Secrets, excess adjectives and fingerless gloves with Charity Norman
I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about Charity Norman that makes me cling to her novels and ignore all non-essential tasks until I've read them cover to cover. Perhaps it's the evocative depiction of the New Zealand landscape and a nostalgia for the country that's in my blood, or the conflict-rich stories that make me question which side of the fence I'd take. Quite possibly it's the crisp, compelling writing that's not just enjoyable to read, but a lesson in how to write. Either way, I was enthralled in her newest offering, Remember Me, and have already marked it as a firm favourite for 2022.
Readers will find themselves reeled into the mystery of missing hiker, Leah, as the 25th anniversary of her disappearance looms. Her family and friends are still puzzling over the case, with a trail of clues surfacing from a most unlikely source. There's so much to unpack in this story, from dementia and family rifts to honour, loss and love. I'd recommend tissues for the final chapters, otherwise you might be forced to mop up your tears with your dressing gown like me. Remember Me is out with Allen & Unwin in all good bookstores.
with Charity Norman
Do you have a good luck charm or a special token that sits on your desk/in your office?
Just whichever of my cats is padding up and down my keyboard at that moment. There’s always one.
Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?
Walking along the river near my home, or in New Zealand’s native bush, or by the sea. I have a weekly yoga class which keeps me from seizing up completely. Singing in one of my two choirs is surprisingly physical and great for my all-round wellbeing, but for various reasons has been put on hold just lately.
What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?
If I can think of an excuse to get a takeaway (any excuse at all will do) it’s Thai green curry with tofu.
Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?
If I could study whatever I wanted, and couldn’t go back to the law? I think clinical psychology. I’ve seen the value of this kind of healthcare at first hand, changing and saving lives, and there’s a desperate shortage. Not that I’d be any good at it, but we’re assuming we have a magic wand here!
Chocolate, potato chips or cheese?
Oh no, don’t make me choose … Okay. Deep breath. If I had to choose one and give up the others forever, I’m going to go with cheese.
Have you done anything special with any of your advances?
They tend to go into the family pot, but one advance did fund a wonderful family holiday in Fiji.
Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration?
On very long walks, or very long drives – especially if I am alone and have no phone, radio or music.
Agent or no agent?
For years now my agent has been Jane Gregory, of David Higham Associates in London.
Do you have a writing ‘uniform’ (mine’s big earrings, cardigan and jeans)?
When the weather is super-hot (like today) it’s a loose linen dress from my favourite hippy shop. If cold it’s fingerless gloves, a crimson possum-wool hat, jeans, big socks, a hot water bottle and a ragged jersey. I love the idea of your big earrings though, might try that!
Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2022?
That’s even trickier than the chocolate/chips/cheese choice! I admire so many Australian writers and choosing one of them above the others is impossible. So I’m going to pick an intriguing debut: The Islands, by Emily Brugman. It’s about Finnish migrants trying to settle on Little Rat Island off Western Australia.
Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews?
From my then fifteen-year-old son, casually running his eye over the early draft of a prologue: ‘Too many adjectives, Mum.’ He was right, darnit.
Share a quirky habit or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.
I kiss my car after a long journey, to say thank you. Yup, I know. Crazy. Please don’t tell anyone.
Where can people find you online?
A heartfelt, page-turning suspense novel from the bestselling author of The Secrets of Strangers - ideal reading-group fiction, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty.
From the author shortlisted for Best Crime Novel in the Ngaio Marsh Awards for Crime Fiction, and for Best International Crime Fiction in the Ned Kelly Awards 'An atmospheric and emotional tale of family, mystery and love … an extraordinarily talented storyteller.' Kelly Rimmer, author of bestselling The Warsaw Orphan They never found Leah Parata. Not a boot, not a backpack, not a turquoise beanie. After she left me that day, she vanished off the face of the earth. A close-knit community is ripped apart by disturbing revelations that cast new light on a young woman's disappearance twenty-five years ago. After years of living overseas, Emily Kirkland returns to New Zealand to care for her father, Felix, who suffers from dementia. As his memory fades and his guard slips, she begins to understand him for the first time - and to glimpse shattering truths about his past. Truths she'd rather were kept buried.
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years' travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law in the northeast of England. Also a mediator and telephone crisis line listener, she's passionate about the power of communication to slice through the knots. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Her first novel, Freeing Grace, was published in 2010. Second Chances (After the Fall) was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice and World Book Night title. See You in September (2017) was shortlisted for Best Crime Novel in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Crime Fiction. The Secrets of Strangers is her sixth book and has been shortlisted for Best International Crime Fiction at the 2021 Ned Kelly Awards and shortlisted for Best Novel at the 2021 Ngaio Awards. Remember Me is her seventh book.
WIN - WIN - WIN
Head to the WIN page for your chance to win a copy of Remember Me, thanks to Allen & Unwin. Contest closes March 14. Aussie addresses and newsletter subscribers only please.