Long-time Potts Point local Loraine Peck recently published her debut crime novel, The Second Son, to a terrific response and two-book publishing deal.
We recently sat down for a chat about books, publishing and Potts Point.
Loraine Peck started her career as a portrait painter and magician’s assistant in Sydney. After being sawn-in-half one too many times, she switched to dealing blackjack on the Gold Coast. Bartending and slinging lobsters in the US led to a sales job in the movie industry, before she was propelled into a career in marketing in Australia, the Middle East, Asia and the US. Consumed by a desire to write crime thrillers, she decided to stop everything and do a writing course—to learn how to write the kind of book she loves to read.
Hi Loraine, The Second Son was released in February 2021. Can you tell us a bit about your book?
Sure! It’s a crime novel. Johnny Novak has to step up when his elder brother is gunned down. His wife, Amy, will protect their son at any cost. Where does Johnny’s loyalty lie? As the violence escalates, will Amy stay? And what is the dark secret she carries?
The Second Son has been described by best-selling author Anna Downes as a ‘modern-day Godfather’ and I’m just going to run with that because… who wouldn’t? It’s an action thriller, psychological thriller and murder mystery and I like to think it’s a love story too.
And what inspired your novel?
Johnny Novak, the titular second son of a Croatian crime boss, was inspired by the stories my Croatian husband told me about his teenage life, growing up on the mean streets of Western Sydney. Extrapolating on these stories, I wondered what it would be like to be born into a crime family. How is life different when you’re a teenager? What if you married outside your clan? Is it possible to leave, to become a normal family man? Writing this book was a constant process of asking myself questions.
What were the most rewarding, surprising or challenging things about the writing or publication process?
The journey to publication for a first-time author is a long chain of highs and lows. I had to discover how to hold on to the story I wanted to tell, and that’s tricky when a tutor is telling you to change it. I was lucky enough to snare the attention of a literary agent in London, the same agent who represents Jane Harper. Cue champagne and screaming with excitement! That led to more redrafts and then agents in Sydney and New York. More champagne.
Landing a two-book publishing deal was a dream come true, an out-of-body experience. And then the work began again, more redrafts, more editing. I had to fight for what I believed was important while being open to suggestions. It’s a balancing act that will no doubt be easier with the second book. The biggest high was standing in front of my nearest and dearest at Bistro Rex on Launch Night, talking about The Second Son and thanking everyone who helped make it happen.
You’ve had a very interesting and varied career path before you started writing, but have you always aspired to be an author? What led you to write a novel?
Four years ago, I read The Dry by Jane Harper, and she mentioned the Curtis Brown Creative writing course she’d done, online, out of London in her acknowledgements. That inspired me to stop dreaming about it and set out to learn how to write the kind of book I love to read. Thanks Jane!
Who are your favourite writers?
Well, I have to include Jane Harper here now, don’t I? I also love everything by Liane Moriarty, Candice Fox and Adrian McKinty, Harlan Coben and Lee Child. I love crime thrillers the most, but domestic thrillers like Liane’s are always such an education: how to reel in the reader. I read to escape and relax but I’m always learning something too.
What are you reading right now?
The Believer by Sarah Krasnostein. It’s an incredible book about her encounters with love, death and faith. I usually read thrillers and I found this non-fiction gem to be an absolute page turner.
What are your favourite book shops in and around Potts Point?
Potts Point Bookshop on Macleay Street is my favourite bookshop in the world. Anna, Simon, Steve, Tim and all the staff there are THE BEST. I was a customer for fourteen years before I became an author. Every time I walked in, I’d ask for a recommendation and I’ve never walked out with a dud. Their support for me as a local author has been incredible. Please pop in there and buy a copy of The Second Son!
You’re a long-time Potts Point resident, but after I sold your Rockwall Apartment where have you been living?
Luckily, we also own a home at Main Beach, on the Gold Coast, so we’re hanging out up here until you find us a new home in Elizabeth Bay. We love Potts Point and lived in Rockwall Apartments for nearly fifteen years, but we decided we wanted to live closer to the water on Elizabeth Bay rather than up near Macleay Street. Now we just need you to find our next home, so if anyone is reading this and owns a harbourside Elizabeth Bay apartment, please list it with Jason so he can sell it to us!
Where to from here? You have a two-book deal so can you tell us anything about your next novel?
‘The Second Book’, as I like to call it at the moment, carries on right where The Second Son ends. It’s a sequel, so I get to play with the same crime family and my two protagonists, Johnny and Amy Novak. This time their world has expanded beyond the Western Suburbs (and the streets of Potts Point) and they face new dangers. I guess when it comes to family, you can run, but there’s really no escape is there?
Thanks for the chat, Loraine, and good luck with the writing! You can buy a copy of The Second Son at our local bookshop.