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This is the fourth book in the Cato series. How did you want to develop him as a character?
I’ve given him a bit of a hard time in previous books but by the end of the third one, Bad Seed, I hinted at future happiness. I delivered it for him in this book, Heaven Sent, by making him happily married with a wife and new baby, both of whom he adores. But it also raises the stakes a bit when those things are threatened, so by the end of this fourth book Cato has been put through the wringer once again and emerges into a very dark place indeed.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
For me, the Cato books are, among other things, a vehicle for exploring what’s going on in Australia today and holding a mirror up to that, warts and all. The increasing gap between the very rich and very poor, particularly the homeless, is a scandal. In recent years the growth in numbers and visibility of the homeless and instances of violence both in Western Australia and nationwide have reminded us of the incredible vulnerability of those who live on the streets. Heaven Sent examines our attitudes as an affluent and ‘aspirational’ society towards those left behind.
Why do you feel Fremantle is the right setting for these books?
Fremantle is a fascinating, constantly changing and conflicted place. It has an amazing history, a vibrant culture and a ‘funky’ reputation. But it is no longer the working-class port city of old. Property prices here are among the highest in the state. There is increasing pressure from development (some of it good, some of it bad) and, like any city, it has its underbelly, which makes for plenty of scope for a crime writer.
When you first started writing the Cato books, did you ever expect them to become a series?
When I first started writing the Cato books I wasn’t even sure I’d get published—the statistics are very daunting, something like one to two percent of all manuscripts submitted end up being published. I like reading crime series myself so it was definitely an aspiration, but certainly not an expectation.
What’s your opinion on the writing scene in WA? Do you feel you’re in good company?
Of course, it’s very healthy overall but particularly in crime there’s definitely something in the water here because we’re awash with talent—Dervla McTiernan, Felicity Young, Dave Whish-Wilson and Dave Warner, to name just a few.
What’s next for you, and for Cato? Is there a Cato 5 brewing?
Of course there is. But maybe first there will be a sequel to Marlborough Man, my New Zealand-set crime novel.
‘Atmospheric and sharply written’—The Saturday Age
‘A confident, witty, entertaining and gritty tale with an interesting, multicultural cast’—Sunday Times
‘Prime tale.’—Herald Sun
‘Hard to beat’—Weekend Australian
‘It’s a winner.’—Sydney Morning Herald
‘A touch of the Wintons’—Qantas the Australian Way
‘As with all good crime fiction there are many layers to this story, genuine “aha” moments and a very strong cast of main and supporting characters. Four stars’—Books+Publishing
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new entrant into the higher echelons of Australian crime fiction writing’—Sun Herald
‘Riveting reading’—The Examiner
‘You want to go on being part of these people’s lives’—Adelaide Advertiser
‘Gritty and engrossing’—Australian Book Review
‘[The characters] all speak with that authentic voice which you only find in the best crime novels’—Courier-Mail
‘Carter has balanced the grisly reality of the crimes … with the genuinely comic and witty self-deprecation of the characters’—Crime Factory 7
Alan Carter is available for book signings and events in November.
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