Anna Westbrook is a Sydney-based writer and critic. She holds a PhD in creative writing and lectures at New York University Sydney. She was shortlisted for theAustralian/Vogel Literary Award at the age of twenty-one, and has also been a recipient of an Australian Society of Authors mentorship (where she worked with Fiona McGregor, author of Indelible Ink) and an Australian Poetry Poet in Residence award. Her work appears in publications in Australia, the United States, and France. Dark Fires Shall Burn is her first novel.
Inspired by the true events of an unsolved murder
Sydney, 1946. Eleven-year-old Frances and her best friend, Nancy, are growing up in the doglegged streets of Newtown and into a world they do not understand. It is the aftermath of World War II, and thousands of damaged soldiers have returned to their homes, bearing the psychological scars of battle with them.
Meanwhile, in the seediest part of the city, fifteen-year-old Templeton lives amid bootleggers, gangs, and prostitutes with his sister Annie and her friends. Threatened by Annie's abusive lover, the nefarious Jack Tooth, they are forced to seek protection from a Darlinghurst madam: the once-powerful grog runner Dolly Jenkins. Soon, Templeton is drawn into an enigmatic underbelly of violence, sexuality, and secrets.
When Frances witnesses a shooting one night, these two worlds become inevitably intertwined. Templeton and the girls must grow up quickly and confront the darkness in the lives of those around them.