GUEST BLOG: Ber Carroll speaks on Missing Mums and her latest novel ‘Once Lost’

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Author: Ber Carroll

The article in The Australian Women’s Weekly caught my eye straight away. Three smiling vibrant women who each seemed strangely familiar to me. They could have been women I knew from school, or from sport, or from the local neighbourhood, and it seemed incongruous that these happy photographs should be married to the chilling caption: MISSING MUMS.

These women, these ordinary every-day mothers, had vanished, leaving behind a plethora of unanswered questions, a tangle of suspicions and mistrust, and the shattered lives of those who had loved them. I felt quite overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy, for the mothers themselves and everything they had missed out on – birthdays, weddings, grandchildren – and for their family and friends and the debilitating uncertainty that they were still living with, years later. I imagined myself as the missing mother, and then imagined myself as a daughter left behind. I read the article three or four times, trawling for clues as to what might have really happened to these women. In worlds-apartMarion Barter’s story alone, there seemed to be so much conflicting evidence. I tried to rationalise Marion’s odd behaviour before she went missing, and to find some explanation for why she might want to escape, or not be totally honest with her family. Had customs made an error? Who, exactly, did the police speak to that time on the phone? Was the stolen wallet the missing link, the key to everything? What, out of all that contradictory evidence, could be eliminated by some simple explanation? The most disturbing thing was that I couldn’t quite shake the deep-down feeling that Marion Barter was alive.

Every now and then something goes missing in our house. I’m sure this happens in every household, but my reaction can be quite – there’s no other word for it – obsessive. I search every nook and cranny of the house. I wake in the middle of the night, suddenly remembering an obscure location where I have not yet checked, and have been known to jump up then and there – in the middle of the night – to go to investigate. The most significant item I’ve lost is my car keys. I invested hours and hours searching for them (I even went through the rubbish bins!). The keys were never found; I had to pay a lot of money for a replacement set. Ten years on, I still occasionally find myself wondering What, exactly, happened to those keys? The fact that I don’t know, and never will know, is enough to drive me quite mad. Maybe I am a product of my generation. We have resources at our fingertips, answers at the click of a button. We aren’t used to things being grey or unclear or ambiguous. One thing I do know for sure is that if my mother, or my sister, or a friend, vanished like Marion did, I would never be able to let it go. I would never be able to put it behind me and move on. I would be looking for answers, for clues, waking in the middle of the night and conjuring up new explanations, until my dying day.

once-lostIn Once Lost, I tried to capture some of that conflicting backdrop. Louise’s mother was not perfect: she had an unhappy marriage, an abusive partner, and a history of ‘zoning out’. One day, while Louise was at school, she took her purse and some clothes and disappeared. Sixteen years later, Louise is an accomplished young woman, but the only way she can get through the uncertainty that surrounds her mother’s disappearance is to channel all her energy into searching for her. What keeps her going is the deep-down belief that her mother is alive, and that one day she will know the truth of what really happened the day her mother disappeared.

I wrote most of Once Lost in a state of uncertainty myself: I didn’t decide what happened to Louise’s mother until the very end. Because I am an author, and this story isn’t real, I was able to insert some certainty in the ending. Louise does find some answers, some closure, which is something that has been denied to the families of those three beautiful women whose faces have stayed in my head since reading that article in The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Grab a copy of Once Lost here


once-lostOnce Lost by Ber Carroll

Are some things better left unfound?

Best friends Louise and Emma grew up next door to each other in a grim inner-city suburb of Dublin.

Now Louise, an art conservator, is thousands of miles away in Sydney, restoring a beautiful old painting. She meets Dan, whose family welcome her as one of their own, but she will always feel lost until she finds her mother who walked out when she was just eight years old.

Back in Dublin, Emma is stuck in a job where she is under-appreciated and underpaid, but her biggest worry is her ex-partner, Jamie. Emma has lost so much because of Jamie: her innocence, her reputation, almost her life. Now she is at risk of losing Isla, her young daughter.

So where is Louise’s mother? Will Emma ever be free of her ex? Both women frantically search for answers, but when the truth finally emerges it is more shattering than they had ever expected.

About the Author

Ber Carroll was born in Blarney, County Cork, and moved to Australia in 1995. She worked as a finance director in the information technology industry until the release of her first novel, Executive Affair. Her second book, Just Business, was published in Ireland and Germany and these novels, plus her third,  High Potential, were released in Australia in 2008 and The Better Woman in 2009. Once Lost is her latest novel.

Grab a copy of Once Lost here

BOOK REVIEW: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Review by Shikha Shah)

Looking for the winners of our Facebook competition? Scroll to the bottom of the post…

All the Bright Places is a heartbreaking and touching novel exploring a wide range of issues such as depression, mental disorders, suicide, coping with the loss of a loved one and finding hope.

The book begins with Theodore Finch – an outsider with his own unique brand of coolness –standing on his high school’s bell tower asking himself “Is today a good day to die?”. He then gets distracted by the sight of Violet Markey – a popular girl who seems to have everything – standing on the other side of the bell tower. Finch proceeds to calmly convince Violet to step off the edge and so begins a complicated relationship that will change both their lives.

Violet and Finch come across each other under extreme circumstances and they are both broken in their own way. Finch helps Violet fight her inner demons and her guilt over her sister’s death. He encourages her to experience new things and see new places, helping Violet to find herself again. Unfortunately, Violet struggles to helps Finch in the same way.

This is not a typical boy-meets-girl love story about overcoming all obstacles to live happily-ever-after. Instead, this book delves into deeper real-life issues. All the Bright Places takes readers on a tragic journey as Violet and Finch each fight their own battle against depression. It also deals with the aftermath of what happens when someone cannot be helped…

If you enjoyed reading Solitaire by Alice Osmon as much as I did and The Last time we say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand, then this novel is a must-read. A little warning to readers – have a tissue box handy as this novel will probably going to make you cry like a baby.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


all-the-bright-placesAll the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of two narrative non-fiction books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack; a high school memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries; and four historical novels for adults: Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on her Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and the forthcoming American Blonde. All the Bright Places is her first book for young adults.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


FACEBOOK COMPETITION WINNERS

Congratulations to Jessica Gilham, Marie Davis, Barbara Clapperton, Julie Clark and Adey McKinney!

Email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your address details to claim your prize!

Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

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The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jennifer Niven

author of All the Bright Places

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 North Carolina, raised mostly in Indiana (after living in Okinawa and then Maryland). My move to Indiana in fourth grade prompted one of my earliest books— My Life in Indiana: I Will Never be Happy Again. I graduated high school there, went to college in New Jersey, and, following that, attended grad school in Los Angeles.

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

When I was twelve, I wanted to be an international rock star detective—kind of like a Charlie’s Angel (i.e. Jaclyn Smith) meets Josie and the Pussycats. This is because I wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel and a rock star—the two most exciting things I could imagine— so I figured why not combine them? When I was eighteen, I wanted to be an actress because it seemed really, really glamorous, even though I was too shy to try out for any plays I didn’t write and direct myself. When I was thirty, I wanted to be a writer because writing has always been—for all my life—the thing I love to do most.

jennifer niven

Author: Jennifer Niven

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

I secretly believed I was charmed, that I was invincible. And then my parents divorced, my grandfather died—the first loss I’d ever known—and I started questioning everything. I’ve since lost my other grandparents, friends, cousins, a boyfriend, my dad, and, most recently, my mom.  Over the years I’ve had to come to terms with how small I am in the scheme of things, but I’ve also learned the ways in which I can make an impact and leave an imprint behind. And, maybe best of all, I know what I’m made of.

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?

Ray Bradbury’s short stories, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” All three taught me that something economical can also be powerful. They taught me the importance of being succinct but expressive, and of saying a great deal in the most straightforward way.

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

Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and the experience was life-changing.  I’d always wanted to write about it—only because it was so personal, I knew I would need to write it as fiction.  All the while I was working on my other books, I was reading YA novels for fun. So much of what’s being produced in YA literature is brilliant and daring and fantastically imaginative.  I always had the thought in the back of my mind: Someday I’ll write a young adult book.  When I decided on this particular idea, I knew in my bones it was time.

all-the-bright-places

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

All the Bright Places is about a boy and a girl who meet on the ledge of their high school bell tower as they’re both contemplating jumping. It’s about bright places and dark places, about making it lovely and leaving something behind. It’s about acceptance in spite of everything, and realizing that you are your own bright place in the world.

Grab a copy of Jennifer’s new book All the Bright Places here

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

One early reader emailed me to say that as soon as she read the book, she ran downstairs and hugged her mother. Another reader wrote, “I found after reading this that I wanted to do so much more with my life than just live.” I hope that the book inspires more of those feelings. I hope All the Bright Places will inspire others to look deeper at the people and places around them. And I hope it inspires discussions about teen mental health, so that people feel safe enough to come forward and say, “I have a problem.  I need help.” I want readers to know that help is out there, that it gets better, that high school isn’t forever, and that life is long and vast and full of possibility.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why? something-wicked-this-way-comes

I was lucky enough to grow up with a writer mom, who taught me that I could be or do anything I wanted to be or do. I’m an only child, and when I was a little girl, we used to have “writing time.” From her, I learned to find the story in everything, and I learned never to limit myself or my imagination. I also saw firsthand how difficult and stressful and unpredictable the business was. And I saw the commitment it took. Even during the toughest, saddest times of her life, she wrote. In so many ways, she was my hero. I think many people go into the business of writing with unrealistic expectations—not realizing that it is, in fact, a business, and that you have to be ready and willing to do it in spite of everything else.

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

I want to write many, many more YA books, another nonfiction book for adults, and, down the line, another adult novel or two, including an idea my mom intended on writing but never got the chance to. I’d like to write it for her. I’d like to see my books turned into movies. I’d also love it if one of them was turned into a Broadway musical a la Wicked. If that ever happens, I want a really juicy cameo (one that doesn’t require me to sing).

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write, read, and work hard. Remember to enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on making it perfect, because there’s no such thing. Write the kind of book you’d like to read. Write what inspires you. Write what you love.

Jennifer, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


all-the-bright-placesAll the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of two narrative non-fiction books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack; a high school memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries; and four historical novels for adults: Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on her Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and the forthcoming American Blonde. All the Bright Places is her first book for young adults.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here

BREAKING NEWS: 2015 Australian Book Industry Award shortlists announced!

The shortlists for the 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards have just been announced!

Voted on by some of Australia’s most influential readers, publishers and booksellers, the awards also feature a collection of new prizes, headlined by the Matt Richell Award for Best New Writer.

Agree with the judges? Tell us in the comments below…

General Fiction Book of the Year

Laurinda by Alice Pung

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Life or Death by Michael Robotham

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett

The Golden Age by Joan London

Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

Amnesia by Peter Carey

General Non-fiction Book of the Year

The Bush by Don Watson

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

Where Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World by Tim Low

Gallipoli by Peter Fitzsimons

This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by Helen Garner

Biography Book of the Year

Never, Um, Ever Ending Story by Molly Meldrum

Love Your Sister by Connie Johnson and Samuel Johnson

Optimism: Reflections on a Life of Action by Bob Brown

A Bone of Fact by David Walsh

My Story by Julia Gillard

Older Children (age range 8 to 14 years)

Clariel by Garth Nix

Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell

Alice-Miranda in Japan by Jacqueline Harvey

Brotherband 5: Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan

Friday Barnes 1: Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Younger Children (age range 0 to 8 years)

Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach by Alison Lester

Mr Chicken Lands on London by Leigh Hobbs

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Clementine Rose and the Seaside Escape by Jacqueline Harvey

The Last King of Angkor Wat by Graeme Base

Illustrated Book of the Year

What a Croc! by NT News

New Feast by Greg And Lucy Malouf

Community by Hetty Mckinnon

Australian Art: A History by Sasha Grishin

Anzac Treasures by Peter Pedersen

International Book of the Year

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Matt Richell Award for New Writer

The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa

VIDEO: Robert Dessaix on life, love and humbug

Robert Dessaix is a writer, translator, broadcaster and occasional essayist, responsible for the acclaimed memoirs A Mother’s Disgrace and As I Was Saying. He chats to Caroline Baum about his latest book What Days Are For.

 

what-days-are-forWhat Days Are For

by Robert Dessaix

Witty, acerbic, insightful musings from Robert Dessaix, one of Australia’s finest writers.

One Sunday night in Sydney, Robert Dessaix collapses in a gutter in Darlinghurst, and is helped to his hotel by a kind young man wearing a T-shirt that says FUCK YOU. What follows are weeks in hospital, tubes and cannulae puncturing his body, as he recovers from the heart attack threatening daily to kill him.

While lying in the hospital bed, Robert chances upon Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Days’. What, he muses, have his days been for? What and who has he loved – and why?

This is vintage Robert Dessaix. His often surprisingly funny recollections range over topics as eclectic as intimacy, travel, spirituality, enchantment, language and childhood, all woven through with a heightened sense of mortality.

Grab a copy of What Days Are For here

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Paula Hawkins

author of The Girl on the Train

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 Harare, Zimbabwe, I lived there – and went to school there, obviously – until I was seventeen.

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

At twelve, a human rights lawyer (bleeding heart liberal); at eighteen, a foreign correspondent (thanks to romantic notions of what that might entail); at thirty, an author (also thanks to romantic notions of what that might entail).

Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins

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

I can’t think of a single one, which suggests that I’m incredibly stubborn (or possibly that I simply can’t remember all the ridiculous things I believed when I was eighteen).

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Impossible to pick just three, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Macbeth, The Black Paintings by Francisco Goya, and the song Down by the Water by PJ Harvey.

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

Because I can’t draw, or paint, or dance, or play an instrument. Writing is the only thing I’m any good at.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Girl on the Train is a story about a lonely commuter, a voyeur who witnesses something shocking on her daily journey to work, and who finds herself drawn into a mystery which, unbeknown to her, she is already an integral part.

Grab a copy of Paula’s new book The Girl on the Train here

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

Talking specifically about The Girl on the Train, I’d like to have given the reader food for thought about the nature of perception, about the judgements we make about the people we see every day and the people that are close to us, and about how flawed those judgements frequently are.

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

I’m a huge fan of authors who can write literary page-turners – the likes of Kate Atkinson or Cormac McCarthy.

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

To write something I’m proud of. That’s all.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Find someone whose judgement you trust to read your work: no one does this all alone.

Paula, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Girl on the Train here


The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

YOU DON’T KNOW HER. BUT SHE KNOWS YOU.

Rear Window meets Gone Girl, in this exceptional and startling psychological thriller.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

About the Author

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction.

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

 Grab a copy of Girl on the Train here

Laura Greaves, author of The Ex-Factor, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Laura Greaves

author of The Ex-Factor

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 hail from Adelaide (or Radelaide, as only native South Aussies are allowed to call it). I lived there until I was 21, and then I did what so many young Australians do and went to London for a year – only I accidentally stayed for five. I came back to Australia in 2007, settling in Sydney and dragging my English husband along for the ride.

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

Um, writer, writer and writer. I know – boring, right?! I announced my intention to be a writer at the ripe old age of seven. At that age I was focused on becoming a journalist. I don’t think I knew what journalists actually did at that point, but my grade two teacher, Mrs Edwards, had explained that they got money for writing stories, and that sounded pretty fantastic to an unabashed book nerd like me. I’ve never considered any career besides writing (except for a very brief period when I was 16 and inexplicably decided I wanted to be an occupational therapist).

By the age of 18 I actually was a journalist: I landed a cadetship with Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser, just a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday and spent nearly five years there having all kinds of adventures.

At 30 I’d ‘gone solo’, leaving the world of glossy mags to strike out on my own as a freelance journo, which I’m still doing and loving today. But by 30 I was also pretty antsy to add ‘published novelist’ to my CV. I had to wait til I was 32 for that!

Laura Greaves_Colour

Author: Laura Greaves

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

I remember feeling quite certain at 18 that I would be a newspaper journalist forever. I was going to expose corruption and report from war zones and win Walkley Awards and one day become an editor. Instead I spent most of my time covering fatal car crashes and house fires, working the midnight shift for 18 months straight and bringing down precisely zero crooked bigwigs. (I did win an award, though – National Young Journalist of the Year in 2001. That was pretty cool.) I adored working in papers – even now, when a big event occurs, a little part of me longs to be in a newsroom – but honestly, I don’t have the temperament for it. Most of the good news journos I know enjoy arguing with people – confrontation is genuinely fun for them. The opposite is true for me! Which is perhaps why the heroines of both of my published novels are pretty feisty – they say and do things I’d never have the nerve to try!

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?

Ooh, great question! Well, I can say without a doubt that I would not be a writer if LM Montgomery hadn’t written Anne of Green Gables in 1908. I can’t properly describe how much I love this book and what it means to me. I was fortunate enough to visit the real Green Gables on Canada’s Prince Edward Island a couple of years ago, and I sobbed buckets. Like, proper ugly crying. There may in fact be a small part of me that believes I am Anne Shirley.

Okay, a large part. A very large part.

Music has a big influence on my writing, too. I always make playlists that capture the mood of the story I’m working on. For example, when writing The Ex-Factor, which is all about drama and longing and grand romantic gestures, I listened to a lot of 1980s power ballads – the kinds of songs that play over the last scenes of a John Hughes movie!

More recently, a Broadway play called Grace had a big impact on me. Well, not the play itself, but one of the actors in it – Michael Shannon. (You may know him as Agent Nelson Van Alden in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, or as General Zod in the latest Superman reboot.) His performance was just so incredible, and I got to wondering whether he knew how good he was. I concluded that he must have an inherent belief in his own talent, or he wouldn’t have pursued acting as a career. It was a real Oprah-style ‘Aha!’ moment for me, because I’d been feeling increasingly frustrated with my writing and I suddenly realised that I wasn’t getting anywhere with it because I didn’t really believe I ever could. I made a decision right there that I had to properly prioritise my writing and redouble my efforts to get published. My first novel, Be My Baby, was picked up by Penguin less than a year later. So thanks, Michael Shannon!

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

I do actually dabble in other formats, too. I have a Graduate Diploma in Screenwriting from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and had a TV pilot script nominated for the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Monte Miller Award for best unproduced screenplay. But I enjoy writing novels because they give me more time and freedom to unravel a story and delve into the real nitty gritty of what makes people tick.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Ex-Factor, published by Penguin on March 17, is a romantic comedy set partly in Sydney and partly in La-La-Land (better known as Hollywood!)

Talented, gorgeous and hopelessly in love, American movie star Mitchell Pyke and Brazilian supermodel Vida Torres were Hollywood’s most talked-about couple. They seemed destined for ‘happily ever after’ – until Vida left Mitchell for his best friend, and Mitchell publicly vowed he would never love again.

Sydney dog trainer Kitty Hayden has never even heard of Mitchell Pyke. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Kitty is too busy cleaning up the various messes made by her indolent younger sister, Frankie, and trying to find a girlfriend for her terminally single best friend, Adam, to keep up with celebrity gossip.

When her work takes Kitty to Mitchell’s movie set, their worlds spectacularly collide. The chemistry between them is undeniable – and it’s not long before Kitty is turning her life upside down to be with her leading man.

But as Kitty quickly discovers, when someone as famous as Mitchell Pyke tells the world he’ll never love again, the world listens. And the vindictive Vida is never far away. With constant reminders that she’s merely a consolation prize, how can Kitty compete with such a tenacious adversary – especially when she starts to suspect that Mitchell isn’t over Vida after all?

How does a regular Aussie girl win the heart of the most famous man on the planet in the unforgiving glare of the spotlight?

Grab a copy of Laura’s new book The Ex-Factor here

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

I hope people are moved. I hope they laugh. I hope they cry. I hope they like the sexy bits.

And if I may defend my often-maligned genre for a moment, I hope people read my books and realise that romantic comedy (or ‘chick lit’, as some insist on calling it) isn’t necessarily about ditsy, shopping-obsessed girls who can’t function without a man. It’s about strong, imperfect women who are determined to live life on their terms – just like actual women.

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

Tina Fey is my writing spirit animal. Everything she does is amazing. I wish I were even slightly as hilarious and brilliant and badass as her. Sigh.

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

My chief goal at this point is to be able to write books full time. I’m quite sure many people imagine that published authors ride their ponies in the morning and quaff G&Ts all afternoon, and every now and then jot down a brilliant sentence or two. The reality is very different (well, aside from the G&T-quaffing). Freelance journalism still pays my bills, which is handy as I love it, but I’d really, really love it if I could focus solely on the books.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

This may sound silly, but you have to write. Writing my first novel, Be My Baby, took 11 years. All that time I was thinking ‘I’m writing a novel’, but the actual writing was sporadic to say the least. Conversely, writing The Ex-Factor took six months – and I had a baby in the middle of it. Once I finally realised that the only way to get published is to write a good book, I started writing every moment I could. If you want it badly enough, that’s what you have to do – no excuses!

Laura, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Ex-Factor here


The Ex-Factor

by Laura Greaves

Talented, gorgeous and hopelessly in love, American movie star Mitchell Pyke and Brazilian supermodel Vida Torres were Hollywood’s most talked-about couple. They seemed destined for ‘happily ever after’ – until Vida left Mitchell for his best friend, and Mitchell publicly vowed he would never love again.

Sydney dog trainer Kitty Hayden has never even heard of Mitchell Pyke. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Kitty is too busy cleaning up the various messes made by her indolent younger sister, Frankie, and trying to find a girlfriend for her terminally single best friend, Adam, to keep up with celebrity gossip.

When her work takes Kitty to Mitchell’s movie set, their worlds spectacularly collide. The chemistry between them is undeniable – and it’s not long before Kitty is turning her life upside down to be with her leading man. But as Kitty quickly discovers, when someone as famous as Mitchell Pyke tells the world he’ll never love again, the world listens. And the vindictive Vida is never far away. With constant reminders that she’s merely a consolation prize, how can Kitty compete with such a tenacious adversary – especially when she starts to suspect that Mitchell isn’t over Vida after all?

About the Author

Born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia, Laura announced her intention to be a writer at the age of seven, largely because of her dual obsessions with Anne of Green Gables and Murder, She Wrote. She worked as a book publicist and editor of a women’s magazine before striking out as a freelance journalist in 2009. As well as continuing to write for many of Australia’s best-known magazines, Laura now spends her time matchmaking feisty fictional women with irresistibly sexy leading men. Laura lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her family, as well as two incorrigible (but seriously cute) dogs.

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