Rebecca James author of Beautiful Malice answers Ten Terrifying Questions

Struggling writers all over the world take down your pictures of J.K. Rowling – we have a new poster girl for you – Rebecca James… Who?

Good question. The very same question people asked in 1997 when the name J.K. Rowling was mentioned. Who?

In November 2009 The Sydney Morning Herald published an article about a woman in Armidale, NSW whose novel Beautiful Malice, had started “a worldwide bidding war which has pushed advances on her manuscript past $1 million and led the The Wall Street Journal to wonder if she is the next J.K. Rowling.”

That woman was Rebecca James and Beautiful Malice “has been sold in more than 20 countries and is scheduled to be translated into at least 13 languages. Not bad for a book that was initially rejected by every literary agency in Australia.”

I love that bit.

The article continues… “The Wall Street Journal described how the book sparked a frenzy among publishers at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair and called it ”a sexy psychological thriller”, a ”brilliantly plotted page-turner” and ”Stephenie Meyer … without the vampires”.

What is Beautiful Malice about?

“Set in Sydney, James’s novel depicts the relationship between Katherine, a solitary girl whose sister was brutally murdered, and gorgeous fun-loving Alice, who befriends her. Alice’s influence is transformative, but as Katherine emerges from her grief, she discovers her new best friend can be chilling as well as charming.” (Click here for the full SMH article)

BEAUTIFUL MALICE will be available from 1st May 2010  (pre-order here$19.95 SAVE 20% 

READ AN EXTRACT – CLICK HERE

The story of Rebecca James is wonderful – it is a  rags-to-riches story which will warm the hearts of Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS: SIDDON ROCK Wins Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book

SIDDON ROCK by Glenda Guest, a first novel published by Random House early last year, has just been named the Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. The judges praised SIDDON ROCK for its rich cast of odd characters and blending of the everyday with fantasy. Behind every door in town lurk secret desires and wild imaginings. The novel, they concluded, deftly delves into the hauntings and disjunctions of settler Australia, and in its fable-like quality captures the laconic mannerisms of the Australian outback. Glenda is a woman in her early sixties who had always wanted to write a novel but never quite found the discipline or time until the last few years.

SIDDON ROCK is a most unusual Australian novel as it carries more than a touch of magic realism. Glenda was bold to persist with her story which at heart is an extraordinary tale about an ordinary Australian outback town.

Australia, recently, has had a great run with these prizes. Christos Tsiokas’s THE SLAP won the Best Book last year and Random House-published Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif with A CASE OF EXPLODING MANGOES won the Best First Book.

Click here to read more about this award-winning first novel, SIDDON ROCK.

Craig Silvey Answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Craig Silvey

author of

Rhubarb, The World According to Warren and Jasper Jones

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

New Paperback Edition $21.50

I grew up on an orchard in the South-West of the black swan state. I was a pretty effete child labourer, much to my parent’s disappointment. I used to take books out with me while I picked and packed apples, resulting in a fairly lax work rate. I went to a strange but lovely school which was curiously integrated inside a Victorian era tourist attraction called Pioneer World, which featured street theatre, Clydesdale rides, gold panning and anything that was remotely Ye Olde. It was fantastic.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve, I think I was enamoured with the idea of being a palaeontologist. By eighteen, I was writing my first novel, Rhubarb. And I’ll let you know when I get to thirty. I’m thinking I might start a cult.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Oh, there were many. Pertinently, I guess, I used to have this rule where if I started reading a novel, I had to finish it, no matter how excruciatingly painful it was. That was, of course, until I began reading a particularly acclaimed novel by one of our most celebrated and best regarded writers. I resented every turgid word of it. Still, I forced myself to finish that big bitter bastard, which sat on my desk like a foetid turd, causing me nothing but dread and turmoil. It took me over six months to chew through it, and at the end, after I’d flung it as far as I could, I resolved Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS: OPRAH: A Biography by Kitty Kelley

Oprah Winfrey is the subject of a new biography by the ever scandalous Kitty Kelley. Like Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan and the British Royal family, whom Kelley ‘exposed’ in previous biographies, Oprah can expect to have her dirty laundry aired before an always insatiable public. No stone will have been left unturned.

This will be the biography of the year, if not for its erudition, then for its irresistible salaciousness!

The only problem Kitty Kelley faces now is how to get on TV to promote her book. All of Oprah’s friends are denying  access -  The View’s Barbara Walters, CNN’s Larry King, CBS’ David Letterman and PBS’ Charlie Rose have all refused to have Kelley on their shows.

USAToday says, Despite a reputation for playing loose with the facts, Kelley has never been successfully sued over any of her books.

“I’m very proud of that,” says Kelley. “And I write about people who are very powerful when they’re alive. It’s all documented. It’s all solid stuff.”

Charles Dickens and Malcolm McLaren…Spot the Difference

“My name is Malcolm McLaren. I have brought you many things in my time…. But the most successful of all was an invention of mine they called Punk Rock”.

The weekend press has been full of retrospectives, obituaries and reminiscences of Malcolm McLaren, impresario, anarchist svengali,  and iconoclast. McLaren, the enfant terrible of the British punk scene, manager of the  Sex Pistols, New York Dolls and Bow Wow Wow and former partner of Vivienne Westwood, died on Thursday at the age of 64.

Perhaps a measure of the time, most of the books about McLaren have come and gone. David Dalton’s El Sid: Saint Vicious which chronicles the rise and fall of his royal punkness Sid Vicious, himself a creation of McLaren, is no longer available. Nor is Paul Taylor’s Impresario: Malcolm McLaren and the British New Wave. No doubt Max Wooldridge is re-working his Rock ‘n’ Roll London as we speak.

However, amongst everything I heard and read in the last 24 hours, the most interesting has been McLaren’s claim that British rock and roll owes its genesis to Charles Dickens. He sounded completely serious when he said it.

According to the late Mr M, in an interview I heard not once but twice on Radio National (recorded in the late 90s) Oliver Twist has inspired more British rock songs than any other story. Mind you, while he quotes rockers near and far, he didn’t actually mention the songs to which he was referring. I had never thought of the seminal role of Oliver Twist before but clearly McLaren was on to something. Just look at the cover image of the Vintage Classic we have in stock. The dog collar looks like it could have come straight from Sex, the rubber and fetish clothes shop that he and Westwood set up in their original venture. I tell you, the man had a gift.

So if you really want to decode punk, or perhaps re-visit your frenzied youth, you don’t have to listen your way through a scratchy vinyl rendition of I am the Antichrist. You can just reach for your dog eared copy of Dickens.

Charles Dickens and Malcolm McLaren – bet you’ve never read those two names in a sentence together before.

Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all.

If you suffer about your relationship with food — you eat too much or too little, think about what you will eat constantly or try not to think about it at all — you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don’t run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself.

Since adolescence, Geneen Roth has gained and lost more than a thousand pounds. She has been dangerously overweight and dangerously underweight. She has been plagued by feelings of shame and self-hatred and she has felt euphoric after losing a quick few pounds on a fad diet. Then one day, on the verge of suicide, she did something radical: She dropped the struggle, ended the war, stopped trying to fix, deprive and shame herself. She began trusting her body and questioning her beliefs.

It worked. And losing weight was only the beginning. More…

BREAKING NEWS: 2010 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists

The shortlists for this years NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced.

In their 31 year history, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have honoured many of Australia’s greatest writers and most significant works. The Awards help to establish values and standards in Australian literature and draw international attention to some of the country’s best writers and to the cultural environment that nurtures them.

The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards continue to encourage people to enjoy and learn from the work of Australian writers.

Christina Stead* Prize for Fiction ($40,000)

2010 shortlisted writers are…

* J.M. Coetzee – Summertime (More…)

* Richard Flanagan – Wanting (More…)

* Cate Kennedy – The World Beneath (More…)

* Steven Lang – 88 Lines about 44 Women (More…)

* David Malouf – Ransom (More…)

* Craig Silvey – Jasper Jones (More…)

(The shortlisted writers for the Christina Stead Prize also vie for the Continue reading

Its Chaos Walking as Monsters of Men Patrick Ness answers Ten Terrifying Questions

All over the world, Patrick Ness fans are waiting for May 1

the release date for the eagerly anticipated finale to Patrick’s

Chaos Walking series,

Monsters of Men

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What better time to put

Ten Terrifying Questions

to wunderkind author, Patrick Ness.

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Virginia, lived in Hawaii as a small child, but mostly schooled in the state of Washington in the northwest of the US.  College at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, so I’m pretty much a westerner, which does influence my writing.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a plastic surgeon for no other reason than I had a terrible crush on a plastic surgeon on television.  At eighteen, a film-maker, I even applied (and got accepted to) film school at USC, mainly because I didn’t think writing was a possible career.  I did change my mind soon after and stuck to writing.  At thirty, well, who says I’m already thirty?  Let’s just say that at thirty, I have/had the best job in the world already, why would I want to do anything different?

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I’d never, and I mean never, have short hair.  Now I’ve got barely more than a crew cut and know to never say never about any kind of fashion.  The one thing you deny the most is the thing you’ll always do five years later.

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music – that you can now say had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, because of how all his books, but especially this one, suggest a huge imagined world that the story is only a tiny slice of.  I love when books do that, and I try to do that in mine.  Map of the Problematique by Muse, which is the theme song to The Knife of Never Letting Go, because it had exactly the energy I wanted to put down on the page and I thought, “If I can capture that…”  And probably Middlemarch by George Eliot, which is a novel that just contains the whole world inside.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Easy:  you’re the god of everything in a novel.  I think all writers are essentially power-hungry and want to be in complete control.  Seriously, though, it suits my temperament; I love working for myself.  Plus, it’s the most rewarding artistic avenue I’ve found, the one that gives me the most freedom.  Really, though, it’s because I can’t sing for toffee.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel.

Monsters of Men is the final volume of the Chaos Walking trilogy (following The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer).  In it, Todd and Viola find themselves at the crux of a very unexpected war.  Things don’t go (at all) how you’d expect, and it’s got an absolutely killer ending.  I can’t wait until it comes out to hear what readers think.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I’m really happy with whatever they find.  I’d never want to impose on them, just take a little bit of their time and tell them a story about things that concern me.  If they agree, great, if they don’t, that’s fine, too.  it’s the conversation that’s important.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Probably Peter Carey again, for marching so much to his own drummer.  I’m also quite possibly Nicola Barker’s biggest fan.  These are people who it really feels like they write because they have to, and that’s the best way, I think.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My goals are all private, actually.  I like keeping them quiet.  Loud, shouty goals are too much Continue reading

36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Goldstein

With both Easter and Passover drawing to a close, matters of faith are on the public agenda. And whenever matters of faith are discussed, questions of belief are raised as well. So perhaps now more than ever, it is tempting to ask whether religion and science represent two fundamentally different mind-sets.

This question is even more timely considering the debate that has been generated in this country since last month’s Global Atheist Convention. And what a conference it was with the big names all there – philosophers AC Grayling and Peter Singer, biologist and popular science blogger PZ Myers, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins all weighing in on matters of minds and faith.

For those of us following the conference from afar, the highlight was probably the podcast of AC Grayling’s speech on the ABC’s All in the Mind. Grayling may be an intellectual light weight in the halls of academia, but as a translator of matters philosophic to us mere mortals, he is unsurpassed.

Physicist Richard Feynman said, ‘science is what we do to keep us from lying to ourselves’  the believers amongst us might well think otherwise.

The Global Atheist conference was surrounded by all the usual hoopla, the low point (for me at least) with the unedifying sight of Richard Dawkins pitted against Senator Fielding in a televised romp that was Continue reading

The essential Ian McEwan – from First Love, Last Rites to Solar

It has only been available for a little more than two weeks but Ian McEwan’s new novel Solar continues to garner great reviews. Eagle-eyed followers of Booktopia will know that I featured it as one of my two books of the month in the March edition of Booktopia Buzz, and certainly buyers have responded in droves.

Since then Fairfax’ uber-critic Andrew Riemer has described this often humorous modern morality tale about global warming and the antics of one rapidly aging middle class man as including “some of the finest writing I have encountered in very many years”. High praise indeed. Riemer is not a man to fall lightly, no matter how enticing the reputation of the Continue reading

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