My first book, Thicker Than Water, was published earlier this year by HarperCollins’ non-fiction strand William Collins.
It is part family memoir, part travelogue, part history book in the vein of Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, examining the legacy of colonialism and frontier violence in Australia through the story of a distant relative of mine, Angus McMillan. In his time, McMillan was fêted as a hero, and celebrated with cairns and portraits. But latterly he has been identified as a leader of several gruesome massacres of the Gunai (sometimes ‘Kurnai’) people of Gippsland, Victoria.
I retraced my forebear’s journey from the snow-tipped Cuillins of the Isle of Skye to the unmapped wilderness of 1830s 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, to me, the crucial question: Has today’s generation inherited a responsibility to atone for its ancestors’ sins?
Those based in the UK can hear me discussing the book with Libby Purves on Radio 4’s Midweek, on Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth Show, and on Outlook on BBC World Service. It was also book of the month on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.
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, Best books of Summer 2016, The Guardian
“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
Questions and queries about the rights/publication should be directed to my agent, Sophie Lambert of Conville & Walsh.