Books, On the Run

LA Confidential

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Crime writers Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott, Jock Serong and Emma Viskic are in the midst of a US tour, On The Run: Australian Crime Writers In America, and have promised a daily update of proceedings.

In this instalment EMMA VISKIC attends a glittering social event in Los Angeles.


You’re standing on Hollywood Boulevard waiting for an Uber, about to self-combust with coolness. You’re going to a meeting, LA style. It’s with Names but you can’t talk about it. Please don’t ask. Please ask. You’ve nailed the oh-so-casual look of serious writer with black jeans, a navy shirt and the le Specs ombré sunglasses you bought in Northland Myer for exactly this moment (25 per cent off).

There’s a white stain on your jeans.

Toothpaste? Bird shit? A quick spit-wash makes it worse. No time to change. Also no sign of the Uber: the app has chosen this moment to freeze and can’t be restarted. You sprint back to the Airbnb for help.

The coolest Uber driver in the world gets you to your host’s house on time by disregarding red lights, on-coming traffic and physics. You’re a flesh bucket of sweat. Luckily it’s dark and the team has gathered on the vine-draped patio. There are stacked stone walls, plump chairs, and the kindest of lighting to hide your flushed face. A slight stumble as you reach the group. Not a full trip, but enough for your blush to reach nuclear levels. These cheeks could cause a national security alert.

Introductions are made and you nod and smile, one hand covering the bird shit at all times. These are seriously talented people and you’re trying so hard not to gush that you’re coming across as stand-offish. The over-correct is a full skid off the road. Now you can’t stop raving about their writing, their films, their directing, that scene where– Your minor superpower has been revealed, and it’s social awkwardness. The next faux pas comes when you prove not to have pictures of your offspring. A flashback to primary school and the realisation that those footy cards everyone’s carrying are social currency and you haven’t been smart enough to acquire any. You mutter something about missing your family dreadfully while trying to remember your children’s names.

Thankfully these are smart, busy people and they deftly steer the conversation to the reason you’re all here: your books. In a superhuman effort, you squash your natural class clown act and settle into serious discussion. There are searching questions about characterisation, motivation and themes, and you’re finally in your element. You relax and begin to think you’re not so out of your depth after all. Then your hosts offer wine and cheese and the conversation turns to world leaders. Barak Obama used to stay next door; my host once drank wine from Tito’s cellar with the president of Croatia. Just hours earlier you had a Diet Coke at a roadside Burger King in the company of three dishevelled Australian writers. You decide not to mention it.

Head reeling, you foolishly accept a lift back to the scuzzy Airbnb from one the smart young assistants. Her smile wavers at the sight of the man sleeping in the doorway and the skid-row line of tents opposite, but yours doesn’t. It’s Hollywood Boulevard baby, and the stars are right outside your door.

For the rest of this series click here.

3 responses to “LA Confidential

  1. Haha! You’re so posh now—thanks for keeping it real for the rest of us. I think everyone has imagined meeting the glitterati and turning into a blithering idiot! Great piece. It’s beeb a blast following the four of you via these posts. Wish you could all swing back through Scottsdale to Poisoned Pen Press before you head home, but happy to have had the pleasure of meeting you all.

  2. Thanks Diane! The blithering idiot role comes easily to me.

    It was so lovely to meet you and hang out at Poison Pen. Hopefully we’ll be back soon!

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