Father and daughter discover a novel way to partner

Meg and fatherTom Keneally have co-authored a murder mystery - and have more in the works. Photo: Kaleb Smith/SCU
Meg and fatherTom Keneally have co-authored a murder mystery – and have more in the works. Photo: Kaleb Smith/SCU

Tom Keneally may be one of Australia’s most published authors but why, after 57 published works and a 50-year career, has he decided to collaborate with another author?

Well, why not, when your co-author is your eldest daughter, Meg Keneally.

Inspiration came while Tom was reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series and he thought he’d have another go at writing a murder mystery.

‘I was sitting there writing and thinking that I might need someone else, and before we started working together I just knew that it would work with Meg,’ Keneally said.

Meg Keneally works as a journalist and in public affairs, both nationally and abroad.

But her father is less than pleased by her current employment.

‘She writes these daily reports for capitalist mongrels who read them and then set out to gouge the rest of us,’ he laughed.

‘Those capitalist mongrels feed your grandchildren,’ she retorted with a laugh.

The Soldier’s Curse is her first book but her father’s 57th.

Set in the convict settlement of Port Macquarie, The Soldier’s Curse follows gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat who works with the Governor’s housekeeper Mrs Mulrooney to solve the mystery of who murdered the commandant’s wife.

‘I’ve always been fascinated by gentlemen convicts, the educated convicts,’ Tom says.

Meg believes that one of her biggest challenges while writing was trying to overcome her own fears of disappointing her father.

She says that her father ‘casts a bit of a long shadow’ and she was apprehensive about changing what he had already written in the novel’s manuscript.

‘I was thinking, who am I to change his work?’ she said.

After writing with her father and gaining his approval, Meg says that she has been ‘liberated’ though and is now in the process of writing her first solo novel.

Tom says he has always had faith in his daughter’s abilities.

‘I have this daughter who I’ve always believed is a novelist, even if she doesn’t,’ he said.

He believes she is capable of writing books that will be ‘more widely read than mine’.

Whether it is a result of their father/daughter relationship or simply because Tom believes they have ‘the same personality’, the duo say that they do not have arguments.

Tom has penned works such as The Widow And Her Hero, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith and Bring Larks and Heroes.

His most famous work is Schindler’s Ark, which won the Booker Prize in 1982.

According to Tom, a publishing company in Great Britain has taken on The Soldier’s Curse and a soon-to-be-released sequel for publication.

There are plans for at least five more books in the series.

Report by Jacqueline Munro, a Bachelor of Media student at Southern Cross University

Southern Cross University Reporters