Ruthie May, author of Count My Christmas Kisses, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Ruthie May

author of Count My Christmas Kisses, Stew a Cockatoo and Count My Kisses, Little One

Ten Terrifying Questions

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

I was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia until my father dragged the family across the Nullarbor when I was 15 for bigger things out East. I finished high school and went to University in Sydney and haven’t really ever left.

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

At age 12 I dreamed of one day running my own newspaper and dating Spike from Press Gang – the thought of sitting around talking about what stories were important and which weren’t seemed wonderful to me, and Dexter Fletcher was just so witty and respectful of Julia Sawalha; at age 18 I wanted to be an academic historian – I was studying history and loved it, I still do; at age 30 I wanted to be a lady of leisure – it seemed so appealing.

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

Author: Ruthie May

I believed that life would take a linear, logical course.

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?

Itsy-Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild & Jan Ormerod; The Millennium Book of Myth and Story by Maurice Saxby & John Winch; & The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett.

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

There is so much delight to be had in a picture book – you only need to sit down and read to children to discover that. You can see the world open up to a child right before your very eyes. To be able to create those experiences is a total joy.

6. Please tell us about your latest picture book…

My latest picture book is a follow up book to a book I wrote a number of years ago called Count My Kisses, Little One. They appear to be counting books, but they are really about smooching and the affection small children have for new babies.

Grab a copy of Ruthie’s new book Count My Christmas Kisses here


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

A warm fuzzy feeling.

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

In the realm of children’s picture writing, I’ve always admired Margaret Wild who knows how to write for babies and toddlers like no other, and Jan Ormerod, who was also a great expert in writing and illustrating for small children.  If you read their books, it doesn’t take long to see what great observers they are of life in the small lane.

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

To continue writing picture books that keep the interest and imagination of toddlers alive; books that when the reading comes to a close the toddler says, ‘again’, and mum or dad or the loved one has to read it over and over. Sorry grown-ups. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t be one of those people who read children’s books and say ‘I could have written that’ – you didn’t – but you could – if you sit down and give it a try.

Ruthie, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Count My Christmas Kisses

Count My Christmas Kisses

by Ruthie May, Tamsin Ainslie (Illustrator)

From the creators of the beautiful Count My Kisses, Little One comes another delightful book, perfect for the festive season.

One kiss for baby, under mistletoe. Two kisses for baby, catching falling snow.

2010’s Count My Kisses, Little One was an instant hit with Australian littlies and their parents. With Tamsin Ainslie’s adorable illustrations and Ruthie May’s beautiful rhyming text, the book gently introduced young children to the idea of numbers and counting.

The book soon left our shores, and went on to become an international bestseller, with more than 100,000 copies sold worldwide. Now, Ruthie and Tamsin are back with Count My Christmas Kisses – a gorgeous new picture book, perfect for the holiday season.

About the Author

Ruthie May was born in Perth, Western Australia. She is the published author of Count My Kisses, Little One and Stew a Cockatoo: My Aussie Cookbook illustrated by Leigh Hobbs. Ruthie immerses herself in stories for both children and grown-ups, but prefers stories where age doesn’t matter..

 Grab a copy of Count my Christmas Wishes

SERIES: The Incompetent Cook takes on Quinoa with Adam Liaw

Could Adam Liaw be the cook who drags our Incompetent Cook, Andrew Cattanach into kitchen competency? Adam is very patient with Andrew. He takes his time. Speaks clearly and demonstrates his techniques as simply as possible. But first things first – can he teach Andrew how to say Quinoa!?

adam-s-big-pot-order-your-signed-copy-Adam’s Big Pot 

by Adam Liaw

Want simple, healthy and delicious meals? Quickly? Masterchef winner Adam Liaw is back to help!

Adam’s Big Pot is a cookbook for modern families. In his latest cookbook, Adam Liaw shows you how to prepare easy family meals and gives new answers for that age-old question: ‘What’s for dinner?’ In this beautifully photographed cookbook, Adam takes a practical and creative approach to family cooking, creating new flavours from ingredients you already know, all in just one big wok, pan, dish or pot.

From fresh Vietnamese salads and simple South African curries, to Korean grilled pork belly and one-pot Japanese classics, the dishes in Adam’s Big Pot are basic enough for the novice home cook, affordable enough to feed the whole family, and can all be made from basic supermarket ingredients. Whether you’re after easy classics like shaking beef, mee goreng and lamb vindaloo or looking to add new dishes to your repertoire like tiger-skin chicken, snapper rice and Japanese souffle cheesecake, Adam’s Big Pot is your guide to simple, creative family cooking.

 Click here to grab a copy of Adam’s Big Pot

More Episodes of The Incompetent Cook

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What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

Lots of romance recently, from rural to historical, sexy contemporary and suspense. Plus a spooky thriller and a brilliantly written true-life crime thrown in to perk things up.

Mr Impossible

by Loretta Chase

This is one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read. Every part of this book was a delight, from the characters to the setting, plot and dialogue. No wonder it’s considered a classic of the genre.

Rupert Carsington has been sent to Egypt by his father in a last ditch attempt to sort him out. But Rupert soon lands in a Cairo jail and no one seems in a hurry to let him out. Until scholarly widow Lady Daphne Pembroke strides in. Daphne’s brother Miles has been kidnapped by a rival who believes Miles holds the key to a fantastic treasure. In an unlikely business alliance, Daphne frees Rupert and together they attempt to rescue Miles. But danger and desert heat seem to have them acting in ways they never imagined.

Truly wonderful. Clever, witty and gorgeously romantic. A not to be missed romance.

Grab a copy of Mr Impossible here

Poppy’s Dilemma

by Karly Lane

Karly Lane is one of my favourite rural romance authors. In Poppy’s Dilemma she’s stretched herself further and written a story with two narratives – one historical, the other contemporary – and it doesn’t disappoint.

Poppy Abbot is a city career-girl, still grieving the loss of her grandmother. When she discovers a diary among her grandmother’s effects written by Maggie Abbot, a relative she’s never heard of, Poppy is intrigued. Beginning before the Great War, the diary unfolds to reveal a wonderful love story between Maggie and a man named Alex, but crucial pages are missing and Poppy hankers to know what happened to the couple. After difficulties arise at work, Poppy escapes to her grandmother’s house in rural Warrial. As she falls into country life, more and more of Maggie’s and Alex’s story is revealed, and with it the feeling that perhaps Poppy’s own life needs reassessment.

Poppy’s Dilemma is a heartfelt book about the tragedy of war, but it’s also mystery, a lesson in what matters most, and an enjoyable romance. Highly recommended.

 Grab a copy of Poppy’s Dilemma here

No More Mr. Nice Guy

by Amy Andrews

This is one hot book! And a hoot to read with lots of sex, snappy dialogue, a vet hero (swoon) and a heroine you want to cheer on.

After a stale long-term relationship breaks down Josie Butler seeks refuge with her best friend. During a drunken night, Josie makes a sex to-do list which is discovered by her friend’s brother Mack. Suddenly these old acquaintances are looking at one another in new ways. Mack and Josie come to an agreement. He’ll help her fulfil her list before she heads overseas, no strings attached. Except neither count on their hearts having other plans.

Great fun!

  Grab a copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy here

The Honeymoon Trap

by Kelly Hunter

This is a short but beautifully formed romance between geeky gamer Eli Jackson and vivacious costume designer Zoe Daniels. Married during an online role-playing game, the ‘newlyweds’ are tricked into sharing a room at a gaming convention by Eli’s brothers. Though this is the first time they’ve met in person, the attraction is fast and it’s clear Eli and Zoe are made for each other. But Zoe has a secret that could change everything.

Loved it. A fun fast read that put a big smile on my face.

The Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House is a book that seems to crop up often whenever scare-the-pants-off-me stories are mentioned. I can’t say it did that to me but it certainly had a few nightmarish moments.

Occult scholar Dr Montague has engaged three others to join him at Hill House, a strangely built house notorious for never retaining tenants. There’s Eleanor, a delicate young woman who’s spent years caring for her invalid mother, Theodora, a free spirited and self sufficient woman, and Luke, heir to Hill House. Plus creepy caretakers Mr and Mrs Dudley, who refuse to stay in the house at night. From the moment the group move in odd events begin occurring. Soon the paranormal activities escalate. The house appears to be drawing energy and focus. And its target is one of them.

One for daytime reading!

Grab a copy of The Haunting of Hill House here

This House of Grief

by Helen Garner

This is a gripping courtroom drama that follows the trials of Robert Farquharson, a man accused of murdering his three children on Father’s Day 2005 by driving his car into a deep dam near Winchelsea in Victoria.

It’s also a heartbreaking story of grief and confusion. How could a loving father do this to his three young boys? How could he hate his ex-wife with that much passion? What made this man act in such a way? Throughout the narrative Garner seeks answers but only one man knows what happened on the road that night and his version – that he blacked out in a rare case of cough syncope – is very hard to swallow.

As with all her books, Garner’s writing is amazing and I was constantly underlining passages. Her descriptions of the players, their characters, her own feelings, are compelling. A study of character and the courts brilliantly related.

Grab a copy of This House of Grief here

In The Bleak Midwinter

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

I adore a juicy crime story and this series has been highly recommended by a couple of writer friends. The premise is certainly hooky, featuring female Episcopalian minister Clare Fergusson who joins forces with Russ Van Alstyne, the married police chief of the Adirondack mountain town of Millers Kill.

Clare is a former army helicopter pilot who retrained as a minister and is new in town. When she discovers a newborn baby on the church steps along with a note that the baby should be adopted by a couple from the congregation, Clare can’t help but become involved in the investigation, and with Russ. And both are dangerous.

Although I picked the murderer fairly early on I enjoyed this mainly for the relationship between Clare and Russ. I can easily see how readers have become invested in the couple and made the series so successful. They’re very likeable and with Russ married and Clare a minister the romantic conflict is clear.

Grab a copy of In The Bleak Midwinter here

Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

UK NEWS: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) is fastest selling book of the year

The Guardian:
 Girl Online, the first novel by Zoe Sugg AKA “Zoella” has pushed Jeff Kinney’s newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul off the top of the chart as the fastest selling book of the year in the UK.

Zoella’s book, published by Penguin, has also become the fastest selling hardback of 2014 – pretty impressive as it was only published on 25 November.

On hearing the news Zoe said, “It’s such an amazing feeling. I’m so grateful to everyone who has bought a copy of Girl Online. I love that so many of my viewers are enjoying the book! This year has been so exciting and this for sure is the icing on the cake.”

To read more click here

girl-onlineGirl Online

by Zoe Sugg

Girl Online is the stunning debut romance novel by YouTube phenomenon Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella.

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has – I can’t believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! – and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes . . .

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

Click here to grab a copy of Girl Online

INTERVIEW: Cathy Kelly on storytelling, her love of reading, and her love of crime!

Cathy Kelly is one of the world’s favourite authors. She chats to John Purcell about her incredible career and the inspiration behind her new book It Started with Paris.

it-started-with-parisIt Started with Paris

by Cathy Kelly

It all started with Paris.

At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland…

Leila’s been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she’s determined to put on a brave face for the bride. Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it. And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she’s spending more time with her ex-husband.

After all those years apart, is it possible she’s made a mistake? With her warmth and insight, Cathy Kelly weaves a delightful tale spinning out from a once-in-a-lifetime moment, drawing together a terrific cast of characters who feel like old friends. It Started With Paris is the sparkling new novel from Number 1 bestseller Cathy Kelly.

Click here to grab a copy of It Started with Paris 


NEWS: Crime Novelist P.D. James dies aged 94

Source: People Magazine

Source: People Magazine

P.D. James, well known for her crime novels including the bestselling crime fiction starring the detective Adam Dalgliesh, The Children of Men and Dead Comes to Pemberleydied peacefully at home in Oxford on Thursday morning.

It had always been her “intention” to become a writer, and she began writing about a detective partly as an apprenticeship for writing “serious” novels, as she explained to the Paris Review in 1994. James had always loved crime novels, was unwilling to explore the “traumatic experiences” of her own life in fiction and was well aware it would be easier to find a publisher for a detective story…

Read more at The Guardian


NEWS: P.D. James’ novel Death Comes to Pemberley hits the small screen!

Starting this Friday, 28 November at 8.30 pm on ABC 1, the long-awaited TV series of Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James finally hits our screens.

The three-part series, based on the best-selling P.D. James novel of the same name, is a murder mystery picking up where Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice ended.

The cast includes Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Goode, Trevor Eve and Penelope Keith.

Adapted from PD James’s international bestselling novel, the three-part series Death Comes to Pemberley, marks the 200th anniversary year of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice. PD James’s inventive homage to Austen brings her much-loved world to life in a dazzling and original way with Austen’s best-known characters Elizabeth, Darcy and Wickham, at its heart.

death-comes-to-pemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley

by P.D. James

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, as the guests are preparing to retire for the night a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth’s younger, unreliable sister – stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story. Death Comes to Pemberley is a distinguished work of fiction, from one of the best-loved, most- read writers of our time.

Grab a copy of Death Comes to Pemberley here


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