In order to reach the truth about the murders, they have to uncover the asylum’s darkest secrets...

It is 1884 and the eager young Doctor Hamish Hart is drawn from his research to investigate the hanging deaths of a female inmate and her lover at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on Stradbroke Island. The Superintendent insists the deaths are suicide, the sad fate of star-crossed lovers. However, Hamish suspects murder.


Driven by a passionate interest in social justice, Hamish, and his friend Rita, realise there is a view of the asylum that has been obscured from the authorities.

Step into the dark world of mystery and intrigue with one of fictions newest medical detectives…

Keep one eye on the future with the publication of book two in

The Dr Hamish Hart Mysteries; The Plantation Murders

Arriving everywhere great books are sold soon.

“Splendid, exciting, and very intriguing…a wonderful book and a great opener to a new mystery series and sleuth…hungry for the next one as this one delivered so much more than expected with amazing locations and characters and plot…a great new author…5 stars” Caroline, Indiebooks reviewer.


Dr Karen Thurecht has a PhD in medical anthropology and a lifelong interest in cultural belief systems relating to health and medicine. Karen has taught cultural history at the University of Queensland Medical School and the Griffith University Medical School, and supervised Masters and PhD students in Public Health across the country. Karen has previously published two non-fiction books, one relating to women’s health and the other about our need to understand our lives through story.


Karen lives on North Stradbroke Island with her husband and is working on a murder mystery series set in Queensland in the 1880’s, involving an eager young doctor, Hamish Hart.

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Who inspires you?

I am inspired by writers of Australian literature such as Richard Flanagan and Jackie French, and by Australian Mystery Writers such as Kerry Greenwood and Sulari Gentil


How many books have you published?


2 x Non-Fiction


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?


I have always been a writer. I started writing fiction two years ago.


How long does it take you to write a book?


It took two years to write Murder at the Dunwich Asylum, however I am aiming to write one book per year in the series.


What is your work schedule like when you're writing?


I write/research for six hours per day


What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?


My interest and knowledge in two areas: culture and medicine, merge in my stories. There is always a strong element of cultural awareness and social justice as well as detailed passages illuminating the state of medicine in the late Victorian period in Australia.


How did you find the publishing process?


I am excited about the opportunities inherent in Indie Authorship allowing the author to take advantage of professional support to ‘build a product’ and then have a direct and ongoing relationship with readers.


Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?


The ideas for my stories come from my interest in place and the social context of historical periods in time. My first two mysteries began with a place and time, and then grew from there. For example, Murder at the Dunwich Asylum began with an interest in the history of North Stradbroke Island where I live.


When did you write your first book and how old were you?


My first book: Good Girls Keep Their Legs Together is based on my PhD thesis.

It was published in 2004. I was 42 years old.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?


When I’m not writing I enjoy working in art. I paint, work as a mosaic artist, and work in metal enamelling and textile art. I also teach art through workshops on the Island.


What does your family think of your writing?


My family have always known me, essentially, as a writer. I have spent my life writing and editing other’s academic writing, writing teaching resources and writing government reports. They don’t see much difference now that I write fiction, except that I talk about a set of weird characters as if they are my friends. They are mildly concerned about that.


What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?


How many adverbs I can pack into a sentence in a first draft.


How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?


I have completed three books and I am currently working on my fourth. The book I am writing at any given time is always my favourite.


Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?


I would encourage any writer to seek feedback from as many people as possible - and listen to it. It is difficult to hear critical feedback, but it does make you a better writer. Unless you are only writing for yourself and don’t expect anyone to read your work. Then you can write it however you want.

Do you like to create books for adults/kids/cause? Why?


In my incarnation as a mystery writer, I write the kind of books I like to read.


What do you think makes a good story?


A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. By that I mean a clear structure that supports the characters through a time in their lives. The reader needs to know immediately, ‘Ok, I understand the ride I’m on – let’s go.’ Characters with clearly articulated and strong goals help the reader become involved with them and cheer them on. It’s hard to cheer someone on if you are not sure what they are aiming for.


As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?




What are your plans for your future book/s?


I am planning to write a murder mystery series based on the main characters in Murder at the Dunwich Asylum.


What tips would you share with other new writers about your learnings?

Stories that are ready to be read do not spring from the mind like Athena from the head of Zeus. First drafts don’t need to be, nor should they be, perfect prose. Just get the story written and then edit, edit, edit.


What were your inspirations?


I wrote Murder at the Dunwich Asylum because I love to read murder mystery stories. The ones I love the most have an element of learning in addition to the story. For example, I enjoy mysteries set in historical contexts because you learn a bit about life in that time. I wanted to write a book allowing for readers to be entertained, while also learning about the intriguing history of the Island, the asylum and the social norms of the day.


I also love to experience new places through reading fiction. I wanted the Island itself, its physicality, to become like a character in the book. I want people who are familiar with North Stradbroke Island to recognize it and feel connected to it through reading the story; and I want people who have never been to feel intrigued, as if they know someone well, even though they have never met them.



How you decided on the characters in the book would be an interesting concept to describe for us please?


I’m not sure how the characters developed. This is the most mysterious part of the writing process to me. The characters feel like they develop themselves. I knew I needed a protagonist. I wanted him to have medical knowledge because that is my interest. Why is he male? I don’t know. That’s how he appeared to me. His friend Rita developed to tip off-balance some of the social norms of the time. She is a female medical graduate, she can’t register as a doctor in Australia, and she has strengths in her character that Hamish lacks.  Wallace becomes a friend to them both and adds maturity to the younger characters. In fact, Wallace, while a minor character, was the first of the characters developed. The first scene is written in his point of view, then he fades into the background for the rest of the story. He was, indeed, the first character written. Emily, a major character in this story, will not appear in the rest of the series. She developed as the story evolved, I felt I needed to give her the voice she did not have during her (fictional) life.



What drew you to the subject matter or the characters?

A long association with North Stradbroke Island gave me the idea of setting the first of the series in the asylum.



What was the biggest challenge when writing the book?

As is true for most writers of fiction, the biggest challenge was overcoming my own self-doubt. I had to allow myself the time to concentrate on something that would not bring an immediate financial return; I had to allow myself to believe that I was capable of writing fiction; I had to believe in the value of the project.



Include any interesting experiences you might’ve had during the research for the book, or while writing or publishing the book:

The experience I have enjoyed most while writing the book has been researching the newspapers of the time. Many newspaper articles have been so interesting I’ve wanted to share them – say “hey, get a load of this article I found!” I started blogging them because I didn’t have anyone to tell, except my husband who is correctly excited about everything I do.

Requests welcomed for further information about the author –

  1. Book copies for review and discussion

  2. Full media kit, inc images and Q&A about the book by the author

  3. Interviews can be arranged via Skype, phone or email.


Book is available for purchase upon release at all great Australian bookstores

and online direct at www.indiebooksaust.com.au

Thank you for supporting new Independent authors in Australia,

and we welcome further communications with you in the future.

Kind regards,

Publicity Manager
Shawline Publishing Group