Shona Innes, author of Life is Like the Wind and Friendship is Like a Seesaw, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

9781760060558

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The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Shona Innes

author of Life is Like the Wind and Friendship is Like a Seesaw

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 and raised in sunny Queensland. I was born in Toowoomba, but grew up living in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. I went to primary school at Buderim Mountain Primary School and then I went to High School in Maroochydore – I was school captain at Maroochy High for the class of ’83.

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

When I was 12, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels. I could help people out and chase down bad guys all while wearing high heels and having glamorous hair.

At 18, I wanted to be a school teacher. I got a really good tertiary entrance score and all of my teachers tried to talk me out of it, but I stuck to my guns….for a good two weeks… before changing unis and starting a psychology degree. I was interested in understanding more about people and their behaviour. I ended up doing a science degree in Psychology, but did all of my electives in education and then did a Grad Dip in Child Psychology.

At 30, I was totally in love with psychology, but I still wanted to know more. I was working at a custodial Youth Justice Centre and I enrolled in a Masters of Clinical Psychology.

Shona2 (2)

Author Shona Innes

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

That happiness would always be a glorious mix of Wham!, shoulder pads and a perm.

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?

My mum was a working Mum in an era when not many mums had a job outside the home. I was definitely going to have a career.

I won five dollars in a poetry competition at primary school. My poem was about a spider’s web after the rain. Maybe I was good at writing?

In high school, I borrowed the Cinderella Complex by Colette Dowling. I’m not sure that I fully understood it all or if I ever finished it, but I re-borrowed it multiple times. It made me feel intelligent.

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?

I have great memories of books in my childhood. I would often get books as gifts and my sister and I created a little library in the cupboard under the household telephone. My grandmother and my great aunt would read aloud to me and they always bought books for me that they knew I would love. It was something that meant someone was sharing their time and the joy or excitement of whatever was happening on the pages. Being read to while sharing the pages was definitely a comfort thing. It’s hard to imagine that you could evoke those same feelings electronically. The children I write to love getting mail instead of an email. I think it shows effort and a preparedness to share – ingredients of important relationships.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Life is Like the Wind” and “Friendship is Like a Seesaw” were both developed from letters I had written to my young clients after our sessions. I write to young clients to help them remember what we talked about, but also to give their parents, carers or teachers an idea about how to talk with the child about the things that are on their mind. The Big Hug series will target some of the more frequent issues children bring with them to our psychology practice. The aim is to assist children (and grownups) to understand their feelings and then to accept the feelings or think about some ideas that might make them feel better.

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Grab a copy Life is Like the Wind or Friendship is Like a Seesaw here

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

All lives have their ups and downs. I’d hope that the Big Hug books can help children and grownups ease through the tough times and appreciate all that is good.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I admire people who put in an effort – whether the effort be the hard work that comes with facing fear or battling depression, the sacrifices people make because they care, or the dedication people have to their work or craft. Some people are really shiny, have the “gift of the gab” and a lot of charisma, but their efforts are shallow. I value hard work, but really struggle with those who take credit where it is not due.

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

This year I’d like to run 10km in under 55 minutes, visit friends in faraway places and have all my favourite music artists make it to the top 10 in the Triple J Hottest 100.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Know about what you do. Apply effort. Be genuinely grateful for shared knowledge and learn from tough times.

Shona, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy Life is Like the Wind or Friendship is Like a Seesaw here

New Jodi Picoult Novel To Be Published In October – Read An Extract Today

Allen and Unwin have announced the Australian and New Zealand publication of Jodi Picoult’s new novel, Leaving Time.

Due to be released in October 2014, Leaving Time will make the perfect Christmas present so start dropping hints to your loved ones now!

Read an extract of Leaving Time here

Leaving Time

by Jodi Picoult

Alice Metcalf was a devoted mother, loving wife and accomplished scientist who studied grief among elephants. Yet it’s been a decade since she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind her small daughter, husband, and the animals to which she devoted her life. All signs point to abandonment – or worse.

Still Jenna – now thirteen years old and truly orphaned by a father maddened by grief – steadfastly refuses to believe in her mother’s desertion. So she decides to approach the two people who might still be able to help her find Alice: a disgraced psychic named Serenity Jones, and Virgil Stanhope, the cynical detective who first investigated her mother’s disappearance and the strange, possibly linked death of one of her mother’s coworkers.

Together these three lonely souls will discover truths destined to forever change their lives. Deeply moving and suspenseful, Jodi Picoult’s 21st novel is a radiant exploration of the enduring love between mothers and daughters.

About the Author

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-one novels. Her most recent, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf and Sing You Home, have all been number one on the Australian and New Zealand fiction bestseller lists. Jodi lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit Jodi’s author page.

Read an extract of Leaving Time here

Gabrielle Tozer, author of The Intern, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Gabrielle Tozer

author of The Intern

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 and raised in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, a wonderful regional town where I completed both primary and high school, and ate chicken-salted potato gems by the bagful.

Next stop, three years studying journalism and creative writing at the University of Canberra (and perfecting the art of staying up ’til 3am and sleeping ’til midday). I’ve been a city-slicker in Sydney since early 2006 but still have soft spots for Wagga and Canberra and visit both as often as possible.

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

Twelve: A journalist, author, actress or psychologist. Eighteen: A journalist, author or a newsreader like Ann Sanders (I used to go into older women’s shops to try on power suits. Yes, I’m strange). Thirty: Yet to crack the big 3-0, but I predict I will still want to be a – shock horror – author! And maybe a professional pizza reviewer. Is that a thing? That should be a thing.

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

That I would have my driver’s licence by now. Oops. It has not eventuated yet, much to the dismay of my family and friends (and every second person I meet). Eighteen-year-old me was such a glass-half-full kind of gal.

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?

Sorry, I am going to cheat by ignoring that you said ‘three’ and also by saying writers have influenced me the most. Without a doubt: Stephen King’s On Writing (I read it once a year whenever I need a creative reboot); anything by John Marsden, Roald Dahl, Nick Hornby, Margaret Clark and Morris Gleitzman; and brilliant female screenwriters such as Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham.

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

Because I sing like a hyena, haven’t pirouetted in years, get too nervous to act anymore and can only draw stick figures. Luckily, I can wrangle words into shape from time to time and, since I have always been a voracious reader, I thought it would be pleasurable to see things from the other side (and hopefully entertain a new generation!). Besides, this sounds naff, but I could always picture myself doing it…and now, I’m hooked!

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Intern is a YA novel that follows the crazy, awkward adventures of seventeen-year-old Josie Browning, a country girl who scores herself an internship at the glamorous magazine, Sash. While it all sounds amazing, there’s a catch: she’s battling for a coveted cash prize and column, and at the mercy of the whip-cracking editor-in-chief Rae Swanson. Throw in family dramas, slipping uni grades and a hot guy or two, and Josie’s having herself quite the year!

Grab a copy of The Intern here

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

I want readers to be entertained! I hope they giggle, smirk or snort while reading the awkward moments (oh, I love putting my characters through cringe-worthy scenarios!), and enjoy the warmer interludes between Josie and her family. Readers are quite taken with Josie’s dorky but loveable way and often ask me about her next adventure, so I’m glad I’m working on the sequel at the moment (it’s due out early 2015).

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

John Marsden, J.K. Rowling, Kylie Ladd, Rebecca Sparrow, John Green, Nick Hornby, Suzanne Collins, Lena Dunham, just to name a few. They’re damn good writers and I want to devour every word they write.

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

Keep finding the joy in writing, keep getting books published, keep pushing myself creatively. If I could do all three, while juggling real-life responsibilities and relationships with aplomb, then I will be incredibly fulfilled and happy. Oh, and I might look into the whole professional pizza reviewer gig, too… (A girl’s gotta have goals, right?)

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Just start. Put pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard and get writing. Don’t worry about asking for advice, or waiting for inspiration to strike, or for the ‘perfect moment’ to begin. If you are a writer, then you will write. It won’t always be easy, in fact, sometimes it’s extraordinarily challenging, so be gentle with yourself and remember to enjoy the ride.

Gabrielle, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Intern here

New Jamie Oliver Cookbook Confirmed For 2014 – Jamie’s Comfort Food

jamie-s-comfort-food (210 x 272)Big News! The world’s favourite chef Jamie Oliver is back with a new book for 2014, and it sounds amazing!

Jamie’s new cookbook brings together 100 ultimate comfort food recipes from around the world. It’s all about the dishes that are close to your heart, that put a smile on your face and make you feel happy, loved, safe and secure.

Inspired by everything from childhood memories to the changing of the seasons, and taking into account the guilty pleasures and sweet indulgences that everyone enjoys, it’s brimming with exciting recipes you’ll fall in love with.

Jamie’s Comfort Food is all about the food you really want to eat, made exactly how you like it. With this in mind, the book features ultimate versions of all-time favourites, and also introduces cherished dishes from countries around the world, providing a delicious recipe for every occasion.

This isn’t everyday cooking – this is about weekends, holidays, celebrations and occasions. Whether you’re home alone, or sharing the love with a big group of family or friends, there really is something for everyone.

Celebrating the beauty of good food is at the heart of this book, and it’s jam-packed with incredible photography.

Written in Jamie’s usual down-to-earth and easy-to-understand style, the methods are precise and have been tested to the hilt, so are guaranteed to work, but this time Jamie has turned the edit filter off, and shares extra hints, tips and ideas throughout to ensure you achieve the best possible results.

This is about making food the very best it can be, and embracing the rituals of cooking.

Recipes include everything from mighty moussaka, delicate gyoza with crispy wings, steaming ramen and katsu curry to super eggs Benedict, scrumptious sticky toffee pudding and tutti frutti pear tarte tatin.

Treat yourself, and your loved ones, with Jamie’s Comfort Food.

Order your copy of Jamie’s Comfort Food here

 

Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend Dies Aged 68

English novelist Sue Townsend, best known as the author of the Adrian Mole books, has died aged 68.

Sue Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946 and left school at 15 years of age. She married at 18, and by 23 was a single parent with three children. She worked in a variety of jobs including factory worker, shop assistant, and as a youth worker on adventure playgrounds. She wrote in secret for twenty years, eventually joining a writers’ group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester in her thirties.

At the age of 35, she won the Thames Television Playwright Award for her first play, Womberang, and started her writing career, becoming most well-known for her series of books about Adrian Mole, which she originally began writing in 1975.

The first of these, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ was published in 1982 and was followed by The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984). These two books made her the best-selling novelist of the 1980s. They have been followed by several more in the same series including Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993); Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004); and most recently Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (2009). The books have been adapted for radio, television and theatre; the first being broadcast on radio in 1982.

In 2008 Townsend was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow of Leicester University, the highest award the University can give. She was an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Loughborough University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her other awards include the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin, and the Frink Award at the Women of the Year Awards. In 2009 she was given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester.

Her last novel, The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, was published in 2012.

 

The Monday Morning Cooking Club, authors of The Feast Goes On, answer Ten Terrifying Questions

Click here to grab a copyThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

The Monday Morning Cooking Club

authors of The Feast Goes On

Ten Terrifying Questions
___________

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

We all live in Sydney, Australia but we have come from all over: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, South Africa. And our family backgrounds are even more diverse, reflecting the Jewish community’s melting pot: Hungary, Poland, Russia via China, South Africa, England.

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

When we were twelve we were all consumed with what was in our lunch boxes and pantries. Some of us were getting schnitzel on rye and really wanted Vegemite on white bread.  Some of our pantries were stocked with kosher salami, dill pickles and poppyseed cake and all we really wanted were biscuits from a packet and bought jam swiss rolls. What did we want to be? Like everybody else!

When we were eighteen we were discovering our passion for food. Learning and loving to cook, throwing our first dinner parties and searching for good food. What did we want to be? Grown up and accomplished. mmcc_slider_girlswhite

When we were thirty we were all consumed with motherhood, trying to find the time for a cup of tea and a delicious piece of cake and striving to find the right life/work balance. What did we want to be? Less sleep deprived than we were!

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

At eighteen, we were all so sure we knew more than our mothers. As we grow older and wiser, and have 18 year old daughters ourselves, we have learned the adage is true: ‘mother is always right.’

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?

Growing up, more so than any one event, the continual celebrations that went on in all our homes each and every year for Jewish festivals (passover, Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur) and weekly Friday night feasts for Sabbath eve together with mothers who were committed and passionate about cooking and feeding their families.  2: On a larger scale, the immigration to Australia from countries as far and wide as Vietnam, Greece, Hungary, Russia and South Africa has given our lives in Australia a cultural and culinary diversity which has enriched our national makeup and palate. 3: The creation of our first book Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food the stories the sisterhood’. The years we spent collecting, testing and preserving family heirloom recipes filled us with a great joy, and taught us so much along the way.

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?

Printed cookbooks will never be obsolete. Some of us think that there is nothing more enjoyable than taking your latest cookbook to bed and reading it cover to cover, ogling the beautiful photos and feeling the pages between your fingers.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…Click here to grab a copy

The Feast Goes On features the best loved and most delicious stories from the heart and soul of our community right across Australia. It is not a book of Jewish food per se, it’s a book of recipes from Jewish kitchens, collected from countries far and wide. The book speaks of a community drawn together by food, with intimate and moving stories of sharing and survival, love and hope, friendship and family. It is full of precious family recipes passed down from past generations through to recipes that will become instant family favourites.The book has recipes for every occasion – from every day eating to feasting, light lunches to fressing, comfort food to traditional dishes – which will nurture, nourish and inspire.

Grab a copy of The Feast Goes On here

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

To find, collect, recreate and publish all those wonderful heirloom recipes from the older generation before they are lost forever. We believe the old recipes still fit so well into our contemporary world.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?
Click here to grab a copy
As a group, without a doubt, we place our grandmothers on the highest pedestal. We look back with wonder on how they managed to nurture and feed their families the most exquisite dishes without any of today’s mod-cons; plucking chickens to produce golden roasts, pickling and preserving anything and everything to get though the winter, home baked bread made from scratch, the lightest of chiffon cakes, flaky pastries crammed with dried fruit and nuts.

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

Our goal is to create a contemporary face for Australian Jewish cuisine. One important part of this is to preserve those treasured recipes from the older generation for our generation, and from our generation for the future. The other important aspect is that we are a not-for-profit company and will continue to raise substantial funds for charity.

10.      What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Always follow your dream, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be dissuaded by the ’NO’s’. Doors open at the most unexpected times!

Monday Morning Cooking Club, thank you for playing!

Grab a copy of The Feast Goes On here

BREAKING NEWS: Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards Announced

shortlist2It’s the sticker that is instantly recognisable for generations of Australians. The tick of excellence for a future Australian classic. The seal of approval by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

The CBCA is a volunteer run, not for profit, organisation that was established in 1945 and is comprised of branches of individual members who are passionate about children’s and young adult literature.

Congratulations to all the winners of this wonderful honour.

9781742758510 Older Readers:

* Felicity Castagna – The Incredible Here and Now (More…)

* Melissa Keil – Life in Outer Space (More…)

* Will Kostakis – The First Third (More…)

* Allyse Near – Fairytales for Wilde Girls (More…)

* Fiona Wood – Wildlife (More…)

* Claire Zorn – The Sky so Heavy (More…)

Younger Readers:

* 9781921977565Anna Branford, illus by Sarah Davis – Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend (More…)

* Julie Hunt – Song for a Scarlet Runner (More…)

* Catherine Jinks – City of Orphans: A Very Unusual Pursuit (More…)

* Barry Jonsberg – My Life as an Alphabet (More…)

* Dianne Wolfer, illus by Brian Simmonds – Light Horse Boy (More…)

Early Childhood:

* 9781921720161Janeen Brian – I’m a Dirty Dinosaur (More…)

* Mem Fox, illus by Emma Quay – Baby Bedtime (More…)

* Libby Gleeson, illus by Freya Blackwood – Banjo and Ruby Red (More…)

* Alison Lester – Kissed by the Moon (More…)

* Jan Ormerod, illus by Andrew Joyner – The Swap (More…)

* Dianne Wolfer, illus by Karen Blair – Granny Grommet and Me (More…)

Picture Book of the Year:

* Margaret Wild, illus by Freya Blackwood – The Treasure Box (More…)9780734410672

* Nick Bland - King Pig (More…)

* Bob Graham – Silver Buttons (More…)

* Danny Parker, illus by Matt Ottley – Parachute (More…)

* Doug MacLeod, illus by Craig Smith – The Windy Farm (More…)

* Shaun Tan – Rules of Summer (More…)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books:

9780733331176* Christopher Faille, illus by Danny Snell – Jeremy (More…)

* Peter Gouldthorpe – Ice, Wind, Rock (More…)

* Mark Greenwood, illus by Terry Denton – Jandamarra (More…)

* Paul Ham – Yoko’s Diary: The Life of a Young Girl in Hiroshima during WWII (More…)

* Rae Murdie, illus by Chris Nixon- Meet Captain Cook (More…)

* Laklak Burarrwanga and family – Welcome To My Country (More…)

Who wrote The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August?

It’s the question on everyone’s lips. Who wrote The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August? Already being spoken about as one of the books of the year, with Booktopia’s John Purcell calling it ‘fascinating’ and ‘a real page turner’, the greatest question is who could have written it?

On the book itself Claire North is described as “an acclaimed author who has previously published several novels”. Our investigations, listening in to the literary grapevine, indicate it is a UK writer, likely a woman, and one who would usually write a completely different genre to the sci-fi tinged The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

UK newspaper The Independent recently did some sleuthing and was informed that Ms North’s identity will be revealed in two weeks, with an announcement on 22 April. Fingers crossed it happens!

Grab a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August here

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

by Claire North

The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character – a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

Every time Harry dies, he is reborn in exactly the same time and place, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, and nothing ever changes. He only knows that there are others like him, living with, but apart, from the rest of us.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.’

This is the story of what Harry August does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

About the Author

Claire North is a pseudonym for an acclaimed British author who has previously published several novels. This book is completely different from any of them.

Grab a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August here

 

BREAKING NEWS: 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists Announced

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

In their 34 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.

Minister George Souris MP, Minister for the Arts welcomed the announcement of the shortlist. “The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards promote national and international recognition of our dynamic literary community and the work of our talented writers,” Mr Souris said. “The Awards continue to support and encourage great Australian writing, and demonstrate the value and importance of reading to the people of NSW.”

CHRISTINA STEAD PRIZE FOR FICTION

* Georgia Blain - The Secret Lives of Men (More…)

* Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North (More…)

* Ashley Hay - The Railwayman’s Wife (More…)

* Michelle de Kretser – Questions of Travel (More…)

* Trevor Shearston - Game (More…)

* Alexis Wright - The Swan Book (More…)

DOUGLAS STEWART PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

* Kristina Olsson – Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir (More…)

* David Hunt – Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia (More…)

* Gideon Haigh – On Warne (More…)

* Michael Fullilove - Rendezvous with Destiny (More…)

* Steve Bisley - Stillways: A Memoir (More…)

* Peter Butt – Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? (More…)

PATRICIA WRIGHTSON PRIZE FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

* Catherine Jinks - A Very Unusual Pursuit (More…)

* Jackie French - Refuge (More…)

* Penny Tangey – Stay Well Soon (More…)

* Katrina Nannestad -The Girl Who Brought Mischief (More…)

* Tony Davis - The Big Dry (More…)

* Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton - Jandamarra (More…)

ETHEL TURNER PRIZE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

* Fiona Wood – Wildlife (More…)

* Barry Jonsberg – My Life As an Alphabet (More…)

* Kelly Gardiner – The Sultan’s Eyes (More…)

* Felicity Castanga – The Incredible Here and Now (More…)

* Alison Croggon - Black Spring (More…)

* A.J. Betts – Zac and Mia (More…)

GLENDA ADAMS AWARD FOR NEW WRITING

the-night-guest* Fiona McFarlane – The Night Guest (More…)

* Laura Jean McKay – Holiday in Cambodia (More…)

* Margaret Merrilees – The First Week (More…)

* Yvette Walker – Letters to the End of Love (More…)

Silvia Kwon, author of The Return, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Silvia Kwon

author of The Return

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 Seoul, South Korea and arrived in Perth, Western Australia aged nine. I spent the first few years in country towns and found the transition from a bustling city to rural Australia fairly traumatic. It was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t speak any English and being a fairly outgoing, social girl, it made me determined to learn the language as quickly as possible.

I went to a girls’ Catholic high school, St Joachim’s High School in Perth and spent a few years trying to figure out what to do with my life. I ended up falling in love with art and decided to pursue an art history degree at the University of Western Australia. Then in my late twenties I thought it was time I did something about my love of books and words and moved to Melbourne to try and work in publishing, which I did for a number of years before having a child and starting my own writing.

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

Twelve – no idea
Eighteen – Filmmaker: I loved the way films – images with music – could move you. I try to this with words. But I found that I wasn’t any good with a camera.
Thirty – Editor: I loved words so the idea of working with words as a profession was very attractive to me. I am doing that now, as a writer.

Silvia Kwon3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I was very much a romantic, so I believed in the idea of a soulmate, but now I’m much more pragmatic and believe that love and relationships happen through coincidence, luck and chance as much as compatibility.

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?

1) The art of Mark Rothko
2) The films of Terrence Malick
3) Books by James Joyce

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

The simplicity and freedom associated with the act of putting ideas down on paper has always been attractive to me. There’s no complicated equipment like cameras or messy paintbrushes etc.

I also love words. I could sit and read the dictionary quite happily for an entire day.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s about a family coming to terms with the son’s decision to bring home a Japanese wife during 1960s Australia. The father is deeply traumatised by his war experiences and still hates the former enemy.

The novel is told from the mother’s point of view and follows her struggle, caught between her husband and son, to hold the fractured family together.

Grab a copy of The Return here

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

That they took a journey with the main protagonist through the emotional landscape of the novel.

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

I really admire Toni Morrison for the power of her language.

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

To try and write a better book than the last.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

It’s actually something I heard Neil Gaiman say: There will always be better writers and smarter people than you. Just try to write something which only you could have written.

Silvia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Return here

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