critical acclaim in 2009 and won an Aurealis Award, and The Good Daughter was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and short-listed for the Barbara Jefferis Award in 2011.
After the Darkness was selected for the Women’s Weekly Great Read and for Get Reading 2012’s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down campaign.
Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know her a bit more.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Penguin Books Australia, especially Rhian from their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.
Honey, it’s absolutely wonderful to have you here to celebrate the release of your latest novel Through the Cracks.
Thank you for inviting me. I can hardly believe this is my fifth time releasing a novel. It’s surreal, because it doesn’t feel like enough time has passed to have written all those books.
Well, I think you should be feeling rather accomplished at the release of number five. Would you mind telling us about Through the Cracks?
Through the Cracks is the story of two young men escaping their abusive childhoods. It’s Adam and Billy’s survival story, told from the point of view of Adam. Adam has been mistreated and locked away for most of his young life, whereas Billy’s experience of abuse has been on the streets and at the hands of the church. The boy’s lives intersect when Adam stands up to his abusive father and takes his first tentative steps towards freedom.
With this book I was determined to bypass the usual ways of writing about crime. I wanted to stick with the survivor the whole way through, never shying away from their trauma, unafraid to delve into their heart and mind, and giving them the chance to tell their story and uncover the details behind their entrapment on their own.
That sounds like just my kind of read. Could you share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author?
Red Queen was one of the many “hobby novels” I wrote, a book I had written just for me, written on weekends and in-between changing nappies and while pots boiled over on the stove. Unlike my other hobby novels, Red Queen didn’t make me cringe with embarrassment whenever I re-read it. I passed it around the family and received good feedback.
I found myself liking the book more and more, so I sent it off to an unpublished manuscript competition. I achieved runner-up and was invited to an awards night in Sydney and it was there I met my Curtis Brown agent Fiona Inglis. It was Fiona who sent my book to Penguin, and my first ever editor, Rachel Scully, generously took a gamble on a new writer and contracted the book. Penguin have since published all my novels, and the editors and staff there have made the process about as seamless as I imagine publishing novels can be.
Honey, do you, as a writer, have a motto or maxim? What is it?
Respect the reader.
Even though each time I sit to write I’m doing it just for me – to indulge my passion, to entertain myself, to hone my craft, to spend time with myself – the moment it goes from something I’m tinkering with to something I’m seriously writing, the reader becomes the VIP. It’s my job to take them on a ride they’ll enjoy and remember. Anything less, and I’ve wasted their time.
And, what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a toss up between – show don’t tell, kill your darlings, less is more.
Unlike other bits of advice and other writing rules, these ones suit my style of writing. Rules are there to be broken after all, but whenever I break any one of these my writing is poorer for it. So I stick to them as best I can.
When did you start writing seriously and what motivated you?
I’ve always been a dreamer and a thinker. For as long as I can remember I’ve had stories playing out in my mind. The most natural way for me to take these stories and expand on them and explore them is by putting them into words. But for a long time I left my stories to rattle around in my head, then in the year 2000, when I was 29-years-old, I had a farm accident that left me with a spinal injury.
Acquiring a disability made me feel like a stranger in my own body and, on reflection, I can see that I turned to my creative side in an effort to reconnect with myself. I’ve been writing ever since.
Being published and having my work critically accepted has helped me overcome some of the emotional struggles I’ve faced since my accident. I can’t imagine not writing now.
That is really admirable Honey and it’s been wonderful having you here. Once again, a huge congratulations and thank you for joining me to give us a glimpse of the person behind the books. But, before you go, would you mind giving us a sneak peek into Through the Cracks?
Extract from Chapter One
“The fit of rage had made him sweat. The floor pitched beneath him. Salty tears and mucus rested on his top lip. He walked down the long hallway. Overhead the trail of globes was bright. The house had more unused rooms than used ones. Doors to the empty rooms were shut. Adam made his way into the front part of the house. The tiled floor was cool on his feet. He walked through the games room, past the billiards table with the tasselled lightshade above it. Four pool cues were scattered about, on armchairs and leaning on different things, not put away. The coloured balls were bulging in the table’s pockets. Behind the thick green curtains was the decking, leading out to the swimming pool. Adam could hear the pool filter running. He could hear night sounds. A breeze blew in through the open gap in the sliding door; it made the curtains swell.
Monty and Jerry scurried in, bursting from behind the curtain, barking at the sight of Adam, the little dogs running around his feet. Adam walked past the bar, its dusty shelf bare except for a stack of plastic tumblers. A bottle of spirits was on the bench, still in its brown paper bag. Adam checked down his arms and chest and legs. There was no blood on him. It hadn’t been that kind of fight. Bruises and grazes were all he had. He went through the archway into the lived-in section of the house. The dogs ran ahead.
Rooms looked different without his father in them. The lounge room seemed more cramped. The couch sagged lower. The TV looked smaller, and the cabinet it sat on wasn’t anything so special – glass doors, glass shelves, glass ornaments. Monty and Jerry jumped on the couch and ran along it; they hopped down again and darted for their beds underneath the coffee table. They sat quivering on their cushions. Dogs didn’t need to see things to know they had happened. Wet dark worry shone in their eyes.
The dirty plates from dinner were on the kitchen bench. In the sink were the greasy frying pan and a vegetable pot. An open packet of Savoy biscuits lay on the table. Tied around one table leg was a short length of rope. Adam went to the fridge. In the time it had taken him to walk from the backroom to the front rooms, he’d caught his breath. He was shaking less. He wiped his top lip dry. Adam drank from the carton of milk. He stopped and listened, drank again.
Armed with a carving knife from the cutlery drawer, Adam sank down against the kitchen cupboards. He held the blade, pointing out, between his legs. When he felt up to it, less like crying, he’d go in search of his father’s handgun.”
If you’d like to read more about Honey’s books, please click the book covers below and you will be directed to their pages on Penguin’s website.
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