GUEST SPEAKER: Crime writer Michael Robotham will visit Casino on July 31.
GUEST SPEAKER: Crime writer Michael Robotham will visit Casino on July 31. Tony Mott

Accidental crime writer returns to his hometown

IN a small dead end street, near a railway line, a boy watched the colourful circus wagons roll into Casino.

Crime writer Michael Robotham, 58, spent his first five years living in a fibro house in Casino before the family moved to Gunnedah.

The best selling author is back in his hometown on July 31 as part of the Byron Writers Festival Writers on the Road regional tour.

He's only been back home once, he said, and is looking forward to returning for the Art of Crime talk.

His mother was born in Kyogle and his father was a teacher at Casino High School. With his three brothers, he spent much of his time playing in Condamine St.

He remembered the "legendary hailstorm" in Casino. Hailstones the size of golf balls rained on their home and with his brothers, Robotham crouched under the kitchen table.

"I have tremendous memories of the small country town and the freedom it gave me," Robotham said. "We made bows and arrows from the willow tree."

Little did he know, he would have a successful career as an investigative reporter and go on to write 15 biographies as a ghost writer.

When he had a three months hiatus in his job as a journalist, and before starting a biography of the singer Lulu, he wrote 117 pages of a novel. That story triggered a bidding war among publishers and The Suspect, published in 2004, sold a million copies and was translated into 21 languages.

Robotham admitted he was shocked when he saw his name on the book.

"I thought it was a dreadful mistake," he said.

He has published 14 novels and now his name is in larger font than the titles of his books, something he said still surprises him.

He never planned on being Australia's best known psychological crime writer.

"I wrote crime by accident," he said. "My stories were told in the first person and were different to other crime novels."

In 2015 he won the UK's prestigious Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award with his standalone thriller Life or Death.

Living in Avalon in Sydney with his family, his latest offering is Good Girl Bad Girl.

He laughed at the idea that his life story would make a great film.

"Maybe one day I'll write a memoir."

It will be more a collection of anecdotes than my life story, he said.

Michael Robotham will appear at the Casino Community and Cultural Centre with crime writers Jock Serong, Kristina Olsson and Omar Sakr on July 31. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information visit: byronwritersfestival.com/roadtrip or call Zacharey Jane on 0432 922 381.



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