Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 Wrap Up: My year of narrow reading

awwbadge_2014They say the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

For a long time I’ve wanted to write psychological suspense. While pursuing my goal, I’ve read lots of novels in the genre, with the hope of learning how to create the same magic. Whether it’s called psychological suspense, thriller, or “domestic noir”, the stories are often about a woman in jeopardy, or women who are victimised who fight back. Sometimes they’re about men or women who are stretched to the limits of their endurance – even, at times, of their sanity. They are stories I can relate to.

It shouldn’t be any surprise, therefore, that when I look back over the novels I’ve read and reviewed this year for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, I find most of the stories fit that category. I confess, though, I’m shocked at how narrow my reading has been.

1. Robyn Bowles, Rough Justice. (true crime)

2. Candice Fox, Hades. (detective/thriller)

3. Honey Brown, Through the Cracks. (suspense)

4. Dawn Barker, Let Her Go. (suspense)

5. Wendy James, The Lost Girls. (suspense)

6. Julie Proudfoot, The Neighbour. (suspense)

7. Anna George, What Came Before. (suspense)

8. Jaye Ford, Already Dead. (suspense)

9. Caroline Overington, Can You Keep A Secret. (suspense)

10. Gillian Mears, Foal’s Bread. (literary/historical fiction)

11. Kate Belle, Being Jade. (women’s fiction)

12. Johanna Fawkes, Public Relations Ethics and Professionalism: the shadow of excellence. (nonfiction)

P M Newton’s excellent crime novel Beams Falling, is another one I read; it’s the sequel to her award-winning debut, The Old School. Instead of writing a review, however, I posted a Q & A with Newton on the AWW blog here.

I didn’t set out to be so narrow in my reading this year; it just happened that those were the books that appealed to me. When I look at my “to be read” pile of books by Australian women, there’s a great variety of genre, from literary fiction to memoir to historical fiction as well as nonfiction. The books in this photograph are only a fraction of the pile.



What will I review for the AWW Challenge in 2015? I’m not sure. Recently, I’ve been borrowing books from the library and reading just for fun, and not all of them have been shelved in the crime/suspense/thriller section. Maybe I’ll start branching out again? (Otherwise, I should really change the name of my blog.)

By the way, for those of you who haven’t heard, my debut novel – a romance with suspense elements, Snowy River Man – will be published by Escape Publishing on 22 February 2015, under my pen-name, Lizzy Chandler. If you’d like a review copy, please let me know. I’d be thrilled if it could be reviewed as part of the AWW challenge for 2015.

Are you planning to join?

Leave a comment


  1. brendat59

     /  December 14, 2014

    Elizabeth, do you have a blurb yet for Snowy River Man? I just went to check it out and there’s none yet! I’d like to see what the story is about first 🙂 Congratulations on this debut novel too! Fantastic 🙂 And yes, I’ll be joining the AWW15 challenge…of course 😉


    • Hi Brenda
      I’m so glad you’ll be joining the challenge again next year. Thanks for inquiring about Snowy River Man, and for the encouragement. I think this is the blurb Escape are going with:

      The last time Katrina Delaney saw Jack Fairley was the morning after a one-night stand, when she discovered he was engaged to be married. Seven years later, she dreams of a missing boy – Jack’s son. Katrina has worked with police to find missing children before, and she knows she must help. But seeing Jack again comes with its own set of dangers, and Katrina fears the risks she is taking with her heart.

      Jack Fairley’s standing in the community can’t keep his son from wandering off during a country rodeo. Frantic with worry, Jack is willing to do anything to find him, even put aside his scepticism and accept the help of a woman who sees his son in a dream. But when that woman turns out to be Katrina Delaney, he’s immediately suspicious. Neither Katrina nor Jack have any reason to trust each other, or the attraction that flares between them again. But trust they will have to, if they want any chance at love.


  2. annabelsmith

     /  December 15, 2014

    It’s very useful to study books in the genre you’re writing. I have tried various blogging challenges to try and make me read more widely – eg this challenge, a translation challenge, a contemporary classics challenge – on the whole these challenges haven’t changed what I love to read – I like what I like and forcing myself to read more widely doesn’t change that.


    • I agree, Annabel. And it’s great to see which publishers are taking a chance publishing suspense, too. (Home-grown suspense isn’t a big seller in Australia, apparently.) Still, I think I could easily get switched on to some more mainstream, literary and historical fiction. It’ll be interesting to see what comes up in 2015.


  3. Love your post title Lizzy! I think you can keep you blog name though – even if it’s just a reminder of your goals! And anyhow, your reading isn’t completely narrow, just narrow-ish.


    • Thanks, Sue. I forgot to add some that I read but didn’t review – Helen Garner’s House of Grief, for one. So maybe you’re right – it’s “narrow-ish”, rather than narrow.


      • Of course I’m right!! What did you think of Garner? Did you review it and I’ve forgotten?


        • You didn’t miss it – I didn’t end up reviewing it. I felt ambivalent while reading it, much as I do when reading Caroline Overington’s books. There’s something voyeuristic about it that made me uneasy. I kept wondering why such a talented author chose to write and become absorbed about *this* particular subject, when there are so many important things to write about (if you have the talent and can). Because I didn’t know what to say in a review straight off, I left it and left it… And I forgot about having read it! I must go back and read the AWW reviews for it. (I hate reading reviews first.)


  1. It’s Monday – what are you reading? | Lizzy Chandler
  2. Who has completed the AWW 2014 challenge? | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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  • Country Secrets – anthology

  • Snowy River Man – rural romance

  • By Her Side – romantic suspense

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