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[00:00:01] I like to lock a little bit eight imperius crime writing, and then look at some of the the resonances with your life with your story, and also finished perhaps with a little bit of my own experiences and dealing with this biography and the issues that you have to navigate. So I'm looking at resonance and redemption resonance being the relationships to your own life redemption, probably being something that not only imperious seeking, but also her characters. So, the adolescent murderous Juliet human pulling pakka were vilified occasionally in historical fashion by the New Zealand priests in 1954. the prosecution's catch cry of duty minded little girls resounded through the media is that psychologist Miller cops grossly insane. This is the polarity offered by a trial seek out to establish guilt or innocence on the basis of beta Or madness. So the RNA was that both aspects of this dichotomy would outlive the trial and continue to feign public outrage and contempt and almost equal measure. The essentializing all consuming label how either was evil. This contained bait in made but was bigger and beyond human redemption entries. In diary like an evil mirror read a headline from the New Zealand hero during the trial, the barbarity and hopelessly irrational confidence of the accused. The youth Packers diary reflected the deterioration of the two girls like an evil mirror. Another one girls here mood a verdict and moved read a headline This is the New Zealand truth after the sentencing. So effectively until 1994, the world knew imperii as the writer of be selling crime fiction, which would eventually stack up to over 26 million books sales worldwide, [00:02:07] but had on the [00:02:08] tale of the release of Peter Jackson's film about the sensational 1954 Packer who murders Heavenly Creatures came the shocking revelation that Ain pieri had started life is Juliet Hume, the teenager convicted of jointly murdering her friend's mother, life would never be the same for him again, and a new light was cast now not only on her life, but also about her writing. a murderer had gone on to become a celebrated writer about murder. So the same quite extraordinary, I think, understandably, but these were no simple crime stories, spiritual and philosophical complexities Street, the way through imperious works and the characters she creates. This talk today looks at some of the resonances between In the 1954 parka humid in imperious crime detective fiction writing. So, Juliet Hume was released from from prison in New Zealand. I offered to write [00:03:13] a book for Harper Collins [00:03:15] based on a luxury [00:03:17] biography, which obviously had to contextualize that murder. So, in many respects, I the book does a lot of the work but he's a sort of kind of thumbnail sketch of some of the relationships. So Julia Hume was released from prison in New Zealand in November 1959. With a new identity she was actually called in Stuart. She later adopted his deep father's name period. She joined her mother and stepfather in the UK and work there until, after many unsuccessful attempts, she was granted entry into the United States. She worked in the state of California for five years, returning to the UK in 1972, when a six step father became critically So she bought a college and dashing and Suffolk and decided to try and become a published author. She wrote many failed manuscripts before one was finally published. Two things tuned in Perry's writing life around at one part of a solution came to it from his stepfather, Bill pieri. A repeated criticism that she got back from publishers was that ain't let it was that he had a lack of a good plot. And he suggested, why don't you write murder mystery season the time of jack the Ripper. So the Ripper story had fascinated people the world over since 1888. It was an entree into the MCAD mind of a murderer and the compulsions of serial killing. And the fact that the identity of the killer remained undiscovered, seemed very it's gone on being an appealing mystery for everybody. And then there was the potential for 19th century costuming, the Victorian detail or romantic a leader of the people [00:05:00] And this was a perfect fit for a history buff like [00:05:03] in. So [00:05:05] this was a great sort of suggestion, but it was the plot trimming strictures of the detective form that bill recommended, which gave crucial definition and shape to your writing. So the second part of the solution came from a writer friend who recommended that she gives an agent. So the second manuscript in period submitted to the NBA This is that she submitted one that was sort of a fantasy history novel, terrible. And along with this, she submitted the Katie straight hangmen. And interestingly enough, they read it and instantly responded to her and she got a call back within a week or so. And they said, We really like this and within I think, two weeks from that stage, she had a contract. So it had an amazing traction for here. So this book was first published in 19. 79 and at this stage she was already 39 years old. So that 26 million books [00:06:07] has occurred [00:06:08] in a niche and that framework, she writes, I don't have a character and least I have a face for them. She might almost have been looking at a full length mirror when she found the face in physical appearance of Charlotte Ellison. This is scenes from princey Woods adding company production of this particular book. [00:06:28] And so I guess this is a way of visualizing it, but [00:06:31] you know, I don't have that character unless I have a face for them. And this is a very similar character and many physical respects to imperii. So in Charlotte's long urban here, grey blue eyes pale skin tall statue is ferger. an ample and often proudly displayed best, there is something of a match for in Thomas pert that sued her official detective was another measure in his visits to the home of the upper class. Ellison family in Katy straight Charlotte CSUMB sideways with the same contempt and might well have felt he came into and this is a quote into the morning room filling the doorway coat flipping here on Tati is always his ape ability irritated shallot almost beyond beer and is tasty Scott was around wants to often rounders sneak his pockets boat with a prevision kit Have a seat or detection hardware that includes actually a length of string and two marbles and put his from the wrong side of the tracks or rather the estate because his father was a game keeper and justly accused of poaching and sent to Australia. Interestingly enough, [00:07:45] so this history provides [00:07:45] put with two things a posh accent because he has been educated with the son of the house, and a drive to write and justice. It was an ideal combination, perhaps for an ambitious working classmate and a light Victorian English police force that was changing to a professional organization from a sort of nepotism in privilege. So she hated two characters. And she would see two story in London and build her plot around a murder in a family. And I guess that, you know, people often say write about what you know, it was in that context that she knew the positions of all of those people involved. It was not surprising that have had an instant traction. And it's not surprising that the genre gave you the structure to contain the energy and imagination that she has in such abundant amounts. So the the family is actually Charlotte Allison's, the victim, interestingly enough, is the oldest sister Sarah. She obviously had to stop pretty soon killing off members of that family because otherwise she'd have none left. This in a way is the one we're it starts off and she creates the Characters she didn't know where they were going to go. And then of course she has to work out different ways of continuing the story without necessarily killing off large numbers of the Ellison family. The the Ellison household is ruled over by shallots, papaya Edward, a true Victorian patriarch. She can steal only glimpses of the newspaper because it is considered inappropriate reading for a young lady. This means she must either flout the house rules, or convince Dominic Sears husband to lead her slipping in and read the newspaper or possibly read it on the butler's pantry. In a way imperii uses this as an opportunity to explore feminism, the strictures of women, the controls over this world and the very patriarchal kind of family unit that she opens up the story and so the news is always as terrible. It's the 20th of April 1881. In Benjamin Disraeli has just been [00:10:01] shallots [00:10:02] and this is a quote shallots first thought was to wonder how Mr. Gladstone felt. Did he feel any sense of loss was a great enemy as much a part of a man's life as a great friend? Surely must be. It must be the crossbreed in the fabric of emotions. In period opens with this powerful reflection on friends and enemies, and continues throughout the novel, to make searching in profound comments about human behavior. she explores power and sexual inequality, incisively giving the most misogynistic of it, this is interesting lines to the women who, who police patriarchal boundaries. She considers class difference and poverty and the lack of educational opportunity. She shows how greed and callousness may cause you Human deprivation, but also how this is maintained by those who turn their backs all live an unfeeling ignorance. She is most caringly critical, however, of the hypocrisy of established religion. There are few characters more apparent than the pompous Riven pribyl, who was called on to minister to grief stricken friends and family after a series of apparent random groupings of young women whose flesh and clothes are ripped in a sexually perverse manner. pribyl who believes that women in sexuality are evil is hopelessly insincere. His poor wife, Martha, convinced by his fundamentalist reading of Genesis is filled with self loathing and hatred. in conducting his interviews, he finds himself increasingly attracted to the independent and forthright challenged, who at first openly despises but but comes to realize that slovenly working class persona is it superficial, [00:12:04] and then it is the person inside who counts. [00:12:07] This epiphany is the beginning of her maturation as a character. At the end of the novel, she agrees to jump the social divide and join put in penury as the wife of a detective. Feminism had generated room for a fully functioning female detective. And the early days of the 20th century women were on the cozy margins of the genre wifely like Dorothy says Harriet vein. Now Mattias Agatha Troy and Madri ellingham Amanda fitten elderly, like Agatha Christie's gossiping sleuth Miss Marple or fashionably impudent, like Christie's prudence Cali of the Tommy and tuppence series. These characters were traces of estrogen in a testosterone driven field but by the 1970s the world changed in detective fiction needed to change to. Now women project protagonists needed to drive plots in defined action, not actors, adjuncts, victims or shrews. It was a perfect pairing hope Delon, in some atoms priests saw the market opportunity in and created shallot put the chemistry hangman head at its core, the explosive implications of murder in a family, the suspicion, the revelation of infidelity, the death, the grief, the shame, which we're at the heart of its own story, and head, also [00:13:42] an amateur detective and Charlotte [00:13:43] pert, that had parallels and appearance and personality to hear own intimately. She knew these experiences, she knew these elements intimately, and she could tap into them easily to write this book or relatively easily and it's amazing She published one book a year with St. Martin's Press, who had the world rights to books as well. And she produced about 10 books in total, before she was able to become more self determining. So it was her agent Mike Davis, who worked out the solution to create an entirely new series. So, this one was specifically for random houses balantine imprint, and this is a quote from MiG providentially [00:14:29] in head this thing [00:14:31] and I captured that was the face of a stranger. The concept from Mike a new series detective, who was a recovering amnesiac. So quite interesting concept to make remembers and original idea had been there. At the end of the first book, Mike actually discovers that he is the murderer. [00:14:51] It's interesting. [00:14:53] She she sees that he didn't fake commit the moon and he has got to go underground. This was the idea that he'd have to go under. And being as an underground private investigator, he can take on hopeless cases and sort them out by other means. So it was not within the structure of the system. So it was actually a very interesting format premise. It's interesting though, that Leona, this is the person who was, was the editor for balantine was reluctant to make make the murderer age wall. And finally, she actually vetoed this idea. So make remembers her rationale, she felt that Americans wouldn't cope with the kind of darkness. It had to turn out that he had left the guy for deed, but in fact, [00:15:36] didn't literally kill him. [00:15:38] And weirdly, for Americans, they lead him off the hook and everything was fine. But it does mean that he could walk away and still be a member of society and solve problems in a more traditional kind of footing. So you can imagine how this is problematic for readers. You can imagine how problematic it was when this woman discovered that, in fact, it wasn't just the case. committed murder [00:16:00] but the author, so [00:16:02] the main premise provided a perfect psychological landscape in which he could locate some of her own reflections on the struggle between good and evil. And the many situations that make this absolute polarization inappropriate fluid in sometimes even sort of accidental, so that the pet series to date had been immediate examination of subjects and which in took a relatively liberal position on feminism, marriage, the family poverty, religious hypocrisy, and ceased rape, prostitution, homosexuality. You know, she's does a lot. You know, I think what's interesting is she understood what it felt like to be monk. She knew what choice and consequence was, because what happens with monk is he discovers as he's regaining his memory, he discovers that he wasn't a very nice person. In fact, he discovered that he was a horrible person. Who created a fear? So what he gradually does is discover that this person that he was, was someone he can't respect he can't love. And so it's a very interesting thing because he has no memory. So he starts to have to discover himself through other people's responses. So she knows about choice and consequence, and what it's like to see other people's in other people's eyes rather, the monster that is the perception of you. So he's recovering his memory through other people's eyes. She knows how that feels. If she had been allowed to make monk, a murderer. His life would have been pretty much a fictional [00:17:45] projection of who's but Leona [00:17:48] and Leona [00:17:50] nivola in Ballantine Books, were not brave enough to trust the American readers to exceed a murderer is a likeable positive person. The face of a stranger opens and on the 31st of July, so she takes us back to 1856, the other ones in the 1880s and a London hospital where Mike has land close to death for three weeks. his consciousness dawns, he realizes he can remember nothing. He does not know how he got there or even who he is. And this is a quote, panic boiled up inside him again. And for a moment, he could have screamed, help me, somebody who am I give me back my life myself. He thinks he has a past, but he can't remember it. He has an identity, which he's unaware of. He's effectively no one. In I think there's an interesting parallels to the way that Juliet shoom is in Stuart leave New Zealand. But he does have an innate sense of self preservation. So he keeps This knowledge to himself, revealing his amnesia would only make him vulnerable in some way abec in the dark recesses of his damaged mind, he knows vulnerability is dangerous. On his released from hospital, he finds his rooms at 27 Grafton Street. He makes his housekeeper Mrs. Wally and discovers himself for the first time in the mirror. And I think it's quite an interesting concept he discovers himself in the mirror, the face he sees looking back as a strong one, he is Dak with and this is a quote, abroad, slightly aquiline nose wide mouth eyes intense luminous gray and the flickering light. It was a powerful face but not an easy one. If there was humor, it would be hash of what rather than laughter. He estimates that he is anywhere between 35 and 45 years old, but it isn't there. reaction of others that he begins to see the enemy in. colleagues are frightened him they cower, it is cruelty and despise his single minded selfish ambition. No one keys and no one likes them. But is this really fear? After all, he was hearing only one side of the story. There was no one to defeat him to explain to give us reasons and decide what he knew and perhaps did not. And his greatest fear as he turns to work returns to work at the Metropolitan Police Force and begins to unravel the deadly bashing of major gray as he goes through this first book. The face of a stranger is he's looking to see whether he to find out whether he is the murderer himself or net that's very much the worry for him through the whole book until the murder is resolved. It would not surprise rank on has superior officer work if it was revealed as the murder, he feels some intense unspoken animosity towards monk that was never entirely entangled, even in this book, Runcorn geezers monks identity crisis by spotting gaps and his memory. Towards the end of the book, Mike tells his lately who will later become his wife. Usually independent, sometimes a sibbett woman about has amnesia. So one person guesses he tells here although throughout the book it's interesting Mike's murder case right through right through that case, they squabble these two history and Mike, and she is, you know, quite critical of them [00:21:41] right through it and find some really [00:21:43] despicable at times. [00:21:45] But when he admits [00:21:46] that he has this missing memory, she's completely sympathetic. She thinks to herself, how extraordinary and terrible I do not always like myself completely. But to lose yourself, I cannot imagine having nothing at all lift of all your past or your experiences. And the reason why you love or hate things, he said is the light side to max darkness, perhaps and that repeat she is rather to ideal, but she does possess a challenging pursuit of quality that in admires, she has a heartfelt contempt for hypocrisy and in competence, and will not suffer fools. And this is a quote she is highly intelligent, with a gift for logical thought, which many people found a stubing especially mean, who did not expect it or like it and a woman. So that's a quote from the book, he says, among the first woman to join Florence Nightingale, its Qatari and Turkey, close to the carnage of the Crimean War, who find brain max here invaluable in the administration for the hospitals and dealing with the current Leigh injured, and it also when she returns and becomes part of Max life, it makes her done good sloth. So for in amnesia, it's just a convenient means of revealing things retrospectively, a perfect device for the detective fiction writer because it leaves tracks of information obscure and suspenseful. [00:23:23] But it is not the mater of forgetting [00:23:25] that you have murdered someone that ignites her interest here, I think, in this, I think is quite personal. This in a way that that notion of amnesia is quite a short lived, sensational thing. What I think made us to here in the face of a stranger [00:23:42] is Max loss of self, [00:23:45] the absence of an identity, the lack of a voice to explain, the horror of seeing himself through other's eyes is brutal and crow when he has to believe that this is a on the part of the picture so that's a bit of a local who work and some relationships to life. It wasn't it almost impossible thing getting in period on board with this book. And I'm afraid it required some all my I wouldn't say unethical but pushing the boundaries of what the what I think is the ethical. She turned me down twice. I took that as no end. But I felt like it was a story I needed to tell. And I had done a lot of work on it previously, and it's part of my life. My mother was school with Juliet Hume and Pauline Parker. I taught at Gil's high briefly, when the decision was being made to whether they would leave the uniforms for Peter Jackson's movie. And I was sitting in the theater when Peter Jackson sort of bumbled onto the stage and and sort of introduced his movie. [00:24:55] And so I'd sort of been the it [00:24:57] quite a lot of the important moments. of the story. And so I felt like I wanted to tell us, I did say I'd accepted the negative reaction, being on a flight back after filming at Seville program for an online mash, [00:25:13] I suddenly realized that I hit who books [00:25:15] were so rich and so interesting. And there was so much in the public domain. Perhaps I could write a book it was sort of it was perfectly for me. And so I mmediately went to the local cafe and I pounded out a proposal and see didn't happen Collins in that I think they were almost they were reluctant to accept it, because she wasn't participating in it. And what happened after that was that I had a crisis. I was so enthusiastic to get back in in this contract. When I finally got it. I was looking forward to so so long, and you know, I just couldn't read the books anymore. I just couldn't go back there. I couldn't pick it up again. [00:25:54] And I couldn't really work out why. [00:25:58] And, you know, the more I sat there and Thought about, the more I realized that it was because it was it was sort of like a rape, I felt it was dealing with someone's intimate life and intimate story without any of your awareness with participation or involvement, or actually without any engagement at all. And so I rang up half cons, and I said, I don't know that I can carry on with this. And I was mulling it over in my partner says, Why don't you just say you got a contract? Go back to them again. And so I am I did in rather retune email I got next morning, send us the proposal. So I actually did have quite a lot of the murder and the proposal at the front of us. And I felt that maybe that was some story. That was kind of the story she already knew. I did reduce a little bit of it was NC debate half Collins, no, that was fine. And then I sent it to them. And I got an email from Nick Davis and she seed. Thank you very much. I'll see that on to n and we'll get back to you It's very helpful. In 21 minutes later, there was another email in its in its seed. Angel meet you in London. It was a very strange thing. And I think that people say to me, what was it? What was it that that turned her around? And I didn't actually ever ask her because I was terrified. If she thought about it really had, she might say no. So, this is what I did here as a sort of concluding paragraph. It is amazing to have discovered a voice for Juliet him and the writing of imperii and New Zealand mates to listen. It is time to move on from the 1950s the details of which have been frozen in time and ground over long enough. And today's context, this is punitive and embarrassing. A imperii story needs to grow, to leave behind the terrible mistake of a young teenager and mature to acknowledge the remarkable adult contribution in achievement of one of the world's most well known crime doings. But one of the things that imperious, very strong about and Is this the lack of voice, the sense of powerlessness. I think that was what really got her involved. But of course, they weren't very positive about me. And what happened was we meet and two hours into this meeting, I said, Would you mind if I turn the tape recorder on? And she said, No, that's fine. And I think that was it. I thought it would be some sort of orchestra playing some way but night there wasn't. It was just tuning on. That was just an acknowledgement that now we could start and kind of I had full access to everything. I'm surprised. I wouldn't have done it. And I read this email. This is between employees, agents into publishers. I don't think this particular author is the right person. That's me. She's based in New Zealand, which will put ins hackles up She's published a biography of nine mush, she's seen her academic CV which would suggest her approach will be more focused on ns Woot and list on a life. However, she's not got much of a track record. And I think we could aim higher. [00:29:16] There was quite bracing actually for my ego. [00:29:20] And when I took it to me, and I said, Oh, this is an interesting thing I read and she baked potato, but not successfully enough to make me feel much better. But So, essentially, they felt though I hit actually bake them into a corner, but they didn't know that my story Oh, my backstory to being the, I felt in many ways that really, this has never been an Authorized Biography. This has probably been much more of a hijacked biography and away, certainly they still feel like that. But [00:29:50] the issue is that she did participate. And [00:29:53] I think that they were wrong about the fact that this person was the wrong person. In fact, I think a New Zealander was the perfect person. Write this biography and I think someone from cross gh with those kind of connections, who could actually put aside the world in which Juliet Hume was demonized, and find the adult who's emerged from that world. And yeah, I think I think that was important. And I think it was important, and they didn't realize it because that wasn't the world and I don't think they realized how much of a imperii is actually defined by who New Zealand experiences. What we're not when I was talking to here and I spent hours and hours and hours and hours with a period and I had hours and hours and hours of recordings, so many that I got, I bought an iPod so that I could walk around because I was getting I was almost getting bedsores listening to the tapes, you know, from from my backside on the cheer. So, at one stage I said something about being crock. And she goes she sort of has a wee bit of a laugh to herself. I could see that she found that amazing. And I suddenly realized that it was an expression that made me smile. And [00:31:05] I see everything about me [00:31:06] must take you back to New Zealand. my accent must remind you about my expressions. Everything must take you back there, and I see it as they are uncomfortable for you. And she said, don't you think that the most defining shape and formative years of my life was been to New Zealand? She said, this is really, to me, and I don't feel that inks written about. In fact, I think going back there was a wee bit like facing your demons in a way, in a way she faced New Zealand and facing me. And I think it was much more comfortable for her than pitch expected, and perhaps least chilling in a way than I expected. What's been amazing for me is that one of the arguments I see echoed is the fact that aim period controls People use Zealanders usually in the 1950s it was Julia Hume controlling, pulling pakka and in the 19 or the 2012 the same assumptions are being made. There is an appalling Ico. It's a disgraceful Ico for New Zealand not to be able to believe that New Zealand does have some ability to act and think independently. This kind of Ico is very uncomfortable. And I hope you can see that, especially when I'm very used to dealing with the pressures of people wanting a certain story told. I've told my own story, I found my own voice in this in this project, and I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed it thoroughly enjoyed talking to imperii and I've enjoyed writing and reading the books and and in some ways been a very liberating and enjoyable experience. And I've also along the way meet some fascinating people and some of them after the book has come out which is interesting in this two people here today and Shana Mary, and Elizabeth Simcock whose fathers were involved with the girls care [00:33:20] within particularly it [00:33:22] era Hatter, and Hitman. He can prison. [00:33:25] But I got a little bit from [00:33:28] from China here, which I think is really, really helpful. She sees here it was interesting in the book to read about Phyllis Freeman. She was a lifer. And she used to do the cooking at era Hatta. She was [00:33:43] she was she writes she shows [00:33:45] ultimate forgiveness for a person who used struggling to kill someone. But she writes here my parents belief and clean slates for people. What evil they hit Done became the foundation for My teaching philosophy throughout my career working with young people. And I think New Zealand should be proud of what it's done for both those women because it has allowed them to lift New Zealand and lift useful, productive. And I think I like to say redemptive lives but you know, maybe that's history will decide that but certainly useful in decent ones. And I think that it's a credit to New Zealand that this happened.
This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.