GARRY DISHER, LOCKDOWN Q&A, April 2020
Where you are currently living and are you needing to self-isolate in your country?
I live on the Mornington Peninsula, a beautiful region south-east of Melbourne, Australia. We are in stage 3 of restricted activities, meaning we’re encouraged to stay at home but may leave to shop, do exercise, go to work (most shops and businesses have closed), see a doctor, etc., or help out a vulnerable person. As a full-time writer living in a rural area, I have always self-isolated! My days are unchanged: a morning at my desk, a walk on the beach at lunchtime, finding little tasks in the garden in the afternoon (mowing, weeding, and, yesterday, removing the nets from the fruit trees).
How are these surreal days influencing your normal writing process?
I find the pandemic very distracting. Not only do I feel a current of low-level dread and anxiety flowing through me, I can’t read a book or see a show on TV without wondering why the characters are not being more careful... And I keep wanting to weave the pandemic (especially its effects on daily attitudes and behaviour) into the novel I’m currently writing—but I can’t do that, for there’s no full-stop to the pandemic yet, and anything I write may seem awfully outdated by the time the book appears late this year.
What are the little things that are getting you through this extraordinary time?
I live alone and greatly miss social contact. I would dearly love to give my daughter a hug, but she lives in the city and we don’t want to endanger each other and the police might stop me if I drive up to see her. I make do with a once-a-week beach walk with a friend—only one is allowed and we must keep two metres apart. Otherwise, I read, work, watch junk TV in the evenings, keep physically active and busy when I’m not writing, and phone friends a great deal more often.
Do you have any local stories of kindness or good deeds that you can share?
There is a large retiree population on the Peninsula, and many locals are throwing themselves into volunteer work to help those who are too old or too ill to leave home. I’m helping in my small way by reading for an hour each Sunday from my Bitter Lemon title, The Dragon Man, on a community radio show aimed at the housebound.
What are you currently reading for pleasure?
I go through phases of re-reading favourite crime writers. At the moment, Michael Connelly. Earlier in the year, Ian Rankin. Next, John Sandford.