Sydney in the 1960s wasn't the exuberant multicultural metropolis it is today. Out in the city's western reaches, days passed in a sun-struck stupor. In the evenings, families gathered on their verandas waiting for the 'southerly buster' - the thunderstorm that would break the heat and leave the air cool enough to allow sleep.
September 11, 2001, revealed heroism in ordinary people who might have gone through their lives never called upon to demonstrate the extent of their courage.
There are always a few who stand up in times of communal madness and have the courage to say that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
I knew I was going to be a journalist when I was eight years old and I saw the printing presses rolling at the Sydney newspaper where my dad worked as a proofreader.
The thing that most attracts me to historical fiction is taking the factual record as far as it is known, using that as scaffolding, and then letting imagination build the structure that fills in those things we can never find out for sure.
Both my mum and dad were great readers, and we would go every Saturday morning to the library, and my sister and I had a library card when we could pass off something as a signature, and all of us would come with an armful of books.
You can't write about the past and ignore religion. It was such a fundamental, mind-shaping, driving force for pre-modern societies. I'm very interested in what religion does to us - its capacity to create love and empathy or hatred and violence.
I think that you can honour the sacrifices of a common soldier without glorifying war.
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