On Bright Air


After completing nine Brock and Kolla novels, it felt time to turn to a project I’d been thinking about for some time – a story set in Australia, my home now for over twenty years. One of the principal themes of Australian art and literature that has always intrigued me is the relationship between people and the landscape of this continent, and the settings of Bright Air shift from the bays and towers of Sydney to the unspoilt wilderness of Tasmania and Lord Howe Island.

My characters engage with the landscape in the most direct and dangerous way, as climbers, and it is the death of one of them, Luce, in a climbing accident, that forms the central mystery of the story. Lord Howe Island, where she disappeared, is an extraordinary place, an isolated World Heritage site 770 kilometres off the shores of New South Wales in the Tasman Sea, and home to a unique collection of flora and fauna which Luce was studying as part of a scientific team. I found it fascinating to research this environment as well as the culture of rock climbing for the book, and a refreshing change from Brock and Kolla’s London.

I also made the decision to change from the third-person point of view of the police procedural novel to a first-person narrative, where Josh, Luce’s old boyfriend, speaks directly to us about what he thinks is going on. These changes of setting, story and voice made this an exciting book for me to write, and I hope for you to read.