Author divulges the secret of crime writing

A chat with popular crime fiction author Shane Maloney is as expressive as the prose in his books.

Maloney can't help but be descriptive - even if he's just answering a simple question about what participants can expect from a workshop in crime fiction he'll be hosting at the University of Wollongong early next month.

"I hope it will be useful to anyone who's grappling with a novel, who's trying to wrestle it to the ground, put their hands around its screaming neck and beat it on the concrete," he said without missing a beat.

"There are so many different styles of crime fiction, from the hard-boiled approach, to the classic whodunnit, to my own approach, which is more humorous and soft-boiled, or perhaps poached.

"Whatever the style, crime-fiction writing requires a lot of energy and pace - it needs a good plot and a good tangled yarn."

The workshop with the Melbourne author on December 8 is filling up fast, and he will also be participating in a variety of panel discussions and talks at the university's crime fiction conference, which will run from December 6 to 8.

Maloney, the creator of the popular Murray Whelan series of crime novels, said what he loved most about the genre was the truths it could reveal about society in general, and particular places.

Melbourne is always an important "character" in his books, which are written in a witty, and distinctly Australian, style.

"Location is very important in crime fiction, and we learn a lot about different places through the way in which they deal with a murder, or a crime."

Aspiring novelists can also get some tips on crime writing from other prominent Australian crime authors like Peter Robb, Malla Nunn and Leigh Redhead at the conference next month.

American literary critic Fredric Jameson will also be at the event, as well as UOW academics and experts in the field of crime writing - Catherine Cole, Sue Turnbull and Ian Buchanan.

"The conference will look at crime fiction and the way in which it has become such a potent and popular form of writing," Professor Cole said.

She said the conference would also take a look at international crime writing including Scandinavian (Stieg Larsson), British (Agatha Christie) and American (Raymond Chandler).

 Professor Catherine Cole from UOW will co-host the crime fiction workshop. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Professor Catherine Cole from UOW will co-host the crime fiction workshop. Picture: GREG TOTMAN