The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of The Unbroken Line
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Johannesburg. Raised in Melbourne. Studied Arts/Law at Melbourne University.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
To be a writer. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
Naively, that law was the best career for me. I spent too much time watching gripping courtroom scenes on film and TV. It was only after I spent time working in law firms that I realised the reality was very dry and monotonous. In many ways my books are a wish fulfilment – exciting cases, challenging clients, cherry-picked drama.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner – such a visceral, well realised world. The library tower of the Supreme Court of Victoria – its light-filled bookstacks planted the first seed for what became by first novel, Blood Witness. The Cure’s fourth album Pornography – a template for the kind of dark, emotional richness I aspire to in my writing.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
They were never innumerable. I dabbled in theatre directing when I was younger, but nothing quite captured my imagination like writing. To have created a world, to have crafted a engaging story, is both the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
The Unbroken Line is a crime thriller. Melbourne lawyer Will Harris begins to uncover a dark legacy from Australia’s founding and the violent shadow it casts today. It deals with corruption and the misuse of power, the lengths that people will go to when driven by revenge.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
To have readers is a privilege. I hope to give them a gripping story that gets their hearts racing but also asks bigger questions about the law and our preconceptions of justice.
Other Australian genre writers. Not only do the have to compete with international books with bigger marketing budgets but the cultural elitism that dismisses all but ‘literary’ fiction as trivial.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
In the current climate very few authors can make a living off their writing. This is my ambition.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Hone your tenacity. There will always be distractions and set backs. You will have some very dark days. Push on. Push on.
Alex, thank you for playing.
by Alex Hammond
The violence of the past casts a long shadow – a dark legacy with lethal consequences.
When defence lawyer Will Harris is attacked by masked men with a clear message to back off, he has no choice but to listen. If only he knew what they were talking about.
Under siege as his fledgling law firm struggles to get off the ground, Will agrees to defend the troubled son of a family friend. But the case is far from clear-cut, and the ethical boundaries murky. Instead of clawing his way out of trouble, Will finds he’s sinking ever deeper.
At the same time, his search for his attackers unearths an unexpected source that points him towards Melbourne’s corridors of power. But motives, let alone proofs, are hard to find. It is only when those close to him are threatened that Will realises how near he is to the deadly truth.
Gripping, sophisticated and strikingly atmospheric, The Unbroken Line creates a remarkable portrait of power, revenge and corruption, rooted in a vivid and unmistakably Australian setting.
About the Author
Alex Hammond was born in South Africa and emigrated to Australia with his family as a child. He graduated with an Arts/Law degree from the University of Melbourne and worked for several Melbourne law firms. His first novel, Blood Witness, was shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing.