Michael Pye, author of The Edge of the World, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Michael Pye

author of The Edge of the World

Ten Terrifying Questions

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

Born Manchester in England which my parents always said was an oversight, but they never explained if they meant the place or the birth. Grew up on the edge of the North Sea – in Essex in Eastern England – along those shingle beaches and salt marshes, always wondering what lay beyond and what kind of history the sea could have. After that, got myself to Italy to study and then to Oxford so I could learn how to find and write the history …

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

Always wanted to write, but for a while that meant journalism and not much more. Started a tiny local paper when I was twelve, but it didn’t sell in more than two houses (mine, and my co-editor’s parents. We took the price in butterscotch.) At eighteen wanted to get out and get away like anyone of eighteen. At thirty, I’d been very lucky – worked on the Sunday Times in London when it was a great paper in its prime, had a TV show in Scotland – but I felt somehow bored. I wanted to shake things up. Whether disappearing to the Caribbean was such a brilliant idea, I don’t know; it’s not so much fun in a tax haven if you don’t have an income…

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

Author: Michael Pye

I could be stupidly arrogant, idiotically sure about things, and I didn’t know enough and I hadn’t done enough for that faith to be justified for a moment. Actually, at times, I was a prig. I think I’ve got a bit better. Living in a small Portuguese village, as we do now, teaches you enormous respect for the people you didn’t want to notice at eighteen.

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?

I guess I’d choose circumstances more than events – the way the family spread out over the globe so the letters and the Christmas cards were all clues to the big world out there and how it connects.

It was the world my father always wanted to know, and did for a while – but during the war. My first job on a newspaper, for The Scotsman in Edinburgh and realising quite how close and how different even the various parts of the United Kingdom could be; it seemed natural to be an English Scottish Nationalist because otherwise you risked losing so much. And finding the novels of Marguerite Yourcenar, Madame, who gives history blood and bone and still dignifies it: a past that matters, but still breathes. It made me think about ways to write history that weren’t academic but weren’t trivial, either: ways to persuade people into a subject that might never have crossed their minds.

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?

Books are glorious – when they’re not pointless. You try sustaining an argument about a thousand years of history on a blog, at two hundred words a day. Online newspapers are terrific but not when you want to immerse yourself in a subject; too busy, too many videos and weird ads. It’s really hard to make jokes on TV when you’re scheduled to be serious; you have to keep looking into camera with a straight face.  You have to simplify a subject for radio, or else a show would last a week, but sometimes you really need the detail. Books give you what you need, and more. But books are doors that can open into another world, can give you facts and wit: a bit magic….

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It started with ignorance. I didn’t know the history of the North Sea, my sea, but I knew about the Mediterranean which was far away. I didn’t know what happened between the fall of the Roman empire and the start of the great empires that crossed oceans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. So I set out to find out, and I kept being surprised.

All those bloody Icelandic sagas, and there was the start of fashion – thugs on the dockside comparing latest clothes before having a proper blood feud. The league of towns round the Baltic that set itself up as a kind of business community – just like we talk about politics and a business community – and tried to starve a nation. The way women made choices and kept the lives they chose. It’s wonderful moment when a subject becomes three, even four dimensional. I set out to write about the peoples around the North Sea and all their surprising connections – from Viking Dublin to Frisia, from Antwerp to Bergen in Norway – and I found I was writing about the changes that made possible our modern world.

Grab a copy of Michael’s new book The Edge of the World here

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

We stuff history with wars and kings and clashes. We forget the connections, and the energy that comes from connections – friction, sometimes. I’d love people to value the differences round the edges, the history of contacts, people going about the sea to buy and sell and go on pilgrimages because that’s what truly changes the world —  just as much as the history of the flags and armies that tend to separate us.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Nelson Mandela, for knowing how to change his mind without changing his morals. A movie-maker called Michael Powell for allowing himself to be inspired even when nobody quite understood what he was doing; and then cutting the result into movies everyone wanted to see. And one man from my book – a bad-tempered, rough-edged medieval bishop called Robert Grosseteste (which means big head) who thought for himself and kept thinking until he’d invented a kind of experimental science because he wanted to know how a rainbow has colours. I revere people who manage to be themselves, whatever happens.

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

The next book: just that. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write. It’s a craft you learn by doing. Do it often, do it on blogs, in notebooks, in letters, in newspapers: but do it. And when people say you should write what you know, and you do need to know enough to have your own vision, remember that doesn’t have to be just your own life and times.  You can also open up the world you know by the right kind of research, and then you can write so much more…

Michael, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Edge of the World here

The Edge of the World

by Michael Pye

This is a story of saints and spies, of fishermen and pirates, traders and marauders – and of how their wild and daring journeys across the North Sea built the world we know.

When the Roman Empire retreated, northern Europe was a barbarian outpost at the very edge of everything. A thousand years later, it was the heart of global empires and the home of science, art, enlightenment and money. We owe this transformation to the tides and storms of the North Sea.

The water was dangerous, but it was far easier than struggling over land; so it was the sea that brought people together. Boats carried food and raw materials, but also new ideas and information. The seafarers raided, ruined and killed, but they also settled and coupled. With them they brought new tastes and technologies – books, clothes, manners, paintings and machines.

In this dazzling historical adventure, we return to a time that is largely forgotten and watch as the modern world is born. We see the spread of money and how it paved the way for science. We see how plague terrorised even the rich and transformed daily life for the poor. We watch as the climate changed and coastlines shifted, people adapted and towns flourished. We see the arrival of the first politicians, artists, lawyers: citizens.

From Viking raiders to Mongol hordes, Frisian fishermen to Hanseatic hustlers, travelling as far west as America and as far east as Byzantium, we see how the life and traffic of the seas changed everything.

Drawing on an astonishing breadth of learning and packed with human stories and revelations, this is the epic drama of how we came to be who we are.

About the Author

Michael Pye writes for a living — as novelist, journalist, historian and sometimes broadcaster. He is English by birth, but civilized by study in Italy and a newspaper apprenticeship in Scotland. For twenty years he commuted between New York and Europe as a political and cultural columnist for British newspapers. He now lives with his partner John Holm in a tiny village in the forests of rural Portugal.

 Grab a copy of The Edge of the World here

GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Rachael Johns lists her Top Ten Romance Books

We’re so lucky to be able to host guest blogs from some of Australia’s Favourite Authors, and with the dust settling on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a special treat for Romance lovers. A guest blog from romance bestseller Rachael Johns!

Rachael unveils her Top Ten Romance Books of All-Time. Did your favourites make the cut?

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

bridget-jones-s-diaryThis book was the first book I read and enjoyed after a long drought in high school. It reignited my passion for reading and partly inspired me to write my own book.

Blurb: In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way). In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year’s resolution–the quest for the right man. A dazzling urban satire of modern human relations? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

Celebrating 40 years of outstanding international writing, this is one of the essential Picador novels reissued in a beautiful new series style.

Grab a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary here

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

wallbangerIt was one of my fave reads of 2013, I laughed out loud in so many places but I also loved the way the author portrays the development of the friendship and romance.

Burb: The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an—um—intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed “dating hiatus,” and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise …

Grab a copy of Wallbanger here

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

heart-of-the-valleySuch a heart-wrenching story that had me teary early on. This is a hard feat. I rarely cry in books!

Blurb: Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own …

Grab a copy of Heart of the Valley here

Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

northern-lightsThis was my first ever Nora Roberts novel and since then I’ve read loads more. She is not known as the Queen of Romance for nothing and I love the way she crafts characters.

Blurb: Lunacy, Alaska – population 506 – is Nate Burke’s last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he had watched his partner die – and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by mid-afternoon and temperatures fall to below zero, will bring some kind of solace. It isn’t as if he has anywhere else to go Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose and pulling apart two brothers fighting overJohn Wayne’s best movie Nate’s first weeks on the job are relatively quiet …

Grab a copy of Northern Lights here

The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella by Liz Fielding

the-secret-life-of-lady-gabriellaThis book broadened my thinking about what a Mills & Boon book was and I gobbled it up in one sitting.

Blurb: Lady Gabriella March is the perfect domestic goddess at least, that’s what her editor at Milady magazine thinks. In truth she’s simply Ellie March, cleaner and aspiring writer, who uses the beautiful mansion she is housesitting to inspire her.

When the owner returns unexpectedly, Ellie’s fledgling writing career is threatened. But even more dangerous is the man himself! Gorgeous Dr Benedict Faulkner is quite the opposite of the aging academic she imagined, and soon it is her heart, and not just her secret, that is exposed.

 Grab a copy of The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella here

the-ultimate-heroThe Magnate’s Indecent Proposal by Ally Blake

Another favourite Mills & Boon of mine. I loved the cute premise of this book and the rest of the book lived up to it.

Blurb: After her third nuisance call of the morning, Chelsea finally twigged. She must have accidentally swapped mobile phones with someone in the cafe that morning! To her pleasant surprise, the owner was darkly handsome and seriously sexy Damien ‘Rich-list’ Halliburton. Chelsea had sworn off men long ago, and hadn’t since been tempted. But with a guy this gorgeous how could she refuse his wicked, seductive and very indecent proposal?

Grab a copy of The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal here

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceWhat can I say? Jane Austen is a master of romance and Mr Darcy is swoon-worthy!

Blurb: When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships,gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice here

Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

too-good-to-be-trueMy first Higgins book and definitely not my last. I adore Kristan’s writing and the embarrassing situations she throws her heroines into.

Blurb: When Grace Emerson’s ex-fiance starts dating her younger sister, extreme measures are called for. To keep everyone from obsessing about her love life, Grace announces that she’s seeing someone… Someone wonderful. Someone handsome. Someone completely made up.

Who is this Mr Right? Someone…exactly unlike her renegade neighbour Callahan O’Shea. Well, someone with his looks, maybe. His hot body. His knife-sharp sense of humour. His smarts and his big heart. Whoa. No. Callahan O’Shea is not her perfect man! Not with his unsavoury past. So why does Mr Wrong feel so…right?

Grab a copy of Too Good To Be True here

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

faking-itThe love scene from this book stands out as being one of my fave love scenes of all times. The sex wasn’t clichéd at all, in fact it was almost too real but somehow it worked and taught me a lot about what makes a believable and affective sex scene.

Blurb: Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery—and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch, who likes to escape reality; Eve, the oldest daughter, who has a slight identity problem (she has two); Nadine, the granddaughter, who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And last, Matilda, the youngest daughter, who has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, a secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past …

The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

the-perfect-rakeThis was my first Anne Gracie and my first historical with actual sex in it. Until that moment, I didn’t know such fabulous love scenes were allowed in historical books. I love all of Anne’s characters, but her hero in this book is to-die-for.

Blurb: She ran from a brute…
Fleeing the harsh guardianship of her grandfather, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke… But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster…

Grab a copy of The Perfect Rake here

About Rachael Johns

rachael johnsRachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. She lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training.

At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she LOVED contemporary romance.

The Road to Hopethe-road-to-hope
by Rachael Johns

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

Pre-order a copy of The Road to Hope here

Bestselling author Kylie Scott reviews Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven!

bad-romeoBad Romeo is the first in a two part series from newcomer, Leisa Rayven. She’s Australian and she’s a romance writer, so there’s two reasons right there to show her some love this Valentine’s Day.

But let’s talk story. Back in the day, Cassie, the good girl acting student, and Ethan, the bad boy on campus, used to go out.

Sadly, Ethan was a douche and it didn’t last. Which brings us to the present day, three years later, where both Cassie and Ethan are making names for themselves on Broadway. And, you guessed it, they’re lined up to play star-crossed lovers, just like when they were cast as Romeo & Juliet years ago, bringing up far too many inconvenient feelings for the both of them.

Just imagine it, coming face to face with your first love and having to deliver words of adoration to the handsome face you’ve long dreamed of punching. The angst and tension between these two is immediate and awesome as all of their combined emotional baggage spills forth. Team that with a dynamic modern voice and you’ve got a book that’ll hold you enraptured to the very end.

Read it. You won’t regret it.

Review by Kylie Scott.

Grab a copy of Bad Romeo here

Bad Romeo

The Starcrossed series : Book 1

by Leisa Rayven


Cassie Taylor was just another good girl acting student. Ethan Holt was the bad boy on campus. Then one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing onstage, Cassie and Ethan’s epic romance seemed destined. Until it ended in tragedy when he shattered her heart.

Now they’ve made it to Broadway where they’re reunited as romantic leads once again – and their passionate scenes force them to confront the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their intense college affair. For Ethan, losing Cassie was h is biggest regret-and he’s determined to redeem himself. But for Cassie, even though Ethan was her first and only great love, he hurt her too much to ever be trusted again. The trouble is, when it comes to love, sometimes it’s the things that aren’t good for us that are the most irresistible.

Don’t miss the intoxicating romance beloved by more than two million fans online.

Grab a copy of Bad Romeo here

leisarayvern Leisa Rayven is a freelance actor and producer in Brisbane, Australia, who makes frequent trips to LA and NYC. Several of her plays are regularly toured throughout Australia, having received acclaim from audiences and critics alike. She is married and has two small children.

Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association andscottkylieher books have been translated into six different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Check out the first book in Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series, Lick.

2014 ARR Awards: Finalists Announced

We love reading romance, so nothing gives us more pleasure than to share the finalists for the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards with you. The awards will be announced at The Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra, of which we’re one of the major sponsors!

Told you, we love it!

Have you read all the books on this list? No? Why not acquaint yourself with an acclaimed romance read today!


shield-of-winterFavourite Paranormal Romance

forged-by-desireFavourite Sci Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance

No More Mr. Nice GuyFavourite Short Category Romance – proudly sponsored by Harlequin Australia

What a Duke DaresFavourite Historical Romance

outback-ghostFavourite Contemporary Romance – proudly sponsored by Steam eReads

scratchFavourite Erotic Romance – proudly sponsored by eXtasy Books

the-collectorFavourite Romantic Suspense – proudly sponsored by Imogene Nix

Captivated by YouFavourite Continuing Romance Series – proudly sponsored by Harlequin Australia

The French PrizeFavourite Australian Romance Author 2014 – proudly sponsored by Booktopia

And the finalists for the Members’ Choice categories are …

the-wickedest-lord-aliveFavourite Cover from a romance published in 2014

the-winter-brideThe Sexiest Hero from a romance published in 2014

Luna TangoFavourite New Romance Author for 2014

Congratulations to all the nominees!

A Q&A with the star of Gone Girl, Rosamund Pike

Loved the Gone Girl movie?  

We’ve teamed up with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to offer one lucky couple an all-expenses paid mini-break in Sydney. Just purchase a copy of the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn through Booktopia, for your chance to win! Scroll down for full details.

But for now, check out our interview with Academy-award nominee, Rosamund Pike.

GONE GIRL is now available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD.


An interview with Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike

An accomplished and well-respected actress previously best known for supporting roles, Rosamund Pike makes the leap to movie star with her incredible performance in Gone Girl, David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel.

As the title character, she disappears on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary and the finger of suspicion points to her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck). The film peels back the layers of their marriage in a complex and gripping tale of deceit, betrayal and murder.

Congratulations on a terrific performance…
Thank you. I feel if anyone ever says that it’s as much David as it is me. I feel he totally guides the building of the character. It’s definitely our sort of a combined vision, the character – plus obviously Gillian’s creation. But you can only do it when you’ve got a good director, can’t you? When you deal with a character that’s this complex and you’re obviously having to dig into some darker bits of your soul, you just want to be with a director who’s going to respect that and hold it and not betray you in any way.

What did you do to prepare for the role?
I worked with a boxer, but mainly because playing Amy at different stages there’s weight fluctuations. I had to gain and lose 12 pounds three times during the course of the film. And obviously a boxer is someone who’s used to resting above their fighting weight and then dropping weight to go into the ring. It was really difficult and really not easy using your body as a chemistry lab.

David wanted to check that I wasn’t frightened to explore anger, explore some of the darker sides. I suppose he wants to make sure that you’re happy to check your vanity at the door. Probably for both Ben [Affleck] and I, really. And go where the character needed to go. He was very helpful when we were working on Amy’s voice, ‘cause she is obviously American and a very specific type of American – that East Coast, educated, quite light voice. She actually has a slightly higher pitch voice than I do.

What do you like about Fincher’s films?
I like the way I’m asked to examine humanity and asked to examine people. And I feel he’s just always illuminating, often in a funny way, about how people really behave. Not just about what they’re trying to achieve in a scene, but sort of the tiny subtleties of how human beings work and manipulate each other. He seems to always manage to illuminate that. The message of this film is sort of: what do we do to each other? And I feel that’s sort of been what Fincher’s been about for a long time. He always illuminates something extra. In a scene that’s simply about one thing, he’ll make sure that another dimension comes in or you get a sense of some history. There’s a reason for the large number of takes and the way we would work on a scene for a long time. He’s adding layers all the time.

Did you read the book before shooting?
gone-girl-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-I read the book when I started talking to David. I found it very funny and cleverly observant. And I felt it was really about something I hadn’t seen – there were ideas that I’d never seen articulated in that way. Like the way this idea of the ‘cool girl’. Like Amy talks about it in the film: the idea that the modern woman wants to be the cool girl. She wants to be the girl that every guy wants. And that doesn’t necessarily mean being true to herself. That means putting on a sort of disguise. And there’s no definitive cool girl. The cool girl is whatever that particular man desires in a woman. If he’s a sort of the hipster artist, you know, she’ll be going to rare, out of the way warehouse shows and listening to very rare cut vinyl from 1982 or something. And if he’s a petrol head, she’ll be watching Formula One on TV and learning about classic cars or something. And that’s maybe not true to her, but she’ll happily try it on in order to attract a mate. Usually people laugh ‘cause they recognize truth in it.

Have you ever fallen into trying to be the ‘cool girl’?
Yes. I don’t necessarily think there’s something sinister about it. I mean, it can be sinister if you’re constantly acting. And I think I’m generally pretty wary of acting in a relationship, because it’s what I do for a living. I have to be pretty damn sure that the person who I’m with knows who I am. I mean, that is where I feel secure is when I know that I am known. Because I think I spend my whole life feeling like I’m actually unknown by most of the people who are trying to know me, like people like you. When you’re with someone, it’s very important that they really get who you really are. So I’m pretty wary of that. But purely because I do it for a living.

Do you think Gone Girl will propel you to a new level of recognition?
I have no idea. Luckily I’ve been around the block and I’ve had a share of success and a share of disappointment. I really know how this business works now. It takes a long time to really figure it out. And I can feel that there’s an interest right now that there wasn’t three years ago. But I’m also equally aware that that can just go away like that. I’m quite a realist in that respect.

Do you ever regret starting your film career in a Bond movie? Did that hinder you?
I don’t think it can be a regret ‘cause I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know anything about the film industry. I didn’t know how you’re accountable for your choices. I didn’t understand any of that. I thought that everything thrown at me was a fun adventure. I didn’t really realize that how judgmental people are.

You know, I was doing Pride And Prejudice, which is obviously a critically acclaimed and really excellent film, and then some studio came and offered me an action movie based on a video game [Doom]. And I thought that was so funny and so odd that I thought, well, that sounds just fun. I didn’t have the canniness to understand that was a really bad move right after you do something really great like Pride And Prejudice. I didn’t realize how it all added up.

The only difficult thing about Bond is that the image is so indelible. You know what I mean? It’s just so powerful. Historically I think a lot of people have thought that Bond girls are not actresses – that’s just who you were, who I was. And at that age, it certainly wasn’t. I was just back from backpacking having finished university, not really knowing quite how to go about the next bit of life. I went to the audition in a cardigan and with a suntan having literally just got back a few days before. It couldn’t have been further from the image of Miranda Frost that then became the thing that everybody saw. It was very odd. And I still think that that image is kind of what people see. Sometimes I realize that people are still looking at that.

When did you decide to become an actress?
GG-063 (600 x 399)I always knew. I knew that it was just a need to do it. But I didn’t ever think about film – it wasn’t even on my radar. I thought I’d be a theater actress, ‘cause that’s what I knew. And I just knew that that’s where I belonged. It was like knowing who your family is. ‘Cause I never thought I belonged anywhere. I never felt right sort of socially or in any of the worlds I was put in, I never felt right at school. I never felt right at university. I never felt like I fitted in. And yet when I went into the theater, I fitted in.

Amy is a very complex character – did it feel like you’d signed up for three roles at the same time?
I think everybody’s more than one thing. You’ve got a professional self you bring to these things, don’t you? You probably aren’t exactly showing everything. It’s just rare that you get a film that allows you to see all the different sides. It’s very boring if you watch a film – and we frequently do – where you watch a film and you think, ‘Okay, I know who this character is and then we’re going to have the scene where we’re asked to feel a little bit more about them, feel sympathy and there’s gonna be some scene where they tell us about their some family tragedy…’ You just sort of know how films operate. And in this one I don’t think you ever quite know how it’s going to be played out. With Amy, you just don’t know where she’s going. We like to think we’ve got a hold of somebody. And then she just blows it out of the water. That’s great fun.

How did you shake off the character after shooting Gone Girl?
I have a small son, which does help for. And David is not someone who really lets the neuroses happen. You know, we don’t have the hardest job in the world, let’s be frank. We have a very lucky, privileged job where we get to do what we love. We get to tell stories for a living. There is fear involved, but we’re not in imminent danger. We’re not in a job where we’re actually risking our lives. You have to have a healthy attitude towards it.

I think if there’s any difficulty, it’s the fact that you can never say the job is done. You don’t know when you’ve got to the end. You never get the satisfaction of completion. Because the possibilities are endless. But I think David has a pretty healthy attitude. I mean, I’m sure he’s as passionate however much he sort of plays it cool, you’ll occasionally get glimpses of his just unbounded passion for cinema. You see the little boy who was nine years old and saw Rear Window with his dad and you know that he’ll go home from set and be thinking about it nonstop and wanting to know how to make it better – as we all are. But you have to sort of realize that have to leave it behind and you have to move on.


Grab a copy of Gone Girl here

gone-girl-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn


Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

To mark the Blu-ray & DVD release of Gone Girl on February 4, we’re offering one lucky couple the chance to win an all-expenses paid mini-break in Sydney.

Order Gone Girl by February 16th and go in the draw to win a trip for two to Sydney for two nights, worth $1880!


Check into the Menzies Hotel – centrally located and within minutes to the city’s iconic harbour.

Feel your adrenalin rush on a 30-minute Sydney Harbour Jet Boat Thrill Ride. As the jet boat powers across Sydney Harbour, see the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a different perspective, and experience the thrill of on-water maneuvers like 270-degree spins! Cafe Sydney captures the essence of Sydney from its amazing location on the rooftop of Customs House with spectacular harbour views, delicious food, an outdoor terrace, cocktail lounge and a relaxed, contemporary interior.

Package for 2 people includes….

    • Return flights
    • 2 nights at a four star hotel – The Menzies, Sydney
    • Return airport transfers
    • Dinner at Cafe Sydney
    • Jet boat ride

Grab a copy of Gone Girl here

Peter Swanson, author of The Kind Worth Killing, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter Swanson

author of The Kind Worth Killing & The Girl with a Clock Heart for a Heart

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 Carlisle, a farming town in Massachusetts, although it’s not much of a farming town anymore. It was a great childhood, one in which I had a lot of freedom and a lot of outdoors to explore. I went to public schools, and then to college in Connecticut. I now live in Massachusetts, which means that I’ve spent almost my entire life in New England. I guess I was lucky enough that I was born in a place that I love.

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

This is boring, I know, but I wanted to be a writer, a writer, and a writer, although at twelve I wanted to be a writer/adventurer, kind of an Ernest Hemingway figure. Best-selling books and African safaris. At eighteen I wanted to be Martin Amis, sleeping and boozing my way around some city. Oh, and also with the best-selling books. Then at thirty, I’d have settled for making any kind of money whatsoever from writing. A small paycheck and one reader would have made me very happy.

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

Author: Peter Swanson

Sticking with the theme of being a writer, I think I had the very mistaken belief that part of being a writer is developing a writer’s personality. Drinking scotch, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, acting like a jerk, when, in reality, becoming a writer is only about doing the writing.

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?

Number one would be the films of Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve been obsessed with his movies since I was about ten years old. He just made so many terrific, and unique, thrillers, really pushing the art form. Number two would be the early novels of Robert Parker, who wrote the Spenser series of detective thrillers. Again, I read these when I was young, and they were my entryway into the world of thriller novels. Third would be John D. MacDonald, another American thriller writer. He wrote the Travis McGee series of books in the 1960s through the early 1980s. He was a brilliant writer who also knew how to plot a really exciting thriller. Not easy to do.

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

Trust me, there were very few artistic avenues open to me. Can’t sing, can’t act, can’t paint. I’d love to be able to do any of those things well, but it’s not going to happen in this lifetime.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s called The Kind Worth Killing and it’s about what happens when two strangers meet in an airport bar and decide to tell each other their secrets.

(Publisher’s blurb: Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?)

Grab a copy of Peter’s new novel The Kind Worth Killing here

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

I hope they take away a memory of being caught up in a thriller that made them forget about all the things we hope to forget about when we pick up a book. And I hope they think twice the next time they see someone attractive at a bar and decide to spill some secrets.

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

Stephen King. He’s the only contemporary writer who I am convinced will still be read in a hundred years. He’s written so many horror classics, plus a few duds, but he keeps challenging himself, and keeps putting in the work. Also, I’ve never met him, but everything I hear makes it sounds like he’s a guy worth knowing.

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

Honestly, to sell enough books so that I can keep doing this as a career. That’s about it. For a long time, my only ambition as a writer was to get one book published. That happened, and I upped my goals, so maybe I’ll up them again. A bestseller list? Sure, that would be nice.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write every day until you finish whatever it is that you’re working on, and then go back and edit. Getting the story right is so important, and I think that happens when writers push forward, spending time every day with what they’re working on.

Peter, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Kind Worth Killing here

The Kind Worth Killing

by Peter Swanson

‘Hello there.’

I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger’s face.

‘Do I know you?’

Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?

A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing will keep you gripped and guessing late into the night.

About the Author

Peter Swanson’s debut novel, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, was described by Dennis Lehane as ‘a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride’ and in the Observer as ‘very hard not to read in one sitting’. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.

 Grab a copy of The Kind Worth Killing here

TIME Magazine’s 10 Greatest Books of All-Time

A few years ago TIME magazine asked 125 of the world’s most celebrated writers to name their Top 10 novels of all time. No doubt after the resignations of many, many unpaid interns, they combined all these lists to make the ultimate Top 10 list.

We thought we’d share it with you. We’d like a few more women on there but hey, isn’t that always the way.

Do you agree with the picks? Did your favourite book mis the cut? Tell us in the comments section below.

middlemarch10. Middlemarch
by George Eliot

George Eliot’s most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community.

Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past.

As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as ‘one of the few English novels written for adult people’.

Grab a copy of Middlemarch here

the-steppe-and-other-stories-1887-919. The Steppe and Other Stories
by Anton Chekov

The Steppe established Chekov’s reputation. It is the simple yet unforgettable tale of a young boy’s journey to a new school in Kiev, travelling through majestic landscapes towards an unknown life. Gusev depicts an ocean voyage, where a man dies and is thrown to sharks, and the sea takes on a terrifying, primeval power. In The Kiss a shy soldier is kissed by mistake in a darkened room; in A Dreary Story a man reaches the end of his life and questions its worth; and in The Duel two men’s enmity ends in farce.

Grab a copy of The Steppe and Other Stories here

in-search-of-lost-time-vol-1-swann-s-way8. In Search of Lost Time Vol 1: Swann’s Way
by Marcel Proust

The definitive translation of the greatest French novel of the twentieth century

In the opening volume of Proust’s great novel, the narrator travels backwards in time in order to tell the story of a love affair that had taken place before his own birth. Swann’s jealous love for Odette provides a prophetic model of the narrator’s own relationships. All Proust’s great themes – time and memory, love and loss, art and the artistic vocation – are here in kernel form.

Grab a copy of In Search of Lost Time Vol 1: Swann’s Way here

9780099541530 (1)7. The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s glittering Jazz Age masterpiece

Jay Gatsby is a self-made man, famed for his decadent champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island’s bright and beautiful, Gatsby longs only for Daisy Buchanan. In shimmering prose, Fitzgerald shows Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion. The Great Gatsby is an elegiac and exquisite portrait of the American Dream.

Grab a copy of The Great Gatsby here

97800079023476. Hamlet
by William Shakespeare

Considered one of Shakespeare’s most rich and enduring plays, the depiction of its hero Hamlet as he vows to avenge the murder of his father by his brother Claudius is both powerful and complex. As Hamlet tries to find out the truth of the situation, his troubled relationship with his mother comes to the fore, as do the paradoxes in his personality. A play of carefully crafted conflict and tragedy, Shakespeare’s intricate dialogue continues to fascinate audiences to this day.

Grab a copy of Hamlet here

9780099572978 (1)5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain

It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them’

Huck Finn spits, swears, smokes a pipe and never goes to school. With his too-big clothes and battered straw hat, Huck is in need of ‘civilising’, and the Widow Douglas is determined to take him in hand. And wouldn’t you know, Huck’s no-good Pap is also after him and he locks Huck up in his cabin in the woods. But Huck won’t stand too much of this, and after a daring escape, he takes off down the Mississppi on a raft with an runaway slave called Jim. But plenty of dangers wait for them along the river – will they survive and win their freedom?

Grab a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here

97801410234964. Lolita
by Vladimir Nabocov

Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, who he’ll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? …Or is he all of these?

Grab a copy of Lolita here

war-and-peace3. War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s enthralling epic depicts Russia’s war with Napoleon and its effects on the lives of those caught up in the conflict. He creates some of the most vital and involving characters in literature as he follows the rise and fall of families in St Petersburg and Moscow who are linked by their personal and political relationships. His heroes are the thoughtful yet impulsive Pierre Bezukhov, his ambitious friend, Prince Andrei, and the woman who becomes indispensable to both of them, the enchanting Natasha Rostov.

Grab a copy of War and Peace here

97818474932242. Madam Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert

‘It has a perfection that not only stamps it, but that makes it stand almost alone.’ Henry James

Beautiful Emma Rouault yearns for the life of wealth, passion and romance she has encountered in popular sentimental fiction, and when her doctor, the well-meaning but awkward and unremarkable Charles Bovary, begins to pay her attention, she imagines that she may be granted her wish. However, after their marriage, Emma soon becomes frustrated with the boredom of provincial life and finds herself seeking escape and contemplating adultery.

As Emma’s efforts to make a reality of her fantasies become more dangerous, both she and those around her must face the shattering consequences of her actions. Causing widespread scandal when it was published in 1857, Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece and one of the landmark works of nineteenth-century realist fiction.

Grab a copy of Madam Bovary here

anna-karenina1. Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina is a novel of unparalleled richness and complexity, set against the backdrop of Russian high society. Tolstoy charts the course of the doomed love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer who pursues Anna after becoming infatuated with her at a ball.

Although she initially resists his charms Anna eventually succumbs, falling passionately in love and setting in motion a chain of events that lead to her downfall. In this extraordinary novel, Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, while evoking a love so strong that those who experience it are prepared to die for it.

Grab a copy of Anna Karenina here


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