In the Clearing is a dark, chilling, atmospheric thriller. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
It’s the story of a woman Freya and a girl Amy. Freya is always wearing a mask. Who is doing everything she can to fit in with the yoga mums and others in her community. She lives with her son, whom she would do anything to protect, and her guard dog on the edge of a national park. Amy on the other hand had only known life inside Blackmarsh, a new age cult. She is in her teens and is beginning to wonder what life is like outside of the clearing, where she lives with her ten sisters and brothers. When a new girl is ‘collected’ and brought to live with them, Amy gets more insight into the world outside and decides to take matters into her own hands.
What inspired the idea behind this novel?
This story was heavily inspired by ‘The Family’ cult which was active in Victoria from the sixties to the nineties. I was fascinated by the fact it is one of the only well-known cults to be founded by a women, and also the deep ties the cult had to the medical and academic world in Australia.
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
In recent times I’ve been heavily influenced by films and documentaries. I always felt like it was cheating to take inspiration from the narrative arts outside of books but the narrative structure of In The Clearing was really inspired by the TV show Westworld. And I’ve been really influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, re-watching many of his films with an eye for the way he used misdirection and sleight of hand to set up twists and keep the viewer engaged.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I try to write for a few hours during the day at least, then go for a run in the afternoon, or read a book. Then after dinner I will try to get another hour or two in before bed. If I am sleeping well and hitting my stride I might write for ten to twelve hours in a day. I’m working on book three at the moment which is a thriller about a couple who decide to list their place on Airbnb for the first time. After the guests check out they notice everything is a little bit different inside their home.
What were some of your favourite reads of 2019?
I loved A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop, which is such an important book to read at the moment given the recent bushfires. I also loved Preservation by Jock Serong. He can’t miss, every Jock Serong book is a winner. I loved The Wife and The Widow by Christian White who is shaping up to be a very big name in crime fiction. I also loved Michael Robotham’s latest Good Girl, Bad Girl. The Mother in-law by Sally Hepworht was another fantastic read and no 2019 list would be complete without Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid which I listened to as an audiobook and adored.