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Author Q&A: Christian White

 

Meet the author behind our thrilling Book of the Month, The Nowhere Child!

This debut crime novel about a child gone missing will have you on the edge of your seat until you read the very last page.

Which authors and books have influenced you?
I’ve managed to narrow it down to my top three, which was no easy task! Stephen King, Gillian Flynn and Haruki Murakami. King writes with an amazing sense of nostalgia and draws you into his books like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I re-read It every few years. Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places made a huge impression – all her books are infused with a particular sort of darkness that attracts and repulses at the same time. Then there’s Murakami, who writes with simplicity and effortlessly creates quiet worlds you want to crawl into and live. There’s something mundane, cosy and desperate about his books that I can’t put into words. If I was Murakami, I probably could. Each are geniuses in their own unique way and I try to channel all three while I’m writing. An honourable mention should also go to Enid Blyton, whose books I grew up on. King made me want to write; Blyton made me want to read.

What’s the hardest part of writing a thriller?
The hardest part for me, but also the most important, is putting character before plot. I write with a detailed plan and always work toward a big climactic ending where all the loose strands and puzzle pieces pay off. So, it can be frustrating when you reach a point in your story and a character refuses to do what you want. It sounds a little crazy, but characters take on a life of their own as you flesh them out. For example, you might want a character to run into a burning building to save an old family photo album. In fact, you need them to run into that building because the elaborate third act you have planned won’t work otherwise. But over the many chapters you’ve spent living inside this fictional person’s head, you’ve discovered they’d never run into that burning building and the whole plan gets derailed. I hit these sorts of roadblocks a lot but, difficult as it is, I always choose character over plot.

A lot of people are talking about The Nowhere Child around the world. What’s been the most exciting part of getting a publishing deal?

Reading is a deal you strike with the author: you give them a handful of hours of your life and, if they’re doing their job, you get a good story in return. The idea that anyone – let alone people on the other side of the world – will give their time to read my story, is beyond thrilling. The idea of seeing my words in multiple languages blows my mind! But the most exciting thing about getting the publishing deal is the fact I now get to spend my days doing what I love.

A central part of your book is something called ‘decay theory’ – can you explain it?

I became obsessed with memory one Christmas day a few years ago, when I was talking to my nan, who has aged dementia. She has no idea who I am anymore and I wondered: is her memory of me gone, or has she simply lost the ability to access it? Decay Theory basically suggests we forget things because the memory of it fades as time passes. When we experience something, a neurochemical trace is created, like a thread we tug on when we want to remember it. But over time, if we don’t tug on that thread enough, it fades. That’s why older memories can be stronger than new ones. It might mean that the memories themselves are gone, or, and this is far more interesting to me, it might mean we simply can’t retrieve the memories anymore. So when the thread is gone the memories remain, floating around our head untethered.

The book alternates between Australia and Southern USA. What drew you to Kentucky?

I was really excited to explore the strange and fascinating world of Pentecostal snake handlers, religious fundamentalists who worship God by handling venomous snakes and scorpions. Kentucky is one of only a few states in America where these churches exist, so that was a really practical reason to take the story there. I also spent a little time in Kentucky years ago with my family and had an experience that stuck with me. I went on a walking tour through Mammoth Cave, an expansive system of underground caves and tunnels. Once inside, the tour guide switched off all the lamps. The darkness was so heavy and intense that it stuck with me. Whenever I think about Kentucky I think about that darkness, so I figured: what better place to set a thriller?

Down To Earth Cave, Mammoth Cave National Park | Source: TripAdvisor

And now for the fun questions!

Batman or Superman?

Definitely Batman. He’s complex, deeply flawed and has devoted his life to something insane. I like characters I can relate to. 

Who is your fictional alter-ego?

I’m equal parts Ralph and Piggy from Lord of the Flies.

What’s your favourite reading position?

In our sagging old armchair, semi-reclined in the corner of the living room, fire lit, raining outside, dog snoozing at my feet, coffee/beer/wine on the little table beside me.

 

About Christian White:

Christian White is an Australian author and screenwriter whose projects include feature film RelicThe Nowhere Child is his first book. An early draft of this novel won the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and rights were quickly sold into fifteen countries.

Born and raised on the Mornington Peninsula, Christian had an eclectic range of ‘day jobs’ before he was able to write full time, including food-cart driver on a golf course and video editor for an adult film company. He now spends his days writing from home in Melbourne, where he lives with his wife, filmmaker Summer DeRoche, and their adopted greyhound, Issy. He has a passion for true crime podcasts, Stephen King and anything to do with Bigfoot. The Nowhere Child is his first book. He’s working on his second.

Q&A provided by Affirm Press

Meet Our July Book of the Month: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

 

'Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.'

On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes Kim is that girl.

At first she brushes it off, but when Kim scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren't easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy's home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town's secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying and entirely unexpected climax.

The Nowhere Child is QBD Books' July Book of the Month! Pick up your copy in store or online today. 

What our QBD readers are saying:

"I have never experienced a book quite like the Nowhere Child. The characters practically leap off the page with their vivid natures and stark personalities. The alternating chapters unmask the truth behind Sammy Went's future and Kimberley's past, each segment leaving you begging for more. Christian White has stepped up to the mantle for this phenomenal debut, and is a name to watch in future." - Paige, Penrith QBD

"Fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins will devour this debut novel set in both the past and the present. Sammy Went was taken from her Kentucky home when she was two. Is it possible that twenty eight years later, Stu has finally found his missing sister? Action-packed and dripping in mystery til the last. As the secrets, both past and present, unravel, you will be left questioning who to trust."- Rosie, Carousel QBD

"It's always a breath of fresh air to have an Australian author debut into any genre, but crime is still waiting for its Aussie star. Christian White is that star. With world-building and suspense rivalling Stephen King and characters that could out-charm a Jane Harper hero, 'The Nowhere Child' will have you hanging on until the turn of the final page. This is one novel you can't afford to miss. "- Samuel, Geelong QBD

"I loved this: a slow-burn mystery in which no-one is who they seem. Kim's sense of self disintegrates when a stranger tells her that she was abducted as a child. Determined to uncover the truth, she follows the trail from Australia to small town America. There are some great Stephen King-ish touches and an elegant ending twist. I don't consider myself a crime reader, but I enjoyed this so much!" - Amy, Strathpine QBD

 

Can't wait to get your hands on this awesome novel? Read an extract here

 

Meet Our October Book of The Month!

Jane Harper's second novel, Force of Nature, featuring Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk is a gripping crime thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat!
And luckily, it's our October Book of the Month! But we won't gush on...we'll let Jane tell you all about the book herself:

Here's what our teams around Australia are saying:

Following the phenomenal debut of her first novel, 'The Dry', Jane Harper returns with the equally well-written and suspenseful, 'Force of Nature'. Harper successfully combines the whodunit prowess of Agatha Christie with the relentlessness of the Australian Bush. 'Force of Nature' provides a fast-paced read that uses all it's characters to deliver a layered and complex example of crime-fiction. 4.5 stars. - T.S., Innaloo QBD

I loved it! Another spellbinding thriller full of suspense from Jane Harper, just like her debut novel The Dry.
Alice Russell goes missing during a team building exercise in rugged bushland, with Aaron Falk called into help solve the mystery once again. A page turner from the beginning, it kept pace but was a bit anti-climatic at the end. I'm patiently awaiting her next novel! 4 stars. - R.D., Strathpine QBD

Addictive and atmospheric, Force of Nature is suspenseful in a way you simply have to experience for yourself. Jane Harper effortlessly captures a sense of place, highlighting the dangers of the Australian bush as five women try to navigate their way out..and only four return. With a fine line between the truth and lies, and a mini-cliffhanger at the end of each chapter - I could not put it down! 4.5 stars. - E.A., Miranda QBD

Harper lives up to the hype in her highly anticipated sequel, Force of Nature. The characters, plot, and realistic setting are as superb and well-crafted as they were in her award-winning debut The Dry. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoyed Big Little Lies—the book, or the television show—anyone who read and enjoyed The Dry, and all lovers of a good-old-fashioned 'whodunit' story. 5 stars. - T.H., Browns Plains QBD

Jane Harper impresses her ever-widening readership again with this corporate-crime thriller which develops the Australian landscape into a character just as dark, secretive and brooding as the others. Police procedural continues to get its Harper makeover, Patricia Cornwell meets Liane Moriarty with Fiona Palmer standing nearby in a pair of jeans. 3.5 stars. - J.D., Doncaster QBD

Have you read The Poet?

Michael Connelly's The Poet is our April Book Of The Month! At only $12.99, it's great value!

What an experience! The Poet is a rollercoaster ride - a whole bunch of twists and turns and tiny, misleading drops that build up to the final plummet. This is a novel that kept me turning page after page, wanting to puzzle out whodunnit. I thought I was oh so clever following the hints in between the lines but boy was I wrong! A definite must read for lovers of John Grisham and David Baldacci! - Karen C., Tweed heads QBD

Say hello to our March Book of the Month!

 

Our March Book of the Month is Nicola Moriarty's biting new novel, The Fifth Letter!

85541From the back of the book: Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year for a girls' getaway. Careers, husbands and babies have pulled these old high-school friends in different directions, and the closeness they once enjoyed is increasingly elusive.

This year, in a bid to revive their intimacy they each share a secret in an anonymous letter. But the revelations are unnerving. Then a fifth letter is discovered, venting long-held grudges and murderous thoughts. But who was the author? And which of the friends should be worried?

"What fun and suspense! Nicola Moriarty does not disappoint and certainly lives up to her sister's fame. Settling down with a glass of wine and this book was definitely an evening well spent. I couldn't put it down until I had discovered all the twists and turns Moriarty could offer! As Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina catch up on their girls getaway they each share a secret via an anonymous letter. However, the holiday takes a dark turn when a fifth letter is discovered which details long suffered hatreds and murderous thoughts. Who wrote the letter? And who does it target? This book was a funny and dark read full of bright, sparkling prose and well thought out observations about the way women relate to each other and the pressures of modern life on relationships. I was left thinking about my relationships with my friends, what secrets I keep, and what secrets they could be keeping from me. Definitely a book for lovers of Liane Moriarty or Jodi Picoult!" - Bronte, QBD Brisbane City