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Critically acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Alex Hammond’s debut novel Blood Witness was shortlisted for the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. Its sequel, The Unbroken Line, was described as “a taut and intelligent thriller.” Both were optioned as a TV series. Each novel was also selected to be part of the State Library of Victoria’s Summer Read by a panel of judges in the year they were released. Alex toured regional Victoria on behalf of the Library as part of these events.
His latest novel, The Paris Collaborator, a mystery thriller set in 1944 in German-occupied Paris, is released in May 2021.
Where were you born?
I was born in Johannesburg on a Christmas Day. My memories of South Africa are patchy — I emigrated to Australia with my family when I was five years old — so I’m passionate about Melbourne, where I grew up and am raising my own family.
What other jobs have you had?
My very first job was as a garbage collector working along Port Philip’s beaches. And of course, my work as a law clerk partly inspired my first two novels. But for the most part, I’ve worked with words and the internet in various roles including copywriter, editor, web manager and now in a digital leadership role at RMIT University.
What themes are recurring in your work?
You know, the small stuff. Loss. Redemption. The difference between law and justice. The lengths to which good people will go when placed in extreme circumstances to survive.
What have been the highlights of your career?
Definitely having my debut novel published in a challenging and demanding time for books and publishing. Having two books selected by the State Library of Victoria for their summer read was also a highlight. Finally, having my novels optioned for TV and working on them in a TV writer’s room was also a huge thrill.
What are you passionate about?
Social justice, the rights of our society’s forgotten members, the importance of challenging misogyny, racism, fascism, and sexual prejudice. The significance of popular and genre fiction in a country where literary fiction is often prioritised.
Haven’t I seen you before?
I’ve presented over 25 times including workshops and author panels at the Emerging Writers Festival, Stonnington Literary Festival, State Library of Victoria, NSW Writers’ Centre, Casey Winter Arts Festival, City of Yarra and Melton City Council among others.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
My latest novel, The Paris Collaborator, was a rewarding challenge as it required both historical and cultural research to complete. It was an excellent opportunity to refine my research skills and learn how to focus and prioritise them towards completing the novel while also working in a full-time job and raising two young children. The lessons I learnt during this process have formed the basis for my new workshop Effective research for fiction.