Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen #2: P.M. Newton

This is #2 in what we plan to make a regular feature here at Fair Dinkum Crime.
New South Wales writer P.M. Newton has agreed to respond to our version of an author interview. We’ve approached the author interview a little differently, trying to offer the authors (who we thought must get asked a few standard questions fairly frequently) the opportunity to share some of their lesser known secrets. Or not, it’s entirely up to them. We provide the authors with 13 beginnings and, like the creative geniuses they are, they turn them into sentences (or paragraphs, or full blown essays should the urge arise).

And so to P.M’s responses…

I often wonder…what happened to my personal jet pack? I was in primary school when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. We watched it in class then went out into the playground. The moon was out, we were all looking at it, and walking around in slow motion like we were up there. The future seemed very close and very modern and very certain. Seriously, Star Trek looked totally doable in my life time. Instead, we’ve ended up with science having to defend everything from climate change to evolution. I feel a little ripped off, to be honest.

Friends would describe me as… often distracted, rather than distracting.

I will never…say never. Not because I’m James Bond, but because I’ve changed directions so many times in my life that I think it’s probably unwise of me to definitively rule things in – or out. Twenty years ago, when I was in the police force, I probably would have said I’d never write a book, any book, let alone a book about crime.

My greatest fear is…all my teeth falling out. It’s my only recurring nightmare and, as I have bad teeth, it often tends to be a prescient one. 

My worst job was…running a court matter involving a young victim that, unlike a TV show but exactly like real life, ended badly with no justice, no satisfaction and no resolution.

I’m in dire need of…self-discipline.

My childhood was…happy. I was the youngest in a large family, and when I remember childhood it seems like it was always summer, I was always swimming and Christmas was always just around the corner. My father became ill with cancer when I was 12 and died when I was 14. Life divided abruptly into before and after childhood.

I wish I had… &I wish I hadn¹t… that way madness lies.

The thing I hate most about being a writer is…always wondering if the next thing I write is the one that will reveal me to be a false pretender, someone who doesn’t belong in the world of writers and writing.

The last book I read was…I usually have a few on the go, overlapping. So, The Legacy, by Kristen Tranter, which made me take a good long look at myself in regards to the way it dissects friendships, Bodywork by Sara Paretsky, an American crime writer with a social conscience and a sharp political stance. Right now, I’m about halfway through River of Gods by Ian McDonald, which is going to be turned into a movie, and will be amazing. Sci-fi, set in India, that is believable and mind blowing all at once.

The next book I’ll write is…the third in my crime series set in 1990s Sydney, featuring Detective Nhu, “Ned” Kelly. I’m inspired by the way The Wire used the serial element of storytelling to really unpick the fabric of a society. That is what I hope to do with with these books. Things changed in this country during that decade, a crime series is a great way to unravel just what and how.

Being an Australian author means… many different things to many different writers. To me, at this moment, it means using what I know and feel about my place – Sydney and its suburbs, New South Wales and its regions, this country, its people, its cops and its dark and wild places – and telling stories about what happened to us as a people during a decade where a lot of things changed, not necessarily for the better.

Thanks to P.M. (Pam) for agreeing to play along with our new feature and for revealing so much of herself.
See our review of  THE OLD SCHOOL

P.M. Newton joined the New South Wales police force in 1982 and over the next thirteen years worked in Drug Enforcement, Sexual Assault, and Major Crime. When she had eventually had enough of meeting people for the first time on the worst day of their lives, she resigned from the Job, went to Mali and wrote about music, then to India and taught English to Tibetan monks. She now lives in Sydney.
The Old School is her first novel. The second is with her publisher – Penguin – while the third is slowly leaking from her head into a small notebook.

The Concrete Midden: P.M. Newton’s blog

P.M. Newton will be appearing with James Bradley and Kirsten Tranter in “When Genres Attack” at Shearers Bookshop on Friday 13th May at 7:30pm
Teaching “Perfect Crime” at the NSW Writers Centre Saturday 4th June
She has an alarming schedule of events and appearances listed on her blog, including Sydney Writers’ Festival.

The Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen has been launched especially to celebrate Australian Authors Month which is a cross-genre celebration of Australian writing. In addition to sharing reviews, author interviews, competitions and anything else relating to the writing and reading of works by Aussie authors the month is focussed on raising awareness of the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP). The ILP is a charity with the aim of raising literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities and it works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

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