Category Archives: Murderati blogs

April 12, 2013

Beginnings and endings

Filed under: Murderati blogs — PD Martin @ 4:02 pm

Many of you know that I’m part of a group blog called Murderati. Unfortunately, that blog is closing its doors at the end of this month : (

Since I joined Murderati, pretty much all of my blogs here on my website have been re-posts from Murderati. Below is my second-last blog for Murderati…

I’ve been overseas the past three weeks and literally landed at Melbourne Airport four hours ago. I was planning on writing my blog for today while I was on holidays, but with everything that’s going on with Murderati, I found myself changing my mind constantly about subjects.  

Originally, the blog I had in my head for 11 April was going to be about my holiday. The family and I headed to Ireland for three weeks. My husband’s Irish and I lived there for a year and a half, so we spent our time catching up with friends and family. But there was also a very important purpose for this visit. You see, this was our first trip to Ireland since we picked our son up from Korea last year and this trip would celebrate his arrival into our family with his christening. In fact, we managed to get a wedding and two christenings in during our three-week holiday.

Anyway, then I thought I could blog about christenings and maybe even other non-religious birth celebrations. You know, even research the topic a bit plus talk about my personal experience. Even though I’m not a religious person, I found Liam’s christening incredibly moving.

But then I thought, no…I can’t blog about holidays or Ireland or christenings as part of my long goodbye. Can I? Maybe I can. I mean, the two subjects are tied together by the related themes of beginnings and endings. While I was in Ireland celebrating a wedding (the birth of a new marriage), two christenings (the birth of two beautiful boys), I was also in mourning. In mourning for Murderati. Births and deaths. Beginnings and endings. This is what’s been going around and around in my head the past few weeks. 

I have to confess, when I logged on briefly from a borrowed phone to read the Monday 1 April blog and the comments I DID start to wonder…are we doing the right thing?  Do we have any other options? I think I speak for all the current Murderati gang when I say it’s been a tough choice. But for me personally, since we picked up Liam my writing time has been drastically cut. I have enjoyed blogging at Murderati immensely, but with my time so limited I did have to question whether it was the best possible use of time. I need to write more books. That really is my bottom line at the moment. And I need to do it with less available time than ever before. But it’s still sad…really sad to say goodbye to Murderati.

My last blog at Murderati will be Thursday 25 April and that will be my official goodbye.  But for today I wanted to share everything that’s been going on in head re beginnings and endings — and why. And I guess I also wanted to explain why Murderati coming to an end breaks my heart but also seems like the most sensible thing to do. At some point in time, something’s gotta give and I think it just so happens that more and more of the Murderati gang seem to be in this position right now. :(

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March 28, 2013

What’s in a prologue?

Filed under: Murderati blogs,Writing — Tags: , — PD Martin @ 4:00 pm

For some reason, I think every book I’ve written includes a prologue. It just seems like while I don’t want to cram clunky ‘back story’ into my books, there is some basic information that’s needed before readers start on chapter 1. Know what I mean?

Couple of examples…my first Sophie book, Body Count, includes a prologue of Sophie as a child, so it’s 30 years or so earlier. Yes, the main story is complete without this prologue, but it gives readers some important character information (namely that Sophie’s brother was abducted when she was a little girl).

Another example is from my current work in progress. This book, tentatively called The Pulsars, includes a prologue from 18 years earlier when a woman (who’s the mother of my main character) finds out she’s carrying a Pulsar fetus. Again, while the main, present-day story works without it, there is scene-setting in the prologue. Plus, the reader discovers that the scans are compulsory worldwide and that if the fetus is a Pulsar, the governments around the world have enacted the Pulsar Termination Act, which means all Pulsar fetus must be terminated. So I guess the story works without it, but the short, two-page prologue also does a lot. Yes, as the reader moves through the story they would discover that the main character is a Pulsar whose mother and father went on the run so they could keep their child. But I do like the way the prologue, as it is, launches the reader into this new world.   

As you can probably tell, I like prologues. Like writing them, like reading them. Funny thing is, after I’d written about three books I met someone who said they NEVER read prologues. That they figure it’s not necessary for the story. This shocked me. I consider a prologue to be part of the story, and as long as it’s pretty short and tight (and well-written, of course) I think they’re a great writing device. Many novice writers make the mistake of packing in back story in large chunks in the first chapter or two. A prologue (as long as it’s bare essentials!) can get rid of this more clunky ‘reveal’. It can set the scene, deliver character motivation or back story. Ideally, a prologue should also capture a reader’s attention. Make them want to read on–instantly.

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March 14, 2013

Tricky research – the near future

Filed under: Murderati blogs,Writing — PD Martin @ 3:58 pm

I’ve always loved the research that goes along with being an author, particularly a crime fiction author. I’ve posted here on some of my different research subjects, such as cults (part 1 & 2), handwriting, Kung Fu and Dim-Mak, real-life vampires and being a hitman (or woman).

I’ve also mentioned that I’m currently working in another new genre, writing a young adult (YA) novel. But this little YA novel has been giving me grief. Like, quite a lot of grief. But it’s not the writing process (which has actually been pretty easy), it’s the research. And what makes it hard, is that the book is a pre-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2030. So, it’s the near future. And I guess I’m pretty hopeless at speculating what the world will be like in 17 years’ time.

A little background…the book is set in the US and much of the action takes place in the environment of the Secret Service. In some ways, I figure the near future setting means perhaps I’ve got a bit of leeway. If I don’t get a specific Secret Service procedure right, maybe it’s just that things changed from how it’s done now to how it would be done in 17 years in the future. Right?  

But there are so many little facts and questions that are bugging me. Here are just a few:

  • Will a new power source have been discovered by then or are we still talking the current methods, including nuclear power?
  • Can my main character raise her SIG 9mm to take a shot? Surely guns will still be around and SIG SAUER will still make them. Or will they?
  • Will the US election system still be the same?  
  • Will the President still fly on ‘Air Force One’ and ‘Marine One’? And presumably planes and choppers will still be our primary method of fast transport. Won’t they?
  • Will countries have merged to make new countries or super powers?
  • What will the world look like in terms of water shortage and greenhouse gases? Surely 17 years wouldn’t have much effect…or will it?
  • Will people be reaching for their phones and tablets or something entirely different?
  • What will the internet look like in 17 years’ time?

It seems this particular area of my imagination is pretty pathetic! Problem is, when dealing with the near future I think you tread a fine line between what’s plausible and what’s short-sighted.

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March 12, 2013

Guest blogger – Lindy Cameron

Filed under: Murderati blogs,Writing — Tags: , , — PD Martin @ 3:55 pm

Today I’d like to welcome fellow Aussie author Lindy Cameron to my blog. I met Lindy through the fantastic Victorian chapter of Sisters in Crime. A great woman who’s moved from author to author/publisher I thought it would be interesting to hear her story. Why did she start her own publishing company?  Over to Lindy…

The Segue, by Lindy Cameron 

There are many things in the life of this author that try my patience. And the fact that I can actually do that, to myself, is somewhat ridiculous.

I am the Queen of Procrastination. And I say that like I am the only author who can say that, which is also ridiculous, because all writers mainline Avoidance like it’s a drug.

In fact, if you don’t find everything else to do but write, then you’re not really a writer.

Got a book deadline? Time to try out a new laksa recipe. Hmm, might have to wait until the zucchinis finish growing. Write another chapter while the stock is doing its thing – done. Oh look – the dog wants to go out; come back in; go out; eat the kitty litter. Finish chapter 10. Clean up the shredded six-pack of toilet paper. Start Chapter 11. Do a load of washing. Rewrite Chapter 11. Research just how that particular bullet will react with that metal after it’s gone through Bad Guy No 4.  Oh look – that Facebook meme about how to write is hilarious. No I really, really don’t want to change my power company, young man. Just because I answered the front door because, yes, I am AT home doesn’t mean I’m not working AT home. I’m a writer – damn it!

It is totally beyond me how I’ve managed to write five crime novels and co-write two true crime books, plus blah-blah-blah, in the last decade or so. And that always seems like a lot, until I realise I know some authors – like actually know them – who write one or two (egad!) crime novels a year.

And then I remember my biggest, weirdest and – as many people (including my partner and me) have suggested – craziest avoidance technique of all.

I started a publishing company.

I did this (in 2010) for a number of reasons. Mostly because I realised I had all the necessary skills to do something so utterly wackadoo – and in the middle of what everyone else was calling the GFC (whatever the hell that was).

I did it because I discovered there were two or 20 authors out there – apart from me – who were a little dissatisfied (understatement much?) with the Way of Big Publishers.

I also did it because I was lucky enough to snaffle some of those very same authors. Yes, I talked them into my fold, enticed them into my web, convinced them I wasn’t a complete loon, and welcomed them into my Clan.

I managed this, in some cases, because I wanted to publish certain books – by those established authors, I mean – that their existing Big Publisher didn’t want to touch because they might confuse the author’s existing readership.

[Ooh, can’t possibly ruin our crime writer’s rep by letting them go all paranormal, or write a historical novel, or something with a pirate in it!]

As an Independent Publisher, I also set about finding new Australian crime and thriller writers; publishing the back lists of existing thriller writers; republishing out-of-print crime and historical fiction; mentoring debut authors; and seeking out sf, f, duf, h, c, tc, and all the other fabulous letters that go with being a ‘capital G’ Genre publisher.

Crime and thrillers are my first love – they are what I write, after all; when I do write, I mean; you know, when I’m not publishing; really, you need to go out again? Get off the cat! What?…

But in the third year of my little company, Clan Destine Press, I’ve also discovered I needed to add r, rr & e (romance, rural romance & erotica) to the list. 


Because I can!

And there are also ‘trends’ which, as a publisher, one needs to be aware of.

One of the joys of being an Independent Publisher in the 21st Century is that we are not confined to paper.

Most of our books are paperbacks; but they are also eBooks.

And this year, more and more of our books will be eBooks first – to test the waters, to launch new careers, to get more voices out there sooner, to bring the world more fantasy, spec fic, science fiction, erotic adventures, historical fiction, and best of all: more crime and thrillers and thrilling crime and…

Now Chapter 12, where was I?

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February 28, 2013

Falling short

Filed under: Murderati blogs,Writing — Tags: — PD Martin @ 3:50 pm

Ever feel like you’re falling short? Not quite meeting your own expectations or the expectations of others? Last week, fellow Murderati David talked about his intensive promotional schedule at the moment and, like David, I too feel stretched— but in different ways and for different reasons.

Like most people, I have several ‘roles’ or parts that make up my whole. In my case, it’s mother, wife, author, breadwinner and at the moment I’m also on a bit of a health-kick/diet. Problem is, I feel like I’m falling short in pretty much all of these areas.

Four weekdays, I’m the primary caregiver of our 21-month-old son and our six-year-old daughter. And of course, weekends and mornings/nights it’s shared duty! I’m blessed with two amazing children and I love being a mum. Yet, there are things I’d like to change. I feel so disorganised in the motherhood stakes some times. Every morning, I allow myself just over an hour to get ready and out the door. Yet somehow, I still find myself frazzled and yelling to get my daughter moving. Maybe that’s normal, but it feels so chaotic and stressful and by school drop-off time I feel like I’ve run an emotional marathon. Which is ridiculous! It shouldn’t be that hard to get two kids out the door. I’m clearing doing something wrong…falling short. And I really somehow need to find more patience so I can be a better mum.

I’m an incredibly vague and forgetful person, which is not easy to live with. I’m one of those annoying people who asks a question and then can’t remember if the person answered me or not (let alone what the answer was). Yes, I’m busy and my mind is full, but is that an excuse?

Well, the actual writing process is going amazingly! Even with only having 15 hours a week (eight hours on one day and then the other seven hours are scattered all over the place) I’ve managed to write the first draft of a YA novel (58,000 words) in less than four months. I’ve now moved into the editing stage and so far I’m pretty happy with the novel.

But the problem is, I’m not bringing in enough money from my writing pursuits and my ebooks, which brings me to the next point…

While I’m not the primary breadwinner, we do rely on a fairly decent part-time salary from me to make ends meet. In the past two years, I’ve taken on teaching and freelance work and if I don’t manage to get an advance for this next YA book (and/or my ebook sales remain at their current level) the reality is I’ll need to spend my 15 hours a week on paid freelance work not on MY writing. And that sucks! I’ve probably got until July to make something happen.

My health kick/diet
I’m also currently on a no wheat, no sugar (including fruit) six-week plan. The goal is to see how my body responds to getting rid of these two things in my diet and lose 6kg (13 pounds). I’ve actually been going pretty well with this one. I’ve had a few lapses, but three weeks in I am 3kg lighter. Still, I know I won’t lose this week and I have broken it. So I guess I’ve fallen short on this one this week, too!

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February 1, 2013

My love-hate relationship with writing

Filed under: Getting published,Murderati blogs,Writing — Tags: — PD Martin @ 6:00 am

I wrote this post before I saw Gar’s Murderati post yesterday – amazing synchronicity we have at Murderati sometimes…

Heart1I’ve realised over the past few months that I have an ‘unusual’ relationship to my writing.  Or perhaps it’s pretty normal…you tell me. In some ways how writing makes me feel and my attitude towards it are contradictory. A love-hate relationship.

On the one hand, I love writing. I don’t get much time at the computer these days as a full-time mum to a young toddler, but the time I do get I cherish. I covet. I get cranky if something stands in the way of my writing day. My basic routine now is one full writing day (my husband works four days a week) and 1 hour on the other four days of the week during Liam’s naps.

The end of last year and the start of this year saw my limited writing time crunched even more…my daughter’s birthday, school holidays (21 December to 31 January here), Christmas, New Year, and our beach holiday. Three out of the first four weeks down at the beach I didn’t have my writing day (my husband was still working and commuting). At this point I was frustrated. Cranky, even. I needed to write. Finally on 11 January I had my first full writing day. And I wrote 7,500 words. Not surprisingly, I was pretty happy with that word count, and the words themselves. It made me realise how much I’d missed writing. It literally gushed out of me. And like Gar, I’m currently writing a story I want to write. I’m loving writing it and seeing how the characters and plot unfold. And while I do hope it’s commercially viable (which, of course, is code for a best seller), it’s probably not the best story to write from a business/marketing perspective. It’s a different genre (again) for a start!

Now, we’re still on the love part of my relationship with writing…I do love writing. I do.  But sometimes I feel hypocritical because I don’t write at night. Problem is, usually I’m just too plain tired to sit at the computer. I find a day as a full-time mother much more tiring than a day at a full-time job. Plus, this is my time with my husband. Our time to sit back and have a nice dinner and perhaps a glass of wine. And maybe catch up on our favourite TV shows (Dexter, Person of Interest, Homeland and our latest discovery is the UK’s Sherlock.

So now onto the hate part. At times, I feel like my chosen path has taken many things away from me (or at least denied me things). I look at my friends who are still in the corporate world, and I do notice the differences in our lifestyles. Bigger houses, better cars, dinners out…etc. etc. And on the one hand I feel: “No, that’s all material stuff. I’m living my dream — literally.”  Then I answer myself back: “No, your dream is to make a living from writing, or better yet be a best-selling novelist.” And I hate that my love and skill doesn’t equate to making a decent living.   

At times, I think I have to give up for my own sanity. Not to mention financial freedom.  If I went back into the corporate world (even part time) things would certainly be a lot easier financially. But if I’m this cranky when I’m only getting a few hours here and there to write, what would I be like if I didn’t write at all? Or if I wasn’t writing at all, wasn’t trying to finish a book and write that best seller, would I simply be able to let it go?

I’m thinking many of the writers out there can relate to this dilemma. There are at least a few of us at Murderati who’ve been circling or blogging directly about how hard it is to do what we love and make a living.

So, what’s the answer? Go back into the corporate world? Work harder at my writing? Maybe I need to force myself to write at night to add a couple of hours to my weekly quota.

I’m actually feeling pretty good about my current work in progress, but I usually do when I’m in the middle of the first draft. I have that writing high — which deserves a dedicated blog, so that will be in a fortnight’s time.

Safe to say, I’m in the love cycle of my relationship with writing, as long as I don’t think about the dream. The author’s dream.

I’m thinking maybe it’s normal to love writing but also resent it (almost kind of hate it) because of the financial repercussions of choosing this path. Particularly these days. I’m going to try to focus on the love at the moment. It’s the best and only thing I can do.

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January 26, 2013

National pride on Australia Day…sort of

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , , — PD Martin @ 3:50 am

Australia Day is a big day here in Oz.  It commemorates the arrival of the first fleet in 1788 and I’m feeling mixed about it all. There are so many layers to this day. Good, bad, and plain ugly.

First off, at the most superficial level I think most Australians will agree it’s a great day for a BBQ (a national past time, particularly in summer; and Australia Day is one of those days when pretty much everyone either has or goes to an Australia Day BBQ).  It’s also a public holiday, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like a day off? In fact, this year because it falls on Saturday, the public holiday is on Monday (in lieu), so we get a long weekend — bonus! Mind you, as a full-time mum public holidays don’t actually mean a ‘day off’ for me, but they do mean a day of family time, which is something I cherish greatly.

There’s also the part of me that’s incredibly proud to be an Australian and so it’s nice to have a day to honour this feeling. I love this country and while Australians generally have a low-key kind of patriotism, it’s still there, bubbling away underneath. You probably got a sense of my pride in Australia during my blog on our gun laws (yes, I think we’ve got it right). Plus our healthcare system is pretty damn good, I think. Then of course there’s the country itself (the cities, the outback, the bushland, the beaches). I also love how multicultural we are these days. And let’s not forget the weather. Having lived in Ireland for a year and a half, I think I appreciate our sunshine even more now. Looking out to blue skies and maybe a few puffs of cloud at least 6-9 months out of the year is extremely important to me. It sets the mood for the day and instantly makes me feel upbeat. Sure, the really, really hot days aren’t my favourites but I’d rather be hot than cold any day.

So, all of the above are incredibly positive things. Go, Australia. Yay, Australia. I love living here. Australia Day rocks. But then…

I think about the actual day it commemorates — the British declaring sovereignty over Australia (then New Holland), and everything that followed in terms of our indigenous population. In fact, most of our Indigenous population call Australia Day Invasion Day. And of course, that’s what it was. It’s all about perspective. Having lived in Ireland and studied some of its history extensively for Grounded Spirits, I often compare the two countries. Ireland is the most invaded country in the world. Its most recent invasion, of course, had massive consequences — consequences that were felt for centuries (and still are). After all, that’s how Ireland became Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Note: I realise I have simplified a very complex issue with this statement. And yes, it is/was also very tied up in religion. But what you’ve got to remember, is that traditionally the Catholics were Irish and the Protestants were English.)

Anyway, part of Grounded Spirits takes place in the 1820s, when the Irish weren’t even allowed to own land in their own country. Ireland has been fighting invaders, either in the political arena or physically, for pretty much its entire history. The Irish fought their invaders over the centuries. What would have happened if Australia’s indigenous population had guns? Would a battle between Australia’s indigenous population and invaders (British or otherwise) still be going on today? Would the country be split in half?   

The final layer…In terms of Australia Day commemorating the British declaring sovereignty, I’d actually rather Australia was a Republic. I believe that the average Australian actually does NOT feel an affiliation to the UK or the Queen. Problem is, for better or worse we don’t fully understand that burning desire to legally be a Republic. As a result, most Aussies (non-Indigenous) are pretty apathetic about the whole issue.

However, many of the supporters of an Australian Republic believe it would (and should) be linked to Reconciliation. These two issues could be tied together — an Australian Republic that starts afresh, recognising that Australia has been built on the foundations of indigenous Australians, British settlers/invaders and the massive number of migrants that now form our multicultural population. Symbolically, a Republic could be a new start with an acknowledgement of this country’s true history.

Australia Day…see what I mean about the layers? The good, the bad and the ugly?

So, what will I do on Australia Day? I will celebrate all the positives of this wonderful nation, but the history and the need for both Reconciliation and an Australian Republic will also be at the forefront of my mind. We do have friends coming down for a BBQ, but I’ll make sure we talk about the layers of Australia Day.

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January 17, 2013

On holidays

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , — PD Martin @ 3:48 am

I’m on holidays again. I did consider simply re-posting my summer in Oz blog from last year, because I’m pretty much doing the same thing!

Well, not exactly.

Every year, we head down to the Mornington Peninsula on Boxing Day (26 December) and stay for quite a few weeks. I used to spend my summers down here (since I was two years old, when my grandparents bought a small holiday house) and now my little ones are enjoying their summers by the beach, too.

This year and last year, our ‘go home’ date was dictated by Grace’s school holidays. So we’re here until almost the end of January.

We do pop back to Melbourne for a few trips, like our traditional Australian Open tennis day. That’s today!

So, it’s pretty much been:

  • Beach
  • Relaxing on the deck (eating)
  • Beach
  • Relaxing on the deck (eating and drinking)
  • A walk or two 
  • Beach

You get the picture, right?

Then last night was the tennis (sorry about the poor quality pic). We saw Williams (Venus) vs Cornet and then Ryan Harrison vs Djokovich.

Unfortunately the men’s match was extremely one-sided and when you go to these matches you really feel for the guy who’s getting his ass whooped. At least, I did. It must be so hard to be playing in front of so many people and have the first set gone in just 20 minutes. You can feel the disappointment, the frustration.

Anyway, I’m off to the tennis and my family is waiting so I’m out of here. Mind you, it’s going to be a scorcher today…39C which is just over 102F. Loads of sunscreen and hats today! Then tomorrow it’s back to the beach.  

We’ve got another ten days on the Peninsula, so I’m guessing we might hit the beach and relax on the deck a bit more!

Are you still on holidays? If so, what are you up to?

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January 6, 2013

Year in review

Filed under: Murderati blogs — PD Martin @ 3:46 am

Like many people I often feel reflective around this time of year and I thought today I’d use that feeling to think about my year (2012) of blogging here at Murderati. My highlights! I’ve included craft blogs for the writers plus some more general posts. Hope you enjoy the highlights show…

I opened 2012 up with a look at the health hazards of being a writer — and I think these apply no matter what year we’re in! Things like RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, alcoholism, insomnia, stress, etc.

And if you’ve ever wondered whether being an author was more about talent or skill, check out my April 10 blog.

In May Aussie Kathryn Fox was my guest, and she talked about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)…an eye-opening blog!

One of my July blogs was about the rollercoaster effect of being a writer — the creative rollercoaster, the agent rollercoaster, etc.

September was a very important and personal blog — And Baby Makes Four. This blog talked about us going to Korea to pick up our new son.

Finally, I closed 2012 with a blog on the gun laws in Australia. It was in response to some of the discussions I was part of on Murderati and Facebook about the tragedy in Connecticut.

So they are my blog (and sometimes life) highlights of 2012. Obviously there were a lot of blogs (and milestones) in between, but I wanted to mention some of my favourites.

What are some of your highlights of the year? Blog or otherwise :)

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December 20, 2012

Gun laws in Australia

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , , — PD Martin @ 3:43 am

For any regular visitors to Murderati, it’s difficult if not impossible to follow up from Gar’s post yesterday. I had been contemplating two subjects for my blog today — both very different from one another (one was ‘failure’ and what it means and the other was my complete inability to get Christmas cards out on time…actually maybe they are related). However, I didn’t feel that either of those subjects was a fitting ‘follow-on’ from Gar’s amazing post.

So, I’m sticking with the theme by talking about Australian gun laws. I guess as a way of saying ‘this is what it would look like’ if America ever did change its (wicked) ways. Plus Gar’s post inspired me to explore things a little more.

The first thing I discovered was that Aussie gun laws have gone through a massive change — and it was in response to a spree killing. Specifically, in 1996 gun laws were reviewed following the Port Arthur Massacre. I should say, that gun control wasn’t really on the radar in Australia before that, because we’ve always had a relatively low violent crime rate plus we have a long history of low firearm use and gun legislation (off and on, and different for the different states). However the state laws were aligned via the 1996 National Agreement on Firearms. But the fact that gun laws haven’t been a constant source of debate does make us very different to America.

Here’s what it’s like in Australia. I’ll start with a personal experience.

I grew up in Melbourne (population 4.1 million, Australia’s second largest city) and had never seen or held a gun until I went to a firing range as research for my Sophie novels. So I was thirty-five years old the first time I saw a gun. Could this be said for many Americans?   

According to Wikipedia, 5.2% of Australians currently own a gun. Under the current legislation, you must get a license to purchase a gun, and there’s a mandatory 28-day delay before the first permit is issued. You also must have a “genuine reason” to own a gun and it must be related to pest control, target shooting, hunting, etc. Self defense is NOT considered a genuine reason.

According to Wikipedia, 25% of Americans currently own a gun and about half of the entire population has lived in a household with a gun. This is something I can barely comprehend. So how many thirty-five year olds in America would never have even seen a gun? Not many, I guess. If any.

And in terms of firearms related deaths? Again from Wikipedia, in the US there were 3.7 homicides and 6.1 suicides using firearms per 100,000 people (2009) and in Australia it was 0.09 homicides and 0.79 suicides per 100,000 people (2008).

For most Australians, guns just aren’t part of our lives. We don’t own them, don’t see them, don’t want them. And I guess that’s why it’s hard for us to understand the debate in the US.

You might also be interested to know what happened in 1996 when Australia’s gun laws changed. I haven’t been monitoring how far the discussions are going in the US, but I assume people are talking about how, if gun laws were changed, you could get all the guns out of circulation. Well, this is how it worked in Australia.  It was simple: gun owners had a certain amount of time to hand in their weapons and they got money in exchange. This from Wikipedia: “Because the Australian Constitution prevents the taking of property without just compensation the federal government introduced the Medicare Levy Amendment Act 1996 to raise the predicted cost of A$500 million through a one-off increase in the Medicare levy. The gun buy-back scheme started on 1 October 1996 and concluded on 30 September 1997.[23] The buyback purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 firearms, mostly semi-auto .22 rimfires, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns.” (By the way, Medicare is our national healthcare system, and it was increased from 1.5% of your wage to 1.7% for the 1996 tax year.)

I guess it would be rude and probably naïve of me to say: ‘See America, that’s how it’s done.’ Not to mention inflammatory. We are very different countries with different histories. But from the outside looking in, it’s hard not to feel disbelief at America’s gun laws and attitudes. I’m not saying Australia is perfect — it’s not. And it’s with great shame personally and as a nation that we have to claim one of the world’s worst spree killings – Port Arthur. However, I do think we’re at least pointing in the right direction.

I’m proud that I’d never seen a gun until I was thirty-five. Proud that I don’t know anyone who owns a gun. And as a mother, I’d prefer my children to have similar experiences. I think it would be great if they only see a gun if they become a crime fiction author and need to do some research. What about you?

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