Written by author and festival director, LMJ Owen
Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, visits Tasmania
As mentioned in Part 1, Agatha Christie visited Tasmania in 1922 and loved it. She wrote in her autobiography:
“Incredibly beautiful Hobart, with its deep blue sea and harbor, and its flowers, trees and shrubs. I planned to come back and live there one day.”
The world’s most celebrated crime fiction author may not have returned to Tasmania’s dark and glorious shores, but she did inspire generations of writers to follow her in her footsteps.
2019, a New Agatha Christie-inspired Festival
In 2019, I was inspired by Agatha Christie’s love of Tasmania to found the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival (TARWF) – Australia’s southern-most literary festival.
Each year, we offer:
- a professional development program for writers, including writers’ retreats,
- livestream sessions from the Sydney Writers’ Festival,
- a literary exhibition highlighting local stories, and
- a children’s short story competition.
2022, the Centenary of Agatha Christie’s Tour of Tasmania
Last year, to mark the centenary of Agatha’s visit, I curated a literary exhibition of crime and mystery novels published in the past century, either by Tasmanians or set in Tasmania.
To my surprise, I discovered more than 35 authors and 100 novels.
TASMANIA | A CENTURY OF MYSTERY Literary Exhibition
As a body of work, Tasmanian crime and mystery fiction is diverse, often with a sense of history and usually with that hint of irreverence that is quintessentially Tasmanian.
The TASMANIA | A CENTURY OF MYSTERY Exhibition was available for public viewing in the Huon Valley across the month of October 2022.
The full list of works included is on our website:
There are cozy reads, classic mysteries and hardboiled detective investigations. Browsing the exhibition will have you raiding the shelves of your nearest bookshop or library soon after.
2023, an International Crime and Mystery Festival
In odd calendar years, we also offer a weekend of crime and mystery fiction discussion panels, book events and parties.
Our first in-person festival, TAF2019 | MURDER SHE WROTE, explored the world of Agatha Christie’s Golden Age of Crime and how it relates to crime fiction today.
In 2023, we’re back live with TAF2023 | TASSIE VICE, from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 October 2023 in the Huon Valley.
Our 2023 International Writer in Residence, Ann Cleeves, will join the festivities for a range of panel discussions, masterclasses, a murder mystery dinner and a literary high tea.
Plus, this year’s professional development program will run from 21 October to 12 November 2023. It will include our flagship Meet the Australian Publishing Industry program, three weeks of writers’ retreats, and a range of masterclasses.
The most prolific perpetrator of Tasmanian crime novels since Hilda Bridges is David Owen. David is the well-known creator of Detective Inspector Franz ‘Pufferfish’ Heineken.
Another much-loved, and heavily-awarded Tasmanian mystery writer, is Kate Gordon.
Juno Jones No. 4, Rival Reader by Kate Gordon
Kate grew up in a very booky house, with two librarian parents, in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. Among her many works, Kate is the author of the Juno Jones mystery series for younger readers.
Featuring the at-first reluctant reader, Juno Jones of Muttonbird Bay Primary School, there have been four installments in the series so far:
- Juno Jones, Word Ninja;
- Juno Jones, Mystery Writer;
- Juno Jones, Book Sleuth; and
- Juno Jones, Rival Reader.
A firm favorite with Tasmanian school kids, if you’re looking for a mystery book for a younger reader, you can’t go wrong with Juno Jones, Rival Reader.
“A DISASTER HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED…THE SCHOOL HAS CLOSED.
Not Muttonbird Bay Primary, of course, but their neighbor Pademelon Point. When five new kids join Juno Jones’ class, Juno must do whatever she can to keep her title as the school’s ‘Super Reader.’ Her greatest rival: Tess Golightly—a warrior maiden and ace reader with a pet Gryphon. Everyone wants to be friends with Tess, but Juno thinks nobody can be that awesome unless they have something to hide…” Juno Jones No. 4, Rival Reader.
- Juno Jones No. 4, Rival Reader
- Author: Kate Gordon
- Illustrator: Sandy Flett
- ISBN: 978-0648492580
- Release date: 27 October 2021
About DR. LJ.M Owen
DR. L.J.M. OWEN escaped dark days as a public servant for a sunnier profession—inventing murder.
A multi-award winning writer, L.J.’s novels include the chilling Tasmanian-set The Great Divide (2019), longlisted for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Award, and three books in the Dr. Pimms archaeological mystery series: Egyptian Enigma (2018), Mayan Mendacity (2016), and Olmec Obituary (2015). She is the commissioning editor for the forthcoming Tasmanian anthology, Murder You Wrote: An Interactive Mystery (2023).
In 2019, L.J. founded the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival (TARWF), Australia’s southern-most literary festival. L.J. is the current Director of TARWF, the Convenor of TARWF’s annual Children’s Mystery Short Story Competition, and the Convenor of the Tasmanian branch of Sisters in Crime Australia.
About Guest Curator, Bec Taylor
I’m Bec Taylor, the EY3 – Grade 2 cybrarian* at the International School of Beijing, China. I’m a global nomad with Australian roots and a Chinese family home – all my immediate family have lived and worked in Beijing as international school teachers for many, many years.
Overly enthusiastic about everything especially children’s literature, Australian Rules Football (go Doggies!) and food, glorious food, I am easily bribed with coffee and dark chocolate. I am a passionate advocate of social justice, female financial literacy, and finding ways to tread more lightly on the planet. Alongside the demands of a busy family and professional life, I enjoy cultivating community through volunteer work that focuses on healthy families.
I am the current Chair of the Chinese international schools reading promotion, the Panda Book Awards. Titles chosen for the shortlists of the Panda Book Awards meet selection criteria that focus on social justice, diversity and inclusion by up and coming authors and illustrators from across the world. There is an added spotlight on titles that feature Asian settings, characters or creators.
Twitter is my favorite professional development space so please come find me there: @becinthelibrary
The educational hills I will die on are:
- a child’s right to choose what they love to read,
- there is serious magic in reading aloud,
- and the belief that schools are happier, more equitable places with better academic outcomes when the properly funded school library is well staffed with qualified, collaborative and passionate professionals.
*a fancy name that formalizes and acknowledges the incredible work teacher librarians do each day to find authentic ways to integrate and explore educational technology in order to capture, expand, and enhance student learning.