‘And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room Rules no longer apply.’
Hannah Tigone, bestselling Australian crime author, is crafting a new novel that begins in the Boston Public Library: four strangers; Winifred, Cain, Marigold and Whit are sitting at the same table when a bloodcurdling scream breaks the silence. A woman has been murdered. They are all suspects, and, as it turns out, each character has their own secrets and motivations – and one of them is a murderer.
While crafting this new thriller, Hannah shares each chapter with her biggest fan and aspirational novelist, Leo. But Leo seems to know a lot about violence, motive, and how exactly to kill someone. Perhaps he is not all that he seems…
The Woman in the Library is an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship – and shows that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.
The Woman in the Library was published in ebook and hardcover on 15 September by Ultimo Press with the paperback following on 13 April 2023. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invite and to Sulari Gentill for her time in answering my questions. Welcome to My Reading Corner Sulari, I’m delighted to host you today.
It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Sulari. Would you please tell us a little about your background and without giving anything away, a brief introduction to The Woman in the Library.
Thank you for having me.
I’m an Australian – I live in a small town in the Snowy Mountains of NSW, where I grow black truffles and write. Once upon a time I was a lawyer. Writing took over my life about 10 years ago.
The Woman in the Library is a story within a mystery folded into the pages of a correspondence. Four strangers in the reading room of the Boston Public Library are introduced by a scream and friendships blossom under the shadow of murder – it just so happens that one of them is a killer.
You’ve written across different genres but is there one genre in particular that interests you the most?
I think of myself as a storyteller. I’m not sure I’d define myself purely by one genre, but I do love that crime fiction is such a wonderful medium for talking about society and all its foibles within the context of a murder mystery. The pursuit of truth and justice at the heart of the crime novel lends itself to the examination of institutions and power, equity and humanity, whilst still keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. My books are as much about those conversations as they are about murder.
Which comes first, plot or characters? Do you plan in detail or just see where the story takes you?
Neither. I’m what they call in Australia, an extreme pantser (I write by the seat of my pants). I don’t plot at all. The story unfolds word by word onto the page as I write it. I think characters and story influence each other. The choices made by characters determine the plot, and the plot changes and develops the characters. They fall onto the page together, and hopelessly entangled.
Based on your own experience, what’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to get their novel published? Looking back to getting your first novel published, is there anything you wished you had done differently?
I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I submitted my first manuscript – I just sent it out to publishers and it just so happened that the stars aligned for me. I do wish that I’d tried harder to secure an agent. Because I was a lawyer, I thought I would be able to handle the contract side without issue but there is a lot that is particular to this industry that I did not know I did not know. So, my advice would be to get representation if you can, and persist. Sometimes you have to wait for your moment.
Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy the most (or find the most difficult) – i.e. researching, writing, editing?
I love the actual writing part – the first discovery of story as it emerges.
Are there any authors whose books have made an impact on you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?
I grew up reading Agatha Christie and I still admire the wit and intellect of her work. There were so many things that she did first. I’m currently reading Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson, and it’s brilliant.
What was the best money you ever spent for your writing career?
I bought a very light laptop. I am never without my laptop so investing in one that was light saved me developing misaligned shoulders!
Are you a re-reader of books, or a one-time only reader? If a re-reader, is there one book that you would always return to?
I’m not generally a re-reader. However, I do return to books, or parts of books in my memory often. I revisit To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Great Gatsby regularly in this way.
Finally, when not working or writing, what hobbies do you have to relax with?
I paint – portraits mainly, and I garden. In winter, I truffle hunt with my dog. Every now and then I feel the urge to bake pies – I’m not sure what that’s about because I don’t really cook otherwise. And, living in a small town, I find myself drawn into various community events and shows, though I try to avoid meetings at all costs.
Sulari Gentill is the author of the multi- award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of (currently) ten historical crime novels set in 1930s Australia. Under the name S. D. Gentill, Sulari wrote the The Hero Trilogy – a fantasy adventure series based on the myths and legends of the ancient world. Her widely praised standalone novel, Crossing the Lines, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Novel, was short-listed for the Davitt Award, and chosen as Apple’s Best Book of the Month for April 2020. Most recently, Sulari was awarded a Copyright Agency Cultural Fund Fellowship for The Woman in the Library. Sulari lives in a small country town in the Australian Snowy Mountains where she grows French Black Truffles and writes. She remains in love with the art of storytelling.
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