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Spoken Word

15 Sep 2023

Spoken Word: Episode 29: Silks by Hugh McGinlay (Clan Destine Press)

Arts, History, James WF Roberts, Joy Media, Joy94.9, Literature, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Podcasting, Spoken Word, Theatre, TV & Film

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Spoken Word: Episode 29: Silks by Hugh McGinlay (Clan Destine Press)

 

In this edition of Spoken Word on Joy94.9, James interview local Melbourne novel, Hugh McGinlay about his latest novel, Silks.

Silks, the fourth Victoria-based Catherine Kint mystery by Melbourne author and musician, Hugh McGinlay, is now out with Clan Destine Press.

Kint, a gin enthusiast and raconteur with a penchant for men with high cheekbones, also has the distinction of being Australia’s only milliner sleuth. Her talents with hat pins, and a former occupation as a crime scene investigator, mean she is a force to be reckoned with. She notices ‘things’.

In Silks, Catherine is home in Brunswick in the midst of a frosty Melbourne winter, and looks for distraction in a night at the circus.

When tragedy strikes, she and her barman (and best friend) Boris are drawn into a new mystery. Was the death of a performer on the aerial silks an accident or something more sinister?

As they draw back the metaphorical curtain, they’re confronted with a troupe in chaos, a culture of secrecy, and a family in crisis.

Add in hula hooping thugs, a desperate suspect, and a nihilistic bully, and you have a recipe for carnage even Catherine can’t control.

Oh, and then there’s Boris’ love life – send in the clowns. Boris is predictably unlucky in love but this time has two women in his thrall, and it leaves him even more discombobulated than usual. It doesn’t help that he is followed, pursued, and assaulted on an unpleasantly regular basis and, at one point, finds himself literally upside down.

McGinlay was inspired to set this novel in the circus by his daughter.

“When she was in primary school, my daughter studied with the Circus Spot in Pascoe Vale. When I was searching for a scene of the crime for the book, she urged me to set it in a circus. Wisely, I took her advice,” he said.

“And, besides, a while back I had been to a Fringe Festival opening where performers did amazing things with silks, or tissu as the French call them. I was mesmerised – the silks were beautiful but looked so deadly.”

To research the book, McGinlay spoke to trainers and performers in the Melbourne circus community.

“I also explored how small teams can become toxic, and how people can turn on each other when the trust goes,” he said.

The previous books in the Catherine Kint mystery series include JinxPachyderm an Bodysurfing.

(Language warning and suicide topics discussed)

Bodysurfing was set at Apollo Bay during the summer holidays and the mood was happy-go-lucky and joyous despite the discovery of a body in the water – the Greens candidate for the local by-election. I wanted a different tone for Silks. At the end, you feel sorry for pretty much everyone and no one makes a quick getaway,” he said.

McGinlay has always written – but mostly songs that he performs on stage with his guitar.

“When the kids came along and I could no longer tour, I decided to turn to a life of crime. I thought I could churn out a novel a year. Eight years later, I’ve managed to put out four. Writing novels, like anything worth doing, is harder than it seems,” he said.

Catherine, McGinlay says, was originally conceived as a woman of means but it was pointed out that she needed a job to give her some grounding.

“Then someone suggested I make her a milliner. I didn’t even know what a milliner was. However, I read up, and sat down with milliners and learned how to block, ponce, steam, and do ribbon work. Now hats sometimes inspire the stories,” he said.

“Luckily, Catherine is blessed with an amazing metabolism and can survive on little sleep no matter how much gin she has consumed. It really propels the action!”

McGinlay admits that Catherine – and Boris – speak to him all the time. He has a fifth novel underway –Bounty, set in the small Victorian town of Corryong where Catherine is pursuit of sapphires.

Crime author, RWR McDonald, is launching Silks – 2pm Sunday 17 September, Edinburgh Castle Hotel, 681 Sydney Road, Brunswick (the model for The Glasgow Palace which features a lot in the series). Floyd Thursby, a singer songwriter, will be playing gypsy jazz. Everyone welcome.

____________________________________________________________________________________

BIO:

Hugh McGinlay: Hugh is a writer and musician. These poor life decisions mean he has also worked as bus driver, kitchenhand, singing teacher, seller of dental consumables and public servant. Now four books into the Catherine Kint series, he is still amazed that his imaginary friends have been accepted into other people’s heads and bookshelves. As a musician, he has released four albums, and occasionally gets played on radio. He is just about to release a solo, EP, Holding Patterns. He lives in Reservoir, Melbourne with his wife, two children, a cat and six chickens.

Book cover and publicity still courtesy of Clan Destine Press

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