My first book, Thicker Than Water, was published in 2016 by William Collins in the UK and Fourth Estate in Australia.
It is part family memoir, part travelogue, part history book in the vein of Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, and examines the legacy of colonialism and frontier violence in Australia through the life of a distant relative of mine, Angus McMillan. In his time, McMillan was fêted as a pioneer hero, but latterly he has been identified as a leader of several massacres of the Gunai (sometimes ‘Kurnai’) people of Gippsland, Victoria.
I retraced my forebear’s journey from the Clearances-era Highlands to colonial Australia, stitching together the events of the clandestine ‘Black War’ of the Gippsland frontier and looking for answers: How could a man lauded for his generosity and integrity commit such terrible acts? What have been the long-term consequences for the Gunai people? And, has today’s generation inherited a responsibility to atone for its ancestors’ sins?
Those based in the UK can listen me discussing the book with Libby Purves on Radio 4’s Midweek, while Australians can listen to me on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters, or read an extract in The Australian.
Praise for Thicker Than Water:
“Stunning. Thicker than Water is a thrilling debut, a true story that reads like classy, compelling fiction. It succeeds above all because of its two striking protagonists: the dishonourable, flawed McMillan… and Flyn herself. Her ballsiness and likeability, as the narrator and the heroine of the travelogue, made her an irresistible companion.”
— Melanie Reid, The Times
“Flyn deftly captures the looking-glass world of the antipodean landscape, so alien to European eyes… Her account is vivid with a sense of its strangeness; lyrically responsive to the odd local fauna and flora… The urgent question, “How can things be fixed?” infuses every page. To her credit, Flyn is aware of the ugly likelihood that they can’t.”
— Elizabeth Lowry, The Guardian
“Full of interest and intelligently and evocatively written. [Flyn] gives a vivid picture of the landscape and way of life, and explores the complexities and silences of Australian history… Her book is not only continuously interesting, and the author’s character as pleasing and sympathetic as her eye for detail and oddity is sharp, it also offers a salutory lesson.”
— Allan Massie, The Scotsman
“[An] unflinchingly honest, profoundly moving memoir.”
— Jackie McGlone, The Herald
“A meaty read about the tendrils and overhang of British colonialism. Read it if you want to ask big questions about Britain, race and responsibility.”
— Reni Eddo-Lodge, The Guardian
“A moving and impressive debut”
—The Daily Telegraph
“A searing tale of adventure and (self) discovery that shows the past is nearer than we think. Flyn is a writer with a gimlet eye and a big heart.”
— Ben Rawlence, author of City of Thorns
It also featured in The Economist, The Week, the Daily Mail, Metro and the Scottish Field, selected as one of The Times’ books of the year, as one of the Guardian’s best books of the summer, and as book of the month on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.
Questions and queries about rights should be directed to my agent, Sophie Lambert at C&W.