Here’s to chronic overachievers

Anne Buist, fellow crime writer at Text, invited me to join the Meet My Character Blog Tour – why, thank you, Anne! It involves posting an interview with your character and inviting other writers to do the same.

Anne is the author of Medea’s Curse, a psychological thriller due out on 28 January 2015. It features forensic psychiatrist Natalie King, who rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. Likes men but doesn’t want to keep one.

I first met Anne through Sisters in Crime, that sterling establishment dedicated to crime writing by women.

Anne is pretty sterling herself. She’s Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She decided to write fiction as a way to show a little of what psychiatrists do.

Anne has been described as a CHRONIC OVERACHIEVER (her partner Graeme Simsion’s words and CAPITALS, not mine).

So, on that note, please meet my character, Cass Tuplin:

Who is she?

While not quite in the same league as Anne, perhaps, Cass could also be described as an overachiever. Not content to be simply owner-operator of the Rusty Bore Takeaway, Rusty Bore’s best (and only) takeaway, she’s also taken on the role of local crime-fighter.

Cass is also kept pretty busy with her family: providing maternal pep-talks for her adult sons, Dean and Brad, particularly frustrated eco-warrior Brad; and there’s plenty of running around to be done after  Ernie – he’s in the retirement home and requires Cass’s presence every Monday for the Midday Movie. Regardless of whether she’s just discovered a dead body.

Where does she live?

In Rusty Bore, population 147, which is situated in the Mallee, north-western Victoria, Australia. If Victoria had a Wild West, it would surely be the Mallee. Fading towns. A million acres of wheat stubble. Good long stretches of red dirt. One salt lake. Shimmering.

Where’s the conflict for Cass?

Well, a stranger in Cass’s shop is quite an event. Especially one like Clarence… Brown: suspicious, bleeding, looking for a burger with the lot and somewhere quiet to stay. Cass knows just the place. Then she finds out more about Clarence and wants him out of town. It turns out that’s not as easy as it sounds. And then she finds the body.

Sounds like a job for the local police. Except that the local police is Cass’s son Dean, who has his doubts about Cass. And there’s no way he’s expending police resources on his mother’s fantasy crimes, not anymore. So it looks like Cass is going to have to find the killer on her own.

What does Cass want?

When I asked her this question, she’d just discovered that Brad had moved back home and he’d said that he’d, ‘left his washing in the laundry for you, Mum’.

Cass told me:

‘You know, sometimes I have this little daydream that everyone’s forgotten I exist and they’re just sorting out their life crises on their own. I’m relaxed in a comfy chair, sipping a cuppa, watching them get on with it. And I don’t even need any Panadol.’

Once she’d got all that off her chest, she did also admit that she could find space in her life for a nice fella, someone who makes her laugh.

Title and publication details

Cass’s first case is called Murder with the Lot. It was published by Text in 2013. You can read more about it here.

I’ve just submitted the manuscript for her second case – Dead Men Don’t Order Flake. And I’ve started work on the third – working title Live and Let Fry.



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