Karina Kilmore. Karina Kilmore Books Debut author Karina Kilmore draws on her family history and reporting career for crime thriller By Grant Titmus | April 9, 2020 | As a newspaper reporter Karina Barrymore wrote a lot, but writing a novel was not really on her radar. That was until a work colleague, Jane Harper, entered and won the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award for what became bestselling crime thriller The Dry. “About the same time I was walking around the Tan and listening to Cath Andrews, the Victorian Premier’s wife, and she was talking about how important books were in her life, how they create empathy and understanding between cultures. “That was it. I said to myself ‘I’m going home to write a novel’.” The end result is Where the Truth Lies, a crime thriller set in Melbourne and focused on the docks and big business. The novel follows investigative journalist Chrissie O’Brian as she looks to uncover the truth behind the death of a female wharfie. “The main character came pretty easily – a female investigative journalist based in Melbourne writing for the town’s main paper. A bit like myself. “I also come from a family of wharfies and truckies, many who were union leaders, and I wanted to weave that scenario in with my background as a business reporter who could also see things from the other side, despite the big tribal divide.” Then came that big issue for a novice author – how to write, when to write, as well as how to develop a plot and characters. I didn’t have any spare time during the day so I would go to bed and write. I set myself a word count of 2,000 words and didn’t go to sleep until I’d hit the target. “I didn’t know the term existed but I am a pantser – I write by the seat of your pants. I just sit down and let the characters talk.” When she sat down to write, it was more of a case of sitting up. “I was working full time, had a teenage daughter, pets, a husband, a house to look after. I didn’t have any spare time during the day so I would go to bed and write. I set myself a word count of 2,000 words and didn’t go to sleep until I’d hit the target. “And, because I wanted to enter the Unpublished Manuscript Award I had a tight deadline. It was all about seeing where the characters took me. Most of the characters are based on people I had come across in real life, real personalities in real situations, that I had met through work.” Barrymore admits that she found writing the ending the trickiest. “I didn’t want a lovey-dovey ending and that is where I started to struggle. I am happy with the ending – it is a surprise.” Barrymore has written Where the Truth Lies under the surname Kilmore. “My surname has always been Kilmore-Barrymore but I only ever used Barrymore when I was a journalist. This time I thought I would just use Kilmore.” After she finished writing the book, she also hoped to have it produced as an audio book. “I left school at 14 and I really wanted to make reading inclusive, so I really wanted an audio book,” she says. “I also come from a family of wharfies and truckies, many who were union leaders, and I wanted to weave that in with my background as a business reporter who could also see things from the other side.” “Which meant I had to audition voices and choose one to read the book. It was a really interesting process. I prepared a really detailed description of each character and how I thought they would speak or react. Chrissie, the main character, is 29 and I thought it would be hard to find a voice for her but Sydney actor Megan Smart was just perfect.” Kilmore met her deadline and finished Where the Truth Lies in time to enter the Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award, where it was duly shortlisted in 2017. “That got some publicity and led to getting an agent, and then my two-book deal with Simon & Schuster Australia. They have recently told me they have ordered a reprint. I’m thrilled to get so much attention, especially as my debut book tour was cancelled because of the virus shutdowns.” Kilmore took a redundancy from her reporting role at the Herald Sun and has now more time for her writing. “I am already halfway through my second Chrissie O’Brian novel. Again, the inspiration comes from family, this time my great grandfather, who left his poverty-stricken family at the age of just seven to go working for a shearing crew around NSW and Victoria.” Where the Truth Lies ($29.99) is out now through Simon and Schuster. Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email About the Author: Grant Titmus Grant Titmus is books editor at Daily Review.