Kimberley Freeman, author of Evergreen Falls, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kimberley Freeman

author of Evergreen Falls, Wildflower Hill and more…

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 London to Australian and New Zealand parents who brought me back to Australia when I was three. I was raised at Redcliffe, which is a city just north of Brisbane on the way towards the Sunshine Coast. I attended Humpybong state school, which is famous for having schooled the Bee Gees. It’s directly across from the beach, and during whale watching season we would often find ourselves down at the back fence watching the passing migration.

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

At all those ages I wanted to be a writer, because I just didn’t think I would be good at anything else.

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

I was a bit of a rebel and I strongly rejected the suburban lifestyle, the barbecue on the patio, the ordinary life. I never wanted to have children. Now I love all those things and I love my two children.

Author: Kimberley Freeman (aka Kim Wilkins)

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?

Studying English literature at university brought me into contact with some of the most amazing poetry. I can’t and don’t write poetry but I have certainly been influenced by the works of writers such as Tennyson and Keats and Shakespeare, the way that they put words together, the rhythm of their sentences. I must have read Tithonus by Tennyson one hundred times and I’ve yet to make it through without sobbing. Recently I read Beowulf in the original old English with the group of colleagues at the University and it was one of the defining moments of my intellectual life. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of my all-time favourite novels, and I love that puts a woman’s experience at the very centre of the story. Jane is a fabulous character with a strong moral compass.

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

I actually did muck around with music for quite a while, I studied opera, and I played in rock bands. But what I love about writing is that I can express myself in private and edit and polish my thoughts before I have to put them in front of anybody. Performance really isn’t for me, though I do still love music and I still sing a lullaby to my children every night.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Evergreen Falls is a novel set in two time periods: 1926 and the present. In the 20s, a naive young waitress at a luxury hotel in the Blue Mountains falls in love with the wrong man entirely, triggering a set of tragic circumstances that are covered up by everyone involved. In the present, a woman who is searching for meaning in her own life comes across a bundle of old love letters that seem to hint at a long buried secret.

Grab a copy of Kimberley Freeman’s novel Evergreen Falls here

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

What I want most of all is for people to feel how I feel when reading a good book: the world goes away and you’re falling through the pages, wishing you could slow down but unable to stop, and afterwards feeling is that you’ve been on an adventure.

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

I admire Marian Keyes, because her books make me laugh and cry, because she has suffered such a public battle with depression, an illness which afflicts so many but which so few talk about.

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

My goals are not ambitious. For me the practice of writing is its own reward. I get to spend a lot of time in my imagination, with my imaginary friends who are always fascinating. I just want to be able to keep writing, and maybe one day have a house with a view of the sea. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read a lot, write a lot, and enjoy the process. If you’re not passionate about it, don’t bother.

Kimberley, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here

evergreen-fallsEvergreen Falls

by Kimberley Freeman

1926: Violet Armstrong is one of the few remaining members of staff working at the grand Evergreen Spa Hotel as it closes down over winter. Only a handful of guests are left, including the heir to a rich grazing family, his sister and her suave suitor. When a snowstorm moves in, the hotel is cut off and they are all trapped. No one could have predicted what would unfold. When the storm clears they must all keep the devastating secrets hidden.

2014: After years of putting her sick brother’s needs before her own, Lauren Beck leaves her home and takes a job at a Blue Mountains cafe, the first stage of the Evergreen Spa Hotel’s renovations. There she meets Tomas, the Danish architect who is overseeing the project, and an attraction begins to grow. In a wing of the old hotel, Lauren finds a series of passionate love letters dated back to 1926, alluding to an affair – and a shocking secret.If she can unravel this long-ago mystery, will it make Lauren brave enough to take a risk and change everything in her own life?

Inspired by elements of her grandmother’s life, a rich and satisfying tale of intrigue, heartbreak and love from the author of the bestselling Lighthouse Bay and Wildflower Hill.

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here


Claire Zorn, author of The Protected, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Claire Zorn

author of  The Protected and The Sky So Heavy  

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, raised and schooled in the lower Blue Mountains. I lived there until I was about 24 when I moved to Sydney’s Inner West. Now I live in Wollongong.

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

Twelve: Artist/writer/Olympian show-jumper/horse-breeder. Why? Why on earth not.

Eighteen: Artist/jewellery designer for Dinosaur Designs. My obsession with Dinosaur Designs started at seventeen when I went into their Sydney Strand Arcade Store. I was so inspired that I changed my university plans from equestrian science to visual arts. I continue to squander all my money on DD stuff and am in the habit of writing them occasional fan mail.

Thirty: Writer. I’ve always imagined stories and characters. While film-making would probably be more fun, all you need to write a story is some paper and a pencil. It’s simpler and more direct. If anyone wants to spot me a few thousand dollars to make a film, I’m up for it.

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

I was convinced there was no God. Now I’m 99.9 percent sure there is one.

Author: Claire Zorn

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?

Only three? Cruel. Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief and King of Limbs (Can’t choose.) Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Pipilotti Rist’s video installation Sip My Ocean

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

Because I love stories most of all. It’s that simple. I find story-making to be the most satisfying pursuit aside from swimming in the ocean, and no one’s offered me money to do that. Writing seems to be the most direct way of getting stuff out of my head. I mentioned film before, but to cram all the details and tangents novels allow for into a film, you need tens of hours. You also need to collaborate with multiple people and schedule stuff and there’s probably diagrams involved. I’m not organised enough for all of that.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Hannah is just shy of sixteen and her family has recently been ripped apart by tragedy: her sister – whom she loved but didn’t like – has been killed. An unexpected ramification of this is that the bullying she has endured throughout high school has ceased, something that puts her in a strange place emotionally. While she is trying to come to grips with this she begins to form her first friendship in years – with the crossword-obsessed delinquent, Josh.

Grab a copy of Claire’s book The Protected here

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

Golly, I hate that question! Perhaps some small sense of camaraderie for those who were/are miserable in high school. I also wanted to pay homage to the lovely, genuine, noble guys I have known over the years. You don’t come across them all that often in books.

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

This is one that tends to change a lot. I’m going to break the rules and choose two! Vince Gilligan: the character arcs he created in Breaking Bad were nothing short of Shakespearian. And Sonya Hartnett. I don’t have words to describe how great her writing is. I also like how she doesn’t seem to give a brass razoo about genres or markets or any of that annoying stuff. She seems to just write what she wants.

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

Oh dear. This is going to be embarrassing. May as well aim high: the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award would be quite nice. That would mean I could stop renting! Or perhaps if we are going to be absurd I could write the first YA to win the Booker. I’m pretty sure that’s impossible, although I dare say Harper Lee could have won it. On a more achievable level: I really, really want to write and illustrate a picture book. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Choose carefully whose opinion of your work you listen to. And write. It sounds obvious but until you get the words out on the page, nothing will ever come of them.

Claire, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Protected here

The Protected

by Claire Zorn

I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.

Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems?

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl’s struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

 Grab a copy of The Protected here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Australian music royalty John Williamson chats to John Purcell about his memoir Hey True Blue

John Williamson has been touring Australia for over 50 years, and remains one of Australia’s most loved musicians. He chats to John Purcell about his new memoir Hey True Blue, life in the country AND plays a song from his new album Honest People.

Grab a copy of Hey True Blue here

hey-true-blue-order-your-signed-copy-now-Hey True Blue

by John Williamson

The long-awaited life story of John Williamson: an Australian icon, a much-loved legend of the music industry and man of the land.

Williamson takes us through his life, from growing up on the land in the Mallee and Moree in a family of five boys, to being the voice of Australia.

Beyond the songs, John has revealed barely anything about his private life in his forty-year career. He opens up here, talking about the tough times, the great times and what matters to him. In his distinctive Australian accent, he tells it like it is.

This is a journey across the breadth of Australia, and beyond.

About the Author

John Williamson is without question an Australian Icon. His entertainment career spans more than forty years boasting sales of over 5 million albums. His unofficial anthems, tender ballads and tributes to unsung heroes have captured the spirit of the nation in song more than any other performer. He remains one of the most in-demand live performers in Australia. His fiftieth album, Honest People, will be released at the same time as his autobiography.

Grab a copy of Hey True Blue here

Karl Stefanovic meets The Incompetent Cook

Grab a copy of Karl Cooks here

Karl Cooks

by Karl Stefanovic

From the co-host of Australia’s popular Today show comes this easy to use cookbook full of delicious recipes for any Aussie home chef that wants to be able to eat like Karl.

Whether you’re planning a weekend with mates, looking to spoil your lady friend or need a no-fuss breakfast to ease your hangover – Karl Cooks has a recipe for every occasion. Let Karl show you how to create a mouth-watering roast or stack a juicy burger, with illustrated steps and handy hints to make the cooking process as painless as possible. Become a hero in your kitchen and impress the missus with this collection of delicious, easy-to-use recipes.

This is the how-to manual you can’t do without. Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to police legacy charities.

About the Author

Karl Stefanovic is co-host of Channel 9’s Today show, a contributor to current affairs program 60 Minutes and a former 5-year-old BMX champion. He lives in Sydney with his wife and kids.

Grab a copy of Karl Cooks here

Karina Machado, author of Love Never Dies, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Karina Machado

author of Love Never Dies, Spirit Sisters and Where Spirits Dwell

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 Uruguay (but am the non-bitey type). My family left our little country when I was two and the choice was between Australia and Canada. I think the brochures for Australia were prettiest, so we ended up here. After a short stint at the Endeavour Hostel for Migrants in Sydney’s Coogee (now the site of luxury housing) we settled in nearby Eastlakes, where I went to primary school. Later, I attended J.J. Cahill Memorial High School in Mascot, reputedly the toughest school around. Luckily, we had a great year and inspiring teachers (hi Mrs Slattery and Mr Johnson!) and I never even came close to getting my head flushed down the loo.

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

12: A writer. I’d realised by age 4 that I was in love with words and stories. When I was in year 3 I wrote a poem called The Hungry Sea that Miss Griffin pinned up on the classroom wall, so this seemed to confirm that I was on the right path.

18: A magazine editor. Ok, so I still wanted to write books, but by now I’d worked out that I would need to sustain myself somehow until that dream came to fruition, so I figured that a job in magazines would be the best way to do this, without hindering the original dream. I’d grown up on Smash Hits and Dolly and may have thought that being the ed of a mag would be all pop stars and hilarity. Of course, after two decades in magazines (give or take a few to have babies and try freelancing) I’ve realised that I couldn’t have been more mistaken! I tip my hat every day to the ed of Who, where I work; being the editor of a magazine is a 24-hour gig. We do laugh a lot though, at least I was right there.

30: An author: I’d just had my second child, just 18 months after the first. He was born the day before September 11 and the world beneath my feet seemed to be cracking. I’d taken a voluntary redundancy from work to look after my babies, but clearly remember staring longingly at my bookshelves during night feeds. The sight of them cut through the mind-numbing exhaustion and fears about the state of the world. I didn’t have time to read the books, but just looking at them, knowing I’d get back to them one day, offered a measure of comfort and peace. It reminded me of my original passion for books, and of how, one day, I hoped I too could bring hope and solace to readers through writing a book of my own.

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

Author Karina Machado

I was very hard on myself, especially in thinking I had to look and be a certain way. I look back on photos now and think, ‘What did you have to complain about??’ I was also a bit ashamed of my quiet nature, thinking I had to be another way, especially if I wanted to be a journalist. Now I know that being quiet and non-intimidating can be a big plus in journalism: it allows people’s stories to just pour into me.

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?

1: Golden Books. I was probably 2 when I first got one, not long after we arrived from Uruguay, and maybe 4 when I taught myself to read them. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love stories. My mum is a wonderful writer and poet, and I’m certain that I inherited her love of words … but if I had to pinpoint a time when I can first recall books in my life, it was Golden Books. Looking back, I was an immigrant child who’d lost her entire large extended family in one fell swoop. I think books filled the void, in a way. I learned to associate them with love and comfort, and never wanted to be far from them. That’s still the case today.

2: When I was about 7, my mum shared with me some experiences that she’d had as a young woman growing up in Uruguay. These experiences were instances of precognition, of sensing the future, specifically, the imminent deaths of loved ones. These stories opened me to the possibility that there was more to life than what we see and know, that mysteries abound. I found this exciting! It spoke of hope… it also taught me about the power of storytelling.

3. Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende: I was in my late teens or early 20s when I first tackled García Márquez. I was stunned, winded, by his novels—his dexterity of language, his breadth of imagination, the sheer beauty of his words. He left an imprint on my heart, as did Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits a little later on. Both huge influences on my work. Many years later, I was lucky enough to interview Isabel Allende as part of my job as the books editor at Who magazine. I found her a kindred spirit—like me, tiny and overly fond of makeup!

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?

Not at all, see above! To me, books spell comfort, healing, joy and love, I can’t see how they’ll ever be obsolete.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Love Never Dies is a celebration of love that transcends death. It is full of stories of everyday Australians who’ve had an experience of sensing the spirit of someone they’ve loved and lost. It is my third book on the subject of life after death, and the seed for this one was planted in my earlier books. Those were a broader look at paranormal experiences, but each also contained a chapter about people who’d sensed the spirit of a loved one. I was struck by how powerful these experiences were, how they changed the outlook of the beraved person—the experiences were life-changing, and, in some cases, life-saving—and decided that I would love to dedicate an entire book to these kinds of stories.

Grab a copy of Karina’s latest book Love Never Dies here

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

If my work could inspire people to appreciate the loved ones in their lives while they’re with them, that would be wonderful. Beyond that, if my work could encourage people to be kinder, not only in their dealings with precious people around them but also with other people in the community, from neighbours to the Lollipop Lady, I’d be a happy writer. I’m with the Dalai Lama when he says: “My religion is kindness.”

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

This is very difficult! It is a long list and it’s growing (a good thing, no?). I’ll have to cheat and tell you about two people who are on it today: first, a lady I saw on Dateline, who puts her safety on the line every day to run a school for the impoverished children of Brazil’s favelas. My heart was bursting watching that. I’m passionate about children’s literacy but she’s actually out there, making it happen in her third-world country, just over the border from the third-world country I was born in. Something to aspire to. The other person who’s on my list today is my daughter, Jasmin. She’s 14 and has just brought home the most outstanding report! I’m so proud of how hard she works for her results. She inspires me everyday to just put my head down and get the job done, no complaints.

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

I would like to try my hand at fiction … other than that, my goals involve helping others. I’d like to find a way to encourage children to read and be passionate about books, because that opens the door to a brighter future.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I will not be the first writer to say this, but, ‘Be true to yourself.’ Follow that gut instinct that tells you you’re on the trail of a good story, the right thing for you to commit to the page. And don’t worry if you’re that teenager who loves reading and writing but hates drawing attention to yourself and would rather sneak under the radar at every opportunity. I’m here to tell you it won’t always be that way. Some day, you’ll be happy to get up and tell a lot of people about your work, stories you’ve gathered because your kind face and quiet demeanour allowed subjects to pour their stories into you, without fear.

Karina, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Love Never Dies here

Love Never Dies

by Karina Machado

“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.” – Emily Dickinson

This is a book about the indestructibility of love. Journalist and author Karina Machado spoke to over 60 Australians with stories of post-death contact. She shares their life-shattering experience of loss, and shows how their spiritual contact with a deceased lover, friend or family member brought peace, hope and the solace of knowing that their connection lives on.

There is the story of a teenage boy who appears in bodily form on the eve of his funeral to bring comfort to his sister. A young husband returns to his widow in time to prevent another tragedy. A grandmother arrives to lovingly care for the infant children of her grief-stricken daughter. A man soothes his heartbroken brother with an otherworldly embrace.

Written with grace and compassion, Love Never Dies is as much about the power of loving relationships as it is the phenomenon of the survival of consciousness beyond death.

 Grab a copy of Love Never Dies here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dr Xanthe Mallett talks to John Purcell about her new book Mothers Who Murder

Dr Xanthe Mallett is like Bones, except real and far more interesting. She sat down with John Purcell to talk about her new book Mothers Who Murder.

Grab a copy of Mothers Who Murder here

Mothers Who Murder

by Xanthe Mallett

For a limited time get a signed copy!

Child murder: A social taboo and one of the most abhorrent acts most of us can imagine. Meet the women found guilty of murdering their own children. They represent some of the most hated women in Australia. The infamous list includes psychologically damaged, sometimes deranged, women on the edge. But, as we will see, accused doesn’t always mean guilty.

Among the cases covered is that of Kathleen Folbigg, accused and found guilty of killing four of her children, even with a lack of any forensic evidence proving her guilt; Rachel Pfitzner, who strangled her 2-year-old son and dumped his body in a duck pond; as well as Keli Lane, found guilty of child murder though no body has ever been found.

Dr Mallett goes back to the beginning of each case; death’s ground zero. That might be the accused’s childhood, were they abused? Or was their motivation greed, or fear of losing a partner? Were they just simply evil? Or did the media paint them as such, against the evidence and leading to a travesty of justice.

Each case will be re-opened, the alternative suspects assessed, the possible motives reviewed. Informed by her background as a forensic scientist, Xanthe will offer insight into aspects of the cases that may not have been explored previously. Taking you on her journey through the facts, and reaching her own conclusion as to whether she believes the evidence points to the women’s guilt.

Grab a copy of Mothers Who Murder here

Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon set to star in Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies: The Movie

We knew Big Little Lies was going to be big, but we didn’t know how big. But now that Hollywood has stepped in, oh boy.

Liane Moriarty has today confirmed that Kidman’s production company Blossom Films and Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard production company have joined forces to option the screen rights, and it looks like the two stars will be in front of the camera as well as behind.

So… We really can’t stress enough, grab a copy of Big Little Lies. Liane Moriarty is HUGE in the US, with Big Little Lies expected to go straight to the top of next week’s New York Times bestseller list.

Grab a copy of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies here

Grab a copy of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies here

Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

‘I guess it started with the mothers.’

‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’

‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead.

Liane Moriarty’s new novel is funny and heartbreaking, challenging and compassionate.

The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author turns her unique gaze on parenting and playground politics, showing us what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

‘Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.’

Grab a copy of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies here


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