REVIEW: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Review by Hayley Shephard)

the-queen-of-the-tearlingThe book world is abuzz with the publication of The Queen of the Tearling. Likened to Game of Thrones for its epic setting and brutal violence, it has poignant moments that are reminiscent of the era of Queen Elizabeth Ist, and tells the story of a burdened girl in a dystopian world. Is it any wonder why I couldn’t stop reading? And why Emma Watson has chosen to play the lead in the upcoming film, despite hinting that she would steer clear from another big budget adaptation?

Kelsea Glynn is 19, and after the death of her mother, has reached the age whereby she can take the throne, currently occupied by her uncle, who has brought destruction to the land of the Tearling under the influence of a nearby nation. Kelsea was placed away from the reach of evil as an infant and treated in her formative years as a future ruler who needs to survive to see that crown put on her and not her head on the floor. But will Kelsea grow to become the leader she was destined to be?

The book delves deeper into the mindset of someone who has always been beaten down and looked down upon by those who remember her Mother; a vain woman whose rule made Tearling ripe for the taking. Kelsea wants to change the lives of her people but her dreams remain unfulfilled, stopped by those who have only taken oaths to escort her to safety and no further.

Kelsea could be any one of us, but while we don’t have to try and survive and rule at the same time, many of us have to take things on the chin and accept that we can’t have everything we want, especially when it is at the expense of other things in life.

Johansen, Erika2

Author: Erika Johansen

Over the course of the book Kelsea battles against all odds to fight back against the overshadowing country of Mortmesme, which expects large and regular shipments of Tearling men and women of all different ages, a legacy from her Mother’s troubled rule. Kelsea is not strikingly beautiful like her mother, but within her there is a fight she never had. She also has a type of crystal, a crystal that makes her powerful and yet she fears the implications of using it.

Erika Johansen’s writing style is dense, full of riddles and puzzling stories. I was filled with questions. Who is her father? What is this crystal? Who is that ruling bitch from Mortmesme really?

Clearly I already need the second book, so I can start to see Kelsea grow and change into maybe not only a great leader, but a just one.

And I guess Emma Watson feels the same way.

Grab a copy of The Queen of the Tearling here

And the winners of the Maeve Binchy and the Stephen King Book Packs are……

The Winner of the Maeve Binchy Book Pack is:

L.Raftery, Vaucluse, NSW

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9781409151791CHESTNUT STREET
by Maeve Binchy

A delightful collection of linked stories from No.1 bestselling author Maeve Binchy – simply the best

Just round the corner from St Jarlath’s Crescent (featured in MINDING FANKIE) is Chestnut Street. Here, the lives of the residents are revealed in Maeve Binchy’s wonderful collection of stories

Bucket Maquire, the window cleaner, who must do more than he bargained for to protect his son.

Nessa Byrne, who’s aunt comes to visit from America for six weeks every summer and turns the house – and Nessa’s world – upside down.

Lilian, the generous girl with a big heart, and the fiance not everyone approves of.

Grab a copy of Chestnut Street here

maevebinchyprizepack



9781444788631 Mr Mercedes preorder newsletter banner

The Winners of the Stephen King Book Packs (Containing: The Shining. Misery, Carrie, Firestarter, Dead Zone, Bag of Bones, Needful Things, From a Buick 8, Cell and 11.22.63) are:

S. Miszkowycz, Springwood, QLD

H.Ladd, Adelaide, SA

G.Gutjahr, Bargo, NSW

E. Bruce, Blacktown, NSW

A.Teasdale, Kerang, VIC

 

mr-mercedesMR MERCEDES
by Stephen King

A retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies race against time to stop a psycho-loner intent on blowing up thousands… Stephen King is on a roll, this time with the heart-pounding suspense that he does best.

A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who’s haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular – the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he’s preparing to kill again. Only Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, can apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands…

 

Grab a copy of Mr Mercedes here


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

And the winner of the 1000 Ultimate Series set is……

The Winner of the 1000 Ultimate Series set from the May Travel Buzz:

K.Smith, Endeavour Hills, Vic

BooktopiaBanner520170

 

lonely-planet-s-1000-ultimate-adventures1000 Ultimate Adventures

Hankering to tackle a long-distance trek, or an icy mountain peak? 1000 Ultimate Adventures brings together activities and challenges to captivate and inspire gung-ho adventurers and armchair travellers alike. From the epic to the local, on land, sea or even in mid air, the offerings here will encourage you to dream, plan and set off on your own adventure. Explore the world!

  •     Enjoy panoramic views of Cape Town after scrambling to the top of Table Mountain
  •     Pedal your way across Vietnam from the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta to the highlands
  •     Swim between continents in the Bosphorus swim, Istanbul
  •     Rumble across the dunes on a camel safari in Rajasthan
  •     Take in sublime vistas on a circuit of Mont Blanc

Grab a copy of 1000 Ultimate Adventures here

lonely-planet-1000-ultimate-sights

1000 Ultimate Sights

Where do you start? Iconic buildings, awesome canyons, weird monuments, vast animal migrations, spooky dungeons and romantic vistas are just some of the man-made marvels and natural wonders in 1000 Ultimate Sights. Make your own list, hit the road, and start exploring the world’s most breathtaking sights.

  •     Natural phenomena, including the bubbling Pitch Lake of Trinidad
  •     Architectural masterpieces, including the ground-breaking Sagrada Família in Spain
  •     Wildlife spectacles, including the Elephant Gathering of Sri Lanka
  •     Historic sights, such as the magnifi cent ruins at Volubilis, Morocco
  •     Cultural icons, including the Giant Buddha of Leshan, China

Grab a copy of 1000 Ultimate Sights here

 

lonely-planet-s-1000-ultimate-experiences-1st-edition1000 Ultimate Experiences

Want to know where the greatest markets are or the best value destinations? 1000 Ultimate Experiences brings together 1000 ideas, places and activities to inspire and entertain for travellers and lovers of life-lists alike. Get inspired and start ticking off those boxes of places you’ve always wanted to see and things you’ve always wanted to do. Who knows where you’ll end up!

  •     Sleep under the stars in a Bedouin tent in Jordan
  •     Find out the best beaches to swing a hammock
  •     Jump on board the Ghan for a trip through Australia’s remote Red Centre
  •     Spot Banksy’s art in Bristol
  •     Come on, get happy in Bhutan

Grab a copy of  1000 Ultimate Experiences here


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

The 2014 Miles Franklin Shortlist Announced

The Miles Franklin 2014 shortlist has been announced, featuring past winners Tim Winton and Alexis Wright as well as debut novelist Fiona McFarlane.

The winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin award will be announced in Sydney on the 26th of June.

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

You can also see a special collection for this year’s shortlist on our website by clicking  here.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North

by Richard Flanagan

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

 

About the Author

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His novels, Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting have received numerous honours and are published in twenty-six countries. He directed a feature film version of The Sound of One Hand Clapping. A collection of his essays is published as And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?.

Grab a copy of The Narrow Road to the Deep North here


The Night Guest

by Fiona McFarlane

One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea. In fact she’s come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem.

Which of them can Ruth trust? And as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself?

The Night Guest is mesmerising novel about love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you’re least certain about. It introduces a writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to tap the mysterious workings of our minds, and keeping us spellbound.

About the Author

Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, and has degrees in English from Sydney University and Cambridge University, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, the Best Australian Stories and the New Yorker, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Australia Council for the Arts. The Night Guest, her debut novel, has sold into fifteen territories around the world. She lives in Sydney.

Grab a copy of The Night Guest here


My Beautiful Enemy

by Cory Taylor

Arthur Wheeler is haunted by his infatuation with a Japanese youth he encountered in the enemy alien camp where he worked as a guard during WW2. Abandoning his wife and baby son, Arthur sets out on a doomed mission to rescue his lover from forced deportation back to Japan, a country in ruins. Thus begins the secret history of a soldier at war with his own sexuality and dangerously at odds with the racism that underpins the crumbling British Empire.

Four decades later Arthur is still obsessed with the traumatic events of his youth. He proposes a last reunion with his lost lover, in the hope of laying his ghosts to rest, but this mission too seems doomed to failure. Like Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence and Snow Falling On Cedars, My Beautiful Enemy explores questions of desire and redemption against the background of a savage racial war. In this context, Arthur’s private battles against his own nature, and against the conventions of his time, can only end in heartache.

About the Author

Cory Taylor is an award-winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction and children’s books. Her first novel, Me and Mr Booker, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Pacific Region). She lives in Brisbane.

Grab a copy of My Beautiful Enemy here


Eyrie

by Tim Winton

Divorced and unemployed, he’s lost faith in everything precious to him. Holed up in a grim highrise, cultivating his newfound isolation, Keely looks down at a society from which he’s retired hurt and angry. He’s done fighting the good fight, and well past caring.

But even in his seedy flat, ducking the neighbours, he’s not safe from entanglement. All it takes is an awkward encounter in the lobby. A woman from his past, a boy the likes of which he’s never met before. Two strangers leading a life beyond his experience and into whose orbit he falls despite himself.

What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting. Inhabited by unforgettable characters, Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.

About the Author

Tim Winton has published twenty-one books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia.

Grab a copy of Eyrie here


The Swan Book

by Alexis Wright

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city.

The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.

 

About the Author

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War , a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek , and the novels Plains of Promise , and Carpentaria , which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queensland Premiers’ Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, China, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre.

Grab a copy of The Swan Book here


All the Birds, Singing

by Evie Wyld

Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.

It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.

Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman’s present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.

About the Author

Evie Wyld runs Review, a small independent bookshop London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 she was listed as one of the Culture Show’s Best New British Novelists. She was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Grab a copy of All the Birds, Singing here


Runners-up from the Longlist:

The Railwayman’s Wife

by Ashley Hay

In a small town on the land’s edge, in the strange space at a war’s end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway’s library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank McKinnon is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can be sometimes to tell them apart. It’s a story of life, loss and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

A story that will break your heart with hope.

About the Author

Ashley Hay is the author of four books of non-fiction – The Secret: The strange marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, Gum: The story of eucalypts and their champions, and Herbarium and Museum with the visual artist Robyn Stacey. A former literary editor of The Bulletin, her essays and short stories have also appeared in anthologies and journals including Brothers and Sisters, The Monthly, Heat and The Griffith Review. Ashley’s first novel, The Body in the Clouds was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize ‘Best First Book’ (South-East Asia and Pacific region) and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Grab a copy of The Railwayman’s Wife here


mullumbimbyMullumbimby

by Melissa Lucashenko

When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter Ellen, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbours, and a looming Native Title war among the local Bundjalung families. When Jo stumbles into love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life.

Told with humour and a sharp satirical eye, Mullumbimby is a modern novel set against an ancient land.

0002041About the Author

Melissa Lucashenko is an Australian writer of mixed European and Murri (Aboriginal) heritage. She was born in Brisbane in 1967, and attended public primary and secondary schools there. Melissa received an honours degree in public policy from Griffith University, graduating in 1990. She lives between Brisbane and the Bundjalung nation.

Grab a copy of Mullumbimby here


Game

by Trevor Shearston

It is 1865. For three years Ben Hall and the men riding with him have been lords of every road in mid-western New South Wales from Bathurst to Goulburn, Lambing Flat to Forbes. But with the Harbourers’ Act made law, coach escorts armed now with the new Colt revolving rifle, and mailbags more often containing cheques than banknotes, being game is no longer enough.

The road of negotiated surrender is closed. Jack Gilbert has shot dead a police sergeant at Jugiong. Constable Nelson, father of eight, lies buried at Collector, killed by John Dunn. Neither time did Ben pull the fatal trigger, but he too will hang if ever the three are taken. Harry Hall is seven. Ben has not seen the boy since his wife Biddy left to live with another man, taking Harry with her.

The need to see his son, to be in some way a father again, has grown urgent. But how much time is left before the need to give the game away and disappear becomes the greater urgency?

About the Author

Trevor Shearston is the author of Something in the Blood, Sticks That Kill, White Lies, Concertinas, A Straight Young Back and Dead Birds. He lives in Katoomba, NSW with his family.

Grab a copy of Game here


Belomor

by Nicolas Rothwell

Elegiac and seductive, Belomor is the frontier where truth and invention meet—where fragments from distant lives intermingle, and cohere. A man seeks out the father figure who shaped his picture of the past. A painter seeks redemption after the disasters of his years in northern Australia. A student of history travels into the depths of religion, the better to escape the demons in his mind. A filmmaker seeks out freedom and open space, and looks into the murk and sediment of herself.

Four chapters: four journeys through life, separate, yet interwoven as the narrative unfolds.

In this entrancing new book from one of our most original writers, we meet European dissidents from the age of postwar communism, artists in remote Australia, snake hunters, opal miners and desert magic healers. Belomor is a meditation on time, and loss: on how the most bitter recollections bring happiness, and the meaning of a secret rests in the thoughts surrounding it.

About the Author

Nicolas Rothwell is the award-winning author of Heaven and Earth, Wings of the Kite-Hawk , Another Country , The Red Highway and Journeys to the Interior . He lives in Darwin, and is the Australian’s roving northern correspondent.

Grab a copy of Belomor here


The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

by Tracy Farr

The debut novel from a wonderful new talent.

This is the story of Dame Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie.

Lena is Music’s Most Modern Musician; the first theremin player of the twentieth century.

From the obscurity of a Perth boarding school to a glittering career on the world stage, Lena Gaunt’s life will be made and torn apart by those she gives her heart to.

About the Author

Australian-born author Tracy Farr has lived in Wellington, New Zealand since 1996. Her debut novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, is published by Fremantle Press.

Grab a copy of The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt here


And the winners of The Gospel of Loki and Angelfall comps are……

The Winners of a win a signed limited edition hardcover proof of Joanne M. Harris’ The Gospel of Loki are:

M. McCabe, Preston, VIC
M. Vynuchal, Laverton, WA
S. Krauss, Kings Park, WA
G. Hurley, East Lindfield, NSW
N. Daire, Darwin, NT

the-gospel-of-loki

Click here to grab a copy

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

The first adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million copy bestselling author Joanne M. Harris.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

Grab a copy of The Gospel of Loki here

The Winners of a signed copy of World After by Susan Ee are:

M. Hutchison, Horsham, VIC
S. Tichborne, Windsor Gardens, SA
H. Rosenthal, Ebbw Vale, QLD
I. Shinkfield, Morphett Vale, SA
A. Freebairn, Coonabarabran, NSW

World After by Susan Ee

world-after

Click here to grab a copy

The irresistibly compelling BOOK TWO in the long awaited Penryn and the End of Days series. It is THE book we are all waiting with bated breath to read…

In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world. When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. But why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans, where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

Grab a copy of World After here


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

And the winner of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC signed poster is…

ac-dcThe Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC Prize Winner:

L. Heinrich, Chatswood, NSW

The prize:

A laminated poster of THE YOUNGS signed by

- Author Jesse Fink
– AC/DC bass player Mark Evans (Let There Be Rock, TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap)
– AC/DC drummer Tony Currenti (High Voltage, ’74 Jailbreak, Bonfire, Backtracks)

the-youngsThe Youngs

by Jesse Fink

With sales of over 200 million albums, AC/DC is not just the biggest rock band in the world. It’s a family business built by three brothers: George, Malcolm and Angus Young. And, as with any business, some people prospered while others got hurt along the way.

The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC is unlike any AC/DC book you’ve read before. Less a biography, more a critical appreciation, it tells the story of the trio through 11 classic songs and reveals some of the personal and creative secrets that went into their making. Important figures from AC/DC’s long way to the top open up for the very first time, while unsung heroes behind the band’s success are given the credit they are due.

Accepted accounts of events are challenged while sensational new details emerge to cast a whole new light on the band’s history – especially their early years with Atlantic Records in the United States. Former AC/DC members and musicians from bands such as Guns N’ Roses, Dropkick Murphys, Airbourne and Rose Tattoo also give their perspectives on the Youngs’ brand of magic.

Their music has never pulled its punches. Neither does The Youngs. After 40 years, AC/DC might just have got the serious book it deserves.

Grab a copy of The Youngs here


Congratulations to the winner!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

Jennifer Smart, author of The Wardrobe Girl, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

the-wardrobe-girl-jennifer-smartThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jennifer Smart

author of The Wardrobe Girl

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 Blayney, a small country town near Bathurst in NSW. But I grew up in Sydney, after a few years in Newcastle. I attended an all girls’ school on Sydney’s North Shore and am still haunted by the trauma of bottle green socks and Blackwatch tartan. Eventually, I escaped to Sydney University.

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

At the age of 12, I had grand schemes of being an architect, until someone mentioned some skill in maths was required. By 18, the idea of being Madonna a la Desperately Seeking Susan, was most appealing. My first timid scratchings of pen across blank pages started when I was about 30 and the idea that one day I could be a writer began to take hold.

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

At 18, when I wasn’t singing ‘Get Into The Groove’, I was convinced the world would end in a nuclear winter after the USSR sent missiles slamming into Pine Gap.

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?  

It’s so hard to narrow this down to 3 works of art, but this is my pick, Olympia by Edouard Manet; The Weeping Song by Nick Cave and Swan Lake by Graham Murphy for The Australian Ballet.

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

As my 7 year old daughter is a better artist than me and my pirouettes aren’t what they used to be, I turned to writing. I love the freedom a novel allows to explore the inner musings of the characters, to write descriptively and discover the world created by your imagination.

the-wardrobe-girl-jennifer-smart6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Wardrobe Girl follows the story of Tess Appleby, the new standby assistant on long-running Australian soap – Pretty Beach Rescue. It’s not quite the BBC, where until recently Tess has been working, but it should be an uncomplicated return to Sydney life after 8 years in London and a humiliating end to a relationship.

But, just like a soap opera plot, Tess’s life is soon anything but uncomplicated when the cast of characters, including the soap’s leading man, her retired actress mother and aspiring actress sister, the paparazzi, even her pet dog, Eric, all seem to conspire to create chaos.

Tess isn’t phased, not until the man who broke her heart 8 years ago arrives at Pretty Beach Rescue as a new Director. The Wardrobe Girl is loosely based on my experience working in the Australian TV industry, including 5 years on Home and Away.

Grab a copy of The Wardrobe Girl here

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

I hope people gain insights into the behind –the-scenes workings of a TV show, such as Home and Away. I also hope they are entertained and take pleasure in a world not destroyed by a nuclear winter.

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

Hilary Mantel for her sheer brilliance. Marion Keyes for extraordinary storytelling ability. Richard Flanagan’s beautiful prose. Jane Austen’s wit, wisdom and ability to capture the ‘universal truth’.

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

My most ambitious goal now is to write book 3, which requires me to first finish book 2! I have a children’s book, which is well underway and hankering to attempt a screenplay/TV mini-series.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I still consider myself an aspiring writer and the advice I remind myself of most often is – there is no ‘secret template’ to writing a book. The only way to write is to write. Trust your gut instincts, be careful of whose feedback you seek and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

Jennifer, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Wardrobe Girl here

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