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.

 Grab a copy of The Ex-Factor here

NEWS: Remains in Madrid Believed to Be Those of Don Quixote author Cervantes

cervantes_1MADRID — In a discovery that could create a new venue for literary pilgrims, Spanish investigators said on Tuesday that they might have located part of the remains of Cervantes, whose novel “Don Quixote” has enthralled readers over centuries with stories of its eponymous knight and his servant, Sancho Panza.

Cervantes, often lauded as having written the first modern novel, died in 1616 after requesting burial in a convent in Madrid where, for almost a year, investigators have been searching the subsoil for bones that they now believe to include some of the author’s …

Click here to read more from New York Times

don-quixoteDon Quixote
By: Miguel De Cervantes, Edith Grossmann (Translator)

Widely regarded as the world’s first modern novel, and one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote de La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. Unless you read Spanish, you’ve never read Don Quixote.

Grab a copy of Don Quixote here


For Dummies Month is here and we have goodies to give away!


It’s For Dummies Month and to celebrate we have some awesome prize packs to give away! Just order a book from any For Dummies category before March 31st and go in the draw to win a prize pack.

*Terms and Conditions apply.


Order from the For Dummies: Business & Finance collection by March 31st and go in the draw to win a Business & Finance prize pack worth $149.99.

Here’s what you’ll win




Order from the For Dummies: Computing collection by March 31st and go in the draw to win a Computing prize pack worth $158.64.

Here’s what you’ll win

Dummies Month Computing prize pack


Order from the For Dummies: Health collection by March 31st and go in the draw to win a Health prize pack worth $158.10.

Here’s what you’ll win

Dummies Month health prize pack


Order from the For Dummies: Humanities collection by March 31st and go in the draw to win a Humanities prize pack worth $155.94.

Here’s what you’ll win

Dummies Month Humanities prize pack


Order from the For Dummies: Lifestyle collection by March 31st and go in the draw to win a Lifestyle prize pack worth $159.10.

Here’s what you’ll win

Dummies Month Lifestyle prize pack


Order from the For Dummies: Sciences collection by March 31st and go in the draw to win a Sciences prize pack worth $143.64.

Here’s what you’ll win

Dummies Month Science prize pack

Check out all our For Dummies collections here

Winners of the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

The 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention has come and gone, but we are not sad because we are left with a great list of award winning authors and having met so many new authors, hundreds of new books to read.

See what Booktopia’s John Purcell and Andrew Cattanach got up to at the convention here.


Favourite Cover: the winner was Play by Kylie Scott.outback-ghost

Sexiest Hero: the winner was Adam in Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns.

Favourite New Romance Author: Alli Sinclair.

shield-of-winterFavourite Paranormal Romance for 2014: Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh.

Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2014: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews.

Favourite Short Category Romance 2014: The Honeymoon Trap by Kelly Hunter.

Favourite Historical Romance 2014: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie.

Favourite Contemporary Romance 2014: Play by Kylie Scott.lick

The Favourite Erotic Romance 2014: Down and Dirty by Rhian Cahill, Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee and Sami Lee.

Favourite Romantic Suspense 2014: Safe Harbour by Helene Young.

Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2014: Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott.

The Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014: Kylie Scott.

Love Romance? Check out our Romance at Booktopia Facebook page!

NEWS: Terry Pratchett, Discworld series author, dies aged 66

Terry PratchettTerry Pratchett, the man who kept readers around the world laughing after the premature death of Douglas Adams, has died in his home surrounded by family eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Author of over 70 books, many of which make up his celebrated Discworld series, Pratchett redefined comic fantasy writing and made some of the biggest and most complex issues accessible to large audiences. His wit and satiric eye tore asunder the doublespeak of the modern world. His intelligence shone a light into places few dare to go. His recent documentary on assisted suicide was one of the most profound pieces of television to air this century.

From The Guardian: The announcement of his passing came in typically irreverent manner on the author’s Twitter feed, with a series of tweets beginning in the voice of his character, Death: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.”

With more than 75m copies sold around the world, Pratchett became one of the UK’s most-loved writers after the publication of his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, in 1983. The 40th, Raising Steam, was released last year, with the writer completing recent work using voice-recognition software …

Click here to read the full article

Discworld Series
Terry Pratchett in quotes: 15 of the best

The 2015 Stella Prize Shortlist announced!


The shortlist for the 2015 Stella Prize has just been announced, and what an exciting list of Australian authors it is!

Named after one of Australia’s most important female authors, Stella Maria Miles Franklin, The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature, awarded last year to Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.

Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself with the help of Booktopia.

Executive Director of the Stella Prize, Aviva Tuffield, says:
‘We are thrilled with the strength and diversity of the 2015 Stella Prize shortlist. These six remarkable books explore themes of identity, family, displacement and belonging, with distinctly Australian resonances. Two of the books are debut works, which speaks to the talent of Australian women writers, even those just beginning their careers as authors. We are immensely  grateful for the determination and rigour of our judging panel, who selected these six excellent, original and engaging books.’

stella picThe 2015 Stella Prize will be awarded in Melbourne on the evening of Tuesday 21 April.


The Golden Age

by Joan London

The time is the early 1950s, the place Perth. The Gold family, survivors and refugees from wartime Europe, have been blasted by the fates once more: their only child, Frank, has been caught up in the polio epidemic and is now recovering in a halfway house for convalescent children, a converted pub called The Golden Age.

Through the Gold family and their various acquaintances, London explores the social and emotional implications of her story with quiet power and precision, using the tale of one family at one moment in the social history of Australia to illustrate more abstract and general themes. It’s a story of exile, transition, and resilience; it shows the power of vocation and the fragility of love. And in its account of how it feels to belong to a displaced, marginalised and vulnerable race recently threatened with genocide, it has some delicate reverberations for the oldest Australians as well
as for the newest.

About the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.

Grab a copy of The Golden Age here

The Strays

by Emily Bitto

Lily is an only child, and when she befriends the exotic Eva – daughter of artists and ‘old money’ – at school, it’s the beginning of the kind of love affair that solitary
children often have with large exuberant families. But this is bohemian Melbourne in the 1930s, and in many ways it’s not a good place for any child to be. As the girls
grow up their world gets darker and more complex, eventually imploding into scandal.

While it’s partly inspired by the real-life 1930s artists’ colony at Heide in Melbourne, this novel’s characters and plot are wholly fictional and the result is a satisfyingly cohesive vision and story. With its reflective tone, rhythmic style, and vivid scenes, Bitto’s novel illuminates the history of a particular time, place and way of living, but it also draws out the more abstract themes, common to all times and places, of friendship, memory, ambition, and family life.

About the Author

Emily Bitto lives in Melbourne. She has a Masters in literary studies and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne, where she is also a sessional teacher and supervisor in the creative writing program. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including Meanjin, Heat, Harvest, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Literary Review. The manuscript of her debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Grab a copy of The Strays here

Foreign Soil

by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a performance poet, acutely aware of the accents, idioms and cadences of the spoken word, and her gift with voices – their origins, their meanings, their struggles and triumphs with alien English – is at the heart of this collection of stories. All ten stories deal with displacement in some form, and some of that displacement has been violent: there are stories of racial conflict in Brixton, of asylum seekers in flight from the Tamil Tigers, of psychological and physical violence between a naïve white-Australian wife in a strange land and her twice-displaced African husband.

Although these are stories about inequalities of power in the intersections of class and race, Beneba Clarke also uses narrative voices and the effects of dialogue to show characters attempting to create and assert a coherent self through the power of speech. Her work is profoundly political, but it is also more than that.

About the Author

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent and the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron Is On Parole (Picaro Press, 2009) and Nothing Here Needs Fixing (Picaro Press, forthcoming). As a spoken word performer, Maxine’s work has been delivered on stages and airways, and in festivals across the country. Her short fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Big Issue, Cordite Poetry Review, Harvest, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, Unusual Work and Peril. Maxine lives in Melbourne, Victoria.

Grab a copy of Foreign Soil here

The Invisible History of the Human Race

by Christine Kenneally

The sciences and the humanities are traditionally thought of as separate, or even as opposite, fields of study and endeavour, but Christine Kenneally moves on from this kind of thinking in her fascinating exploration of DNA and what it tells us about our individual, social, and anthropological pasts, bringing genetics and history together via the concepts of ancestry and inheritance. At every stage of this book, the data, the facts and the ideas are illustrated and enlivened by personal stories of individual lives and discoveries.

Kenneally uses the contemporary enthusiasm for genealogy and family history as an accessible entry point for the general reader, giving us a wonderful assortment of insights into the meaning and value of the past. To read this book is to be in the company of a dynamic, ardent mind, talking in a friendly authorial voice and never talking down.

About the Author

Christine Kenneally is Australian and received her Ph.D. in linguistics at Cambridge. She has written about language, science, and culture for publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, Scientific American, Discover, and Slate..

Grab a copy of Invisible History of the Human Race here

The Eye of the Sheep

by Sofie Laguna

Jimmy Flick isn’t an ordinary child, and as his story progresses we quickly realise that he has some unspecified condition, probably somewhere on the autism spectrum. He can’t slow down, he can’t calm down, and he can’t respond appropriately in difficult or even dangerous situations, but his world view is unique and full of unexpected insights. His father, defeated by the difficulties of living with such a child, takes to drink and domestic violence. And then things get worse.

Sofie Laguna faultlessly maintains the storytelling voice of Jimmy, who is oblivious in some ways and hauntingly knowing and observant in others. There are many places in which such a story could tip over into sentimentality or melodrama, but Laguna’s authorial control and intelligence keep the story on track and the reader engaged and empathetic, and she manages both the humour and the darkness of this story with great sensitivity and control.

About the Author

Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was also published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sofie has written the screenplay for the film of One Foot Wrong, scheduled for pre-production in 2014.

Grab a copy of The Eye of the Sheep here

Heat and Light

by Ellen Van Neerven

This unusually structured collection of stories is divided into three sections, each named for some elemental quality in nature: Heat, Water, Light. They are environmental metaphors that serve as rich touchstones for the layered meanings of individual stories. ‘Heat’ is a sequence of closely interlinked family stories; ‘Water’, a futuristic novella, is kind of ecological speculative fiction and a very unusual love story; ‘Light’ is a collection of stand-alone stories, though certain themes and subjects recur here as they do throughout the book.

Van Neerven moves with ease between realism and fantasy, using elements of myth and mysticism in her storytelling. From one story to the next, the content is always rich and suggestive and the writing is always beautiful and clever. Each of these stories is told with passion and conviction; van Neerven writes with the confidence, maturity, and subtlety of someone twice her age, and with startling originality.

About the Author

Ellen van Neerven is a writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage. She belongs to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim. She won the David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards for Heat and Light.

Grab a copy of Heat and Light here

Shantaram author, Gregory David Roberts to release sequel The Mountain Shadow on October 13th

TMSHB3DGregory David Roberts has announced the release date for his new novel The Mountain Shadow, to be published by Picador Australia, which continues the story of Lin who we met in the bestseller Shantaram, is every bit as audacious, amazing, page turning, and breathtaking. Shantaram has now sold over 4 million copies worldwide so it goes without saying that we are incredibly excited to share this news with you. There is also talk about a film based on Shantaram being directed by Johnny Depp and starring Joel Edgerton.

On a post on his Facebook page, Roberts said that he is on the 13th rewrite of new book The Mountain Shadow and that his hope is that from the first page readers will “know that you’re back on a journey through unfamiliar territory, but in sync with others in a search for truth, love and faith”.

Click here to pre-order your copy of The Mountain Shadow

Shantaram by Gregory David Robertsshantaram

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.

Shantaram is a novel based on the life of the author, Gregory David Roberts. In 1978 Roberts was sentenced to nineteen years imprisonment as punishment for a series of robberies of building-society branches, credit unions, and shops he had committed while addicted to heroin. In July 1980 he escaped from Victoria’s maximum-security prison in broad daylight, thereby becoming one of Australia’s most wanted men for what turned out to be the next ten years. For most of this period he lived in Bombay. He set up a free health clinic in the slums, acted in Bollywood movies, worked for the Bombay mafia as a forger, counterfeiter, and smuggler and, as a gun-runner, resupplied a unit of mujaheddin guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan. This is the setting of Shantaram.

Apart from having this highly unusual personal background, Greg Roberts is a very gifted writer. His book is a blend of vivid dialogue, unforgettable characters, amazing adventures, and superb evocations of Indian life. It can be read as a vast, extended thriller, as well as a superbly written meditation on the nature of good and evil. It is a compelling tale of a hunted man who had lost everything – his home, his family, and his soul – and came to find his humanity while living at the wildest edge of experience.

Grab a copy of Shantaram


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