AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER TEMPLE
The two books in The Jack Irish Quinella have a special place in my heart. Before them, I'd never
had what I felt was a proper job. Sad, really. I'd been in reasonably gainful employment without the
feeling of having a career. I was just waiting for my vocation to announce itself. Then one day I
began writing Bad Debts and it dawned on me that this was what I should be doing.
Four Jack Irish books later, I’m delighted to say that Jack has struck a chord in some readers.
People talk to me about him in terms usually reserved for discussing close friends.
I’m not saying that writing comes easily to me. Being stuck is the rule, not the exception. In fact,
for me writing is one long attempt to become unstuck. I move from impasse to impasse.
I've also found that inspiration isn't something that lasts beyond than a paragraph or two. Creative
rushes are also to be distrusted.
My ideas for books are also much too vague to be called inspirations. They take the form of images
and the feelings that come with them, scenes seen and imagined, usually unconnected, isolated. I've
usually forgotten them by chapter three. Bad Debts was inspired by seeing two lawyers drinking in
a backstreets pub in Fitzroy, Melbourne, worldly men in dark suits talking shop and laughing a lot.
Then I created the Irish family history. It fills pages and pages. Most of it I've never used but it
enabled me to see Jack whole — a man in his place, in his time, in his history. It think it gives a
certain depth and complexity to the character.
People somethimes ask me how I plot. I must confess to doing as little as possible. I much prefer to
travel without a map, falling into holes, straying down dark alleys into cul-de-sacs, waiting for the
electrifying moment when the story wants to tell itself to me, when characters turn their faces to me
and speak. Black Tide was the book where that first happened to me.
I sometimes think that writing decent crime novels is a higher calling. People will read t