After 10 years in development, my first fantasy crime thriller, Diamond Eyes, finally takes flight! YAY!
Initial inspiration struck me early in 1999, due to a slight vision condition which can’t be corrected fully by surgery or lenses. However, an earlier decade working in the spooky halls of a century-old mental-health sanctuary in Queensland, also provided plenty of “juiciness” for the surreal settings.
Although I can’t focus back through time to witness dark deeds, like my heroine, Mira Chambers, I did manage to see through a scam by a disreputable businessmen who tried to rip me off on my birthday. The title came later that year, enroute to an eye specialist when my young son asked how eyes really worked, and I used my diamond ring as an example of a crystallised lens.
So what took so long to develop it? Diamond Eyes was 10 years in the making, due mainly to the extensive research and unusual stylistic elements involved, including a 3-year MA(Research) scholarship in advanced editing strategies (e.g. text world theory, ironic ascension and covert/overt narratology), using Diamond Eyes as the development project. Along the way, I also won Highly Commended in the 2008 FAW Jim Hamilton Awards for a shorter draft as an unpublished manuscript. However, I also spent much of my time honing my story craft skills across multiple genres by publishing over 120 spin-offs and other stories under various pen-names (many also award winners) in the genres of crime, romance, fantasy, science fiction, psychological thrillers, military action/adventures, comedy and even poetry and metaphoric songwriting – strong elements from all of which were fundamental to production of this series; Diamond Eyes (2010), Hindsight (2011) and Leopard Dreaming (2012).
Of the mini-spin-offs, my very first award winner was Budgie Soup, a mini crime thriller which won the Penguin Award in Melbourne’s Scarlett Stiletto Awards, (1999, and since published by 5 different genre magazines/journals worldwide). However, my most-internationally translated spin-off so far is a mini comedy-crime thriller Killer Smile, (2009), which is featured as the lead story in the anthology How do I love Thee, edited by famous Australian romance author Valarie Parv. Both minis feature characters that leap straight out of the pages of the main thriller Diamond Eyes. (After a bad experience with a manuscript assessment service early on, these minis became a fun and profitable way to explore the back-stories of my minor characters. In effect, editors paid me to give me their feedback!)
As a regional writer, I only managed to stay on top of so many publication opportunities by maintaining memberships with various state writers centres. It also helped to develop key contacts in the industry by flying to various literature festivals and conventions around the country. That’s how I managed to hook up with my fabulous editors at Voyager, even though I haven’t yet hooked up with an agent. Actually, I haven’t hooked up with my editors in person yet either, but after sitting in on a session, I knew I had what they wanted, which gave me the right perspective to approach later in writing.
Oh, and that despicable businessman? He’s fictionalised for the series and dies horribly. (No spoiler there! Haha!)