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Mark Brandi is an award-winning Melbourne author who was born in Italy, then raised in country Victorian pub. He was the first Australian to win the coveted British Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, but his road to becoming a successful novelist took a few unusual detours.
Ascoli Piceno – a city in central Italy, but my parents settled in western Victoria, where they ran a pub for over thirty years. Growing up in the country (and the many colourful characters I met at the pub) continue to inspire much of my writing.
Lots of jobs in hospitality! Bar work was a great support while at Uni (studying criminal justice) and allowed me to meet people from all walks of life. I also worked extensively in the justice system for about a decade, including a stint as a political adviser, which is where I learned the intricacies of the prison system. Given my three brothers also work for Victoria Police, research for crime writing has never been a problem!
I’m mostly drawn to outsiders, which might be due to my upbringing. As a migrant kid in the schoolyard, I probably faced more hurdles than most, though I think it’s helped my writing. When you’re looking for acceptance, you become a keen observer of those around you.
Winning the British Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger was a big moment. But while prizes and recognition are great, what ultimately matters is the connection with each reader.
The best moments are hearing from those for whom a story has resonated. Reading is, after all, an intensely personal experience. For me, the stories I love become part of who I am – they never quite leave me.
The Age, The Guardian and The Big Issue have all published my non-fiction, while my creative work appears in numerous journals, including Meanjin, Mascara Literary Review, Carve Magazine (US), and is sometimes broadcast on ABC Radio National.
It’s my secret shame, but maybe on a TV game show, sitting opposite some bloke who’s into Collingwood. Between you and me, he might just have funded my early days as a writer …
My daily writing routine is organised by a demanding Staffordshire Bull Terrier, named Millie.