father, Martin Dixon, joined the outlaw gang when he was about Hugh’s age, originally to write a newspaper profile of its educated and charismatic leader, ‘‘ Captain’’ Lucas Wilson, but events soon overwhelmed that narrow ambition. Martin’s story forms the second strand of Lost Voices.
‘‘ I wanted to show the way that the present and the past resonate with each other,’’ Koch explains. ‘‘ I happen to believe, which may be eccentric, that we carry vague memories of our ancestors inside us, and sometimes we recognise people as what you might call counterparts. This book is full of counterparts between the 1950s and the 1850s.’’
This goes to an intriguing aspect of Koch’s work: his belief in an ‘‘ invisible world’’ that exists alongside our tangible one. This idea is at the heart of The Doubleman and permeates his other books. In Lost Voices, one of the central characters, the unnerving ‘‘ gentleman’’ convict turned bushranger Roy Griffen, puts it this way: ‘‘ I’m sure of one thing, Captain Wilson. There’s certainly a life outside this one. An invisible world lies all around us, and we’re watched by invisible things.’’
Even though there are similarities between Hugh and his creator (‘‘I don’t even know what algebra is!’’), Koch insists the book is not autobiographical. ‘‘ I’d hate anyone to think my father filched some money to put it on the horses,’’ he says. However, Koch does share Griffen’s belief in the invisible world. ‘‘ I don’t think we know a lot about it,’’ he says, ‘‘ but I’m quite sure it’s there.’’ He has taken part in seances and believes in spirits and demons.
Asked to elaborate, he thinks for a while.