Briefly tell us about your book.
Set in the bucolic seaside town I grew up in, Catch Us the Foxes is a gripping psychological thriller that follows a young journalist’s gruesome discovery at the town’s annual show. With national interest in the murder of the reigning showgirl growing by the day, the journalist must decide if she wants to help keep a dark secret or break the biggest story of her career.
What inspired the idea behind this book?
The novel is inspired by my love of small-town murder mysteries (I’m obsessed with Twin Peaks), as well as my desperation to escape my former hometown and my experience as the daughter of a third-generation police officer. It also explores the horrifying yet well-documented rumours of ritualistic slayings that allegedly took place in the area’s sprawling rainforest (seriously)!
Tell us about your background and what led you to writing this book.
It feels strange to admit this, given the novel’s content, but the story is deeply personal to me—some may even say semi-autobiographical (minus the murder, of course)! In fact, prior to writing the novel, I was actually working on a memoir about my experience of developing a debilitating medical condition at the age of twelve and ultimately having to fight for my right to receive a medically necessary hysterectomy as a teenager. At its core, Catch Us the Foxes is the fictionalised version of that memoir.
It captures the same feeling I felt of being trapped in my hometown due to my health problems but in a heightened and distorted way—as if being viewed via a funhouse mirror. The story is peppered with my own memories (everything from being penpals with Ivan Milat to being trapped inside a ghost train when it blacked out) that blur the lines between fact and fiction. But, more than anything, the book captures how desperate a person can feel to get out of the place that shaped them and asks what they’d be prepared to do to escape.
What was the research process like for the book?
I’ve always been a huge crime buff, so a lot of my research came from topics I’d already read about extensively—a lot of true crime revolving around conspiracies, the phenomenon of satanic panic, and modern-day cults.
I was also fortunate to be able to pick the brain of my (police officer) dad, who put up with a lot of dumb and weird questions over the course of writing the novel. He was also kind enough to walk me through precisely what would happen if I found a body at the local show and reported the finding to him—because sometimes you need to know the rules before you can break them.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
It sounds incredibly cheesy, but you really have to find what makes your heart sing. I took a non-fiction writing course when I was writing my memoir and a guest author said that the writing process had to feel like a compulsion—like something you couldn’t live without. I remember being frustrated by that comment because it was so contrary to my own experience. But when I finally ditched the memoir and switched to the novel, I suddenly understood what she meant. Don’t be afraid to change things up and experiment with genres/styles until you find the one that resonates with you most.