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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

RWR McDonald on Nancy Drew, lockdown releases and feline friends

RWR McDonald’s second novel, Nancy Business, is a hoot of a mystery. It’s laugh-out loud funny, with author Rob tap-dancing on the fine line between silly and serious. Young protagonist, Tippy Chan, her gay uncle Pike and his ultra-camp boyfriend Devon danced into the limelight in the 2019 release The Nancys.

In this year’s new release (Allen & Unwin, June 2021), the crime-solving gang are back together in the small New Zealand town of Riverstone. The trio put their Nancy Drew-inspired sleuthing to the test after a bombing at town hall. I was lucky enough to meet Rob last year and host one of his debut launch events, and once again, I really enjoyed his blend of unique Kiwi comedy, witty dialogue and cheeky jokes. Nancy Drew fans will also love the regular references to the cult-classic fiction series, and like me, be hanging for the next instalment in the series after turning the last page.

Do you have a good luck charm or a special token that sits on your desk/in your office?

HarryCat, my ginger tabby cat, would be the closest good luck writing charm I have. He hates it through when I read my work out loud, you have to watch for him dive bombing then!

Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?

Walking while listening to music, or an audio book. Have recently moved into a new neighbourhood with lots of parks which is great.

What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?

Garlic bread, pasta with Napoli sauce.

Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?

Private Investigator, always wanted to be one ever since I was a kid watching Magnum P.I.

Favourite scent?

Either freshly baked scones or old-fashioned roses. Both remind me of my childhood.

Chocolate, potato chips or cheese?

Chocolate – no competition!

Have you done anything special with any of your advances?

With my first advance I bought my kids a king single bunk bed. They had wanted a bunk for years and my poor youngest daughter at the time was still in her IKEA toddler bed and she was nearly 10! Bad Dad!!

Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of writing inspiration?

Always my morning shower, when I don’t have anything to write it down with! I keep it in my head, remembering what it is, then quickly dry myself and write it down in my phone’s notes. I am always so scared I’m going to forget whatever it is!

Worst writing/book related injury?

I’m terrible at stubbing/fracturing my toes – either hurrying to get to a Zoom or reading and not looking where I’m going. Doesn’t help that I don’t wear shoes inside my house!

Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2021?

Besides Magpie’s Bend of course! The Housemate, by Sarah Bailey coming out in September. It is a crime thriller; I loved Sarah Bailey’s Gemma Woodstock books and can’t wait to read what she has done with a standalone.

Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews?

It was from Bri Lee about my first book, The Nancys, “This book is like a little cube of Turkish delight in a world of digestive biscuits.”

Share a quirky habit or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.

I’ve been an extra in a Peter Jackson film, which being a Kiwi probably is not that surprising! But it wasn’t LOTR sadly…

Find Rob online

Twitter and Instagram @rwrmcdonald

Facebook @rwrmcdonaldauthor

Nancy Business

Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon are back for another camp cosy crime mystery from the award-winning author of The Nancys. The gripping, heart-warming and hilarious sequel to R.W.R. McDonald's smash hit The Nancys, winner of the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. It's been four months since Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon were together for Christmas. Now back for the first anniversary of Tippy's father's death, the Nancys are reformed when Riverstone is rocked by an early morning explosion that kills three people and destroys the town hall. A new case is born. Is the accused bomber really guilty? Is there a second bomber? And if so, does that mean a threat to destroy Riverstone Bridge is real? And is asparagus a colour? Once again, it is up to the Nancys to go against the flow and ignore police orders to get to the truth. It's great to be back in Nancy business again, but this time it's all different. Uncle Pike and Devon can't agree on anything and Tippy is learning hard truths about the world and the people she loves the most. Can the Nancys stay together to do their best work and save the town? Or will the killer strike again? When everyone is right, does that make you wrong? And can Tippy ever trust anyone again? '…hilarious and inventive: the dynamic between the young protagonist and the adult characters is unusual and special…A clever hat-tip to one of the most indelible female characters in the genre, and a story that blends crime and humour in unexpected ways.' Ngaio Marsh Awards Judges' on The Nancys Praise for The Nancys: 'This book is like a little cube of Turkish Delight in a world of digestive biscuits. Get into it. Let it make you happy … It's so funny and fun and feel-good.' Bri Lee, author of Eggshell Skull 'Death? Sequins? Monsters, Show Queens, a headless corpse and a cat called Bunny Whiskers? Yes, yes and YES. The Nancys is what you might get if you rolled Little Miss Sunshine, Dumplin' and CSI into a book-shaped ball and threw it into small-town NZ: funny and flamboyant but with real weight (and a dead body) at its centre. Fun, refreshing and surprisingly poignant.' Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place 'How does The Nancys manage to be both sharp and blackly funny, but also uplifting and sweet?' Toni Jordan, author of The Fragments 'Murder, makeovers, snappy dialogue (with a generous sprinkling of filth), and characters I did not want to leave on the last page. So much fun and so much heart.' Kate Mildenhall, author of The Mother Fault 'A delight - moving and hilarious. I loved every minute I spent with these characters.' Paddy O'Reilly, author of The Wonders 'Funny, dark and above all, heart-warming. The Nancys is a celebration of what's important in life - which is family, friendship and also: makeovers. R.W.R. McDonald's novel is fast-paced, clever and full of wit and repartee.' Katherine Collette, author of The Helpline

About the author

R.W.R. McDonald (Rob) is an award-winning author, a Kiwi and Queer dad living in Melbourne with his two daughters and one HarryCat. His debut novel, The Nancys, won Best First Novel in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards, as well as being a finalist in the Best Novel category. It was shortlisted for Best First Novel in the 2020 Ned Kelly Awards, and Highly Commended for an Unpublished Manuscript in the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. Nancy Business is his second novel, publishing in June 2021.



For your chance to win a copy of Rob's new novel Nancy Business, simply read the interview and answer the questions on the WIN page. Entries open July 3. The winner will be drawn Sunday, July 11 at 5 pm. Newsletter subscribers and Aussie addresses only, please. Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review and giveaway copies.


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