Today’s Friday Five focus is Barry Metcalf, author of mystery/thriller/crime novels.
Born in 1943 into a working-class family with middle-class aspirations, Barry began writing stories while at school and finally ventured into novels when he retired from teaching in 1997. The result was a series of murder mysteries/thrillers set in Australia featuring two unorthodox investigators who work for the fictional Strange & Obscure Cases (SOC) Unit, an autonomous offshoot of ASIO.
Three times married, with four children, Barry live in Morwell, Victoria, Australia.
In his latest, Spirit of Warrnambool, still believing their nemesis Wanda Jean is dead and buried in Broome, Martin and Claire are sent to Warrnambool to investigate a savage and despicable murder. Before they have time to collect their thoughts, more murders occur—each more bizarre than the last. Little do they know Wanda Jean is behind the latest killings, constructing a web of intrigue designed to draw the agents to her and to, ultimately, dispose of them. Have Claire and Martin finally met their match?
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1. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?
My favourite character from the Oz-Files is the evil witch, Wanda Jean. To me she is everything a woman should be–beautiful, desirable and not satisfied with being second best. She’s also the most evil creature inhabiting the earth. She won’t be satisfied until she rules the world and everyone worships her.
2. How much of your published writing is based on personal experiences?
All of my characters are based on people I know. I tend to describe friends, family, work colleagues or those I meet socially. Then I add characteristics from someone else so that no one is likely to recognise themselves. I’ve been to all the places in my novels. That way I am better able to help my readers feel as if they are actually at that location.
3. What was your attitude towards reading when you were a kid?
I don’t recall reading a lot when I was young, but after I started high school I developed an avid interest in all kinds of fiction. I used to borrow up to 5 books a week from the school library, and I would read every night until I’d finished them.
4. What genre do you currently read most and why?
These days I mostly read mystery/crime/ thrillers by a wide variety of authors. I think I enjoy these because they tend to delve into the human psyche and show human nature in its worst and best lights. I am intrigue by trying to work out why people behave the way they do.
5. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
My favourite super power would be mind control. Wanda Jean has this ability. She’s able to move objects without touching them, bend people to do her bidding and create fake scenarios that seem totally believable to those entrapped inside them.
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Spirit of Warrnambool is currently available through Amazon.