Crime novelist book release at Batlow

Sulari Gentill, Marie Anderson, Julia Ham. PHOTO: Mark Simpson

APPROXIMATELY sixty devotees of crime writing descended on Batlow Library last Thursday for the launch of the latest novel by top selling local author Sulari Gentill.

The launch was combined with Batlow’s Biggest Morning Tea for Cancer Research after she herself had recovered from a year of treatment for cancer.

Those who have heard her speak before will now that Gentill gives an intriguing and entertaining insight into the life of the crime novelist and into the mysterious world of publishing.

Fans came from Batlow, Tumut and Tumbarumba and a keen admirer even travelled from Junee for the occasion.

In an on-stage conversation with Sarah Kynaston, Ms Gentill spoke about her thinking behind her novels, the challenges of writing and also her diagnosis and finally recovery from cancer.

Without giving too much away, the latest book, “The Mystery Writer”, is the story of an Australian woman who gives up everything to move to the US and pursue her passion to “make her mark on the literary world”. The teaser on the cover: “She needs to write the ending…before she meets hers”.

When asked about the American setting Ms Gentill answered matter-of-factly that only in America was there enough of a “sense of panic and hysteria” for the story. “Australians just don’t have that,” she said. It had to be set in America.

Ms Gentill also explained the lengthy time frames involved in getting a novel from manuscript to publication. “The Mystery Writer” was actually finished before 2020 and COVID and she explained she needed to do some re-writing to give a COVID context.

“I think you need to include such major events because they have such an impact and the book would not be contemporary without it,” Ms Gentill told the attentive audience.

Her latest novel is nearing completion and she enlightened the audience to some of the background telling them that after travelling to meet her US publishers and then taking some time to travel on the Orient Express Europe she came upon the idea for the new book. You guessed it: a murder on the Orient Express.

She had originally proposed the title “The End of the Line” which was rejected by the publishers. So, it was then titled “Three Found Dead” until after further writing Ms Gentill was forced to confess to the publisher “I’ve killed off two more characters”. After much workshopping and deep thought it has been retitled “Five Found Dead”. The audience were excited to hear it is due to be published this time next year.

The book launch was combined with Batlow’s Biggest Morning Tea which is a fundraiser for the Cancer Council for cancer research and support. There was a massive spread of sweet treats before the book launch and talk.

Having spent more than a year in cancer treatment, on top of which she also had pelvic surgery earlier this year, Ms Gentill was asked how the experience has influenced her or her way of thinking about life and her work.

She responded that she had no newfound wisdom but, she had grown an appreciation for the beautiful things in life. But one realisation stands out for her:

“Life is short and I have lots of books to write,” she said defiantly.

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