AWW Feature and Giveaway: Q & A with Caroline Overington

Welcome Caroline Overington!

I am thrilled to welcome Caroline Overington to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of her fourth novel, Sisters of Mercy. Caroline Overington is an Australian author and journalist, as well as a mother of delightful, 11-year-old twins. She lives with her kids, her husband, a blue dog, and a lizard, in Bondi, New South Wales. She has worked for The Age and The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Australian, and The Weekend Australian Magazine, and has recently been appointed the associate editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly. Caroline is a two-time winner of the Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism. She won her first Walkley for a series of articles about a literary fraud, and her second for a series about the AWB oil for food scandal. She is also a winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for excellence in Journalism; and of the Blake Dawson Prize for her second non fiction title, Kickback about the UN oil for food scandal.

Ghost Child, about a child murdered by his parents,was Caroline’s first fiction novel published in 2009 (Bantam Random House) followed by I Came To Say Goodbye (2010) which was shortlisted for both the Fiction Book of the Year, and overall Book of the Year, in the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards. Matilda is Missing (2011) is set in the family court as parents war of the custody of their daughter. Sisters of Mercy is the haunting story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars. You can read my review of Sisters of Mercy HERE

I was honoured to have the opportunity to ask Caroline a few questions and thanks to Random House I have a copy of Sisters of Mercy to giveaway. Read on…

Q&A with Caroline Overington

Q: Can you tell us about your latest novel, Sisters of Mercy is about?

Yes – two sisters, raised a generation and a world apart, one born in England, and placed in an orphanage; the other born in Australia, to the same parents, after they migrated. They come together to discuss their father’s Will. Then, one of them disappears. The one is jailed. The question is: has she committed a crime? And what type of crime is it? Read my review

Q: Your previous novels have been inspired by cases you have reported on as a journalist, is that the case with Sisters of Mercy?

Yes. I have covered several missing person’s cases, and I am always intrigued by the methods the police use to unravel them, and also by the difficulty of solving them, particularly when there is no body. That has been the case in a number of the stories I’ve had to write, and of course there are many famous Australian cases where people have gone missing, never to be found again. The question is always: what happened? And how can somebody simply disappear?

Q: Have you ever received correspondence from a prisoner wanting to share their ‘real’ story with you, as Snow does with Jack?

Yes. But it is illegal in NSW and I believe in other States to correspond with prisoners. Last year I conducted a long series of interviews with a woman who had been convicted of the murder of her infant child. She served six years and insisted upon her innocence, from prison and after she was released. But the story was never published for legal reasons: we simply could not take the risk of telling the story. And that is quite common. There is a case before the courts right now, of a TV journalist who faces charges for corresponding with a murderer in prison.

Q. What do you hope your readers learn from reading Sisters of Mercy?

It’s an honour for me to have somebody pick up one of my books and read it. They don’t have to do it, and everyone is busy, and there are many free things to read these days, that take less time than novels to read. So my feeling is always: make it worthwhile for them. Challenge them, and keep them interested. Because they have made an investment of time or money, and I feel grateful to them.

Q: How does writing fiction compare to writing news features?

I’m so much more free when writing fiction! I don’t have to worry about contempt of court; I don’t have to worry about fact-checking and defamation. I can simply say what I believe would have happened, which you can hardly ever do in newspapers.

Q: After the publication of your second book, I Came To Say Goodbye, you told you would be retiring from writing novels when you had written the fourth. Is that still true now that Sisters of Mercy has been released?

No. I changed my mind. But I hope that’s okay 🙂

Q: You have just been appointed the Associate Editor of The Australian Womens Weekly, what do you hope to achieve in that role?

The Weekly is an iconic Australian publication, and one that it’s an honour to serve. The editor in chief, Helen McCabe, is an extraordinary talent and leader. I have worked for her before, and I was keen to do so again. To my mind, the Weekly is a magazine that delivers intelligent, quality stories to an intelligent readership. I don’t think to myself: what would women be interested in? I think to myself: what would a thoughtful person be interested in? And I’m keen to explore the lives of Australian woman across this great land: rural, outback, mining, city, country, strong, soldering on, as Australian women have always done.

Q.  Can you recommend three books by Australian women writers?

Sure can: Kylie Ladd’s Last Summer; Judy Nunn’s Tiger Men; Zoe Foster’s The Younger Man.

Q. What is your preference?

  • Coffee/Tea or other?  Lychee martini.
  • Beach/Pool or River?  Pool. In a private Bali villa. But nobody can afford it anymore. Bali has gone nuts.
  • Slacks/Jeans or Leggings?  Anything by Sass+Bide (great Australian women designers) from the annual warehouse sale.
  • Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe?  Mmmm….. to eat? Or to play with?
  • Swing/Slide or Roundabout? I’ve done all three in New York playgrounds with the kids. All are good in the snow. But best of all is bicycle.


Sisters of Mercy is available

@Random House I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

via Booko


Thanks to Random House Australia you can win

1 trade paperback of Sisters of Mercy

(Sorry – Open to Australian Residents only)


Entries close November 11th 2012

Winner drawn via

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tien
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 09:10:59

    I love the sound of Lychee Martini! err *checking the time* – it’s only 9:10am (that’s a bit distressing) LOL

    Sisters of Mercy sounds fascinating. Great Q&A, Shelleyrae!



  2. brendat59
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 11:29:01

    Great interview Shelleyrae. Caroline sounds like a lovely person:) I’m keen to read Sisters of Mercy. Thanks again:)



  3. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 18:12:06

    What an interesting interview! Caroline is to be congratulated in her string of writing achievements… 🙂



  4. Trackback: Review: Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington « book'd out
  5. Mystica
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 21:24:22

    I’d like to be counted in with a Melbourne address if that is possible! thanks for the giveaway.



  6. Mary Preston
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 23:31:39

    I never knew that it was illegal to correspond with prisoners. All just fascinating.



  7. Michael, S.A. book lover
    Nov 03, 2012 @ 17:09:22

    Great interview Shelleyrae. Caroline’s comments about writing fiction compared to news features just facinating.



  8. Trackback: What’s troubling about Sisters of Mercy – and why it’s worth reading « Devoted Eclectic

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