Burning Sunday was published in 1999 by Sceptre. It was short-listed for The Age Book of the Year.

The back cover blurb has this to say:

When teenage Mark awakens to find his father has gone, he becomes aware that his parents’ marriage is suddenly in crisis. In the process of playing watchful peace-maker in the muted war between them, he leaves behind the innocence of his youth.

With quiet authority and deep understanding, new writer Michael McCoy gives voice to the sensitive but inhabitants of suburban Australia.

A masterful depiction of ordinary masculine frailty, Burning Sunday celebrates the courage of vulnerable families.

There’s a quote on the front cover from Paul Kelly, legendary Australian singer-songwriter. Because the tone of story reminded me of his lyrics, something I actively set out to achieve, I sent him a copy of the manuscript, asking whether he’d be kind enough to provide a quote. I was upfront in revealing my shameless intention, that being to put the quote on the cover and bask in his reflected glory.

Weeks passed with no reply and I gave up hope. But then, out of the blue, a small, apparently well-travelled envelope appeared in the letter box, my name scrawled on the front. Inside was a single page torn from a notebook with this handwritten message.

Dear Mick, I’ve been travelling for 8 weeks. Things have been hectic. Along the way I read your book and liked it. Here’s a quote: “A slow burn of a book – plain, beautiful, aching language.”

Good luck, Paul Kelly

I was ridiculously excited. In fact, I grew leaps and bounds.

Here’s some reviews:

‘From the opening pages McCoy paints a tense, gripping domestic drama … McCoy’s fiction is beautifully crafted – a very real and moving story.’ – Matt Condon, Sydney Sun-Herald

‘Its consistency of tone, its preciseness and faultless structuring combine to create an unforgettably tense atmosphere. McCoy is utterly confident, writing with a conviction and ease that suggest more years at the typewriter than he could possibly have had.’ – Tegan Bennet, Sydney Morning Herald

Cutting Through Skin was published in 2001 by Sceptre. Its writing was assisted by funding from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council.

The blurb goes like this:

“Sometimes I would close my eyes with the tip of the scalpel poised and ready and just feel its progress as it cut through the skin. I’d hold the blade in my hand and press, expectantly and sightlessly through the skin. Feeling the release. Feeling the joy.”

Not long finished his Ph.D, Matthew Bass is adrift in his work as a prosector in the Department of Anatomy. He becomes attracted to the well-practiced sexuality and strange religion of Zoe, a fellow ‘cutter’. Almost willingly, Matt lets slip his grip on reality until, with Zoe’s encouragement, he pushes his newly charted beliefs of life and death to their ultimate extreme.

The author of the acclaimed Burning Sunday has written an extraordinary novel in which conflicting systems of faith clash against each other with frightening consequences.

Some reviews:

McCoy’s second novel is remarkably powerful and evocative. Cutting Through Skin is not only a sophisticated novel, but an entertaining one as well. – Sarah Hudson, The Herald Sun

It is rare to find a novel written from the viewpoint of four unique voices, and even rarer to find one written with such passion. This is another compelling and affecting read from the acclaimed author of Burning Sunday. – Todd Alexander, Dymocks Category Manager

I’d like to tell you they’re both available ‘in all good book stores’ and that you can purchase them online, but I can’t. They’re out of print. Best bet is your local library for now. Although, as part of the whole mcphoenix re-animation project, I’m aiming to fix their current unavailability. First things first, though … Fare Game.

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