TRUE STORIES: Dr Lindsay Simpson at the Writefest Literary Lunch. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
TRUE STORIES: Dr Lindsay Simpson at the Writefest Literary Lunch. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Writers share skills at Literary Luncheon

IF MIGHT not be the usual way to spend your days, but for one Australian true crime writer, following Harley Davidsons to bikie club houses and interviewing serial killers was just part of the job.

The first female chief police reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald, Lindsay Simpson was in Bundaberg this weekend for Writefest, hosting workshops and guest speaking at the first Literary Luncheon.

"I'd been a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald for 12 years back in the 80s and 90s and then ended up writing books. Six of my books are in true crime," she said.

"The first book I ever wrote with by best friend Sandra Harvey was Brothers in Arms which became Bikie Wars on the TV.

"That was the first true crime book in Australia to read like a novel."

Beginning as a court reporter, Dr Simpson said her interest in crime developed as she built up contacts and relationships on both side of the law.

"I loved court reporting because it was like watching real drama, it was better than any theatre," she said.

"I guess I naturally went into the police reporting role and developed that into an investigative role.

"In those days they didn't put crime on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald so it was quite a feat to get them to change their attitude about that.

"I had lots of contacts, both the criminals and the police through the court reporting days. I covered the bikie case - the Milperra Massacre - in the court room for three years, got to know the bikies; we went into jails dressed up as molls, myself and Sandra.

"We really took big risks, I think because we were together we'd take those risks.

"We'd run away from bull terriers and follow Harley Davidson's to club houses."

Going on to write My Husband, My Killer and The Killer Next Door about serial killer John Glover (the "Granny Killer"), Dr Simpson's latest book, Where is Daniel?, was written with Bruce and Denise Morcombe about the search for their 13-year old son, Daniel and it hit the Australian best-seller list in August, 2014.

"Today I'm talking about the writers duty in telling true stories," Dr Simpson said.

"With the Morcombes I found it quite difficult because I'm telling their story and I had my own views.

"But it was there story, so it wasn't my story."

Sunday's Literary Luncheon provided an opportunity for readers, not just writers, to listen to and gain and insight into the guest presenters who visited Bundaberg.