Anna Krien on flexing her literary ‘muscle’

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The acclaimed investigative author switches to fiction – to wide acclaim. Grant Titmus asks her why.

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Anna Krien. Pic: Jesse Marlow

Anna Krien admits her first novel – Act of Grace – took her longer to complete than she had originally intended. And there were times when she didn’t want to complete it, such were the demands on her time.

But Krien is persistent, and also realised she needed to change the way she worked. She likes to work in what she calls blocks – time when she can sit for long periods and concentrate on the job at hand. That is difficult when two young boys – born not much more than a year apart – are wanting mum to entertain them. Then there is her work writing heavily researched investigative pieces.

“For the first two years I couldn’t do what I like to do and disappear and focus on the novel,” she says, before she has to rush off to take the boys to swimming lessons. “I was also trying to get my fiction muscles into shape.

“In the third year it started to flow. I had some of the characters in my head, including one of the main characters, Toohey, a returned Australian soldier who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I then spent a lot of time researching Australia’s role in the wars to give me ideas about additional characters.”

The result for Krien – more than five years after starting out – is a novel that is already being highly praised. Her publisher, Black Inc, has sold the UK and Commonwealth rights to Serpent’s Tail, which will launch the book in the UK in February.

“I have a few things on the go, including a couple of fiction projects and a couple of investigations from a journalism perspective.”

Her sanctuary for the majority of the writing was her study in her home in Melbourne’s western suburbs. “A tug boat driver owned the house before us and there is still a lot of his memorabilia on the walls. It is quite quirky but a great place to work.”

Krien is already highly regarded for her writing having won, among others, the Sidney Myer Fellowship which was instrumental in enabling her to complete Act of Grace.

So, what’s ahead? “I have a few things on the go, including a couple of fiction projects and a couple of investigations from a journalism perspective.”

Will we have to wait another five years for another Krien novel? “Not if I can avoid it!”

Act of Grace is published by Black Inc. ($32.95) and is available where all good books are sold or at

Where to see Anna Krien

Anna Krien in conversation at Avid Reader bookshop (QLD)

Tuesday 15 October, 6:00pm

Avid Reader, 193 Boundary Street, West End, QLD 4101

Anna Krien at Double Booked Club (VIC)

Friday 18 October, 12:30pm

The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Anna Krien in conversation at Geelong Library (VIC)

Thursday 31 October, 6:30pm

Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, 51 Little Malop St, Geelong, VIC 3220

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