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Monday, March 03, 2008

Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot - Geoff McGeachin

1. The humorous spy novel is not a field that we see many books cover these days, yet the James Bond movies often tend towards the whimsical and are very popular. Is there a touch of James Bond in the acting Director-General of D.E.D, Alby Murdoch?

Alby is of course out of a job as acting DG after crossing the Defence Minister. He also wasn’t well suited for management as he realized after discovering that six months into the job he was already eight months behind in his paperwork. Unlike Mr. Bond Alby is just stumbling through, very much like the rest of us.

As to humour I guess I’m one of those people who can spot the hypocrisy and absurdity that exists in much of modern life and it comes out in my writing. To think there are people out there who know better and will do the right thing by us and look after us is pretty silly. I want to believe but I’m always disappointed so I push the other way, making the situations more extreme and funny and much to my horror way too often finding I’m not far from the truth. Alby does his job and he’s good at it but he can see the underlying silliness of it. The reviewer who called Alby a “highly competent larrikin’ actually got him in three words. The world weary secret agent is a cliché and I prefer to think of Alby as post-cynical.

2. Is Alby going to be called into action again? Will he continue to have the same luck with women?

Alby is already well back in action. On unpaid leave following an unfortunate comment disparaging the new head of DED he is shooting stills on a movie in Vietnam. The movie is about a dead war hero who it turns out isn’t as dead as people think. Soon after this discovery choppers start falling from the sky, people go missing and Alby discovers he has an appointment with the bottom of the Mekong. The story runs from Saigon to northern Thailand, through Laos to Dien Bien Phu, Hong Kong, Canberra and finally Darwin. And Alby is heading for a showdown with four women, three of whom can outsmart and outshoot him and a fourth who is a much better cook. Both Alby and I are looking forward to seeing how this one comes out.

3. Do you read much Australian crime fiction? Can you give us a few standouts that you've read recently? What do you think of the current state of the Australian crime fiction scene?

This whole writing thing only started for me in 2003 and hit me hard timewise. Combined with teaching and taking photographs to pay the mortgage has filled up days way too much. Lindy Cameron's REDBACK is on the bedside table but on hold till I meet the deadline for the new Alby book.

4. What do you think could be done to better promote Australian authors either at home or abroad (or both)?

The internet has promise with sites like austcrimefiction, crimespace and crimedownunder really getting the word out. The TV book programmes are always a tad literary in their leanings and you’d reckon a smart cable channel could fill up some air time with a regular crime and thriller book show. It would be cheap to do, there’d be no shortage of guests and to set the right dark and shadowy mood you would only need to use one light so there’s a big cost saving right off. Let us just say there have been primary discussions regarding this scenario.

5. If your fictional character could meet any fictional character who would you like it to be and why?

My agent once suggested that Alby could get together with Tara Moss’s Mak Vanderwall in a jointly written thriller. Having once been married to a six foot American fashion model Ms Moss holds no fears for me but I’m not sure how Alby would cope with Ms Mak. However the thought of George Smiley taking over from Gwenda Felton as the head of DED could be interesting. I’m damned sure George would have Alby’s number right from the get-go.

Geoff McGeachin is the author of two bitingly clever spy novels, DED Dead and Sensitive New Age Spy, that are unmistakably Aussie featuring Alby Murdoch. A 3rd novel Fat, Fifty & F***ked is based around a fugitive adventure that features encounters with all sorts of mad buggers, rounding off a trio of very entertaining humorous crime novels.

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