About the author
Garry Disher has published almost fifty titles—fiction, children’s books, anthologies, textbooks, the Wyatt thrillers and the Mornington Peninsula mysteries. He has won numerous awards, including the German Crime Prize (twice) and two Ned Kelly Best Crime novel awards, for Chain of Evidence (2007) and Wyatt (2010). Garry lives on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Peace is about a police constable based in farming country mid-way between Adelaide and the Flinders Ranges who becomes embroiled in a dark, complex narrative. Can you tell us a little bit about Peace?
My character Hirsch works out of a one-officer police station in a small, dusty country town. Mostly he deals with minor crimes, like kids joyriding in a stolen ute, and he makes long-distance patrols, checking on the lonely and the vulnerable. In the lead-up to Christmas, a vicious incident sends a ripple of violence through the community and it’s clear that a season of peace and goodwill is unlikely…
Last year, when you won the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award, you were described as “a giant not only of crime fiction, but of Australian letters”. What do awards like this mean to you on a personal level?
I’ve been writing and publishing books for years and, for most of that time, it was like working inside a bubble. I had no sense that anyone was reading me or liked my books. To win an award, or simply receive a letter or an email from a reader, means a great deal to me, it’s a kind of validation.
You have written from the perspective of the criminal, but also frequently from the perspective of the authoritarian cop or detective: who do you prefer getting inside the mind of?
Mostly I’m on the side of the good guys. My character Hirsch, in Peace, is an amiable, often put-upon character, usually sidelined and overlooked, and I enjoy his faintly cynical, wryly humorous and unimpressed view of the people he has to deal with. At the same time, I get a kick out of entering the weird mindsets, grievances and motivations of the bad guys in my Wyatt series of caper novels and Peninsula series of police procedurals.
You’ve spoken before about trusting your instincts in whether a plot will work. How long do you think it takes to find that confidence in your craft?
Certainly, experience helps me get it right, but I’m also a planner, spending weeks thinking my way through the story and keeping several balls in the air. But I’m not a slave to the plan: I’ve learnt to trust the niggling voice in my head that says, ‘She wouldn’t do that, given the type of person she is,’ for example. There’s no right or wrong, many of my peers say they don’t plan, but I bet they always listen to that niggling voice.
What’s your daily writing routine like and have you ever struggled to write? It seems implausible with 50 books under your belt!
I treat writing as a job. I don’t wait for inspiration. Instead, I write from about 8 a.m. to noon six days a week. I’ve learnt it’s better to write than think about writing. Writing a few words always unlocks more words and gets the mind working. Sometimes I might write only a paragraph in order to get the tone and flow right, or several pages if the words are flowing well. The afternoons are spent correcting or researching (or lawnmowing).