The great thing about collections like IF I TELL YOU... I'LL HAVE TO KILL YOU is that it will appeal to readers and writers alike. Published by Allen & Unwin, edited by Michael Robotham, with a terrific Introduction by him into the bargain, this collection of writing from some of Australia's best crime writers reveals their writing secrets. It also asks them for their Five Must-Reads. So why not Five Why-This-Collection-Is-A-Must-Reads in return.
1. For budding, or dreaming writers, this collection has more than enough hints, tips, warnings and suggestions to make any of you sit up and pay attention.
2. For readers, this is the equivalent of attending the world's best possible Readers Festival Panel. Not only do you get to hear a bit of what goes on behind the scenes of some favourite books, you get to hear about it in each writer's own unique voice. You also get to read their Must-Read lists and jot down a suggested reading list to die for.
3. There are some writers in this collection that simply cannot help themselves. Revealing their secrets they might be, but along the way they are telling yarns. From getting stuck in freezers leading to an idea for a debut novel, through to the way to get yourself a start as a stripper. From indepth research and Google searching locations, to the way that life just can't help but line itself up for art's purposes. Then there's the hilarious reality check straight from the mouths of children. Not only is this an informative collection, it's clever and it's funny.
4. If for no other reason - the Five Must-Reads is a real eye-opener. Sure there are some that you'd be forgiven for expecting - Five Go to Smuggler's Way by Enid Blyton and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. But the unexpected were a real pleasure - Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell and The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks as a couple of examples. Regardless of how you feel about the list - it's one hell of a Mt TBR and a lot of the suggestions were added back into my "Must Read Before I Drop Dead List". Which, after IF I TELL YOU, is now about 20 years longer than it was.
5. Best of all, in ensuring that we're getting a really good read, and that little bit of insight into the inner workings of our favourite authors, we're also doing our bit to support Australia's own Ned Kelly Awards. Since 1995 the Neds have supported and awarded some of the best crime writing in this country. Bit of a win-win really.
Declaration of Interest - I was recently very honoured to be asked to join the Committee of ACWA (Australian Crime Writers Association - the body responsible for the Ned Kelly Awards and http://www.austcrimewriters.com). A long time after the idea, the contributions and the compilation of this book came into fruition, and believe me, I'd have read it with eagerness regardless of that connection.