Fremantle Press treats Perth readers to Afternoons with Harvey Beam

Carrie Cox.
Carrie Cox.

FAMILIES are perhaps the most interesting of all social experiments, according to Trigg author-journalist Carrie Cox.

“If aliens were to visit us, they would probably look at the model of ‘family’ – a small group of potentially vastly different individuals thrown together in a controlled environment for 18-plus years – and say ‘What a ridiculous idea – this will never work’,” she said.

Her new book – the Perth writer’s first fictional novel – Afternoons with Harvey Beam centres on the complexities of family.

“My family is probably no more or less dysfunctional than the next one, but the fact that I’m fascinated by family and the way it shapes us or doesn’t makes life harder for my family because I’ve been watching everything over the years through active rather than passive eyes,” Cox said.

“I’m very sensitive to the way family dynamics set up all future relationships.”

Cox created central character, talkback radio host Harvey Beam, as a step away from her familiar world of journalism.

She likened the process of writing the novel to starting on a 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

“Initially it’s very intimidating and the idea of reaching the end seems like a bridge too far,” Cox said.

“But as you move on, the remainder grows smaller and the picture gets larger and richer in detail and it just somehow becomes more doable and also ultimately enjoyable.

“I think the biggest difference about writing a novel compared to writing journalism is that your mind is on the story 24-7 with a novel – you’re living it and breathing it and you have to stay in the zone.”

Cox moved to Perth eight years ago for her husband’s work.

“I Googled Perth (before coming) and it said ‘Perth is the most isolated capital city on the planet’ and I thought ‘Perfect’,” she said.

“I love what isolation does for the Perth psyche.”

Afternoons with Harvey Beam is published by Fremantle Press.