Shannon Fricke, author of How to Decorate, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Shannon Fricke

author of How to Decorate

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?

I was born in Sydney and raised by Bondi Beach, back when it was very much a working class suburb – before all of the swanky shops and restaurants moved in. There wasn’t much to keep this teenager busy in 70s/80s Australia and so, when I wasn’t hanging out at the beach with friends I would spend my time lost in the pages of my favourite magazines and books… My love of fashion, interiors, books and magazines was born out of boredom. To this young girl, the world within the pages of my favourite magazines was filled with excitement, beauty and endless possibility. It was here – in those simple, slow days that a passion and ultimately a career was born.

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

At 12 I wanted to work as a fashion editor on a magazine. I loved clothes and imagined life on photo shoots would be extremely glamorous…

Nothing much had changed by the time I hit 18 – I felt resolute that spending my life as a magazine editor was just the ticket for me.

By 30, I had lived life as a magazine editor and whilst it wasn’t always glamorous, it was very rewarding. However, my interests had changed. Married and with my first child, my focus had turned to home. I had grown up with a mother who loved to decorate and I knew the positive impact that a thoughtfully decorated interior could have on those who lived within its walls. It was clear that my life going forward would be dedicated to inspiring people to shape their surroundings in a way that is beautiful, individual and a total reflection of who they are and how they love to live. And so I began to apply my aesthetic skills to a whole new medium. And with this, my career took on a new direction. 

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

 At 18 I believed that a successful life lied in perfection. Now, I believe it is the imperfections that mark the most successful lives.

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?

Growing up the only child of a single mother with little means but a passion for aesthetics taught me that you don’t need endless funds to shape your world in a way that makes you smile.

Moving to London at 19 with a few hundred pounds in my pocket and a hunger for excitement in my heart taught me that passion; energy and risk-taking can help you fly.

My life as a wife and mother has taught me the value of love, hard work and endurance. Passion, risk-taking and hard work – is my recipe for life.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

In a here today, gone tomorrow world – it’s a privilege and an honour to have my words gracing the pages of a book. Real life books will never go out of fashion particularly in aesthetic genres. There’s nothing more satisfying than holding a book, flicking its pages and savouring the photographs. A ritual that will never go out of style.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

How to Decorate is a practical, down to earth handbook filled with all of the tools one needs to decorate their home from start to finish. The book is an extension of my How To Decorate workshops that I hold in my studio in country Australia. Within the pages of the book (and on my workshops days) you will discover how to find your own decorating story, how to create a concept that perfectly suits your space and how to implement that concept to turn your house into your dream home.

(BBGuru: Publisher’s blurb – How to Decorate is a gorgeous, practical, down-to-earth guide to decorating your home from start to finish – with love, attention and style. Layer by creative layer, stylist, decorator and homewares designer Shannon Fricke takes us through her decorating workshop in a book, explaining how to find your own story, create a decorating concept perfectly suited to you and your space, and implement that concept to turn your house into your dream home.

Along with insider tips on everything from choosing colours, finishes, floors, furniture, flowers and fabrics to hiding a house’s flaws and making the most of its assets, there are glorious photographs of Shannon’s own home and other houses she has styled. Her fresh and homely approach to decorating within any budget is enchanting, heart-warming and inspiring. )

Click here to order How to Decorate from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

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

I believe that shaping your home to suit your individual style enables you to create a support system for your life. When your home looks and feels good, when it is functional and beautiful – then life becomes a little easier to navigate. Everyone has the ability to shape their home in a way that suits them, regardless of where they live or how much money they have. I hope that my book inspires people to connect with their inner decorator – the results are pure satisfaction.

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

I’m in awe of people who feel confident enough to express their creativity in a forms – whether writers, artists, designers. It takes a brave person to put their true selves out there for all to see. 

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

I strive to live in the moment, to relish where I am and what I am doing right now. Of course, it’s a struggle to stay focused on the here and now – but I find that when I do, I find peace, which is the ideal space for creativity.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Be brave enough to be yourself. And be persistent!

Shannon, thank you for playing.

Click here to order How to Decorate from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

 EXTRACT

Introduction

We can’t always change the wrapping of a building – but we do have control over the look and feel of what goes on within its four walls. If you want to create a home you love living in, one that reflects you, your life and your passions, but you don’t know how to begin, then this book is for you.

I was inspired to write this book by the decorating workshops I run in my studio in country Australia. These workshops draw women (men are also very welcome but never seem to come!) from all walks of life, from places near and far, with different ways of living and different points of view. At the heart of the workshop days lies a common goal shared by every woman who steps through the front door – to be creative.

Decorating is a form of creativity, an opportunity to express our unique style of seeing things in a legitimate way. I say legitimate because sometimes the world can look upon the act of being creative as a pastime, an indulgence of sorts, for those who have too much time on their hands and little else in the way of ‘real work’. What a shame, I say, that we don’t give the act of being creative the credit it so definitely deserves. Creativity in any form is a clear window into our soul, into who we are and how we see things. It inspires us to know ourselves – from our head all the way through to our heart. The experience of using our minds, our hands and our inner spirit in tandem is an opportunity to achieve a kind of peace. To just be . . . How lovely to have such a chance in this crazy, fast-moving, ever-evolving world!

The lovely thing about engaging with decorating as a form of creativity is that the outcome can be both functional and beautiful. It’s easier to navigate the footprint of a well-decorated house, and all who live among its virtues feel its influence on an aesthetic and spiritual level. And on top of all this, good decoration adds value to the property, which for some people is reason enough. For me, however, the true joy of decorating, the heart of the experience, will always lie in the act of creativity itself.

Click here to order How to Decorate from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

BATMAN: The Dark Knight Rises: Film releases on 19th July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises on 19.07.12


Batman: Heart Of Hush

The villain named Hush, created by comic superstars Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, makes a dramatic return to the life of Batman. What will this mean for Bruce Wayne?

Secrets shared years ago between Bruce Wayne and Tommy Elliott begin to have dangerous repercussions in the present. Why is this mystery driving Hush to destroy Batman’s life? What part does Catwoman play in Hush’s plans?

Click here to buy Batman: Heart Of Hush from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1 – available from 1st May 2012

The villainous Bane breaks the Bat in one of the most popular and well-known Batman tales! The inmates of Arkham Asylum have broken free and Batman must push himself to the limits to re-apprehend the Joker, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Killer Croc and more.

Pushed to the limits, he comes face-to-face against the monstrosity known as Bane, who delivers a crippling blow destined to change the Caped Crusader forever!

Click here to order Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1 from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


Batman: Death By Design- available 1st June 2012

In this new, original graphic novel from superstar writer/designer Chip Kidd and artist Dave Taylor, Gotham City is undergoing one of the most expansive construction booms in its history. The most prestigious architects from across the globe have buildings in various phases of completion all over town. As chairman of the Gotham Landmarks Commission, Bruce Wayne has been a key part of this boom, which signals a golden age of architectural ingenuity for the city. And then, the explosions begin.

All manner of design-related malfunctions – faulty crane calculations, sturdy materials suddently collapsing, software glitches, walkways giving way and much more – cause casualties across the city.

This bizarre string of seemingly random, unconnected catastrophes threaten to bring the whole construction industry down. Fingers are pointed as Batman must somehow solve the problem and find whoever is behind it all.

Click here to order Batman: Death By Design from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


The Batman Files

Unearthed from the depths of the Batcave by Mathew K. Manning, The Batman Files begins with Wayne’s childhood drawings and continues along a time line of significant events in Batman’s life. Complete and authentic in every way possible, all of Batman’s friends and foes – from Poison Ivy, Catwoman, the Riddler, and Penguin, to the Joker, Batgirl, Mr. Freeze, and of course, Robin – appear throughout the dossier to provide a framework of the Caped Crusader’s entire career. Completely outlining Batman’s war on crime, The Batman Files includes in-depth computer files, news articles, crime scene photos, blueprints, schematics, and actual maps of Gotham City that were collected, and in many cases even drawn, by the Caped Crusader himself.

High production values include black matte gilding, as well as a high-tech fabric cover – complete with a metallic Batman emblem to secure the secret contents within. Each detail of Batman’s life is carefully and faithfully detailed with the involvement of DC Comics inside The Batman Files – destined to be the must-have gift for every avid Batman fan and collector.

Click here to order The Batman Files from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


Booktopia Exclusive: International Bestselling Author, GARTH NIX, Recommends Three Inspirational Non-Fiction Books for Fantasy Writers

The seed of a story can be found anywhere, sometimes as easily as seeing something outside your window or overhearing a conversation. It is a bit of standard advice to “write what you know”, but to my mind that really should be expanded upon to explain that what you know doesn’t just mean what you have personally experienced. Vicarious experience, from reading, from watching films and television, from listening to other people — this is all part of “what you know”.

Some non-fiction books are particularly good at providing curious pieces of information that can form the seed of a story, or be useful ingredients to help make a story richer and more interesting. I particularly like old encyclopaedias and reference works, but there are three books I find particularly inspirational and interesting.

1. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Where else, opened at random, might you find an entry on “Burkers. Body-snatchers; those who kill by burking” or the rules for the playing of the card name known as “Gleek” or that a “Jeremy Diddler” is someone adept at raising money on false pretences. The older editions are the most interesting, my favourite is a Cassell two volume set from 1898. You can also look it up online.

2. A Dictionary of Chivalry by Grant Uden
Illustrated by Pauline Baynes

This wonderful compendium of all things medieval is chock-full of interesting details about armour, weapons, castles, significant historical figures and so on, but is made extraordinary by the wonderful illustrations of Pauline Baynes, which feature on every page. Baynes is probably best known for illustrating the original editions of the Narnia books, but her work in the Dictionary of Chivalry is even better, if that were possible. It is out of print, but there are usually quite a few second-hand copies available.

3. The Book of Weird or The Glass Harmonica by Barbara Ninde Byfield

Originally published as The Glass Harmonica, later re-released as The Book of Weird, I read about this book when I was 10 or 11 in a piece by author Andre Norton, but wasn’t able to find a copy for many years. This charming and idiosyncratic book is subtitled “A Lexicon of the Fantastical. In which it is determined that: Wizards see best with their eyes closed; Torturers reek of mutton, cold sweat and rust; It is Unwise to take a Herald on a Picnic; Like Owls, Bells comment; Apprentices cost but little to keep: Bats consider sunlight vulgar, and other revelations of the mystical order of things . . .”

Illustrated by the author, the book begins at “A” with entries on advisors, including soothsayers, fortune-tellers and oracles, and concludes not at “z’ but with appendices on weights and measures, simples, specifics and sovereign remedies, including things like the prevention of scorpion bites (wear forget-me-nots).

Also out of print, but second-hand copies are readily available, particularly of the later paperback The Book of Weird. However, if you can find one, the original hardcover is a larger format and a more attractive book.

Thank you Garth for taking the time to share your ‘Three Inspirational Non-Fiction Books for Fantasy Writers’ on the Booktopia Blog.

Cool Stat:  As of December 2011, Garth’s books have sold in excess of 5,000,000 copies internationally.

A Confusion of Princes

By GARTH NIX

A grand adventure that spans galaxies and lifetimes, A Confusion of Princes is a page-turning thriller, a tender romance, and a powerful exploration of what it means to be human. Bonus Garth Nix short story ‘Master Haddad’s Holiday’ exclusive to the ANZ edition.

I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time. This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between. My name is Khemri.

Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn…Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.

Click here to buy A Confusion of Princes from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

About the Author

Garth Nix grew up in Canberra. He studied for a BA in Professional Writing at the University of Canberra and has travelled to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Garth has worked as a public servant, bookseller, book editor and literary agent. In 2002, following his outstanding international success, Garth returned to full-time writing (despite his belief that this contributes to the strange behaviour of many authors).

As of December 2011, Garth’s books have sold in excess of 5,000,000 copies internationally. His books have appeared in the bestseller lists of the New York Times, the Sunday Times (UK), Publishers Weekly (US), The Australian, The Bookseller (UK) and Bookseller & Publisher (Australia). His books have been translated into more than 39 languages. Garth lives in Sydney with his wife Anna, who is a publisher, and their two sons.

Click here to visit our Garth Nix author page

John Flanagan, author of Ranger’s Apprentice, signs copies of his new book, The Invaders : Brotherband – Book 2

Recently, John Flanagan, best-selling author of both the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series, visited Booktopia to chat to fans on Facebook and sign copies of his new book, The Invaders. To see photos  of his visit (with funny captions), click here.

Brotherband: Book 2 : The Invaders is available now!

Make sure you secure a signed copy – order now, click here.
(These signed copies will not last. Once they are gone… well, that’s it.)

From the publisher:

Eight boys are about to take on a crew of fifty cut-throat pirates . . . is this an impossible quest?

Hal and the Heron brotherband are on the trail of Zavac and his precious cargo. Will they be able to find the pirates when the weather clears? And when they do, how can they possibly beat the mighty Raven and its crew of vicious cut-throats and killers?

A chance discovery will lead them to their prey, but the pirates have a well-fortified position. The Herons must drive out the invaders – and to succeed, Hal will need to devise a foolproof plan. In the icy waters of the Stormwhite, the smallest mistake could prove fatal.

Click here to buy The Invaders from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


The Outcasts

Brotherband: Book 1

In Skandia, there is only one way to become a warrior. Boys are chosen for teams called brotherbands and must endure three months of gruelling training in seamanship, weapons and battle tactics. It’s brotherband against brotherband, fighting it out in a series of challenges. There can be only one winner.

When Hal Mikkelson finds himself the unwilling leader of a brotherband made up of outcasts, he must step up to the challenge. The Heron brotherband might not have the strength and numbers of the other two teams, but with inventiveness, ingenuity and courage on their side, they might just surprise everyone.

Click here to buy The Outcasts from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


Click here to view John Flanagan’ other series,
Ranger’s Apprentice

Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Isobelle Carmody, DBC Pierre and Chris Flynn

I interview writers every week here on the Booktopia Blog. My Ten Terrifying Questions have been answered by over 250 published authors ranging from mega selling global stars like Jackie Collins and Lee Child to brilliant, relatively unknown debut authors such as Favel Parret and  Rebecca James.

In each of these interviews I ask the following question:

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Now, for the edification of aspiring writers everywhere, I will pull together answers to this question from three very different writers and post them here once week. Some will inspire, some will confound but all will be interesting and helpful in their own way…


ISOBELLE CARMODY

“To write for themselves before they ever think about editors or publishers or reviewers or audience. The first person who has to care about what you write is you. How can you possibly affect or reach anyone else, if you are not affected? Never write to preach or teach or change the world. Try to use your writing to understand the world and your place in it. Try to incorporate the questions that animate your life in the things you write, that way even if you never get published, it will nourish and sustain you and help you grow. Do not write unless you are passionately in love with writing. Write all the time.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Metro Winds from Booktopia Australia’s No.1 Online Bookshop


DBC  PIERRE

“Tell everyone you’re writing a novel, then they’ll hassle and ask about it so bloody much you’ll end up having to actually do it.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Lights Out in Wonderland from Booktopia Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


CHRIS FLYNN

“Be patient. The average age of a first time novelist is 42. And don’t think you’re a genius. You’re not. Relax. Have fun writing! If you enjoy writing your book, chances are someone will enjoy reading it.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy A Tiger in Eden from Booktopia Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


For more advice from published writers go here

Patrick Flanery, author of Absolution, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Patrick Flanery

author of Absolution,

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?

I was born in California but grew up in Nebraska, where I attended state schools. I went to Georgetown University for one year before transferring to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I studied film. After working for a few years on the development side of the film industry, I moved to Britain, earning a doctorate in Twentieth-Century English Literature at Oxford.

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

At twelve I wanted to be an astronaut, preferably on a mission to Mars. By eighteen I was going to be a diplomat, stationed all over the world. At thirty, I was finishing my doctorate and believed I was working towards a career in academia.

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

I still believed in the inevitability of human progress. This was based both in a fervent early optimism, and my schooling: we were trained to believe in progress as an innately human quality, but also, paradoxically, made to think of it as a uniquely American destiny. For many years now, all I have been able to do is hope for the possibility of human progress, having no faith in its inevitability.

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?

Passage to India by E.M. Forster. I read this as an adolescent, and was awed by its formal balance and elegance. However problematic it may now seem in its depiction of India, it remains a work of great power and fundamental strangeness, with profound ambiguities at its heart.

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. As with Forster’s novel, I first read this in my teens, in an edition with no textual apparatus or notes apart from the cryptic ones provided by Eliot himself. While it would be years before I understood the poem in any serious way (or thought I did), that first reading, late on a Friday night, in bed, falling through its hallucinatory multivocality and stark vision of modernity, was like discovering an incantation of aesthetic and formal possibility.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I came to Faulkner quite belatedly, although this and several other of his most important novels were on my parents’ shelves as I was growing up. I remember opening this book when I was still in primary school, reading a page, and thinking that one must need some kind of key or map to understand what it was all about. When I was finally ready for Faulkner, with my own key and map, giving me access to his unblinking vision of an American family in its decline, I was instantly converted by his audacity of style.

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

Over the years I tried quite a few of the others: acting, music, painting, filmmaking, screenwriting, plays, poetry, but in each case I failed badly—either quickly or over the course of several years. I think the first ‘novel’ I started writing was around the age of 10, about two brothers stranded with their grandparents and a cleaning woman in a snowbound house. I had no idea how to write fiction and it burned out after a few pages, although the impulse was there. Throughout my school years I wrote poetry and short stories (the fiction mostly inspired by Hemingway, the poetry by D.H. Lawrence), and after university started writing fiction in earnest. I spent more than a decade failing at that, too, writing pieces that no one wanted to publish and that not even I liked, until I finally hit upon the voices and themes that grew into Absolution. During those years in the novelistic wilderness, I kept thinking of Beckett’s line: ‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ The form of the novel, the potential for it to encompass and incorporate so many other forms and genres, to have so few constraints on what it can be, made it the most attractive and mysterious ‘artistic avenue’ I could travel. I was determined to fail better as I went on exploring it. I still am. But more to the point, I ended up writing rather than pursuing any other art form because it always felt the most urgent, the most dangerous.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

In Absolution, Sam Leroux, a South African expatriate long resident in New York, returns to Cape Town to begin work on an authorized biography of a celebrated novelist, Clare Wald.

As the two of them begin the process of digging over Clare’s past, it becomes unclear just how forthcoming she is willing to be—as well as how complicit she might have been in crimes against her family buried in South Africa’s apartheid past.

Sam’s arrival occasions Clare’s own process of trying to reconstruct the final days in the life of her daughter, Laura, who has been missing, presumed dead, for twenty years.

Click here to buy Absolution from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

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

I would not want to dictate how readers should interpret the book, but I hope they finish it with a strong sense of place, of voice, and of having read a compelling story that, although set in South Africa, could have happened in a great many countries.

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

I could name any number of giants from the various canons of world literature. Equally, however, I admire those writers working and surviving under systems of government or social oppression—the dissidents, known or unknown by the rest of the world, for whom every word is laden with risk.

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

I hope each book I write will be at least as good as or better than the previous one.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read widely—not only the literature of your own country, but also the great works of world literature. Train yourself to participate in the ongoing global dialogue that writing can be.

Patrick, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Absolution from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Winner of the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2012 Announced! Paul D. Carter for Eleven Seasons

Congratulations to Paul D. Carter, winner of the Australian/ Vogel’s Literary Award 2012

When Paul D. Carter got up to accept the Vogel award last night he was an unknown quantity. After he spoke for a few minutes thanking those behind the award and giving the audience a brief description of himself and the writing process all those present couldn’t wait to get their hands on the novel. He was self-effacing, genuine and serious about his writing.

This year the judges had 350 or so entries to read between them and each judge, when their time came to read Eleven Seasons jotted down in the margin, something like – this could be our winner. But in the final stages of the competition there was no doubt. In the minds of all the judges Eleven Seasons was the clear winner.

I can’t wait to read it.

Eleven Seasons

‘Some guys are good at school and telling jokes or they have the latest stuff. Others are cricketers and basketball players: they can do things with the ball that make their classmates talk about them when they’re not around. His thing is football. He becomes the centre of whichever team he plays for: he becomes the advantage.’

MELBOURNE, 1985. Jason Dalton sits on his bed and counts his football cards, dreaming of the day he too is immortalised in the public eye. He’s young and gifted, a natural player who can do anything with the ball in his hand. If only everything else in his life was as obvious to him as playing.

GOLD COAST, 1991. The bottom has fallen out of Jason’s life; he’s now a high-school dropout, tired and wasted on the Gold Coast, with an explosive family secret still ringing in his ears. He needs to get his life back. But first he needs to find out who he is.

‘A smashing book: heartfelt, tough-minded, occasionally shocking.’ Geordie Williamson

Click to here to buy The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award Winner 2012,
Eleven Seasons
from Booktopia, Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Author: Paul D Carter Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: The Australian

Paul D. Carter was born in Melbourne and spent much of his youth going to Collingwood Football matches with his Dad and brother, Marcus. In 2001, Paul completed a Bachelor of Arts with honours from Deakin University and, in 2008 completed a PhD while writing Eleven Seasons. In writing Eleven Seasons, Paul was able to integrate his own experience of growing up in Melbourne in the 1980s with his keen interest in modern Australian history. He is especially interested in the sociological aspects of AFL and sport in society, in particular its sometimes fraught relationship with women. Paul currently teaches English and Creative Writing to secondary students in the western suburbs, as part of the Teach for Australia Programme.

From the Australian: IT took more than nine years for Melbourne author Paul D. Carter to write Eleven Seasons, published today as the winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award.

The coming-of-age story is about Melbourne schoolboy Jason Dalton, whose youth is filled with skateboards, spraypaint and an obsession with the Hawthorn Hawks.

Carter said the book was less a novel about Australian football than a story about family, relationships and young men finding their identity. “It’s about what happens when those identities shatter and you have to come to terms with who you are,” he said in Sydney yesterday. Read more…

From The Sydney Morning Herald: ONE of the first things Paul D. Carter will do today is wander into a bookshop and look at copies of Eleven Seasons on the shelves. It’s his first novel so it’s special. But it’s more than that, as last night in Sydney Carter won this year’s Vogel Award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under 35, the prize that galvanised the careers of Tim Winton, Kate Grenville, Gillian Mears and Andrew McGahan.

He was told in September that he had won and has since worked secretively with his publisher to ensure the book was ready for the shops today. Now – at last – he can talk about it.

It is a very Melbourne book with Aussie rules playing a crucial role in the life of Jason Dalton, a boy from a broken home in the mid-1980s. ”It’s a story about the ways young men as they’re growing up reach outside themselves to artificial ideas of who they are,” Carter says. ”Football is one of the things that he uses as a template of who he can be.” Read more…

Jennifer Paynter, author of Mary Bennet, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jennifer Paynter

author of Mary Bennet

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 Sydney and raised by my aunt, grandmother, de facto grandfather and live-in gardener. People always wanted to know who was related to whom. When I was six I was sent to boarding school.

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

When I was 12 I wanted to be an actress; when I was 18 I wanted to live in a conventional household (see above) and when I was 30 I wanted to write.

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

 When I was 18 I still, more or less, believed in God.

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?

At my Methodist boarding school, there were prayer assemblies in the morning and evening, and long Bible passages (King James Authorised Version) lodged in my brain. Similarly, Shakespeare; we had to listen to recordings of Olivier ranting as Richard III and Henry V. After a while, I started to enjoy the language, the rhythms and cadences, even if I didn’t understand it. As a punishment, we also had to learn great chunks of Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, and a lot of that has stayed with me too.

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

I originally planned to write Mary Bennet as a novella, but it sort of grew.

6. Please tell us about your next novel…

I’ve ‘borrowed’ another Jane Austen character—Maria Bertram from Mansfield Park—a very different young woman from Mary Bennet.

(BBGuru: Publisher’s blurb for Jennifer’s current novel, Mary Bennet

Mary Bennet has been long overshadowed by the beauty and charm of her older sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, and by the forwardness and cheek of her younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia. From her post in the wings of the Bennet family, Mary now watches as Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy – and Mr Wickham – glide into her sisters’ lives. While she can view these three gentlemen quite dispassionately (and, as it turns out, accurately), can she be equally clear-sighted when she finally falls in love herself?

In this elegant retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Mary at last learns – with a little help from the man she loves – to question her family’s values and overcome her own brand of ‘pride and prejudice’. )

Click here to order Mary Bennet from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

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

A different view of a familiar story and set of characters. (In a letter to her sister, Cassandra, Jane Austen famously wrote of the character of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice ‘”I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”  My Mary Bennet might have a different view of Elizabeth.)

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

Shakespeare and Jane Austen for their characters—for their monsters too; energetic monsters like Iago in Othello and Mrs Norris in Mansfield Park fascinate me. For the same reason I love Charles Dickens’ grotesques, Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby and Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop.

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

To finish my next novel, Maria Bertram, within a year.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

The same old thing: read and re-read; write and rewrite; and persevere beyond the first round of rejections which nearly all writers meet with. You need to persist to properly test yourself.

Jennifer, thank you for playing.

Click here to order Mary Bennet from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

—————————–

Extract

1

For the best part of nine years—from the age of four until just before I turned thirteen—I prayed for a brother every night. My two elder sisters also prayed. They felt the want of a brother equally keenly, for our father’s estate was entailed upon a male heir and (as our mother never ceased to remind us) without a brother to provide for us or a rich husband to rescue us, we would all be destitute.

But if my Aunt Philips is to be believed, our parents in the early years of their marriage scarcely gave the entail a thought. When my eldest sister was born, my father was philosophical. As Aunt Philips tells it, Jane was the most beautiful baby, with an angelic disposition, and Papa was prodigiously proud of her.

He was disappointed when my second sister was born, however. But then, according to our neighbour Lady Lucas (or Mrs Lucas as she then was), Elizabeth was such a charming child that Papa was very soon reconciled to her existence—more than reconciled, he rapidly came to dote on her. Her favourite trick was to creep into his library with her linen blanket and make a nest for herself beneath his kneehole desk. Whilst ever he was reading she would be quiet as a mouse, but as soon as he closed his book, she would call to him in shrill imitation of our mother. Apparently this so amused my father that he began to close his book more often. He would go down upon his hands and knees to play with her and the two of them would then romp for half the morning. Continue reading

Signed Copies Available: Winner of MasterChef 2011 Kate Bracks, international best-selling author John Flanagan and blogger extraordinaire Kerri Sackville (Stock will not last)

The Sweet Life: The Basics and Beyond

Irresistible cakes, ice creams and desserts, to weaken even the strongest resolve!

MasterChef Australia 2011 winner Kate Bracks knows about desserts.

This mouthwatering array of inspired dessert recipes includes favourites such as Apple Pie, Chocolate Cake and Strawberry Mousse as well as fresh new ideas, such as Kate’s Chocolate, Date and Hazelnut Torte, Raspberry and Pistachio Frozen Nougat and Vincotto Figs with Caramelised Walnuts and Mascarpone. Kate also puts modern twists on old classics, from her Spiced Crème Brûlée, to her irresistible Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches, or her Brown Butter Cheesecake. This is food to weaken even the strongest resolve!

The structure of the book is designed to guide the home cook from the ‘basics’ – incorporating basic techniques, such as sauces and syrups; how to make the perfect meringue; make your pastry rather than buy it; how to cook with gelatine – to ‘beyond the basics’ for the more confident cook. And, if you really want to impress, there’s a chapter at the end where all the techniques can be put together to wow your friends and family. There’s also a code throughout the book to help you determine which recipes are most suited to your particular cooking desires and ability.

Indulge your own sweet tooth with this glorious book of baked treats and dessert recipes from Australia’s MasterChef 2011 winner; and don’t forget the golden rule … always lick the bowl!

Click here to order your signed copy of The Sweet Life: The Basics and Beyond from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Bookshop

Click here to see all the photos from Kate’s visit to Booktopia

The lovely Kate Bracks signing copies of her new book, The Sweet Life, at Booktopia


The Invaders

Brotherband: Book 2

Eight boys are about to take on a crew of fifty cut-throat pirates . . . is this an impossible quest?

Hal and the Heron brotherband are on the trail of Zavac and his precious cargo. Will they be able to find the pirates when the weather clears? And when they do, how can they possibly beat the mighty Raven and its crew of vicious cut-throats and killers?

A chance discovery will lead them to their prey, but the pirates have a well-fortified position. The Herons must drive out the invaders – and to succeed, Hal will need to devise a foolproof plan. In the icy waters of the Stormwhite, the smallest mistake could prove fatal.

Click here to order your signed copy of The Invaders from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

To see all the photos from John’s visit, click here.

"Ah, done."
"There are three hundred more to sign..."
"Whaaat?"


The Little Book Of Anxiety

Popular author and blogger Kerri Sackville’s very funny take on her life with anxiety. This is an insight into anxiety that only Kerri could give!

The Little Book Of Anxiety is for anyone who has experienced anxiety – which is pretty much everyone. It is a funny book about a serious subject: the ways in which anxiety can impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

With humour, insight and searing honesty, Kerri Sackville opens up about the trials and sheer absurdities of living a worried a life. From crazed nailbiting, to being hysterical in a jammed lift, to fearing her husband is dead when he’s late home from work, Kerri has done it all.

If you know the agonies of sleepless nights, regularly jump to Worst-Case Scenario, or drive your loved ones mad with your irrational fears, then this book may very well save your sanity.

Click here to order your signed copy of The Little Book of Anxiety from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Kerri Sackville chatting with fans on Facebook after signing copies of her book, The Little Book of Anxiety


SIGNED STOCK WILL NOT LAST.
ONCE STOCK IS GONE, IT IS GONE FOR GOOD.

Robin de Crespigny, author of The People Smuggler, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Robin de Crespigny

author of The People Smuggler:
The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi, the ‘Oskar Schindler of Asia’

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————

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

As a child I rode horses and had a pet kangaroo on a farm in the Western district of Victoria. My three sisters and I had unrestricted freedom to run wild, much to the envy of my urban cousins who taught us about city life when we were in our teens. My father, whose father was a journalist, only ever wanted to be on the land. All my life he told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. We were a very close family until one by one, as we reached secondary level and there were no local schools, we were sent to boarding school. It was built on a single city block with high stone walls to keep us in. I missed my animals and fretted for my freedom, but I did become a good athlete and on occasions a good actor, otherwise I learnt very little.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

At 12 I wanted to be a jockey and race horses on tracks around the globe but I grew too tall, and I was a girl, so I had to let go my dream. At 18 I wanted to be a journalist but at my school it wasn’t encouraged as a career for women, so I didn’t know what to do. I wrote to the papers and they said I needed a tertiary degree, but once I got to university I was side-tracked rebelling against the restraints of my schooling. At 30, in New York, I discovered filmmaking and a new world opened to me.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?

That I was invincible.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

The Vietnam War. As students we marched in moratoriums of over 100,000 people against the war and the conscription of our male peers to fight in it. Ordinary people came out on the streets dividing families, friends and our nation. It was a defining time, which could be said to have politicised a generation.

When I was around six or seven I nearly died from Encephalitis, which I was believed to have caught from the Ibis in a swamp I liked to play in. My strongest images are of overhearing it said I might have polio because I was paralysed for a period, and later being propped up on pillows at my bedroom window to watch the spring set in. My mother picked me stems of blue grape hyacinths from which I plucked the tiny blooms and threaded them into a necklace. I remember feeling tremendous joy and it was then I knew I would live.

Although not to everyone’s taste, reading Tom Robbin’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues about Sissy, an ugly duckling with super-sized thumbs who grew up to be a hitch-hiker, model and cowgirl, set me off travelling Europe. As one reviewer said ‘you won’t just put it down and go pet your cat. You’ll want to go make love to the horizon. It’s beautiful stuff.’

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

Ali Al Jenabi’s story was originally brought to me to write as a film script but the epic breadth of his journey, both physically and emotionally, is so great, with boats at sea and at least six countries, that I somewhat gratefully took advice to tell this odyssey in book form first.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It is the true story of Ali Al Jenabi, an Iraqi refugee who became a people smuggler to save his family, and ultimately came to be seen, not as the heinous criminal the Australian government believed him to be, but as the ‘Oskar Schindler’ of Asia.

(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb – The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi, the ‘Oskar Schlindler of Asia. At once a non-fiction thriller and a moral maze, this is one man’s epic story of trying to find a safe place in the world.

When Ali Al Jenabi flees Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers, he is forced to leave his family behind in Iraq. What follows is an incredible international odyssey through the shadow world of fake passports, crowded camps and illegal border crossings, living every day with excruciating uncertainty about what the next will bring.

Through betrayal, triumph, misfortune – even romance and heartbreak – Ali is sustained by his fierce love of freedom and family. Continually pushed to the limits of his endurance, eventually he must confront what he has been forced to become.

With enormous power and insight, The People Smuggler tells a story of daily heroism, bringing to life the forces that drive so many people to put their lives in unscrupulous hands. It is an utterly gripping portrait of a man cut loose from the protections of civilisation, attempting to retain his dignity and humanity while taking whatever path he can out of an impossible position.

‘An engrossing account of a figure seen by some as saviour and others as criminal. A significant book.’ Thomas Keneally)

Click here to buy The People Smuggler from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

To make Australians more compassionate and understanding towards people who are less fortunate than ourselves.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

There are so many people in the world to admire but some would be: Aung San Suu Kyi for her utter commitment to what she believes is right for her people, despite no promise of success. Paul Keating for being able to mix a true love and appreciation of the arts with politics, a quality seldom revealed. Scorsese for his passionate dedication to film. Meryl Streep for her unqualified talent to literally inhabit a character, yet being able to withstand the rigours of fame. Steven Soderbergh for maintaining his integrity while making great films. And my sister Paddy who inspired me with the grace and honesty with which she lived her life and faced a most untimely death.

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

To change the direction of the debate about refugees by touching people who had previously never asked themselves what they would do if they were in the same situation. To get them to see it is not all black and white, and to gain respect and compassion for asylum seekers as fellow human beings.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Take risks and live life to the fullest until you have something to say. Meanwhile pour your passion into diaries, poetry, short-stories and bar coasters until you find a voice that feels true, then write film scripts, books and TV; they inform each other. Otherwise it is just about endurance. Being able to hole up, buckle down, and bounce back.

Robin, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy The People Smuggler from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

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