Monday, May 21, 2007

In Real Life: Katherine Howell and Leigh Redhead

Having entered the world of crime fiction on the Internet about the same time I started reading properly again, I've had the distinct pleasure of getting to know much more than a handful of people, virtually. I've exchanged critiques, indulged in conversation on forums, even emailed about personal issues, but I've never actually met anyone in person. Until just the other day.

Authors Katherine Howell and Leigh Redhead happened to be dropping into Better Read Than Dead, one of my favourite book stores. My local, in fact. So when I received an email from Katherine inviting me to coffee afterwards, I was well chuffed. And a little anxious.

See, the people I know In Real Life are people I've met through friends, at clubs or parties, at work ... but never through the Internet. Considering I'm a programmer by day, you'd think I'd be fine with this. And I am. It's just that ... I've never met anyone through the Internet before. In all honesty, I was a little nervous to meet them both.

And I did this about about fifteen minutes after I'd planned to, on account of confusing the meeting spot with another cafe that happened to be right up the other end of King Street. After an embarrassing phone call to Katherine--embarrassing because I only live just down the road--I made it to the cafe, hot and sweaty from the brisk walk in the unusually warm sun.

The cafe was chaotic and noisy, so while we made our introductions, I ordered a coffee to calm my nerves. Yes, Mr. I Just Quit Caffeine decided to have a coffee. To relax. With my jitters now in full force, we powered through the conversation, learning a lot about each other's experiences in the world of writing in a very short time.

What I learned:

  • Leigh did roughly the same PI course as me, although she dropped out further into it, but not before having a rollicking good time on the surveillance practical.
  • Katherine has seen people die and live again, but none of them have gone on to write psychic self-help books about their experiences. Although there was one woman who thought she died for two weeks before returning to this material plane. The only explanation I could offer for this was the wanton use of chemicals.
  • Both Leigh and Katherine were the only crime writers during their shared time at Varuna, the NIDA of the writing industry in Australia.
  • I'm not the only writer who has complicated strategies for procrastination and Internet avoidance / addiction.
  • Australian publishers seem to put a fair amount of effort into promoting their authors.
  • Peter Temple is probably not going to join Crimespace (yes, I hope he sees this). Actually, I just made this one up. But I'm still hoping he sees it. And joins. Peter?
  • When Katherine and Leigh saw the Crimespace t-shirt pictured above, they both wanted one. I must look into ways of getting them printed in bulk. Until then ... there's always the store.
  • And one last plug for Crimespace: Leigh and Katherine were amazed at the number of very cool crime fiction authors out there in the world.
It was great to meet and chat with Katherine and Leigh. Not just because it was the first time I could share out loud the thoughts I've had locked inside my head for the last three years (must remember to avoid mentioning my fetish for sniffing book binding glue), but also because they were both nice enough not to run away screaming.

I'm currently powering through Leigh's debut novel, PEEPSHOW, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to get signed copies of their books. Leigh's being CHERRY PIE, the latest in the same series as the debut, and Katherine's being FRANTIC, the beginning of what promises to be an exciting series.

By all accounts, it looks like I'm in for a great read.

Interviews from ABC: Katherine Howell, Leigh Redhead


Stephen Blackmoore said...

See, this is where globalization breaks down. I can't seem to find either of their books here. And that's just stupid.

We need an international lending library. Something like, but for international. And not a centralized lending location. Read a book, pass it on, update the site with who's got it. Somebody wants it, it gets passed on again.

If it's one thing the internet has shown me, it's the the world is too goddamn big.

Karen C said...

You know, a person could get to resent you Sydney'siders and all the fun you get to have :)

Great photo incidentally.

Also Angus & Robertson showed up on my blog recently to say that they will sell Leigh's books directly from their website - of course you'll probably have to hock Nanna to pay for the postage!

Now if any of us could just work out the being cool and sophisticated when confronted with the "author" we'd all probably be a lot happier or at least feel a lot less silly.

Now, Mr Temple - where on earth are you?

Karen who is way too far out of Melbourne as well :)

Katherine said...

Hey, don't worry, the authors feel just as nervous!!
Daniel, it was great to meet you. Karen and Damien, maybe next time?

Stephen, Abbeys bookshop sells online to overseas destinations, and I happen to know they have signed copies of both Leigh's and my books.


Daniel Hatadi said...

Stephen: you're onto something. I wonder if there's a way to cut down on shopping by using eBooks and POD with the whole caboodle?

Karen: Melbourne always seems to have all the fun to me! (if we call Peter Temple three times he should magically appear).

Katherine: Great to meet you too, and it would be great to get together a whole Aussies in Crime Fiction On The Internet party sometime.

Daniel Hatadi said...

I meant 'shipping', not shopping. Sheesh.