author of Shadow Over Edmund Street
Forget Brokenwood Mysteries or even Paul Cleave’s Christchurch-based thrillers, because Ponsonby is Auckland's latest crime literary hotspot.
Expat Suzanne Frankham, now based in Melbourne, set her first crime novel in Ponsonby, a suburb she knew well growing up.
Originally from New Zealand, Suzanne has travelled and worked as an environmental zoologist in the Philippines, UK and US and eventually settled in Melbourne’s Bayside 30 years ago.
Suzanne is perfectly placed to write thrillers; she’s scientific, teaches chess, loves a puzzle or a cryptic crossword and comes from a family of lawyers. But first and foremost Suzanne is a storyteller. Scenes play out in her mind, she can see them, especially while the rest of us are sleeping – insomniacs make great writers!
Asked about her writing process she says she’s bio-rhythmically most productive first thing and takes herself outside, lies down, imagines a scene, plans it out, goes inside, hammers it out on her laptop, then comes back to it later, to edit.
In 2010 she took herself off to learn how to hone her writing at Hampton Community Centre where Lucy Treloar was teaching. It was under her tutorship that Suzanne started writing Shadow Over Edmund Street. However when Lucy shot to fame and Leigh Redhead replaced her as teacher, Suzanne became distracted with short story writing, so parked Shadow Over Edmund Street. It was Leigh who encouraged her to enter her stories into the Sisters of Crime ‘Scarlet Stiletto Awards’ as there was an environmental section – and she won. Winning is rewarding but Suzanne enters her stories into competitions, and pays for the feedback specifically so she can learn. Full of humbling self-doubt she writes in order to improve her storytelling. Because for her it’s first and foremost about the story.
She has numerous parked stories, short and long format. In fact, when we asked her if she had a follow-up manuscript to Shadow Over Edmund Street she searched through her computer and eventually found, to her surprise, she’d written 15,000 words of a sequel that she had quite forgotten about.
Listen to her interview with Lynn Freeman on Radio NZ here. And read Robyn Walton's review on Sisters in Crime and Stephanie Jones' review on NZBooklovers website.