Once upon a time, as my publisher Sophie Hamley at Hachette Australia tells me, books were essentially printed characters on paper, which were then bound and shipped out to bookstores to ultimately be displayed for sale on shelves. The best publisher’s estimate of what quantities of each book might sell was a mixture of market knowledge, author reputation and the subject matter. (Interestingly during the last two years of COVID, fiction has been the preferred genre for many, and that makes sense given the highly interrupted and irregular lifestyles we’ve all had to lead at various times of the pandemic with high infections, lockdowns and restricted social interaction.)
The book publishing business is a much more sophisticated process in the 21st century with just-in-time printing offering publishers the ability to quickly re-stock shelves in the event of an unexpected run on a particular title or author’s work(s). Similarly, the advent of the Kindle and eBooks, as well as the popularity of podcasts and audiobooks has offered authors (and publishers) a whole new market for their offerings.
It’s not uncommon for authors with a penchant for story-telling around the bar, or in the sports locker room, or even at the kitchen table to audition their manuscripts in the event their retelling of the story offers both an authentic and convincing rendition of the published book. Not every author wants to do this, of course, and even more so, not every author passes muster.
Hachette gave me the opportunity to audition the reading of ‘Betrayed’, so I selected several excerpts which included plenty of dialogue, and gave it my best shot. I once worked on radio, but that was decades ago and my experience on-air was a mix of straight reporting (at the ABC), and in another instance, as a disc jockey in an outback mining town spinning discs on the local AM radio station — 2BH — each night from 7-10pm. I really enjoyed being able to bring in my own albums and select the tracks to play because I wasn’t being paid so there was no playlist; I could play my choice of music. I’m not sure Broken Hill ever recovered from my preference for Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Winwood and Traffic, Jethro Tull or even Miles Davis. There was plenty of The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, Locomotive Breath and All Blues finding their way into the ears of those around the far west and even out to the Mundi Mundi Plains.
That aside, I am pleased to say I passed the audition and I am going into the studio in mid-April for a week to record ‘Betrayed’. I’ll be working with Hachette’s experienced producers and I genuinely hope I can help readers and listeners relate to this story with as deep an insight possible into who the Drug Grannies — Toddie and Beezie — actually were. The gradual path of duplicity and betrayal which turned into an international drug smuggling ‘odyssey’ and ultimately put the women into an Australian jail cell is a story you will find both astounding and unbelieveable.
That it was family who used them so cravenly is all the more shocking. Keep your ears posted!