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Crime writer finds inspiration in quiet Artarmon

Artarmon resident Tom Gilling, a successful writer and freelance journalist, who lectures in creative non-fiction writing at UTS, is working on his fourth book of crime non-fiction. When asked what he likes about living in Artarmon, his immediate response is "it's quiet".

His latest book is co-authored with Clive Small, former NSW assistant police commissioner and ICAC chief investigator. It traces the history of the Calabrian Mafia in Australia, from its reign of terror in the cane fields of North Queensland during the 1920s to its continuing role in the global narcotics trade.

A fearless task indeed! Tom's first two books, Smack Express and Blood Money, about organised crime in Australia, each sold 15,000 copies and became primary sources for the very successful Underbelly TV series.

He has published three fiction books and a number of non-fiction works. His first two novels, The Sooterkin (1999) and Miles McGinty (2001), were listed in The New York Times as notable books of the year. His third, Dreamland - published in 2008 and praised as "a crime thriller, a road story, a meditation on identity" in The Australian Literary Review - was successful both here and in the US and UK.

Tom moved from the UK in 1983, when he won a cadetship at The Sydney Morning Herald. After several years writing a television column for The Bulletin, he became a full time author in 1999. Between books, he has also written for NYT, Rolling Stone, The Age, SMH and The Australian.

Tom is also writing a PhD and bringing up two boys with his wife, Rosemary, a journalist. The boys are attending Artarmon Public School so his working day revolves around theirs.

As a professional writer, Tom is happy to live in a community like Artarmon that takes books and writing seriously. "We're blessed with some wonderful libraries here," he says. "That means lots of book launches and author talks and reading clubs." He is particularly enthusiastic about the Shorelink network, linking all the north shore libraries. He has been amazed by the obscure historical material he has managed to dig up while researching his books and PhD thesis. His subject is a forgotten crime from the 1880s, which he discovered while reading an old newspaper. "It's a fascinating story," he says. "If I'm lucky, there might even be a book in it."

by Jane Cozens

Courtesy of Gazette February 2011
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Tom Gilling - resident crime writer





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