The Body in the Garden festival in Adelaide this weekend combines two loves of Australian best-selling crime writer and green-thumb Gabrielle Lord, who will be participating in several sessions at the Botanic Gardens.
The first South Australian Crime & Garden Writers’ Festival has been given the intriguing title The Body in the Garden, which is likely to conjure different images in the minds of crime writers and gardening experts. What does it bring to mind for you?
For some reason, the image that came to my mind was the scene from Dr Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. I remember Holmes and Watson checking the footprints of the late victim of the hound, and I have the sense there was some kind of “cypress walk” involved – a garden near the great house. Watson asks something like: “But why was Sir Someone Baskerville walking on tip-toe, Holmes?” And Holmes replies: “Sir Hugo (or whoever he was!) wasn’t walking on tip-toe, Watson. He was running! Running for dear life!” Lovely piece of dramatic writing.
You are taking part in a panel discussion on the question “The Female of the Species: Is She More Dangerous?” What’s your view?
Statistically, she is not the more dangerous. Murder is largely a male pursuit! When women murder, they murder children, long-term abusive spouses, and sometimes, like the serial poisoners, for financial gain.
Having written 15 adult novels and a successful thriller series for young adults, can you share your secret for creating frightening yet credible fictitious killers?
Generally speaking, killers seek to gain something from their killing, whether it’s the ultimate and terminal control over the victim, or the satisfaction of amygdala-roused homicidal rage (in those who lack sufficient frontal lobe control), or for some other perceived advantage. We can all identify with that, even if we never kill anyone. Humans are hard-wired for survival and if that’s threatened, we can all wield a club.
Before your writing career, you attempted to make a living through market gardening and your website says you are still a keen gardener. What tips are you hoping to pick up from the garden gurus at the festival?
Tips about how to grow vigorous roses in coastal, sandstone-based soil would be good.
What would your dream garden look like?
It would be a much grander version of what I have now – soft lawns, a rectangular, formal sandstone-walled pool with a sonorous water feature, goldfish, water lilies, a sheltered rose garden and, if I had the space, indeed a cypress walk would be wonderful. (“Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white; nor waves the cypress in the palace walk …”).
The Body in the Garden festival opens on Friday night (October 25) with a session at Elder Hall titled “Burying the Dead: Compost or a Crime?” There will be 25 free sessions in the Adelaide Botanic Garden over the weekend, with guests including crime writers Gabrielle Lord, Michael Robotham, Håkan Nesser and Barry Maitland, and gardening experts such as Paul Bangay, Toby Musgrave and Trevor Nottle.
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