Join renowned author Chris Hammer online as he presents his newest gripping Martin Scarsden novel, Trust.
Chris will be joined by Jenn Martin from the City of Sydney Library for an “in conversation” style event on Wednesday, October 14 at 6.30pm, and attendees can tune in via Zoom.
Ahead of this, Focus caught up with Chris to discuss his newest book and all things writing. This is what he had to say:
1. How did the idea for Trust come about?
After Scrublands and Silver, readers knew plenty about my main protagonist, the damaged journalist Martin Scarsden and his fraught past. But I realised there was a ten-year gap in the backstory of his partner, Mandalay (Mandy) Blonde. So I started wondering what happened in those ten years.
2. How does Trust differ from your previous books?
Like Scrublands and Silver, Trust can be read as a standalone book, but unlike the previous two books, Trust is set in a real place: Sydney – although it is an imagined Sydney, not an objective depiction.
But the big difference is that there are two points of view in Trust: Martin’s and Mandy’s. So we get to see inside her head and not just his. It gives the book a whole different feel.
3. This book has shorter chapters, why have you decided to do this?
This wasn’t a conscious decision, but a product of alternating points of view between Martin and Mandy. But I like the shorter chapters; the effect is to add greater pace and momentum to the narrative.
4. You have a background in writing – as a journalist. How did you make the switch into writing fiction and non-fiction books?
I’ve always loved writing and wanted to write books. I wrote the non-fiction books to examine some issues in a depth that was not possible in daily journalism. With the fiction, it was more the desire to enjoy writing and express myself. So the crime writing started almost as a hobby; it was only later that it became my career!
5. Apart from the length, is the writing process different for writing fiction and non-fiction novels compared to articles?
With journalism, you’re always striving for objectivity. It’s very fact based, and the style is quite rigid. With writing fiction, you’re trying to weave a story, a narrative, and make it compelling and intriguing. So it’s far more imaginative and impressionistic, and the style if really up to the author. Some journalists make the transition easily, others find it really difficult.
6. What journalistic skills do you still use to write your stories?
The discipline of writing helps. No journalist can wait around for inspiration, you just do the best you can before deadline. Also, you get used to the language, and the power of words, and the benefits of brevity. Also, if you interview enough people, you start getting an ear for the way people speak, which can help writing dialogue.
7. Is the character Martin Scarsden based off you and your past experiences as a journalist?
Not his personality, but some of his perspectives on journalism and his work practices are based on my experiences. As a foreign correspondent I would come across reporters who were suffering PTSD from covering war zones. Martin is based in part on some of them.
8. How much time do you spend researching your stories? Is that enough time?
For a fiction writer, I think imagination will always trump research. That said, it is important that the story is believable and seems authentic to readers. So I tend to research retrospectively. That is, I write the story and then go back and check if it matches reality, or is at least possible. So I don’t do a whole lot of research before formulating the story, although I know a lot of very successful authors who do work like that.
9. What tips do you have for budding writers?
Enjoy the writing process – don’t worry too much about how it will be received. Or how you will be received. Just try and write the best book you can.
10. Anything else that you would like to add?
It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, including book sellers. So as we head into Christmas, please consider supporting your local book stores and Australian writers.
The Zoom event is presented in collaboration with NSW Public Libraries.
Copies of the book can be purchased from Booktopia: https://bit.ly/343sHDf.
You can also borrow Chris’ books from your local Hills Shire Library branch, including Scrublands, Silver and The Coast. Please check for availability, and you can also request a copy to borrow by logging into the library website, www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Library.