Q&A with Sandi Wallace

We caught up with Author Sandi Wallace as she celebrates the release of her second book in the Rural Crime series.

Q: This is your second book in the series, do you feel you are getting to know Georgie a lot better?

Georgie is like my complex best friend who has experiences she’s not expecting or trained for, so she grows and changes with each book – as she should. Along with gaining a layer of vulnerability, she becomes somewhat wiser, and stronger, yet not prepared to dodge her obligations for self-preservation.

When I started writing my first book, Tell Me Why, I decided my female protagonist needed to be multifaceted and strong, yet fallible. Perfect is boring and un-relatable, but if readers disliked or distrusted too much about Georgie, they wouldn’t care about her or the story, so the balance in her personality is ever important. Many of her flaws also serve as strengths, and although she is a bit of an outsider and impetuous, she is loyal, empathetic and motivated by the right reasons. I’m looking forward to seeing how Georgie continues to change over the upcoming books.

2. Your two books are set in rural landscapes, where did your love of rural settings come from?

Although born and bred in a suburb of Melbourne, I’ve always felt that I belong in the country. I think part of this comes from holidays when I was young, visiting family in Gippsland and caravanning around the state. And when I met my future hubby, his grandparents lived on the other side of central Victoria and each time we saw them, we made a point of exploring more of that region, eventually discovering Daylesford amongst other places.

Nowadays, my hubby and I live in a beautiful village in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne and we escape to other parts of country Victoria whenever we can. I get a huge kick out of showing off the places I love through my stories; drawing an authentic representation of people and place, albeit through fiction.

3. What research did you undertake to write about a journalist and a police officer?

I have worked as both a freelance journalist and a personal trainer for over a decade, with features published in a variety of journals, newspapers and online, and I am a regular contributor to a community magazine. During that time, it’s been fun to find and write stories on a host of subjects, including interviews with an international music celebrity, war veteran and several local heroes, features on environment, lifestyle, mental health, tourism, and cultural diversity, and I’ve had my own columns on health and fitness, and the local police beat. It’s a different landscape to Georgie’s work, and nowhere as dangerous, but it has given me good insight into her world.

As to policing, I would’ve joined up after I left school, except I failed the height requirement (which has since been abolished). There were a couple of later points during my “writer’s apprenticeship” (aka strange mix of jobs towards being a writer) when I almost applied, and if I hadn’t followed my writer’s heart, I think I would’ve been a police detective. Having this genuine interest in policing, I’ve been soaking up information from police, publications and facility tours, and following cases for years. Interviews with police officers at Daylesford and Olinda, along with an Inspector with the Homicide Squad, have been very useful in building Franklin’s world and understanding how he would do, and react to, his job. My contact at Victoria Police Media and Corporate Communications Department is my go-to person for specific, technical information and two serving officers and friends are helpful with general policing questions.

However, as a writer, there is a juggle between “keeping it real” and “keeping it realistic”. Things in the real world take longer, are more complicated, and often not as clear-cut as the scope of a novel allows. So, my writing combines trust in Georgie and Franklin, specific research and a healthy dose of imagination.

4. Spoiler alert: will the reader see AJ back in the future?

Yes. *Taps nose.* But if I tell you more, I will have to kill you.

5. What is the best tip you could give budding authors?

“Go for it!” It’s a great dream, yet only a dream until you make it happen. But with that, be patient, perseverant and maintain belief in yourself, surround yourself with positive people, and celebrate every achievement, while learning from the speed humps.

6. Are you wedded to crime or are you thinking of writing outside of this genre?

Well, I’m a life-long self-confessed crime fiction addict—I love reading, writing, and watching it—so I can’t see myself diverging from what I love. Besides continuing my rural crime series, I am keen to pen standalone novels, with one domestic noir manuscript already partly written. In the future, I also want to try my hand at children’s or young adult mysteries, as my love for crime stories stems from my early-age addiction and it would be wonderful to pay-it-forward to today’s young readers.