Queanbeyan Library participates in National Novel Writing Month with local author LJM Owen

LJM Owen is launching a second book, and taking part in National Novel Writing Month at the Queanbeyan Library. Photo: Elesa Kurtz.
LJM Owen is launching a second book, and taking part in National Novel Writing Month at the Queanbeyan Library. Photo: Elesa Kurtz.

National Novel Writing Month is underway at the Queanbeyan Library, where writers can find a quiet corner to perfect their art.

Local author L. J. M. Owen kicked off the writing month with a talk on how she wrote her books, including her new release Mayan Mendacity.

“NaNoWriMo is a wonderful international event supporting writers of all types to produce their best work, so it's great to see Queanbeyan participating so enthusiastically,” Ms Owen said.

In her new book, a semi-fictional version of Canberra has been brought to life again.

Her first novel was initially launched through a Kickstarter crowdfunding page, and Owen said she never intended to try and get it traditionally published.

"Because I had heard so many awful stories about people trying for years to be picked up by a traditional publisher and that it was very demoralising so I thought, well, I wouldn't even try that until I was three or four books into the series," she said.

Instead, she was contacted by a literary agent and Olmec Obituary was published in November last year. Almost a year later, its follow up, Mayan Mendacity – the second of nine planned books in the series – is about to hit stores.

The book continues to follow Dr Elizabeth Pimms, this time investigating tiny skeletons and misshapen skulls recovered from a Guatemalan island. 

The books are based in a semi-fictional version of Canberra, and are particularly based around a semi-fictional version of the National Library where Owen used to work.

"It's very obvious to anyone who's been to the National Library that the 'Mahoney Griffin Library' is based on the National Library," she said.

"It's got the beautiful marble foyer and the glorious stained-glass windows, but there's going to be a body or two strewn about the place in [my book] – so I wanted to make it very clear that it's not actually the National Library. They don't have a murder problem that I'm aware of."

Also featuring in the second novel is Queanbeyan's Benedict House, the National Botanic Gardens and Canty's Bookshop in Fyshwick.

Ms Owen provided tips on how to start writing at the Queanbeyan Library for the launch of National Novel Writing Month. 

The library will be hosting writers from 3-5.30pm on Thursday afternoons throughout November. The space is designed to be a quiet one, with staff providing coffee, tea and biscuits for those who participate.

Children’s library assistant Amanda Cline said libraries were becoming increasingly popular for novelists as a place to write.

“Mostly because its usually a quiet place for people to be able to come and think,” Ms Cline said.

“We also have a lot of books here, obviously, that if they get stuck with how to go on with a scene they can pick up an author they’re trying to emulate and see how that happens, and we have quite a few non-fiction books on how to write here too.”

The Queanbeyan Library is located at 6 Rutledge Street and is open from 9.30am to 7pm on Thursday, until 6pm other weekdays and until 4pm on Saturdays..