Thursday, February 9, 2023

Confessions of a Tasmaniac

Wendall -- every other Thursday

From Jeff:

It is my distinct honor and privilege to introduce the newest member of our Murder is Everywhere crew to all of you. Wendall Thomas will be sharing alternate Thursdays with Michael Sears, starting today!


For those of you unfamiliar with Wendall’s work, you’re in for a terrific treat as she takes us on adventurous journeys around the globe, much as does her travel agent protagonist Cyd Redondo in her eponymous mystery series. 


But that’s just for starters. 


Here’s a brief description of the talents and experience she brings to MIE:  Wendall teaches in the Graduate Film School at UCLA, lectures internationally on screenwriting, and has worked as an entertainment reporter, development executive, script consultant, and film and television writer. Her first Cyd Redondo novel, Lost Luggage, was nominated for the Lefty and Macavity Awards for Best Debut Mystery of 2017. Her second, Drowned Under, was nominated for a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery of 2019 and an Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original and Fogged Off was a finalist for Best Humorous Mystery of 2021. Her short fiction appears in the crime anthologies Ladies Night (2015), Last Resort (2017), the Anthony nominated Murder-A-Go-Go’s (2019), and the upcoming Crime Under the Sun (2023)A far more detailed bio is available at

On a personal level,Wendall’s great! Ask anyone who knows her––or learn for yourself through her posts…starting now!

Welcome, Wendall.

Thanks Jeff, and hello everyone! I’m thrilled to join the wonderful writers here at Murder is Everywhere. 


As Jeff said, I write the Cyd Redondo screwball travel mysteries, which always start at Redondo Travel in Brooklyn and, so far, have taken Cyd to Tanzania, Tasmania, and London. At present, I’m in the middle of writing possibly the slowest chase scene ever, atop a funicular railway in Bali. My books also focus on endangered species, wildlife trafficking, and other environmental crimes.

The endangered hazel dormouse, featured in Fogged Off

I’ll be sharing Thursdays with the wonderful Michael Sears. His most recent “Jurassic Park:Tasmania” post threw me back to my times there, so today I’m offering a companion piece about own “Days of Wine and MONA.”  


I’ve been very lucky in my working life to have spent a lot of time in Europe and in the South Pacific, teaching and mentoring filmmakers. Through those travels, I’ve managed to pick up, among other things, fifty-five Clairefontaine notebooks, a glut of commemorative coffee mugs, a husband, and a lot of great earrings. I’ve also found inspiration for almost everything I’ve ever written, one way or another.


After multiple work trips to Melbourne, I’d had some great meals, grabbed a few hours in museums, and made a half-day trip up the Great Ocean Road, but in terms of experiencing Australia, that was about it. So on my next trip I was determined to see more. When I found Tasmania was only an hour by plane from Melbourne, my husband James and I decided to use our last two days and one night there. 

First view from our seats

It’s probably the first place I’ve ever gone just because I loved the name. I made a random hotel booking, and off we went, with our day packs, to the Apple Isle, and my second book, Drowned Under, was born.


From the minute we saw Hobart harbor, we were smitten, especially because we had lucked into a hotel with the view below. 

Our view from the Grand Chancellor Hotel

As we headed for the harbor, we noticed a mural of what I thought was a dog with stripes. I was taken by the image.

We toured the wharves, visited the Cruise terminal, and found the Drunken Admiral restaurant, just our style, with a huge cooking pot outside. You can see what happened, here. 

These shenanigans were soon eclipsed by our near-arrest. James is obsessed with exploration. If there were a Shackleton Channel, he would subscribe. That’s why he suddenly ran towards an electrified chain link fence and pulled on the gate. He was trying to get to the Antarctic icebreaker on the other side. Just as the security lights came on and I heard imaginary sirens, a lovely man yelled down and said “Want to come see?” That was Gerry, the ship's Captain. He and James are now friends.

James in front of the highly guarded Aurora Australis

We visited the legendary Salamanca market, including the memorable Déja

Vu Books,


lots of wine bars, 

A fine Tasmanian Shiraz, as I recall

as well as more representations of what someone finally told me was a Tasmanian tiger.

That night, we had more fabulous food and wine and the next morning, before we had to leave, we visited two museums just blocks from our hotel. The Maritime Museum featured, among many other things, an ancient diving suit, a pictorial history of cruise ships to the island, as well as plenty of figureheads.

Less than a block away was the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. 

It was a fabulous concept, to see art amongst the taxidermy and ancient pottery. 

James's shadow in front of a video installation

Then, we walked into the Thylacine Gallery. There I found the mythic animal that I’d been seeing everywhere. The tragic story of this indigenous animal, now “functionally extinct,” was particularly sad because the government had paid farmers and hunters to kill them, seeing them as a threat to livestock. This tiger broke my heart, as did the photos of their cubs.

I couldn't get these images out of my mind

As we flew home I thought about how my publisher was interested in my second Cyd Redondo book taking place on a cruise ship. Hobart had cruise ships. And the series was focused on endangered animals. What was more endangered than an animal that was “functionally extinct”? 


The book would be set in Tasmania. I had to come back. Our second trip, in some ways, was even better. I was able to visit the defunct zoo, where the last thylacine died and the surrounding Botanic Gardens.

Legendary Beaumaris Zoo beside the Botanic Gardens

Our new friend Gerry arranged a private two hour tour of the icebreaker. James practically had a conniption fit.


We had fabulous rosemary cocktails at the Frogmore Bar on the harbor.

And then we visited MONA, the privately owned Museum of Old and New Art, which was completed by Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh in 2011 and is built underneath a vineyard, a ferry ride away from Hobart. 

The outside of the MONA Ferry

The inside of the ferry

It’s one of the most extraordinary places I have ever been. The tables in the restaurant consisted of glassed-over pieces of rare earth, the ones outside made of grass. 

The Source Restaurant inside

The Source Restaurant outside

The cavernous layers of the museum are both stunning and alarming. None of my pictures quite captured the feeling, but the two James Turrell installations are not to be missed. 

Inside one of the James Turrell installations

Outside one of the James Turrell installations

I’ll always be grateful I went to the ends of the earth, and came back with a book.




  1. Welcome, Wendall, and thanks for sharing Tasmania with us. It is a rather special place. I'm looking forward to Drowned Under!

    1. Michael! Thank you for all your help. Yes, Tasmania is unforgettable.

  2. WELCOME, Wendall! We're all ecstatic that you've joined our merry band, and look forward to sharing your many adventures to Tasmania and beyond.

    1. Thank you, Jeff! So thrilled to join and thank you for all your help!

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  5. Any wee Tasmanian Devils on your travels? They like to show you how well their very thin, very sharp teeth work! Fascinating blog, another flag on the bucket map.

    1. Hi Caro. Only in museums, otherwise, nothing but wombats! Strangely enough, in Tasmania, they're not nocturnal. Thanks for reading.

  6. Hi Caro. Only in museums, otherwise, nothing but wombats! Strangely enough, in Tasmania, they're not nocturnal. Thanks for reading.

  7. Welcome Wendall! My wanderlust is going into high gear just reading your bio. So looking forward to your books and your posts. From AA

    1. Hi Annamaria. Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm also looking forward to reading more of your work and posts as well!

  8. sujatamasseyauthor@gmail.comFebruary 9, 2023 at 2:26 PM

    wonderful to have you here!--Sujata

    1. Thank you so much, Sujata! I feel very privileged to be included. Your house plant post made my heart hurt. I loved it.

  9. VERY impressive resume, I must say and a fine first post, so welcome. You look so familiar in your photos I feel like I may have run into you at some book fair somewhere!

    1. Hi Kwei. How kind of you to say. Did we maybe meet briefly at Bouchercon in Dallas? I loved The Missing American, so I'm honored to be here with you.

  10. Welcome Wendall! Great post. I’m looking forward to reading many more-and to your series, too!

    1. Hi Susan! Thanks so much, I'm so excited to be here and to read more of everyone's work.

  11. Great post Wendall! But so sweet and so sad, that Tasmanian tiger and those poor little cubs!

    1. Thank you, Ovidia! Yes, I know, they really broke my heart. It was great to get to bring one of the cubs back to life, at least for the length of the book.