Day One: Judy Williams, from Waikato, New Zealand, is now officially in London. God, what a flight getting here: delays in Sydney and then Singapore, but we weren’t allowed to leave the airport. Such a long haul from Auckland to Heathrow, but it’s worth it to be in what I’ve always considered the coolest city in the world. There are millions of cars, people, and houses and the city noise is incredible; it’s close to how I imagined it would be. All those English magazines and movies I’ve spent a fortune on over the last 10 years have prepared me well. No problems at Heathrow; my work visa was hunky dory for a friendly Immigration Officer, then it was off to find the Piccadilly Line to Earl’s Court.
Stephen Johnson: The opening passage in Tugga’s Mob is crucial in several ways. We can see it is the start of a travel diary, an indication that readers will share the intimate thoughts of a central character.
It also immediately establishes a time and location – London in the 1980s. That was an era when hundreds of free-spirited Kiwis, like Judy Williams, swept into London every week. They were nervous, excited, naïve, adventurous; eager to explore and enjoy the highlights of Europe. Most would have the trip of a lifetime.
That is what Judy expected when she penned the first words in her diary, a mandatory travel accessory in the days before cell phones. But Judy’s dream was turned into a nightmare by Tugga’s Mob. Her daily journal would be a vital link between the past and the present – and long-delayed justice.
Ngaio Marsh Shortlist for Best First Novel…
So my publisher asked how it felt for Tugga's Mob to make the shortlist for the Ngaio Marsh Awards and…it is an unexpected delight. My ambition, when wrestling with the book on a European motorhome adventure, was merely to produce a good read.
I hoped readers would find the characters and plot entertaining, that it would be worth the time they invested. To become a finalist in a prestigious award is the most incredible confidence boost a novice writer could ever ask for.