My name’s Nicola, and I’m the author of the debut Australian novel, Catch Us the Foxes.
Set in the bucolic seaside town I grew up in, Catch Us the Foxes is a gripping psychological thriller that follows a young journalist’s gruesome discovery at the town’s annual show. With national interest in the murder of the reigning showgirl growing by the day, the journalist must decide if she wants to help keep a dark secret or break the biggest story of her career.
The novel is inspired by my love of small-town murder mysteries (I’m obsessed with Twin Peaks), as well as my desperation to escape my former hometown, and my experience as the daughter of a third-generation police officer. It also explores the horrifying yet well-documented rumours of ritualistic slayings that allegedly took place in the area’s sprawling rainforest (seriously)!
It feels strange to admit this, given the novel’s content, but the story is deeply personal to me – some may even say semi-autobiographical (minus the murder, of course)! In fact, prior to writing the novel, I was actually working on a memoir about my experience of developing a debilitating medical condition at the age of twelve and ultimately having to fight for my right to receive a medically necessary hysterectomy as a teenager. At its core, Catch Us the Foxes is the fictionalised version of that memoir.
It captures the same feeling I felt of being trapped in my hometown due to my health problems but in a heightened and distorted way – as if being viewed via a funhouse mirror. The story is peppered with my own memories (everything from being penpals with Ivan Milat to being trapped inside a ghost train when it blacked out) that blur the lines between fact and fiction. But, more than anything, the book captures how desperate a person can feel to get out of the place that shaped them and asks what they’d be prepared to do to escape.
Thank you so much for your interest in my weird little murder book – I’d love to hear from you if you read it. You can contact me via www.nicolawestbooks.com or find me @nicolawestbooks on Twitter and Instagram. To showcase a slightly less murderous side of my hometown, I’m posting a photo of the region every day on my Instagram in the lead-up to publication on July 7.