Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Wilbur Smith, Michael Koryta and Alexandra Potter

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

In each of these interviews I ask the following question:

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

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


WILBUR SMITH

“It’s not a game for sissies. If at first you don’t succeed try! Try! And then try some more.”

Read the full interview here…

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MICHAEL KORYTA

“Write every day, for as much time as you can spare, because it isn’t a craft that can be learned through random bursts of creativity, but rather slow, steady, and focused efforts. Read in as wide a range as possible, read interviews with the writers you admire, try to find out as much as possible about the process. The craft should be viewed as a constant education.”

Read the full interview here…

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ALEXANDRA POTTER

“I get a lot of emails to website (www.alexandrapotter.com) asking for advice on how to get a novel published. And I say the same thing over and over: If I can do it, so you can you. But you have to really REALLY want it.

I love being a writer, but it’s not all about book launches and bestseller lists and glossy interviews. Writing isn’t glamorous. In fact most of the time it can be deeply frustrating, lonely, terrifying and long… very, very long. A book takes me eighteen months from start to finish and a lot of that time is spent battling writer’s book and thinking it’s all a big mistake and is anyone ever going to read this!

So you have to be determined. You have to keep putting in the hours, even when you only have one deleted sentence at the end of a weekend you’d devoted to writing a whole chapter. You have to believe you can do it, even when that inner critical voice of yours is yelling, ‘Give up! It’s rubbish’.

And you just have to keep writing. Day in, day out. Like you’re running a marathon. A few words. A line. A whole paragraph. Until one day you will finally reach the finishing line, and you will look up from your computer screen and realise that all those words have made a novel. And the pain will all have been worth it. Trust me. There is no feeling in the world like it.

Just don’t give up.

Read the full interview here…

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For more advice from published writers go here

Congratulations to Madeline Miller who has won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 for The Song of Achilles

The Orange Prize for Fiction Winner 2012

From the Orange Prize website: 19.15pm, London, 30 May 2012 — American author Madeline Miller has won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Song of Achilles (Bloomsbury).

2012 marks the seventeenth year of the Orange Prize, which celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.

At an awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London – hosted by Orange Prize for Fiction Co-Founder and Honorary Director, Kate Mosse – the 2012 Chair of Judges, Joanna Trollope, presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. Both are anonymously endowed.

Joanna Trollope, Chair of Judges, said: “This is a more than worthy winner — original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her.”

The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction written by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible. The Orange Prize is awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman.

From the Guardian:

There seems something almost culturally inevitable about the fact that Madeline Miller, a Massachusetts teacher of Latin and Greek, has won the Orange prize with her first novel, The Song of Achilles. The book, which weaves a compelling story about Patroclus, a crucial yet fleetingly described character in Homer’s Iliad, joins a throng of recent works, all indebted to the epic poem, that have captured the imagination of the public and critics alike. Others include David Malouf’s melancholic novel Ransom, Alice Oswald’s diamond-cut poem Memorial, and Caroline Alexander’s admired non-fiction work The War That Killed Achilles.

Why the interest? We live in an age of cultural conflict, of wars pitching the east against the west. The Iliad – a foundational text of European literature – is still the greatest of all war poems, ready to be read afresh, and from a different perspective, by each generation. Alexander the Great, no peacenik, slept with a copy under his pillow. Today’s Iliad readers are more likely to draw from it a sense of the pity, grief, and waste of war.

Miller asks: who was Patroclus? Where did he come from? What was his experience of the war? What was the love between Achilles and Patroclus that caused Achilles to feel such overwhelming lust for revenge, such pounding grief, when his companion fell? In spinning her tale of boyhood, friendship and sexual passion – all played out against an exquisitely realised vision of the Greek landscape – Miller never drops a note. You don’t need to have read the Iliad to enjoy this novel, but chances are you’ll want to pick up Homer when you’ve finished. Read more…


The Song of Achilles

by Madeline Miller

A breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War – a devastating love story and a tale of gods and kings, immortal fame and the human heart

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not – strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess – and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship.

As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

About the Author

Madeline Miller has a BA and MA from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek, and has been teaching both for the past nine years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specialising in adapting classical tales to a modern audience. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.

Click here to read more…

Click here to read an extract

Madeline has answered the Booktopia Book Guru’s Ten Terrifying Questions, click here

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RUNNERS UP

Esi Edugyan – Half Blood Blues

This is a new part of an old story: 1930s Berlin, the threat of imprisonment and the powerful desire to make something beautiful despite the horror.

Chip told us not to go out. Said, don’t you boys tempt the devil. But it been one brawl of a night, I tell you.

The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again.

He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.

Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero’s bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin. Persuaded by his old friend Chip, Sid discovers there’s more to the journey than he thought when Chip shares a mysterious letter, bringing to the surface secrets buried since Hiero’s fate was settled. In “Half Blood Blues”, Esi Edugyan weaves the horror of betrayal, the burden of loyalty and the possibility that, if you don’t tell your story, someone else might tell it for you.

And they just might tell it wrong…

Click here to read more…

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Anne Enright – The Forgotten Waltz

The Forgotten Waltz is a memory of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing. In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the winter of 2009,it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for ‘the love of her life’, Seán Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers the days of their affair in one hotel room or another: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial.

Now, as the silent streets and the stillness and vertigo of the falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, Gina waits the arrival on her doorstep of Seán’s fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie – the complication, and gravity, of this second life.

Click here to read more…

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Georgina Harding – Painter of Silence

When she leaves the ward she feels the whiteness of the room still inside her, as if she is bleached out inside. It is the shock, she tells herself. She feels the whiteness like a dam holding back all the coloured flood of memory.

1948. A man is found on the steps of the hospital in Iasi, Romania. Wet with morning dew, he is as frail as a fallen bird and utters no words. It is days before anyone realises that he is deaf and mute. The ward sister, Adriana, whose son still has not returned from the war in Russia, sits at the man’s bedside and whispers to him, keeping herself company. But it is a young nurse called Safta who thinks to bring paper and pencils with which he might draw. Slowly, painstakingly, memories appear on the page: a hillside, a stable, a racing car, a grand house as it was before everything changed for ever.

The man is Augustin, the son of a cook at the manor house in Dumbraveni where Safta was the privileged daughter. Born six months apart, they had a connection that bypassed words, but while Augustin’s world stayed the same size Safta’s expanded to embrace languages, society, the breathless possibility of Paris. And love, one dappled summer’s day, in the form of a fleeting young man in a green Lagonda.

Pictures are always in the present. But a war has raged and ebbed since those days, leaving in its wake a new, Communist regime. Walls have ears, words and images are more dangerous than ever before, and even neighbours with old-world mirrors and samovars cannot be trusted.

Click here to read more…

Click here to order your copy of Painter of Silence


Cynthia Ozick – Foreign Bodies

The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled Bea Nightingale’s life, leaving her middle-aged and alone, teaching in an impoverished borough of 1950s New York. A plea from her estranged brother gives Bea the excuse to escape lassitude by leaving for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows; but the siren call of Europe threatens to deafen Bea to the dangers of entangling herself in the lives of her brother’s family.

Travelling from America to France, Bea leaves the stigma of divorce on the far side of the Atlantic; newly liberated, she chooses to defend her nephew and his girlfriend Lili by waging a war of letters on the brother she has promised to help. But Bea’s generosity is a mixed blessing: those she tries to help seem to be harmed, and as Bea’s family unravel from around her, she finds herself once again drawn to the husband she thought she had left in the past…

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Ann Patchett – State of Wonder

There were people on the banks of the river.

Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns.

Now Marina Singh, Anders’s colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders’s wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend’s steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest.

What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination. Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough.

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REVIEW: Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady (Guest Blogger: Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling)

In Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady, Kate Summerscale casts a spotlight on a little known chapter in history. This is a very thoroughly researched case study detailing the true story of an unhappily married woman in Victorian Society.  In this, the age of Cougar TownSex and the City and Desperate Housewives, when women are applauded for chasing younger men and practically expected to experience dissatisfaction in their marriage, the idea of a woman keeping a diary of her extra martial affairs is not really very shocking. In fact, it sounds like the plot to the next Katherine Heigl movie.

In 1850s England, however, such an idea was enough to stop the press. Although a woman sat on the throne, this was an age in which woman did not yet have the right to vote. As Kate Summerscale’s research shows us, this was also an age in which any woman who was known to desire a man she was not married to was deemed to be suffering from sexual mania, in which PMS was actually considered to be a mental disorder that might land a woman in an asylum. Most of all, it was an age in which a lady’s husband was her lord and master.

Marriage, in the words of Queen Victoria herself, can be “a very doubtful happiness”. Still, in Victorian England, divorce was very rare. Not only did the social stigma of a failed marriage make divorce virtually unthinkable, most people simply couldn’t afford to get divorced. Divorce was such a lengthy and expensive process that it simply wasn’t an option outside of the aristocracy, who were ironically less inclined to go through the scandal of a divorce than unhappily married people of the lower classes. In the 1850s new laws were passed in order to make divorce cheaper and therefore more accessible to the middle class.

The first half of Summerscale’s book outlines the true story of Isabella Robinson, a women in her early thirties who had just entered into her second marriage. Like most marriages of the time, it was a marriage of convenience. Isabella’s husband could provide her with financial security, but very little else. Being an intelligent and passionate woman at her sexual peak, Isabella (trail blazing for generations of “cougars” to follow) soon finds herself lusting after a young man ten years her junior. Her obsession with him begins to rule her life and she pours all her repressed passion and frustrated sexual energy into her diary. When her husband finds her diary, he announces his intention to divorce her.

The second half of the book follows the explosive divorce trial. The case rests on proving whether or not Isabella’s diary is true. If it was true then she cheated on her husband and he can therefore divorce her on the grounds of adultery. If it’s not true then (according to Victorian society) she is obviously a madwoman suffering  from a sexual mania such as erotomania or nyphomania and therefore cannot be held legally responsible for her actions.

Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady might be non-fiction but it reads very much like a novel. For those who see the words “historical non-fiction” and immediately start snoring – don’t be too hasty to judge! This is an exciting story of scandal and intrigue, as well as a riveting courtroom drama. And on top of that, it is truly a revealing snapshot of Victorian times with cameo appearances from notable historical figures such as Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens.

Summerscale’s research is impressive. She has gone to extraordinary lengths compiling letters, newspaper clippings, public records and census information in order to build a really solid social and historical framework through which to view Mrs. Robinson’s story.

Still, throughout everything, Isabella Robinson remains something of a mystery. With her original diary lost, sadly all that remains of her words are the sections that were printed in the newspapers during the divorce trial. From Summerscale’s account, Isabella emerges as a woman full of contradictions. Impulsive and creative, selfish and hysterical, in ways born ahead of her times and in others wholly a product of her times – all that can be said for certain about Isabella Robinson is that she was very unhappy in what she called “the bonds of a dreaded wedlock”.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady is that it gives readers a rare glimpse into the sheer wealth of feeling that went unspoken during this time period. Here is proof that people in Victorian times were not really all that different from people nowadays. Isabella Robinson was an emotionally intense woman who either led a very rich fantasy life, or conducted multiple extra martial affairs (it is unclear how much of her diary was true and how much was simply “make-believe”). Either way, she clearly had just as many issues going on as the average modern woman. She was simply better at hiding her issues because she lived in a society in which any kind of strong emotional display was considered “bad manners”. This was a time when one avoided airing ones dirty laundry at all costs, let alone plastering it all over Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The idea of a Victorian woman obsessing over a younger man and feverishly detailing her sexual fantasies about him in her diary is just… well it’s like imagining Queen Victoria shopping for naughty lingerie, or Charles Darwin reading dirty magazines. It’s shocking, and fascinating and strangely comforting. It’s nice to think that perhaps our ancestors weren’t quite as stuffy and dull as they appear to be in all those old back and white pictures.

Summerscale’s previous book, The Suspicions of Mr Wicher, is said to be a study of the real life detective who inspired the character of Sherlock Holmes. In this same vein, Isabella Robinson could easily be said to have inspired characters like Madame Bovary and Lady Chatterley. But the best thing about Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady is the realisation that Isabella Robinson probably wasn’t all that different from the average Victorian woman. In fact, the only real difference was that the average Victorian woman was a little more clever about hiding her diary.

Guest Reviewer: Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling

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Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale

From the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher comes a brand new true story of a Victorian scandal.

On a mild winter’s evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone house lit by gas lamps. This was the home of the rich widow Lady Drysdale, a vivacious hostess whose soirees were the centre of an energetic intellectual scene.

Lady Drysdale’s guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the ladies in dresses of glinting silk and satin, bodices pulled tight over boned corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats, neckties and pleated shirt fronts, dark narrow trousers and shining shoes. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was introduced to Lady Drysdale’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Edward Lane. She was at once enchanted by the handsome Mr Lane, a medical student ten years her junior. He was ‘fascinating’, she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man’s charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake…

A compelling story of romance and fidelity, insanity, fantasy, and the boundaries of privacy in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality, Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace brings vividly to life a complex, frustrated Victorian wife, longing for passion and learning, companionship and love.

About the Author

Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her first book, The Queen of Whale Cay, won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. Kate Summerscale has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London.

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Fated by Alyson Noel, best-selling author of the Immortal series

Fated- Available 1.06.12

Strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, glowing people appear from nowhere. Worried that Daire’s having a breakdown, her mother sends her to stay with the grandmother she’s never met, who lives on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico. There Daire crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes.

Her grandmother recognizes Daire’s episodes for what they are – a call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, a person who can navigate between the living and the dead. Guided by her grandmother, Daire must be quick to learn how to harness her powers, because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter, out to steal them.

Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and discover whether Dace is the guy she’s meant to be with… or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

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The Immortals 6 : Everlasting

Everlasting is the sixth and final instalment of the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears – all in the hope of being together forever.

Now in Everlasting, their destiny is finally within reach.

Will they be united, or torn apart forever? Readers will finally discover the truth in this anxiously awaited conclusion!

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The Immortals 5 : Night Star

Best friends make the worst enemies—they know all your secrets, your weaknesses, and just how to hurt you most…

After fighting for centuries to be together, Ever and Damen’s future hinges on one final showdown that will leave readers gasping for breath. Don’t miss this explosive new instalment of the number one bestselling series that’s enchanted millions across the world!

With 2 million copies of her Immortals series in print, Alyson Noel is one of the hottest paranormal teen authors writing today. Night Star continues the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen must face bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears – all in the hope of being together forever.

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The Immortals 4 : Dark Flame

At the start of this mesmerizing new installment of the Immortals series, Ever is helping her friend Haven transition into life as an immortal. But with Haven drunk on her new powers and carelessly putting them all at risk, their friendship becomes more and more strained.

At the same time, Ever delves deeper into magick in order to get control over her enemy Roman and free Damen from his power. But when the spell she casts on Roman backfires, she’s bound to her deadliest enemy. Frantic to reverse the spell the moment the moon enters a new phase, she finds her efforts are fruitless – there’s a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, one that propels her toward Roman.

Desperate to break free of this terrible curse before Damen or the twins can discover what she’s done, she turns to Jude and delves deeper and deeper into dark magick, ultimately risking everything she knows and loves – including Damen.

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The Immortals 3 : Shadowland

At the start of this breathtaking novel, Damen and Ever travel to Summerland in search of an antidote to reverse a powerful poison. But instead of the cure they seek, they find something far more sinister: the truth about their existence and the fate lying in wait of an immortal’s soul.

Now, with Damen fighting to save them from the Shadowland, Ever turns to magick, hoping to break Damen’s curse. Along the way Ever encounters the mysterious Jude, who shared a complicated past with her in a previous life. She always thought Damen was her soulmate and her one true love… but now their love is about to be tested like never before.

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The Immortals 2 : Blue Moon

In the second instalment, Ever can bring her family back from the dead – but only if she’s willing to sacrifice the guy she loves more than life itself.

Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever’s powers are increasing, Damen’s are fading – stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen’s past – the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden – but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them – or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day…

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The Immortals 1 : Evermore

Seventeen-year-old Ever is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her entire family. Living with her aunt in Southern California, she’s plagued by the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her, and haunted by the ghost of her little sister.

She tries to tune everyone out, shunning her old lifestyle as the pretty, popular cheerleader, but somehow she can’t hide from Damen, the new guy at school. Stunningly handsome, clever and not a little bit intimidating, there’s something about him that doesn’t quite add up. Ever realises he’s hiding something – but nothing could prepare her for the truth…

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COMING IN AUGUST 2012: The Bourne Legacy- The new film in the Jason Bourne series

The Bourne Legacy Hits Screens in August


GET YOURSELF IN THE MOOD WITH THE LATEST BOURNE NOVEL:

The Bourne Imperative- Available 12.06.12.

An amnesiac on the edge of death presents a challenge much too close to home for Bourne in the latest from Robert Ludlum’s bestselling series.

When Jason Bourne pulls a drowning man from a lake, he discovers that the man is not only freezing – but bleeding profusely from a gun-shot wound. He wakes as an amnesiac, with no memory of who he is or why he was shot – and Bourne is eerily reminded of his own past.

Meanwhile, Mossad agent Rebekah is so determined to find this man that she’s gone off the grid, cut her ties to her agency and risks a summary execution if caught by her former colleagues.

Back in the U.S., Treadstone operatives Peter Marks and Soraya Moore are recovering from their last mission which left both of them critically injured. Finally cleared for duty, they discover a new man assigned to their team: Dick Richards. But can they trust Richards, or does he have a secret mission all his own?

Everything turns on the mysterious amnesiac. Will Bourne learn his identity or will other, powerful forces get to him first?

About the Author

Robert Ludlum launched his career as a bestselling writer with The Scarlatti Inheritance in 1971, the first of a string of international bestsellers. There are more than 300 million copies of his books in print and they have been translated in 32 languages.

Eric van Lustbader is the author of numerous novels in a variety of styles, but is most widely known as the author of twenty international bestselling thrillers including The Ninja and Black Heart. Born in New York City, he currently lives in New York State.

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Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Colleen McCullough, Susan Johnson and Eoin Colfer

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

In each of these interviews I ask the following question:

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

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


COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH

“Advice for aspiring writers? That’s difficult, as all writers are individuals who write differing books. First and foremost, avoid giving your manuscripts to emotionally connected people to read. Anyone emotionally connected has an axe of their own to grind, and cannot be relied on to give honest opinions. Give manuscripts to detached outsiders to read. Don’t go thinking you’ve written the world’s best book, but don’t think you’ve written the worst one either. Don’t give up trying to find a publisher. Some huge bestsellers were refused by literally dozens of houses before finding a niche. Look at Harry Potter. And remember that there is always an element of luck about writing.”

Read the full interview here…

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SUSAN JOHNSON

“Look, you have to have courage or luck in this game. Some writers strike lucky right off (Tim Winton springs to mind – he won the Vogel and hasn’t looked back) but most writers won’t have Winton’s luck. What’s difficult is fighting the thought that if you DON’T have luck, then that means it must be because you aren’t any good. But in fact history is littered with writers who have been passed over for prizes, awards, best-sellerdom etc, dying in obscurity, only to have their work resurrected later (Richard Yates anyone?).

But — equally as important — a lot of writers really ARE bad and that’s the reason they don’t get anywhere!! So – and this is REALLY important but also really difficult – first learn to have a critical eye – read as much as you can and try to judge your own work against the work of others. What is being published? What is its quality? How much better or worse is it than your work? Can you edit? Can you even TELL the difference?

You need to be your own worst critic – take your work apart and look at its flaws, and then work on them. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Just keep writing and writing as hard as you can and learn to be your own best editor. There are no shortcuts, I’m afraid. Writers are people who write.

Write.”

Read the full interview here…

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Available 1.6.12


EOIN COLFER

“Stop telling people about your idea and lock yourself in a room. Stay in the room until the work is done with only broadband and takeaway food for comfort. Writing is about inspiration but there is also a lot of work involved. Not as much work as digging a hole obviously but we like to make it sound tough.”

Read the full interview here…

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Available 10.7.12


For more advice from published writers go here

Run Like Crazy: 52 Marathons, 52 Weeks, 42 Countries: How Running Changed My Life by Tristan Miller

Due for release 23rd May 2012, pre-order here

Simon Nash, a Booktopia founding director, read a proof copy of Run Like Crazy by Tristan Miller, and loved it. I asked him to jot down a short review:

Run Like Crazy by Tristan Miller describes the adventures a keen runner can get up to when they embark on the grueling task of running 52 marathons in 52 weeks, in 40 countries, over 7 continents. The running idea came out of the Tristan’s love of travel and the opportunity to have a strenuous “Gap Year”. After running a race in Africa, Tristan read the running magazine he was given and looked at all the marathons around the world and decided that was the best excuse to travel, see friends and partake in his adventure.

The story tells how the running was mostly a side-light to the year, meeting new and old friends at various events, juggling travel arrangements and time-frames, and the personal highlights and positive outcomes of planning and completing a year travelling became the focus of the book. A thoroughly enjoyable book, funny, emotional and heart warming all in one.

Simon Nash

Click here to order Run Like Crazy from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Tristan will be visiting Booktopia on 21/05/12 to sign copies of his book

In 2010, Tristan Miller ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks, in 47 countries, across seven continents. Why on earth would anyone do that, you may ask. First of all, he loved distance running and travel. Secondly, he’d lost his well-paid job selling advertising for Google. Thirdly, he wanted to jump off the treadmill of daily life to see what else he could do. This is the story of how he did it, and why.

To have his ‘hero year’, Tristan sold everything he owned – flat, car, possessions – to raise the money. The trip was planned around official marathons, not just any old 42.2 kilometres in any old country. The challenge he set himself was not only to complete a marathon per week, but to get to a certain country by a particular time, as cheaply as possible. And to have as much fun as possible along the way. Add to that the mental and physical exhaustion of managing time zoneschanges, jet lag, loneliness and financial pressures and you have one amazing adverture.

The message in Tristan’s story is that you can do whatever you want to do – you just need to take the leap and believe in yourself. And then run like crazy!

Click here to order Run Like Crazy from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Tristan Miller will be visiting Booktopia on 21/05/12, more details to come

Extract

1

ZURICH MARATHON

1 January, Zurich, Switzerland

3:42.32

On 27 December 2009, Darren and I boarded a Singapore Airlines flight to Zurich. Some family and friends came to the airport to bid us farewell. My mum, Cherryann, was a bit teary, but she knew this was one of the biggest moments of my life so she was incredibly proud too. My eldest sister, Rebecca, was excited, but I knew she was also jealous: she loves adventure and travel. ‘See you in New York!’ she said as she hugged me. The New York Marathon was in November; I just grinned at her, silently hoping I would make it that far. Continue reading

Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Craig Silvey, Peter FitzSimons and Susan Maushart

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

In each of these interviews I ask the following question:

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

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


CRAIG SILVEY

“I would urge any aspiring writer to be patient and stubborn and driven. Writing is incremental, it’s done by degrees. Every day you show up, you nurse the same doubts, you field the same concerns, you fret, you worry, you panic, you prevaricate, and inside that painful, delicate act, you finally let the story come to you in small sparks. It takes time. Reams and reams of it. You should have a healthy appetite for solitude.

The longer I write, the more I come to understand that authors are really just conduits for stories, we are the guardians of their development. For me, my writing works the best when it feels meditative and unforced, which means I need to forget that I’m a fretful author in a dim room with debts and a deadline. I need to almost remove myself from the process altogether, and let the story weave itself on the back of some kind of subconscious intuition.

I would especially urge them against concerning themselves with pointless, external exercises like Word Counts and so forth. Volume is the last thing you need to worry about. Songwriters don’t work to Note Counts. It is what it is. Don’t force it.

And, finally, practice the craft because you love it. It’s a privilege, and it’s good for you. Kurt Vonnegut used to say that practising any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. And I’m inclined to agree. Then again, I’ve got no idea what I’m doing.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Jasper Jones from Booktopia
Australia’s No.1 Online Bookshop


PETER FITZSIMONS

“Get width of experience in your life. To be a writer you need to have something to say that others will care about and if you can have had experiences that your readers have not, it will help. Read as widely as you travel, and try to write with the same spirit.

Read the full interview here…

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


SUSAN MAUSHART

“Read, for heaven’s sake! An aspiring writer who doesn’t read constantly is like an aspiring musician who plays Guitar Hero all day.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy The Winter of Our Disconnect from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


For more advice from published writers go here

IN THE NEWS: Charlaine Harris announces end to Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series

Charlaine Harris has announced that she is ending the Sookie Stackhouse/ Southern Vampire series.

Save the date…the final Sookie Stackhouse book, DEAD EVER AFTER, will be on sale May 7, 2013!

The Southern Vampire series inspired HBO’s True Blood and with 12 books so far, it is exceedingly popular. 

Last year, Harris hinted at the impending end of the series: “I think it’ll be total closure. I don’t go back to things once I’ve finished them. That’s kind of what I do. I don’t want to write Sookie after I get stale.” (Via Jason Pinter)

Click here to buy Deadlocked, Book 11 in the series,
from Booktopia, Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Click here to the entire Sookie Stackhouse series to date

Click here to see all of Charlaine Harris’ books

COMING SOON: Olympic Gold: Our Greatest Individual Olympians Since 1896 (Available 1st June – pre-order now)

Olympic Gold: Our Greatest Individual Olympians Since 1896 follows the inspirational journeys of Australia’s 74 individual Olympic gold medallists, at both the Summer and Winter Games.

Australia has enjoyed an unbroken involvement in the modern Olympics, from Edwin Flack’s double-gold on the track at the first modern Games in 1896, to Lydia Lassila’s acrobatic feats on the ski slopes of Vancouver in 2010.

Chronicled along the way are Australia’s many famous victories in the swimming pool, alongside the lesser-known triumphs of the likes of Fanny Durack, Australia’s first female Olympic gold medallist and, of course, the era-defining achievement of Cathy Freeman in the Sydney Games in 2000.

Olympic Gold tells the stories of some of the nation’s most iconic sporting heroes, written by authors with an unparalleled insight into their epic achievements, providing a unique perspective on their journey to the top of the podium. The authors range from esteemed journalists and coaches to family members, and in some cases even the athletes themselves.

These are remarkable stories about remarkable people – that elite group of individuals who have reached for the stars, beaten the odds and won gold at the most prestigious sports event in the world.

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

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