For the February Murder Monday, Sisters in Crime’s Jacq Ellem spoke to Tasmanian author Jo Dixon who has two crime novels under her belt – The House of Now and Then and, now, A Shadow at the Door, both with HarperCollins Publishing Australia.
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Like many writers, Jo has had a varied career. She has been a dental assistant, an event coordinator, a travel agent, and has run an online shop – never believing her passion for writing could lead to anything.
Over ten years ago, Jo moved from suburban Brisbane to rural Tasmania. Since then, she’s been wrangling an ever-growing collection of animals, bringing up two sons, and attempting to transform blackberry-infested paddocks into beautiful gardens. Now, she also writes full-time, creating twisty, suspenseful stories that feature flawed characters who’ve made mistakes, but who turn out to be stronger than they think. In 2015, while living in Bangkok with her husband and kids, she completed an MA in writing, realising along the way that she had to stop procrastinating and just write (and finish) at least one book.
So with the mantra ‘if not now, when?’ stuck to her computer, she did. After years of pitching to editors and agents, sending in partial and full manuscripts, and receiving plenty of lovely rejections, she signed up for the Australian Society of Authors’ Virtual Literary Speed Dating. For her second attempt, she ripped apart her synopsis after what she describes as “some brutal but incredibly constructive criticism” from author Fiona McIntosh. It worked.
A short time later she had a two-book contract with HarperCollins Publishing.
Her debut novel, The House of Now and Then, was shortlisted for last year’s Ned Kelly Awards.
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Murder Monday interviews are available on Sisters in Crime’s YouTube channel at 6 pm once a month on a Monday.