The Podcast & the Documentary

A couple of resources I wanted to share that could be useful for background research and character development in fiction writing (historical, fantasy or otherwise). The first is an interesting podcast I listened to early this week. Patient Zero, and the second is a true-crime documentary series, Murder on Middle Beach.


  1. The podcast - Patient Zero: Spillover In Suburbia



The story investigates the rise of new viruses, how and why they occur, using the Hendra virus as a case study. The process is fascinating, and if you’re thinking of including pandemic themes in your writing, take a listen.


A new virus appeared in the mid-1990s in Queensland that fatally (horrifically) impacted horses with a secondary impact on humans. It took months of investigation to discover that fruit bats spread the virus. It’s interesting to learn just how the virus travelled from the bats to the horses and even more fascinating, how come bats are the carrier of viruses yet don’t seem to suffer from their effects. Evolution is an amazing thing!


I’m not telling you too much more about this one because I really want you to listen to it. Patient Zero: Spillover In Suburbia Download it from the website or to your favourite podcast app.


2. The true crime documentary - Murder on Middle Beach



I came across Murder on Middle Beach looking for something to watch during a bout of insomnia, thinking it was a fictional murder mystery. I rarely watch true crime and certainly not late at night. There’s nothing fictional about this 4-part series, but it’s packed full of mystery and twists! The presenter/narrator Maddison Hamburg’s mother, Barbara Beach Hamburg, was murdered in 2010. His life, already spiralling out of control through drug-use, following the tragedy he hit rock bottom. After completing time in rehab, Maddison used documentary film-making to come to terms with his grief, losing his mother, and the mystery surrounding her death, and her life. Murder on Middle Beach is as much an exploration of life, families, and the secrets they keep as a murder investigation. He and his crew filmed the documentary over several years and made use of family photos, home movies, and interviews. We see each of the family members, and Maddison himself, grow and change, physically and emotionally, as they deal with the murder, fluid inter-family relationships, the consequences of their actions, and addiction.


Maddison’s commitment to finding his mother’s murderer regardless of what secrets may be revealed takes courage. As does the participation of each family member. In seeking answers, in seeking to help Maddison, they each come to terms with the past and each other.


If you have a favourite podcast or documentary that would be useful as a resource for writers, please share it either in a comment below or via my Facebook page. Find me at @patricialeslieauthor.

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