Shona Innes, author of Life is Like the Wind and Friendship is Like a Seesaw, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

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The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Shona Innes

author of Life is Like the Wind and Friendship is Like a Seesaw

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 sunny Queensland. I was born in Toowoomba, but grew up living in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. I went to primary school at Buderim Mountain Primary School and then I went to High School in Maroochydore – I was school captain at Maroochy High for the class of ’83.

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

When I was 12, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels. I could help people out and chase down bad guys all while wearing high heels and having glamorous hair.

At 18, I wanted to be a school teacher. I got a really good tertiary entrance score and all of my teachers tried to talk me out of it, but I stuck to my guns….for a good two weeks… before changing unis and starting a psychology degree. I was interested in understanding more about people and their behaviour. I ended up doing a science degree in Psychology, but did all of my electives in education and then did a Grad Dip in Child Psychology.

At 30, I was totally in love with psychology, but I still wanted to know more. I was working at a custodial Youth Justice Centre and I enrolled in a Masters of Clinical Psychology.

Shona2 (2)

Author Shona Innes

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

That happiness would always be a glorious mix of Wham!, shoulder pads and a perm.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

My mum was a working Mum in an era when not many mums had a job outside the home. I was definitely going to have a career.

I won five dollars in a poetry competition at primary school. My poem was about a spider’s web after the rain. Maybe I was good at writing?

In high school, I borrowed the Cinderella Complex by Colette Dowling. I’m not sure that I fully understood it all or if I ever finished it, but I re-borrowed it multiple times. It made me feel intelligent.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

I have great memories of books in my childhood. I would often get books as gifts and my sister and I created a little library in the cupboard under the household telephone. My grandmother and my great aunt would read aloud to me and they always bought books for me that they knew I would love. It was something that meant someone was sharing their time and the joy or excitement of whatever was happening on the pages. Being read to while sharing the pages was definitely a comfort thing. It’s hard to imagine that you could evoke those same feelings electronically. The children I write to love getting mail instead of an email. I think it shows effort and a preparedness to share – ingredients of important relationships.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Life is Like the Wind” and “Friendship is Like a Seesaw” were both developed from letters I had written to my young clients after our sessions. I write to young clients to help them remember what we talked about, but also to give their parents, carers or teachers an idea about how to talk with the child about the things that are on their mind. The Big Hug series will target some of the more frequent issues children bring with them to our psychology practice. The aim is to assist children (and grownups) to understand their feelings and then to accept the feelings or think about some ideas that might make them feel better.

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Grab a copy Life is Like the Wind or Friendship is Like a Seesaw here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

All lives have their ups and downs. I’d hope that the Big Hug books can help children and grownups ease through the tough times and appreciate all that is good.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I admire people who put in an effort – whether the effort be the hard work that comes with facing fear or battling depression, the sacrifices people make because they care, or the dedication people have to their work or craft. Some people are really shiny, have the “gift of the gab” and a lot of charisma, but their efforts are shallow. I value hard work, but really struggle with those who take credit where it is not due.

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

This year I’d like to run 10km in under 55 minutes, visit friends in faraway places and have all my favourite music artists make it to the top 10 in the Triple J Hottest 100.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Know about what you do. Apply effort. Be genuinely grateful for shared knowledge and learn from tough times.

Shona, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy Life is Like the Wind or Friendship is Like a Seesaw here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Zoe Foster, author of The Wrong Girl, chats to Caroline Baum

 

 

the-wrong-girlThe Wrong Girl
by Zoe Foster

What happens when you discover the man of your dreams is going out with your best friend?

Sometimes you don’t know what you want until someone else has it.

Lily needs a break. A man break. She hadn’t exactly meant to sleep with her friend, Pete, and she certainly hadn’t expected him to confess his love – for another girl – the next morning. If men were going to behave like such pigs, well, she’d happily take some time out.

Besides, her TV career requires all her attention right now. Jack Winters – the gorgeous new talent – is definitely proving a distraction, but Lily is determined to maintain her professional distance, even when Jack starts seeing someone completely inappropriate. It’s only when Lily accepts that good things don’t always come to those who wait and takes a leap into the great unknown that life starts making sense . . .

From the bestselling author of The Younger Man and Amazing Face comes a funny, heartfelt novel about what happens when life, love, work and friendships collide.

Read Caroline Baum’s Review

After a few wrong turns, Lily and her friend Simone decide to go on a sabboytical or man break. Lily needs to focus on her TV production career on a cooking show but when the new on camera cook turns out to be a dish, her romantic fasting diet intentions are tested by an unexpected rival.

Zoe Foster may have a Miles Franklin winner as a father (who discouraged her from being a writer) but her talent is very much her own. Playful, hip and fun, she has the chick lit thing down pat – plenty of glamour, social media, goss, casual sex and girlfriend issues. Her ear for dialogue never lets her down and the likeable freshness of her own high profile as part of a media golden couple comes through on the page. This is her moment.

About the Author

Zoe Foster has written three novels, Air Kisses, Playing the Field and The Younger Man, as well as the dating and relationship book Textbook Romance, written in conjunction with Hamish Blake, and the bestseller Amazing Face, a collection of her best beauty tips and tricks.

Grab a copy of The Wrong Girl here

Gabrielle Tozer, author of The Intern, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Gabrielle Tozer

author of The Intern

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 Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, a wonderful regional town where I completed both primary and high school, and ate chicken-salted potato gems by the bagful.

Next stop, three years studying journalism and creative writing at the University of Canberra (and perfecting the art of staying up ’til 3am and sleeping ’til midday). I’ve been a city-slicker in Sydney since early 2006 but still have soft spots for Wagga and Canberra and visit both as often as possible.

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

Twelve: A journalist, author, actress or psychologist. Eighteen: A journalist, author or a newsreader like Ann Sanders (I used to go into older women’s shops to try on power suits. Yes, I’m strange). Thirty: Yet to crack the big 3-0, but I predict I will still want to be a – shock horror – author! And maybe a professional pizza reviewer. Is that a thing? That should be a thing.

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

That I would have my driver’s licence by now. Oops. It has not eventuated yet, much to the dismay of my family and friends (and every second person I meet). Eighteen-year-old me was such a glass-half-full kind of gal.

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?

Sorry, I am going to cheat by ignoring that you said ‘three’ and also by saying writers have influenced me the most. Without a doubt: Stephen King’s On Writing (I read it once a year whenever I need a creative reboot); anything by John Marsden, Roald Dahl, Nick Hornby, Margaret Clark and Morris Gleitzman; and brilliant female screenwriters such as Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham.

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

Because I sing like a hyena, haven’t pirouetted in years, get too nervous to act anymore and can only draw stick figures. Luckily, I can wrangle words into shape from time to time and, since I have always been a voracious reader, I thought it would be pleasurable to see things from the other side (and hopefully entertain a new generation!). Besides, this sounds naff, but I could always picture myself doing it…and now, I’m hooked!

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Intern is a YA novel that follows the crazy, awkward adventures of seventeen-year-old Josie Browning, a country girl who scores herself an internship at the glamorous magazine, Sash. While it all sounds amazing, there’s a catch: she’s battling for a coveted cash prize and column, and at the mercy of the whip-cracking editor-in-chief Rae Swanson. Throw in family dramas, slipping uni grades and a hot guy or two, and Josie’s having herself quite the year!

Grab a copy of The Intern here

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

I want readers to be entertained! I hope they giggle, smirk or snort while reading the awkward moments (oh, I love putting my characters through cringe-worthy scenarios!), and enjoy the warmer interludes between Josie and her family. Readers are quite taken with Josie’s dorky but loveable way and often ask me about her next adventure, so I’m glad I’m working on the sequel at the moment (it’s due out early 2015).

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

John Marsden, J.K. Rowling, Kylie Ladd, Rebecca Sparrow, John Green, Nick Hornby, Suzanne Collins, Lena Dunham, just to name a few. They’re damn good writers and I want to devour every word they write.

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

Keep finding the joy in writing, keep getting books published, keep pushing myself creatively. If I could do all three, while juggling real-life responsibilities and relationships with aplomb, then I will be incredibly fulfilled and happy. Oh, and I might look into the whole professional pizza reviewer gig, too… (A girl’s gotta have goals, right?)

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Just start. Put pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard and get writing. Don’t worry about asking for advice, or waiting for inspiration to strike, or for the ‘perfect moment’ to begin. If you are a writer, then you will write. It won’t always be easy, in fact, sometimes it’s extraordinarily challenging, so be gentle with yourself and remember to enjoy the ride.

Gabrielle, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Intern here

The Monday Morning Cooking Club, authors of The Feast Goes On, answer Ten Terrifying Questions

Click here to grab a copyThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

The Monday Morning Cooking Club

authors of The Feast Goes On

Ten Terrifying Questions
___________

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

We all live in Sydney, Australia but we have come from all over: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, South Africa. And our family backgrounds are even more diverse, reflecting the Jewish community’s melting pot: Hungary, Poland, Russia via China, South Africa, England.

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

When we were twelve we were all consumed with what was in our lunch boxes and pantries. Some of us were getting schnitzel on rye and really wanted Vegemite on white bread.  Some of our pantries were stocked with kosher salami, dill pickles and poppyseed cake and all we really wanted were biscuits from a packet and bought jam swiss rolls. What did we want to be? Like everybody else!

When we were eighteen we were discovering our passion for food. Learning and loving to cook, throwing our first dinner parties and searching for good food. What did we want to be? Grown up and accomplished. mmcc_slider_girlswhite

When we were thirty we were all consumed with motherhood, trying to find the time for a cup of tea and a delicious piece of cake and striving to find the right life/work balance. What did we want to be? Less sleep deprived than we were!

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

At eighteen, we were all so sure we knew more than our mothers. As we grow older and wiser, and have 18 year old daughters ourselves, we have learned the adage is true: ‘mother is always right.’

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

Growing up, more so than any one event, the continual celebrations that went on in all our homes each and every year for Jewish festivals (passover, Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur) and weekly Friday night feasts for Sabbath eve together with mothers who were committed and passionate about cooking and feeding their families.  2: On a larger scale, the immigration to Australia from countries as far and wide as Vietnam, Greece, Hungary, Russia and South Africa has given our lives in Australia a cultural and culinary diversity which has enriched our national makeup and palate. 3: The creation of our first book Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food the stories the sisterhood’. The years we spent collecting, testing and preserving family heirloom recipes filled us with a great joy, and taught us so much along the way.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

Printed cookbooks will never be obsolete. Some of us think that there is nothing more enjoyable than taking your latest cookbook to bed and reading it cover to cover, ogling the beautiful photos and feeling the pages between your fingers.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…Click here to grab a copy

The Feast Goes On features the best loved and most delicious stories from the heart and soul of our community right across Australia. It is not a book of Jewish food per se, it’s a book of recipes from Jewish kitchens, collected from countries far and wide. The book speaks of a community drawn together by food, with intimate and moving stories of sharing and survival, love and hope, friendship and family. It is full of precious family recipes passed down from past generations through to recipes that will become instant family favourites.The book has recipes for every occasion – from every day eating to feasting, light lunches to fressing, comfort food to traditional dishes – which will nurture, nourish and inspire.

Grab a copy of The Feast Goes On here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

To find, collect, recreate and publish all those wonderful heirloom recipes from the older generation before they are lost forever. We believe the old recipes still fit so well into our contemporary world.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?
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As a group, without a doubt, we place our grandmothers on the highest pedestal. We look back with wonder on how they managed to nurture and feed their families the most exquisite dishes without any of today’s mod-cons; plucking chickens to produce golden roasts, pickling and preserving anything and everything to get though the winter, home baked bread made from scratch, the lightest of chiffon cakes, flaky pastries crammed with dried fruit and nuts.

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

Our goal is to create a contemporary face for Australian Jewish cuisine. One important part of this is to preserve those treasured recipes from the older generation for our generation, and from our generation for the future. The other important aspect is that we are a not-for-profit company and will continue to raise substantial funds for charity.

10.      What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Always follow your dream, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be dissuaded by the ’NO’s’. Doors open at the most unexpected times!

Monday Morning Cooking Club, thank you for playing!

Grab a copy of The Feast Goes On here

BREAKING NEWS: 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists Announced

The shortlists for this year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced.

In their 34 year history, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have honoured many of Australia’s greatest writers and most significant works. The Awards help to establish values and standards in Australian literature and draw international attention to some of the country’s best writers and to the cultural environment that nurtures them.

Minister George Souris MP, Minister for the Arts welcomed the announcement of the shortlist. “The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards promote national and international recognition of our dynamic literary community and the work of our talented writers,” Mr Souris said. “The Awards continue to support and encourage great Australian writing, and demonstrate the value and importance of reading to the people of NSW.”

CHRISTINA STEAD PRIZE FOR FICTION

* Georgia Blain - The Secret Lives of Men (More…)

* Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North (More…)

* Ashley Hay - The Railwayman’s Wife (More…)

* Michelle de Kretser – Questions of Travel (More…)

* Trevor Shearston - Game (More…)

* Alexis Wright - The Swan Book (More…)

DOUGLAS STEWART PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

* Kristina Olsson – Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir (More…)

* David Hunt – Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia (More…)

* Gideon Haigh – On Warne (More…)

* Michael Fullilove - Rendezvous with Destiny (More…)

* Steve Bisley - Stillways: A Memoir (More…)

* Peter Butt – Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? (More…)

PATRICIA WRIGHTSON PRIZE FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

* Catherine Jinks - A Very Unusual Pursuit (More…)

* Jackie French - Refuge (More…)

* Penny Tangey – Stay Well Soon (More…)

* Katrina Nannestad -The Girl Who Brought Mischief (More…)

* Tony Davis - The Big Dry (More…)

* Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton - Jandamarra (More…)

ETHEL TURNER PRIZE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

* Fiona Wood – Wildlife (More…)

* Barry Jonsberg – My Life As an Alphabet (More…)

* Kelly Gardiner – The Sultan’s Eyes (More…)

* Felicity Castanga – The Incredible Here and Now (More…)

* Alison Croggon - Black Spring (More…)

* A.J. Betts – Zac and Mia (More…)

GLENDA ADAMS AWARD FOR NEW WRITING

the-night-guest* Fiona McFarlane – The Night Guest (More…)

* Laura Jean McKay – Holiday in Cambodia (More…)

* Margaret Merrilees – The First Week (More…)

* Yvette Walker – Letters to the End of Love (More…)

Silvia Kwon, author of The Return, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Silvia Kwon

author of The Return

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 Seoul, South Korea and arrived in Perth, Western Australia aged nine. I spent the first few years in country towns and found the transition from a bustling city to rural Australia fairly traumatic. It was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t speak any English and being a fairly outgoing, social girl, it made me determined to learn the language as quickly as possible.

I went to a girls’ Catholic high school, St Joachim’s High School in Perth and spent a few years trying to figure out what to do with my life. I ended up falling in love with art and decided to pursue an art history degree at the University of Western Australia. Then in my late twenties I thought it was time I did something about my love of books and words and moved to Melbourne to try and work in publishing, which I did for a number of years before having a child and starting my own writing.

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

Twelve – no idea
Eighteen – Filmmaker: I loved the way films – images with music – could move you. I try to this with words. But I found that I wasn’t any good with a camera.
Thirty – Editor: I loved words so the idea of working with words as a profession was very attractive to me. I am doing that now, as a writer.

Silvia Kwon3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I was very much a romantic, so I believed in the idea of a soulmate, but now I’m much more pragmatic and believe that love and relationships happen through coincidence, luck and chance as much as compatibility.

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?

1) The art of Mark Rothko
2) The films of Terrence Malick
3) Books by James Joyce

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

The simplicity and freedom associated with the act of putting ideas down on paper has always been attractive to me. There’s no complicated equipment like cameras or messy paintbrushes etc.

I also love words. I could sit and read the dictionary quite happily for an entire day.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s about a family coming to terms with the son’s decision to bring home a Japanese wife during 1960s Australia. The father is deeply traumatised by his war experiences and still hates the former enemy.

The novel is told from the mother’s point of view and follows her struggle, caught between her husband and son, to hold the fractured family together.

Grab a copy of The Return here

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

That they took a journey with the main protagonist through the emotional landscape of the novel.

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

I really admire Toni Morrison for the power of her language.

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

To try and write a better book than the last.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

It’s actually something I heard Neil Gaiman say: There will always be better writers and smarter people than you. Just try to write something which only you could have written.

Silvia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Return here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Jane Kennedy, author of One Dish: Two Ways, Meets The Incompetent Cook

Jane Kennedy made her name in comedy, so when she arrived at Booktopia to sign copies of her wonderful new cookbook One Dish: Two Ways, we were always going to try to impress her.

Did we? Probably not, but we had some fun trying. Take a look at possibly our most ridiculous video yet, as she meets Andrew Cattanach, The Incompetent Cook.

Grab a copy of One Dish: Two Ways here

One Dish: Two Ways

by Jane Kennedy

The perfect collection of recipes that can be served simply for kids, then jazzed up for the adults with just a few additional ingredients – the first cookbook guaranteed to please the whole family.

Feeding a family. Every night. Is hard. Jane Kennedy knows because she cooks for seven people, seven days a week.

It’s not the cooking that’s hard, it’s thinking of a new dinner ideas EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Grownups are easy. They love spices and chilli and garlic and onions and herbs and zest and can dress up a boring piece of chicken, fish or steak in a flash.

Kids…well. Most kids don’t like spices and chilli and herbs and zest. Green bits. Orange bits. And especially not hot bits.

So Jane set herself a challenge to find a way to keep everyone happy. A way that wouldn’t involve her having to eat ‘plain’ food just to keep the kids happy and didn’t require the kids to miraculously start loving spicy food. A way where one base meal could be jazzed up, or down, to suit all taste buds. One dish; two ways.

About the Author

Jane Kennedy began her career in the late 1980s alongside comedy team The D-Generation on a number one breakfast FM show and on television with The Late Show. She co-wrote, produced, directed and starred as the ruthless reporter Brooke Vandenberg in Frontline, a satire about the current affairs industry. Jane was also a co-producer of movies The Dish and the film recently voted Australia’s favourite of all time, The Castle. She continues to work behind the scenes at Working Dog as Casting Director on shows such as The Hollowmen and Thank God You’re Here. Jane lives in Melbourne, and clearly taking her commitment to comedy too far, she and partner Rob Sitch have five children.

Grab a copy of One Dish: Two Ways here

Tiny Tiffiny Hall teaches Giant John Purcell how to be a Ninja – Laughter Guaranteed

imageBlack Warrior

by Tiffiny Hall

The town of Lanternwood is under attack. There’s a Tigon, a monster that is half-dragon, half-tiger, on the loose. Roxy is being hunted by a fire-breathing army and her best friend Cinnamon has been kidnapped. It seems that everyone Roxy loves has been cursed and it’s up to her to save them.

Somebody wants revenge. And when life couldn’t be more dangerous, Roxy loses her powers and all seems lost, particularly when she is plagued by ferocious nightmares that entwine her fate in a quest, not only to hunt down the Tigon, but also to find her estranged father.

Forced into a life on the run, Roxy is chased out of town by the Tigon’s fire-breathing army. The search for her father means Roxy must try to stay alive as the friends Roxy once trusted betray her. And what awaits her is more horrifying than any of the terror she’s suffered so far.

Grab a copy of Black Warrior today

Which Book Is Now The Biggest Drama in Australia?

Some time ago a friend of Booktopia threw a book on my desk, a post it note attached with just two words on it.

Read This

The book was a supernatural tale from a debut US author. That sentence is probably the most common used by booksellers over the past decade, and not really my cup of tea, but I took it home and flicked through it that night.

And I then I flicked through it a little more. And a little more after that.

And then I stopped flicking through it and looked at the clock.

It said 4:30am.

That’s when you know it’s a pretty good one.

And now that book is one of the biggest TV shows in Australia.

The book is The Returned, by Jason Mott.

The TV Show is Resurrection, which on Tuesday become the highest rating TV drama launch in two years, with 1.911 million viewers for the opening episode. Crazy numbers.

Sure, the TV series is good. But the book, let’s face it, is always better, and adds layers you never know existed.

The Returned. Grab a copy today. It’s big, and is going to get even bigger.

Grab a copy of Jason Mott’s The Returned today

The Returned

by Jason Mott

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time … Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Grab a copy of Jason Mott’s The Returned today

Naomi Wood, author of Mrs. Hemingway, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Naomi Wood

author of Mrs. Hemingway

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 grew up in York in the north of England. When I was eight my parents announced we were moving to Hong Kong. We’d never been to the continent of Asia, nevertheless China, and we’d certainly never been to Hong Kong. My dad worked for the international schools, and my sister and I had most of our schooling out there. Now she’s in Sydney, I’m in London and my parents are in Italy. We’re spread out like butter on the toast of the globe.

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

At twelve I told people I wanted to be “a bloodsucking lawyer”. It was a brattish answer that I stole from The Addams Family movie (my favourite, at that age; for a year I watched it every afternoon over a bowl of noodles, and can still remember most of the lines.) At eighteen I was getting vibes that I wanted to be a writer. I’m thirty now, and I write and teach Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University in London, which is a pretty good combination.

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

That writing would build me a big house and swimming pool. The economics of my dreams have shrunk a little.

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?

Reading The Old Man and the Sea made me interested in Hemingway and made me want to find out everything about him – that powerful sense of loss in all of its pages made me want to write about a troubled soul and his relationships with women.  My first novel, The Godless Boys, emerged after I set about writing a short-story based on what I saw in Lucian Freud’s painting The Village Boys. If I could produce something tonally close to the cascading elegy that is Anthony and the Jonson’s ‘Hope There’s Someone’ – I’d be very happy.

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

No good at painting. Can’t sing. Can dance, but only like an idiot. I love books – short-stories, novels and poetry, and I love language, so writing seemed the obvious artistic avenue.

6.     Please tell us about your latest novel…

Mrs. Hemingway is historical fiction, set between 1921-61 in France and America. It tells the story of Hemingway’s four marriages from the perspective of each wife (and former mistress) – Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn and Mary Welsh.

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

It’s definitely written for people who’ve never read any Hemingway before, so I hope people take away a portrait of him, as well as a portrait of his four incredible wives. And maybe they’ll go away and read some of Martha Gellhorn’s war reportage – or maybe some fiction of Hemingway’s.

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

I’ll choose a living writer here. I really love Marilynne Robinson’s work. I think she is a very robust, very beautiful writer. Gilead is one of my favourite novels.

the-old-man-and-the-sea9.     Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I set myself achievable rather than ambitious goals.  My current goal is to write a first draft of my third novel.

10.   What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Not to worry too much about early drafts. They’re exploratory and first stabs in the dark. I must admit this is advice I find very difficult to accept myself. I’d like things to be perfect right from the get-go. Maybe I’m quite like Wednesday Addams in this as well!

Naomi, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mrs. Hemingway here

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