The debut literary crime novel by former ABC current affairs broadcaster Annette Marner, A New Name for the Colour Blue, is influenced by her decades of reporting on male violence towards women and girls. Set between Adelaide and the southern Flinders Ranges, it won the Adelaide Festival’s Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2018.

Marner’s win unintentionally reflects a recent appetite for Australian literary crime, following in the footsteps of internationally bestselling winners of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript: Jane Harper for The Dry in 2015, and Christian White for The Nowhere Child in 2017.

‘I knew from the very beginning that I would write a mystery, and that I’d set it in the Southern Flinders Ranges, the traditional lands of the Nukunu people, where I have spent much of my life and where my family has lived for 150 years,’ reflects Marner now. ‘It’s a love song to the Flinders Ranges.’

Ten years after the disappearance of her best friend and the death of her mother, artist Cassandra Noble escapes her country childhood to the city, where she soon falls in love with a man who wants to control her as her father once did. Stephen is a charming and brilliant musician – but while his brilliance is real, his charm is a mirage.

Reflects how domestic violence unfolds in real life

The opening section of the novel reveals how domestic violence can unfold in real life, as opposed to in stereotypes – the way a quick, early flood of intense love can mask a need to overwhelm; the way an abuser insidiously separates a victim from their support network; the role of shame in stopping an abused woman from leaving; and the complexities of leaving once your self-esteem has been eroded, and your physical safety is at risk.

Marner says her identification with women affected by male violence began in 1984, when she was given access behind the locked doors and bars of a women’s shelter to record the women’s stories. 

‘They had all suffered broken bones and broken hearts. I was very touched by their stories and I knew I would never forget them. I also remember the times I read out on air Missing Persons notices from the police, and then finding out later that the woman or child whose face and name and description I had come to know over days or weeks had been murdered by the man who was meant to love them.’

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I still see her sometimes in my sleep. She is walking through the blue and orange lights of the city or in the desert country of red ground, spinifex and oaks. Last night I dreamed she was climbing a green and blue mountain, the kind you see in the tropics, rich and heavy with steam and rain. She is still only a girl in my dreams, but that's how I remember her. In every dream she is walking. In every dream I call out her name. Tania.

Ten years after the disappearance of her best friend, and the death of her mother, Cassandra Noble escapes her country childhood to pursue life as an artist in the city. On the threshold of a promising career as a painter, her creativity suddenly abandons her. Soon after, she finds herself with a lover who wishes to control her just as her father once did.

While her last painting just might hold the key to why she can no longer create, what will happen when she discovers the two tragic events of her childhood are linked in ways she could never have imagined?

A New Name for the Colour Blue is a story of the healing power of remembering, of love, and the breathtaking beauty of the natural world.

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Submitted by Karen on Tue, 25/02/2020 - 11:13 am