Welcome to the last day of the countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist. Congratulations to every author nominated, and a huge thanks to the tens of thousands of loyal readers for getting behind them, the response has been overwhelming.
Please allow us to introduce Australia’s Top 10 Favourite Novelists for 2014. If you aren’t familiar with any of them, there’s no better time than now to celebrate Australian books with Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore.
A trained educator with a natural gift for storytelling, John Marsden is arguably Australia’s foremost writer of Young Adult fiction.
Whilst working at the prestigious Geelong Grammar School, Marsden made the decision to write for teenagers, following his dissatisfaction with his students’ apathy towards reading and the observation that teenagers simply weren’t reading any more. Marsden then wrote So Much To Tell You in only three weeks, and the book was published in 1987. The book sold record numbers and won numerous awards including “Book of the Year” as awarded by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.
In 1993 Marsden published Tomorrow, When the War Began the first book in the Tomorrow Series and his most acclaimed and best-selling work to date. Recently it was selected in the American Library Association list of 100 Best Books for Teens since 1966.
Marsden has won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction, including what Marsden describes as one of the highlights of his career, the 2006 Lloyd O’Neil Award for contributions to Australian publishing. This award means that Marsden is one of only five authors to be honoured for lifelong services to the Australian book industry. John Marsden was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008, the world’s largest children’s and youth literature award, and the second largest literature prize in the world.
Di Morrissey is one of the most successful authors Australia has ever produced. She trained as a journalist, working in the media around the world. Her fascination with different countries; their landscape, their cultural, political and environmental issues, forms the inspiration for her novels.
Her first book Heart of the Dreaming instantly became a bestseller. Since then she has published another 20 bestsellers.
Morrissey is an environmentalist and activist. She has been a longtime supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi and has visited Burma several times where she is now helping raise funds to build a monastery school in Sagaing. Morrissey’s latest book, The Winter Sea, was one of the biggest selling Australian books of 2013.
8. Craig Silvey
From the moment Craig Silvey’s first book Rhubarb hit the shelves in 2004, it became clear Australia had unearthed another incredibly exciting talent. In 2005 Silvey was named as one of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists. Rhubarb was selected as the inaugural book for the ‘One Book’ series of events at the 2005 Perth International Arts Festival, and was included in the Australian national ‘Books Alive’ campaign.
And then came Jasper.
Jasper Jones has become one of Australia’s Favourite Novels. Recently voted 6th in the Tuesday Book Club’s list of Aussie Books to Read Before You Die, it opened the whole world to Silvey and his wonderful writing and thoughts on Australian society, both past and present.
Silvey says of his literary influences that “I’ve always been attracted to Southern Gothic fiction. There’s something very warm and generous about those regional American writers like Twain and Lee and Capote, and it seemed to be a literary ilk that would lend itself well to the Australian condition.”
Kerry has written twenty novels, a number of plays, including The Troubadours with Stephen D’Arcy, is an award-winning children’s writer and has edited and contributed to several anthologies. In 1996 she published a book of essays on female murderers called Things She Loves: Why women Kill.
The Phryne Fisher series began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues which was a great success. Kerry has written sixteen books in this series and says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them.
When she is not writing she is an advocate in Magistrates’ Court for the Legal Aid Commission. She is not married, has no children and lives with a registered Wizard.
Tony Park was born in 1964 and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter in Australia and England, a government press secretary, a public relations consultant, and freelance writer. His novels have been acclaimed bestsellers since his very first, Far Horizon.
He is also a Major in the Australian Army Reserve and served six months in Afghanistan in 2002 as the public affairs officer for the Australian ground forces.
He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time between their home in Sydney and South Africa, where they own a tent and a Series III Land Rover.
One of the stars of Australian fiction, Monica McInerney is the author of the internationally bestselling novels, A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, Those Faraday Girls and At Home with the Templetons. Those Faraday Girls was the winner of the General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards.
Her collection of short fiction, All Together Now, was shortlisted for the same award in 2009. At Home with the Templetons was shortlisted in the Popular Fiction category of the 2010 Irish Book Awards and in the Romantic Elements category of the 2011 Australian Romantic Book of the Year Awards.
In 2006 she was the ambassador for the Australian Government initiative Books Alive, with her novella Odd One Out.
Monica grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley of South Australia and has been living between Australia and Ireland for twenty years. She and her Irish husband currently live in Dublin.
Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.
“We have these images of the straight-marching lines of boys and the ‘Heil Hitlers’ and this idea that everyone in Germany was in it together. But there still were rebellious children and people who didn’t follow the rules and people who hid Jews and other people in their houses. So there’s another side to Nazi Germany,” said Zusak in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.
At just 37, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. Upon the publication of The Book Thief he was dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is also the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.
Raised on a healthy diet of Enid Blyton, Morton decided to become a writer after completing a summer Shakespeare course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Putting her dreams of acting aside she concentrated on writing and completed two manuscripts and began to construct the narrative of what would eventually become the bestseller The Shifting Fog.
Kate Morton’s books are published in 38 countries. The House at Riverton was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2007 and a New York Times bestseller in 2008. The Shifting Fog won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards, and The House at Riverton was nominated for Most Popular Book at the British Book Awards in 2008.
Her second book, The Forgotten Garden, was a #1 bestseller in Australia and Spain, and a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2008. It won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2009 Australian Book Industry Awards and was a New York Times bestseller in 2009. The Distant Hours was an international bestseller in 2010 and won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2011 ABIAs. Kate was voted Australia’s Favourite Novelist by Booktopians in 2013.
One of the novelists of his generation, Tim Winton’s literary reputation was established early when his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the 1981 Australian Vogel Award; his second novel Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984; and his third book, Scission, a collection of short stories, won the West Australian Council Literary Award in 1985.
Winton’s fifth novel, Cloudstreet, the story of two working-class families rebuilding their lives, was a huge literary and commercial success. It has been a best seller since its publication in 1991 and was recently voted the most popular Australian novel by the Australian Society of Authors. Awards include National Book Council Banjo Award for Fiction, 1991; West Australian Fiction Award 1991; Deo Gloria Award (UK), 1991 and the 1992 Miles Franklin Award.
In 2001 his novel, Dirt Music, was published to considerable critical acclaim and impressive reviews. The book was shortlisted for the 2002 Mann Booker Prize and won the 2002 Miles Franklin Award, the West Australian Fiction Award and the Christina Stead Award for Fiction. Film rights have been optioned to Phil Noyce’s film company, Rumbalara Films, with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz reportedly set to star in the film.
Winton’s last novel, Eyrie, was another triumph, being nominated by many critics as their favourite book of last year.
Born in Sydney in 1974, Matthew Reilly was not always a big fan of reading.
According to Matthew, ‘I actually disliked reading in my early high school years. I was given very dry old classics in Year 7 and it was only after I read To Kill A Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies in Year 10 that I realised reading could transport you to another world. Once I figured that out, I went out and found all the action novels I could!’
Following this revelation (and inspired by Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park) Matthew soon began creating stories of his own. And so he set about writing his first novel, Contest, at 19 while still at university studying law.
Published in late 1998, Ice Station sold in excess of 170,000 copies in Australia alone. At just 23 years of age, Matthew Reilly’s public debut was an instant hit, generating six reprints in its first two years and delivering a new style of action thriller to Australian readers. It was snapped up by major publishers in the US, UK and Germany.
Matthew’s books are now published in over 20 languages and he has sold over 3.5 million books worldwide: over 1 million in Australia alone; over a million in the US; and over a million in the UK.
Congratulations to Matthew, voted Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014.
Check out our Australian Stories section, full of the best Aussie Titles as well as prizes and giveaways!
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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