The First Lie was originally set in Sydney, my home town, so to find a deeper connection with the story I grabbed my camera and spent a whole day visiting all the locations. But I returned home in tears because none of the places ‘spoke’ to me.
Serendipity intervened. I dropped Selkie into a strange place – Hawaii – and what had felt like a ‘crisis of place’ flipped into something edgy and unpredictable. Her role as a malihini (a newcomer) brought an amazing dimension to the story.
Selkie is escaping a destructive relationship but she lands in a mythological nightmare in Hawaii. The events are so bizarre and terrifying that she’s forced to delve into the past and face the shocking truth about herself.
My editor and I still chuckle over her initial reaction: You’ve got an Australian main character in a Hawaiian setting, but you’re drawing on Irish/Scottish mythology (selkies); it’s difficult to make those disparate elements fit together cohesively.
But cultures have mingled for centuries in Hawaii – ho’ohihi, interconnectedness – surely it was the perfect place for mythologies to collide and merge, if only I could make it work …
Follow to see how Virginia resolved this problem and created a mystery that’s won two awards.