Written by author and festival director, L.M.J Owen
The Pandemic Hits
As mentioned in the earlier blog post about Tasmanian crime writing festivals, in 2019 I was inspired by Agatha Christie’s visit to Tasmania a century ago to found a new festival in the Huon Valley – the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival (TARWF), Australia’s southern-most literary festival.
We had barely delivered our inaugural festival weekend and the pandemic hit. Quickly switching to online programming, by 2021 we offered programs both live and online. This included our first literary exhibition.
THE HUON | VALLEY OF STORIES Storytelling Exhibition
Guarded by a mountain called Sleeping Beauty to the north, the Huon Valley is home to a flourishing community of writers, poets, wordsmiths and storytellers. It’s also my home, and the home of the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival.
In 2021, we offered our first exhibition of writing and storytelling, THE HUON | VALLEY OF STORIES. It was open to the public 24/7 in a COVID-safe space, as well as online.
Curating the exhibition, I brought together more than 30 intriguing and delightful books and storytelling items to showcase the storytelling excellence of the Valley.
Each item in the exhibition was either created by a local storyteller or was inspired by the Valley itself. The exhibition is still online, with pictures of each item and a full audio guide:
In it, you’ll discover stories of life in the Valley, both real and imagined; award-winning stories; stories inspired by the Valley’s gardens, farms and orchards; dark and mysterious stories; and children’s stories brimming with warmth and hope. The exhibition included Crocodile Tears by Alan Carter.
Crocodile Tears by Alan Carter
Alan Carter is one of Australia’s most successful crime and mystery writers. He has won Australia’s Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, and New Zealand’s Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. After living in the UK, New Zealand and Perth, Alan has moved to Tasmania, near the Huon Valley. We’ve claimed him as our own!
Released in late 2021, Crocodile Tears is the fifth and final installment of Alan’s Detective Philip ‘Cato’ Kwong series.
Cato is investigating the death of a retiree found hacked to pieces in his suburban Perth home. The trail leads to Timor-Leste, with its recent blood-soaked history. There, he reunites with an old frenemy, the spook Rory Driscoll who, in Cato’s experience, has always occupied a hazy moral terrain.
Resourceful, multilingual, and hard as nails, Rory has been Canberra’s go-to guy when things get sticky in the Asia-Pacific. Now Rory wants out. But first, he’s needed to chaperone a motley group of whistleblowers with a price on their heads. And there’s one on his, too.
Action-packed political crime fiction at its best, Crocodile Tears sees Cato travel from his home in Western Australia all the way to the Huon Valley.
- ISBN: 9781925816570
- Pages: 336
- Publication year: 2021
- Publisher: Fremantle Press
Tasmanian Crime and Mystery Fiction
And that’s my brief three-part introduction to Tasmanian crime and mystery fiction. Gothic, humorous or historical, there’s a criminally-good Tasmanian story for everyone, so why not give it a try?
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 favourite 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 formalises 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.