J. C. Burke, author of Pig Boy, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

J. C. Burke

author of Pig Boy, The Story of Tom Brennan, The Red Cardigan and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions


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

I was born, raised and schooled on the lower north shore of Sydney. I am the fourth of five girls so I learnt pretty quickly to just ‘go with the flow’.

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

Finalists announced for The Man Booker International 2011

News from The Man Booker Prize website:

Thirteen writers have made it on to the judges’ list of finalists under serious consideration for the fourth Man Booker International Prize, the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.

The authors come from eight countries, five are published in translation and there are four women on the list. One writer has previously won the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction and two have been shortlisted. Famously, another, John le Carré, asked that his books should not be submitted for the annual prize to give less established authors the opportunity to win.

The Finalists’ List is announced by the chair of judges, Rick Gekoski, at a press conference held at the University of Sydney, today Wednesday 30 March 2011 at 10.00 (EST).

The thirteen authors on the list are:

Wang Anyi (China)

Juan Goytisolo (Spain)

James Kelman (UK)

John le Carré (UK)

Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)

David Malouf (Australia)

Dacia Maraini (Italy)

Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)

Philip Pullman (UK)

Marilynne Robinson (USA)

Philip Roth (USA)

Su Tong (China)

Anne Tyler (USA)

The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2011 consists of writer, academic and rare-book dealer Dr. Rick Gekoski (Chair), publisher, writer and critic Carmen Callil, and award-winning novelist Justin Cartwright.

Announcing the list, Rick Gekoski comments:

‘The 2011 List of Finalists honours thirteen great writers from around the world. It is, we think, diverse, fresh and thought-provoking, and serves to remind us anew of the importance of fiction in defining both ourselves and the world in which we live. Each of these writers is a delight, and any of them would make a worthy winner.’

The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers. Alice Munro won in 2009, Chinua Achebe in 2007 and Ismail Kadaré the inaugural prize in 2005. In addition, there is a separate award for translation and, if applicable, the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of £15,000.

The Man Booker International Prize winner will be announced at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on 18 May and the winner will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in London on 28 June 2011.


UPDATE: from The Guardian

John le Carré has eyes off Booker prize

Veteran spy novelist John le Carré has asked to be removed from the list of nominees for a leading literary award.

John le Carré, who was unveiled as one of 12 writers in the running for the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize, said he was “enormously flattered” by the nomination, but did not compete for literary prizes.

The list, which also includes Philip Pullman and Scottish novelist James Kelman, was announced in Sydney.

Following the announcement, in a statement released by his literary agents Curtis Brown, John le Carré said: “I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of 2011 Man Booker International Prize. However, I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn.” FULL story here

Anita Heiss, author of Paris Dreaming, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Anita Heiss

author of Paris Dreaming, Manhattan Dreaming and many more…

Ten Terrifying Questions


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 Gadigal country – the city of Sydney, and spent my childhood in Matraville, where I played street cricket and tennis, and had weekends at the Matraville Skyline drive-in where Mum worked. I went to St Andrew’s primary school with the ‘Pizza Hut Church’ and swam down La Perouse in summer. I went to high school at St Clare’s College in Waverley for secondary and spent summers down Bronte and south Maroubra.

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

When I was twelve I just wanted to be popular because I felt like a square peg.  At eighteen I wanted to be an investigative journalist because I liked the thought of working in the media. At thirty I wanted to be the best writer in any genre possible. I’d already published poetry and satire and was writing my doctoral thesis on literature and publishing.

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

At 18 I believed it was possible to have a relationship with someone who had different political beliefs than I. Now I know the reality!

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

I can’t say these have influenced my writing, but they do inspire me as writer.

One: Mervyn Bishop’s iconic land rights photograph of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam Pouring Continue reading

The Land of Painted Caves – the wait is over

OK, so I wasn’t in the warehouse this morning at 12.05am  eastern standard time when the embargo officially came off The Land of Painted Caves, the finale in the Earth’s Children series, but when I did come some eight hours later I was greeted by the sight of a pallet load of boxes being broken up into single orders and readied for our Australia Post pick up at 11.30.

If I told you how many customers had pre-ordered this much sort after book I would have to kill you. Suffice to say that at Booktopia today, it is Jean Auel Day.

The Land of Painted Caves, set in prehistoric Europe during the ice age,  is a brick of a book, which is a suitably appropriate rounding for a  global phenomenon which has been going on since the early 80s. A hardback, this worldwide release comes with a limited edition augmented reality technology which when waved in f ront of a webcam, allows our heroine Ayla (with spear) to appear in glorious 3D. Alas I cannot see it no matter how much I wave. According to the instructions on the jacket, I need to download an app from the UK publisher’s site and it seems in the UK they are still asleep. Their site is telling me to come back tomorrow. Hello people. Do you understand the concept of world wide release?

What is operational are the end paper maps of Zelandonii Territory and sacred sites as well as Ayla’s journey through ice age Europe on a route linking what is known as south western France and the Black Sea. End papers – so old tech, and yet,  so reliable.

Forgive me for being churlish. I am  genuinely excited about The Land of Painted Caves. Me and about 100,000 other Australians. The wait is finally over. And best of all, you can now buy it from us at the very compelling price of $32.95, a discount of 34%.

For background on the series, go here.

For Jean Auel’s answers to our Ten Terrifying Questions, go here.

For an extract, clip and to see the book, go here.

Simon Toyne, author of Sanctus, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Simon Toyne,

author of Sanctus,

Ten Terrifying Questions


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 an out-of-the-way, seaside town called Cleethorpes in the north east of England. I lived there until I was 9 then began a gradual migration south, ending up at Goldsmiths College in London where I studied English and Drama.

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

At twelve, I wanted to be an actor because it seemed glamorous and exciting; at eighteen I wanted to be a film director for the same reasons; at thirty I wanted to be married to a beautiful woman and have a couple of fantastic kids. (Only one of these dreams came true).

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

That England would win the world cup in my lifetime.

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

Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back – the definitive popular cultural works of my generation. (I’m counting these as one choice as you can easily watch them back-to-back with enough caffeine and sugar and a wee break in the middle).

The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris. The textbook for the modern thriller. Beautifully written, so well put together. I read it when it first came out and re-read it when I was writing my first novel to see how he dealt with the mechanics of things like suspense and action. I’m about a third of the way through book two of the Sanctus trilogy and just read it again to keep myself honest. I think this may become a small ritual.

Hamlet, William Shakespeare. I studied it at school and still find myself referencing it. It’s also the one play I’ve seen performed more than any other and it still manages to deliver a great night out.

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

I had carved a pretty successful career as a TV executive, but was feeling Continue reading

Flood: Stories and images from the ABC of survival, loss and courage during the Queensland floods

In Flood, the ABC’s best journalists and photographers bring you a moving account of the devastating Queensland floods, and a tribute to the bravery of individuals and communities. All royalties donated to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal

The Queensland floods of 2010-11 wreaked untold destruction, with three-quarters of the state declared a disaster zone. But out of the devastation to lives and property we have seen countless examples of the bravery and selflessness of individuals, and of communities banding together.

With its extensive network of regional and metropolitan reporters, the ABC was on the ground when the floods hit, often getting first access to inundated towns and communities. As Premier Anna Bligh writes in her Foreword, ‘The ABC played an incredibly important role during the flooding disaster, broadcasting regular updates across the state.’ The events that ABC journalists witnessed, the people they met, and the extraordinary stories they were told are now captured in 14 poignant essays and hundreds of unforgettable images.

From Emerald and Rockhampton to Brisbane and Grantham, this is a moving account of one of our worst natural disasters in living memory. It serves not only as a record of the floods and their impact on both small towns and cities, but as a lasting testament to the courage and strength of the people of Queensland.

All royalties from Flood will be donated to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.

Guest Reviewer Kylie Ladd on When My Husband Does the Dishes… by Kerri Sackville

When My Husband Does the Dishes . . . provoked much discussion in my household. Not regarding its contents, which I’ll get to, but instead over the title.

“When my husband does the dishes… what?” asked my eleven year old son when he first saw (or rather heard) me reading it. Knowing full well that the original title had actually been When My Husband Does The Dishes He Wants Sex I quickly and seamlessly steered the discussion in a different direction.

“Uh, um, nothing!” I stuttered. “It’s just ‘When my husband does the dishes’. Full stop! End of story!”

“No it’s not,” said my daughter, eight, who is quite frankly sometimes a bit too smart to be all that likeable. “Those dots are an ellipsis. It means there is another thought coming.” She turned to her brother. “You should have listened more in grade three.” I tried to sneak away, the book tucked under my arm, but she stood in the doorway, blocking my exit. “So mum”, she demanded, “what’s in it?”

I couldn’t tell her. Not because Kerri Sackville’s brilliant first book is filthy and depraved (though it does have some bits in it about wet patches), but because I couldn’t do it to the sisterhood. To the wifehood. To the motherhood. Couldn’t give away our secrets; couldn’t let the opposition (also known as our husbands and children) in on any knowledge that they might use against us. Couldn’t admit to my spouse, for example, that like Kerri I have fed the kids noodles and tomato sauce for dinner three nights running when he was away on business and told them to tell him it was spaghetti ; couldn’t confess to my progeny, that actually, the back of the sock drawer isn’t mummy’s special place, it’s just where she puts your homemade Mother’s Day gifts so she doesn’t have to look at them.

Kerri Sackville knows it all. She’s been in the frontlines of motherhood for more years now than she’d thank me for telling you. She has three kids, an, um, ‘back massager’ in her bedside drawer and her own painstakingly perfected delousing technique. She is also extremely bloody funny and made me laugh so loudly and frequently while reading this book that in the end my husband threw me out of bed and suggested that the title should really be “When my husband does the dishes it’s to get away from his unhinged wife”.

Those of you who follow Kerri’s blog, her tweets or her regular columns for the Mama Mia website will know what a gifted and hilarious writer she is, but also how very frequently she is bang on the money with her shrewd observations and razor-sharp wit. When My Husband Does the Dishes . . . certainly made me laugh, but it also made me go “Shit, yeah” under my breath so often that I had to keep glancing around to check that the kids hadn’t heard. If you know how to flirt without flashing your maternity bra, if you’ve ever kept a child home from school with a rash that later washed off, or if you sometimes dream of raspberry fondant instead of chocolate swirl (and I’m not talking ice cream here), this book is for you.

But it’s not for my children. “I know, mum!” my son declared a few days after I’d started reading Kerri’s book. “The whole title should be ‘When my husband does the dishes his hands get wet’.” Yes, I told him. Yes, you’re right! That shut him up, anyway, but I’m still keeping it away from the eight year old.

Available 2nd May 2011. Order your copy of When My Husband Does the Dishes … – CLICK HERE


Thanks to Guest Reviewer – Kylie Ladd

Kylie Ladd is the author of After the Fall, and was the first author to answer the Booktopia Book Guru’s Ten Terrifying Questions – read Kylie’s answers here…

When Kylie is not busy scribbling, she is also a delightful distraction on Twitterfollow her here…

Kylie’s Website: here…

About After the Fall:

The story of a friendship between two couples – and an affair that blows their worlds apart.

Two married couples: Kate and Cary, Cressida and Luke. Four people who meet, click, and become firm friends. But then Kate and Luke discover a growing attraction, which becomes an obsession. They fall in love, then fall into an affair. It blows their worlds apart. After the fall, nothing will ever be the same again.

And pre-order Kylie’s new book Last Summer  here

I have read a proof copy of this wonderful book. I read it quickly. I really wanted to know what happened next. How these people would cope. When I wasn’t reading it – when I was at work – I kept thinking I should text the characters to see how they were doing… They had become such a part of my life. It was a wonderful feeling. A great thing for a novel to achieve. This is a warm, wise, entertaining and somewhat life-changing book. The Booktopia Book Guru.

Rory Buchanan has it all: looks, talent, charisma – an all around good-guy, he’s the centre of every party and a loving father and husband. Then one summer’s afternoon tragedy strikes … and those who are closest to him struggle to come to terms with their loss. Friendships are strained, marriages falter and loyalties are tested in a gripping and brilliantly crafted novel of loss, grief and desire.

Told from the points of view of the nine people who are mourning Rory, this riveting novel presents a vivid snapshot of contemporary suburban Australia and how we live now.

Marriage, friendship, family – all are dissected with great psychological insight as they start to unravel under the pressure of grief. The characters live on the page, their lives are unfolded and their dilemmas are as real as our own.

Last Summer is a novel about loss – the terrible pain of losing a husband, brother or friend, but also all those smaller losses that everyone must face: the loss of youth, the shattering of dreams, the fading of convictions and the change in our notions of who we thought we were. It is also about what comes after the loss: how we pick up the pieces and the way we remake our lives.


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