Tasmanian author Kyle Perry is a rising star of crime fiction and his day job as counsellor has helped shape his compelling characters and thrilling plots.
Kyle’s characters aren’t the most functional of people and are involved in drug cultivation and selling to make a living. However, this doesn’t make them unlikable. In fact, Kyle’s intent with his storytelling is to delve into murky worlds and get to the heart of why people do what they do, and how they ended up there.
“It’s important to me to be part of that conversation about people who use drugs and it’s important to me in my novels, even though they’re fiction books…to reframe the way people who use drugs are seen,” Kyle says.
When Kyle wrote his debut The Bluffs, he was a youth worker in high schools and education programs. He’s also worked in men’s drug and alcohol rehabs and says this gave him an understanding about how dependence on substance occurs in people and how it shapes their world.
“More importantly I learned how it (substance abuse) affects how they see themselves and how they fit in society.”
His time in youth work also “opened his eyes” to how hard life can be for young people.
“I knew the world was a dark and dangerous place but when you’re seeing how it affects children, it was pretty difficult,” he says.
In Kyle’s latest book, The Deep, his lead character is Mackerel Dempsey, part of a drug dynasty who’ve operated for generations on the rugged coastline of Tasmania. Mack is newly out of jail on strict bail conditions, doing his best to keep out of trouble before his next court date. But he’s drawn back into the underworld with his cousin Ahab, while they both try to find out what happened to Mack’s brother Forest, who’s re-emerged after being missing for seven years.
In The Bluffs, the main character Murphy is the local drug dealer and the father of missing schoolgirl Jamie. Murphy is a devoted single dad to Jamie but because of who he is, he quickly becomes the main suspect for her disappearance.
Kyle says there were a few men who came into his mind when he was shaping the character of Murphy including one who was “a real gun” tradie who turned to cannabis after experiencing a traumatic event.
“Everyone in his world turned on him. I remember having a conversation with him and thinking ‘you’re a good guy. You’re actually more engaging and interesting than a lot of “functional” people’,” he says.
“I wanted these guys to be the hero. They have everything inside of them to be the good hero of the story.”
Hear more from Kyle Perry on the podcast Killer Content: Inside the crime writer’s mind.