cqu_17173+bincbcc9ed2-14df-4121-bbd4-6fb9f9087b28+bincbcc9ed2-14df-4121-bbd4-6fb9f9087b28.0.pdf (3.49 MB)
Download file

The crime novel as trauma fiction: Representing traumatic experience and post-traumatic growth in crime fiction, comprising: Ebb and Flow: A novel and exegesis

Download (3.49 MB)
posted on 2023-05-24, 00:24 authored by Leanne DoddLeanne Dodd
This thesis examines writing practices to represent trauma for the benefit of readers and writers in a work of popular genre crime fiction. The research is conducted through an original creative work and a critical exegesis. Ebb and Flow is a crime novel situated in the domestic noir sub-genre, with a fragmented narrative structure that is informed by trauma literature. The unreliable narrator/protagonist’s traumatic experiences of domestic violence are revealed through two point-of-view characters; the split psyche of Ebony/Florence, a young mother dealing with the abduction of her four-year-old daughter and accusations by police that she is somehow responsible; and her mother, Sandy, whose narrative begins in the past and eventually catches up with the present. The challenge confronted in the production of this creative work was to use narrative to mirror the fragmented and repressed nature of traumatic memories, while remaining true to the elements that make crime fiction popular. The creative work is accompanied by a critical exegesis that firstly investigates narrative strategies and devices for capturing the fractured and impaired memories that arise out of trauma, and representing one of trauma’s symptoms – dissociation. The exegesis examines techniques employed by authors whose work is situated in the genres of crime fiction and trauma literature, and suggests how these might be aligned. This writing process is then enacted in the creative work through research-led practice. This research aims to develop a framework to classify such hybrid works as a subset of trauma literature. The exegesis then shifts to practice-led research to reflect on how creating the fictional work allowed an exploration of the lived experience of trauma, but with the emotional distance required to be able to write with a deeper exploration of the subjects the author was reluctant to confront autobiographically. White’s maps of narrative practice (2007) and Campbell’s Hero’s Journey stages (2004) are applied to the writing process to outline a post-traumatic journey framework for creative writing that might allow the realisation of benefits for writers. Although there is growing awareness and credibility for writing that achieves therapeutic benefits for readers and writers, significant further research needs to be undertaken to reach its potential value and power, particularly in relation to the potential of genre fiction to represent trauma more realistically and to evoke benefits for a widespread audience.



Central Queensland University

Additional Rights

Embargoed until 20 Nov 2020. I request that access to the thesis or, or parts thereof, be restricted for a specified period, and that release of the thesis during that period for the purpose of research or private study be contingent upon the approval of the Chair, Research Higher Degree Committee (or nominee). I understand, in those cases where I am not reasonably available, such approval may be granted without my having been consulted.

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor Donna Lee Brien ; Associate Professor Susan Davis

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By creative work