Penguin Random House Australia’s rights manager Nerrilee Weir said recently of Australian publishing: ‘It does feel like we have a strength in that area at the moment.’ She was talking about crime fiction and unsurprisingly the first name she cited was Jane Harper. Harper is among several crime novelists being recognised in international awards and her first book, The Dry, remains in this month’s Australian fiction top 10 more than two years after it was published.
Weir was speaking in response to a discussion of the crime/thriller genre at the recent Visiting International Publishers Program which took place in Sydney in May. The annual program brings international publishers to Australia for panels, networking and one-on-one meetings in a bid to create rights sales opportunities for Australian publishers—it seems to work: a report on the program recently found that for every dollar the Australia Council invests in the VIPs program, AU$5.45 is generated for the Australian publishing sector, a 445% return on investment.
Meanwhile, commissioning editor Daniel Davis Wood of UK publisher Splice claims: ‘Readers who have an ear to the ground already know that Australia is fertile territory for experimental literature at the moment.’ Davis Wood cites writers like Jack Cox, Jen Craig and Jane Rawson who ‘have managed to build small but dedicated audiences’ in the UK. He will be bringing Nicholas John Turner to that audience when Splice publishes Turner’s Hang Him, a book that was self-published here in Australia.
So, from award-winning crime fiction to self-published experimental, there’s lots to think about when you ‘think Australian’.