Nine Naughty Questions with… Helene Young, author of Northern Heat

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Helene Young

author of Northern Heat and more…

Nine Naughty Questions

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1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.

I think a romance writer is probably born. According to my mum I was always an optimistic little soul who resolutely refused to find anything but a silver lining in every cloud. (That may well annoy those around me!) I started writing angsty poetry when I was a teenager, moved to short stories with unhappy endings, and then graduated to articles for community newsletters. When I sat down to write a book, however, the story was a romance. Since I’ve always been a lover of crime fictions as well as happy endings it’s not surprising I write romantic suspense. Two stories for the price of one!

Author: Helene Young

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of Romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

I think as a writer I definitely need to pour my heart and soul into my characters. Romance readers know authentic love when they see it and that means we as writers need to live and breathe it.  I do draw on some of my own experiences, but I don’t feel exposed by telling those stories. However recounting the experiences of people who’ve provided inspiration for my characters can be emotional…

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Set in remote Cooktown, Northern Heat is a story of redemption, but also about finding the courage to walk away from violence. As my heroine, Kristy, says, ‘Tomorrow is a new day.’

While the research into domestic violence was harrowing, I met many women who’ve lived through hardship and emerged stronger, more resilient and determined to make better choices for themselves and for their children. It takes courage to trust enough to love again and I hope I’ve done their stories justice.

Grab a copy of Helene’s novel Northern Heat here

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

Lol, nothing romantic about a full time job requiring upwards of 50 hours a week plus writing a book a year! But come July we’ll be casting off the mooring lines and heading Roobinesque, our 40ft catamaran, north into the Coral Sea – that’s going to be a whole lot more romantic than managing 260 pilots!

5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

My romantic moment was when Capt G, a mere work colleague at the time, scooped me up in his arms and carried me off a sports field after I’d badly damaged my knee in a touch footy game. He stole my heart as he whisked me away to the local hospital. That was 30 years ago :)

6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a Romance novel?

I think love scenes are very important to a romance, whether the bedroom door is closed or open! But it needs to show the emotional connection between the characters, even if they’re enjoying smokin’ hot sex. And it needs to be true to the characters. I think readers expect a sensuous element in romances and the rise of erotic romance would suggest that it’s increasingly important.

7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) Romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

1. Hungry as the Sea by Wilbur Smith, because it was the first romantic suspense I’d read. Althought I doubt Wilbur Smith thinks he writes romance!
2. Northern Lights by Nora Roberts, becaues the heroine flies a float plane!
3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, because Elizabeth was so quick witted and Mr Darcy so honourable but constrained.
4. Tai-Pan by James Clavell – just because.
5. Dune by Frank Herbert – I find something new every time I read it.

8. Paranormal Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?pride-and-prejudice

Paranormal romance offers pure escapism which lets our imaginations take off. I’m not a huge reader of Paranormal but I do love the Psy Changeling series by Nalini Singh and Kerri Arthur’s Dark Angels series.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

You can’t edit a blank page so get writing! So many people start a book and never finish it so the first big hurdle is to get your story down on the page. Also remember that all those ‘writing rules’ are for guidance. Sure you need to be concious of grammar, punctuation and spelling, but every writer has a unique process. Developing your voice and your writing process is all part of learning your craft.

Thanks for joining us Helene!


Northern Heat

by Helene Young

In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is living under an assumed name and rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown’s youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and a chance to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark.

After tragedy tore her family apart, Kristy fled to Cooktown with her feisty teenage daughter, Abby. She hoped being part of the small community would help them both heal, but Abby’s sports coach is turning out to be a compelling distraction.

When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger in Cooktown. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they’ll both lose someone they love.

Grab a copy of Northern Heat here

Sally Gardner, author of The Door That Lead to Where, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sally Gardner

author of The Door That Lead to Where

Ten Terrifying Questions
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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 Birmingham, raised in London and went to quite a few schools due to the fact I was dyslexic. It’s one part of life I have no regrets about leaving. I remember it exceedingly well and didn’t like being a child. We’re all brought up by giants, some more monstrous than others. In the end we become giants and the art is not to forget what it felt like to live under them.

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

We all have dreams. We have dreams that our parents put on us when we are young, we have conventional dreams that we think we should have, and then we have the main dream, the thing we really want to do, which we sort of know from the beginning. What I told people at the age of twelve was that I wanted to be an artist. At eighteen, I told people I wanted to go to theatre school, and be the best set designer in the country. What I wanted to be at thirty was a children’s illustrator, and what I never told a soul ever, was my main dream, and that was to be a writer and tell my stories.

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

Sally Gardner, June 24, 2013.

Author: Sally Gardner

That I would find the love of my life. I didn’t, but I did have three wonderful children and other amazing things have happened to me, but the love of my life never appeared. Maybe it did in a way in the sense that it is now writing.

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?

Edith Sitwell’s Facade. I first heard it with my father in his study and I just adored the jamboree of words, the jumble of sounds, and the joy of language. Mixed with William Walton’s music I thought it was absolutely fabulous. I think a book that had a profound effect on me was The Lost Domain by Alain Fournier. It is a coming-of-age story, is completely magical, and is a book that made me want to be a child again just so that I could read it for the first time again. The illustrator and writer who had a profound effect was Edward Gorey. I discovered him when I was 16 and that love has never waned.

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

They weren’t necessarily open to me. I am severely dyslexic and to this day people find the idea of writers being dyslexic a contradiction. I was very artistic though, and went into theatre mainly because I love story. I couldn’t imagine working without a story. I was very lucky to have been taken to the theatre a great deal when I was younger and I had a huge love of the theatre. When I went into illustration, I still thought the main dream I had to be a writer was impossible and I would never achieve it.

6. Please tell us about your novel, The Door That Led to Where

I always start a book with a question, even if it’s just to myself. The question I asked was: Would three boys, who I would call ‘Govian failures’ after our ex-education minister Michael Gove, fare better if they went back to 1830s England, than they would do here in the present? I was thinking about a particular lad who had been educated from age three to five, and then again from fifteen to seventeen, who was mainly self taught. He wanted to be a correspondent at the Houses of Parliament, and I was wondering if he stood a chance of getting a job at, say, The Times. Would they even let him though the front door? The resounding answer was no, they wouldn’t. That young man happened to be Charles Dickens. Where are they young men of today who are the future Dickenses, and are we over looking them in favour of a tick-box education? In London particularly boys at the age of seventeen are either mummified or villainised. The one thing they’re not seen as is young men. I think we make a terrible mistake in doing this. We leave too many pathways open for fanaticism, radicalisation and anything that would give a young man a sense of power and respect.

Grab a copy of Sally’s new book The Door That Led to Where here

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

I always hope that if my work does anything it encourages people to ask questions, to think a bit more about where we are going. If it does that I feel I have achieved quite a lot.

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

I absolutely adore Angela Carter, I love magical surrealism in all its formats. And I would have to say the book that’s been my bible has been the Grimms’ Fariy Tales. I think basically all my stories are fairy tales. The other writer that I stand in awe of is Charles Dickens.

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

My goals are to have good, original ideas, and try and stay true to the world novel, which in the 18th century meant something new and unexpected; a novelty. I still think my ambition is to have original ideas and thoughts and to play as much with language as I can. As well as the vague hope that one day I might win the Carnegie Medal, which I am absolutely over the moon to have done.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

My main advice is to not get published too young. There is a horrifying trend at the moment of finding two year olds who are trying to write Proust. I would encourage everyone to grow up, work on their ideas and publish them a little later. When people ask me about how to become a writer, I always suggest that they read Stephen King’s On Writing. It is one of the best books he ever wrote, and is also a very true and direct story about being an author and what that might entail. I also think you need to read a great deal, and try not to use the word ‘like’, if you can help it. I have a slight aversion to ‘like’. If I read a book and in the first paragraph there is a ‘like’, I think to myself, can I manage another 300 pages? I think that a ‘like’ asks you to stand outside the story, when you should feel like you are all the way inside it. The other thing I feel very strongly about is that you don’t need an adjective with ‘said’. Whatever is being said has to hold all the power.

Sally, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Door That Led to Where here


The Door That Led to Where

by Sally Gardner

When the present offers no hope for the future, the answers may lie in the past.

AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change – but he could never have imagined how much.

Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth – and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past – 1830, to be precise – where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain’s means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They’ve gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose – and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?

A fast-paced mystery novel by one of the UK’s finest writers, The Door That Led To Where will delight, surprise and mesmerise all those who read it.

About the Author

Sally Gardner grew up and still lives in London. Being dyslexic, she did not learn to read or write until she was fourteen and had been thrown out of several schools, labeled unteachable, and sent to a school for maladjusted children. Despite this, she gained a degree with highest honors at a leading London art college, followed by a scholarship to a theater school, and then went on to become a very successful costume designer, working on some notable productions.

 Grab a copy of The Door That Led to Where here

Georgia Madden, author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Georgia Madden

author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

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

Here, there and everywhere! I was born on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, but moved to Hong Kong with my family when I was five and lived there until 18. I came back to Australia for university, and moved to London a few weeks after graduating. I lived there for 12 crazy, glamorous, fun-filled years, working in PR and magazines, before returning to Sydney with my family 10 years ago.

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

At 12, I had dreams of a being an actress, but one disastrous and very embarrassing audition in front of my entire year at school put an end to that. At 18, I had visions of becoming a very serious political journalist, reporting for a Hong Kong newspaper on what was happening across the border in China. I still have no idea why. At 30 I was quite partial to the idea of becoming an editor of a magazine. But always, always, in the back of my mind was the dream of writing fiction. I just never really believed it was possible.

Georgie-Madden

Author: Georgia Madden

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

That in order to pursue the things you really want, everything in your life has to be just so. But life doesn’t work like that; if you’re waiting for all your stars to line up perfectly, you’ll be waiting forever. I’ve found that it’s better – and braver – to just jump right in and get the ball rolling, whether you’re ready or not. Fake it till you make it!

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?

As a child, anything by Enid Blyton. Her stories swept me away, and they still do today when I read them to my kids. The song Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds. I’m a true child of the 80s, and whenever I hear that song on the radio my mind starts bristling with ideas – always romantic in a tragically teenage kind of way. The beautiful aria in that scene in A Room With A View where George kisses Lucy. I’m not sure whether it was the music or the poppies, but it stayed with me for years.

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

I’m not really sure I ever really had a choice! Despite all the twists and turns I took in my career (a used car parts auctioneer in a grotty part of east London at one point) the idea of writing was always there in the background, a steady hum I couldn’t switch off.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum follows new mum Ally Bloom, a dedicated fashionista with a very clear vision of the yummy mummy she’s meant to be – a glamorous Angelina Jolie-type, wafting along red carpets, with her latest accessory, baby Coco, tucked up under her wing. Then reality hits – her marriage is in crisis, her mother-in-law-turns up unannounced for an open-ended stay, the dishwasher won’t stop making that weird banging sound, and she’s pushed aside at work by a 22-year old airhead. Ally suddenly finds herself thrust into her own version of hell – life on the suburban SAHM circuit. Here, she begins to ask life’s bigger questions on motherhood, identity, friendship and whether it’s socially acceptable to leave the house in Havaianas after 7pm.

Grab a copy of Georgia’s new book Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum here

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

I would love to think that after getting through one of those nightmarish days with the kids, where every single thing has gone wrong, they can curl up with Confessions and it puts a smile on their face, maybe even makes them laugh. See? There’s a little bit of paying it forward, right there.

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

I tend to develop crushes on whoever I’m reading at the time. Most recently it’s been Hannah Kent, Elizabeth Gilbert and Rainbow Rowell. I’ve just finished ‘Dietland’ by Sarai Walker – a sort of gutsy feminist manifesto that sends an arrow straight at the heart of the diet industry. I think I’m in love.

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

To be able to support myself and my family doing what I love. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

We’ve all done it – picked up a book and been blown away by the scale of the story, the beauty of the prose. It’s enough to make you want to give up on the idea of writing before you’ve even begun. But I can’t imagine that anyone’s work resembles the finished product in its early stages. To me, writing a book is a bit like making one of those multi-layered French desserts; it’s a long and time-consuming process of building from the ground up, layer by layer. So my advice is, don’t waste precious time trying to perfect that opening paragraph. Get the bones of your story down – as fast as your fingers can type them – before you even think about trying to turn it into a masterpiece.

Georgia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum here


Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum

by Georgia Madden

Successful hubbie? Tick. Facebook-worthy baby? Tick. Bikini-body six weeks after giving birth? Um . . . not so much.

Fashion PR exec Ally Bloom got her happy ending. Okay, her marriage might be showing the odd crack, her battleaxe mother-in-law might have come to stay, and she might not be the yummy mummy she’d imagined, but it’s nothing a decent night’s sleep and a firm commitment to a no-carb diet won’t fix.

But when Ally returns to work and finds she’ll be reporting to a 22-year-old airhead, she decides to turn her back on life as a professional fashionista and embrace her inner earth mama instead. So it’s out with the Louboutins and champagne and in with the sensible flats and coffee mornings with the Mummy Mafia.

From attending her first grown-up dinner party only to discover that placenta is top of the menu to controlling her monster crush on local playgroup hottie Cameron, Ally must find her feet in the brave new world of the stay-at-home mum.

About the Author

Georgia Madden began her career in journalism at Homes & Gardens magazine in London, before returning to Sydney with her young family to work as a freelance writer. She writes for House & Garden, Inside Out and Home Beautiful, as well as a number of interiors websites. She lives in Sydney with her family. Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is her first novel.

Grab a copy of Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum here

Jacinta Tynan, author of Mother Zen, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

mother-zen

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jacinta Tynan

author of Mother Zen

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 Sydney’s Sutherland Shire (known simply as ‘The Shire’) as one of six kids in a suburb called Yowie Bay, but I went to high school in the eastern suburbs commuting an hour-and-a-half in each direction. Train time was reading time.

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

Actress, journalist, writer. That was the order of my desires and it still goes back and forth. From as long as I can remember I wanted to be an actor taking myself off to acting classes on weekends and summer holidays, but I also wrote stories and dreamed one day of writing a book. I settled on a career in journalism because I decided it was the ideal combination of my two passions. I have always been fascinated by other people’s lives so I get to delve into those – as a journalist and a writer.

Author Jacinta Tynan

 

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

That love will last forever. My first love was a beautiful boy and my best friend who died suddenly just shy of my 19th birthday. I learnt quickly that the rug can be pulled out from under you at any moment, and have been wary of complacency ever since.

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.    Reading as a child got the whole ball rolling. I am certain of that. My mother would read to us often (with six of us it was collective story time) and we were always given books as presents, a stack at the end of the bed from Santa every Christmas. I still have several of my favourite books today which I am now reading to my boys: The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly (Pixie O’Harris), The Little Black Princess (Mrs Aeneas Gunn) and Dot and The Kangaroo (Ethel Pedley), for example.

2.    Losing my first love. I was already studying journalism when Simon died, so I was on the path, but my life changed forever in that moment. In my grief I decided to make the most of this life and make it mean something so the pain wouldn’t be for nothing. I’m sure the experience also made me understand people at a deeper level. I am not afraid of other people’s heartache or suffering: handy stuff for a journalist and writer of any sort.

97807322993783. I had been working as a journalist for several years when I decided to do a ‘writing course’. Even though I got the opportunity to write scripts on a daily basis as a TV Reporter (at that stage with ABC’s 7:30 Report), I yearned to be more creative. So I did a ‘Life Writing’ workshop with Patti Miller and it was like a light went on. Patti believes we all have a story in us, something to share with others, and I found so did I.

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?

Nothing will ever replace holding a real life book in your hand as you kick back and devour it. I work in all the other media (I’m a TV journalist — a News Presenter with Sky, I write for newspapers — Columnist for Sunday Life, and I have a blog), so I don’t shy away from them and they certainly have their place but, as a writer with a chunk of information to impart, books are still the ideal format. I couldn’t say all I needed to say in a blog. Not in one go. I know I’m behind on this but I’m yet to read an e-book. I can only stare at a computer screen for so long. Even when I’m reading online — a newspaper or blog  — I usually print the pages out so I have the hard copy version instead. As for TV, the first question when we’re considering a story is always “Do we have vision?” The written word gets around that tricky problem of having no pictures.

 

6.    Please tell us about your latest book…mother-zen

I wrote Mother Zen because I wanted to read it. When I became a mother (to two little boys) I was surprised to find it as enjoyable and rewarding as I do because most of the literature about motherhood is negative. There are some really helpful and insightful advice books out there, but the predominant message is that being a mother is a tough and thankless task that must be endured. I wanted to balance that out a bit, to explore why so many parents find it a challenge and see if there’s a way to shift that. Maybe it’s up to us and not our circumstances.

The book is part memoir about my fledgling journey as a new mother, but it also weaves in interviews with parenting experts and other parents.
It is also a look at an alternative way of being — to be present and grateful — as we negotiate the often overwhelming new role we find ourselves in, being responsible for the life of another and so often without the ‘village’ we were promised it would take to raise our child.

Grab a copy of Mother Zen here

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

That all mums, no matter what their circumstances, could access the utter joy that’s available to us all.

8.    Whom do you most admire and why?

My mother. For bringing six of us into the world and keeping it all (and us all) together.

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

My ambition has changed course dramatically since I became a mother. I used to be distractingly hungry for the next thing and what I had going on was never enough. Now, my greatest goal is to be a good mother to my boys — loving, present, available, a solid role model, someone they will always trust and turn to. I want to inspire them (as a mother and a woman) and guide them and raise them to have empathy and emotional intelligence. “I am your constant,” I say to them. I’m well aware that no matter what we do as a parent we won’t always get it right. But my greatest hope is that with that foundation they can fly.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

  • Write. I didn’t even know what I wanted to write when I started writing, I just knew I had to. I had been a journalist for several years so I got to write every day, but I wanted to be more creative, only I wasn’t sure how to go about that.
  • So, I took a writing course (also highly recommended for aspiring writers, no matter how good you are) which ‘forced’ me to deliver copy. And from that came the inklings of my first book.
  • Also good writers observe. We all see the same things but it’s writers who see meaning in them.
  • Take notes. Write down ideas, random thoughts, quotes, simple moments. We think we’ll remember but we a rarely do. It’s those notes (tapped into my i-Phone with my thumb) that ‘saved’ me when I was given only five months to write Mother Zen. Much of the research had already been done.

Jacinta, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mother Zen here


mother-zenMother Zen

by Jennifer Niven

In 2010 Jacinta Tynan innocently sparked a media storm when her article in the Sun Herald exposed a fault line in our perception of motherhood. Her premise — that motherhood could be easy — split the parenting community down the middle. Many agreed with Jacinta while others argued that motherhood was arduous and thankless, all were equally passionate in their beliefs.

Four years later, now with two small children, Jacinta takes us on a fascinating journey through her own experiences of motherhood — from being so sick with her first pregnancy that she was throwing up in between her on-air segments, to her doubts about her ability to cope — and shows us her struggle to parent ‘consciously’, using meditation and attempting mindfulness to help her more…

About the Author

Jacinta is a well-known news presenter, author and columnist. She regularly writes opinion pieces for national newspapers and frequently appears as a guest commentator on a number of television networks across the country. She is also the author of Good Man Hunting, and edited the anthology Some Girls Do: My Life as a Teenager with royalties donated to SISTER2Sister, a mentor program for teenage girls for whom Jacinta is patron. Tynan lives in Sydney with her partner and two young sons.

Grab a copy of Mother Zen here

BREAKING NEWS: 2015 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists Announced

Premiers-literary-awards

The shortlists for this year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced, featuring some of Australia’s most celebrated writers and young up and comers.

How many have you read?

CHRISTINA STEAD PRIZE FOR FICTION

* Ceridwen Dovey – Only the Animals golden-boys(More…)

* Elizabeth Harrower In Certain Circles (More…)

* Sonya Hartnett – Golden Boys (More…)

* Mark Henshaw – The Snow Kimono (More…)

* Joan London – The Golden Age (More…)

* Gerald Murnane – A Million Windows (More…)

UTS GLENDA ADAMS AWARD FOR NEW WRITING

* Michael Mohammed Ahmad – The Tribe (More…)9781922213211

* Maxine Beneba Clarke – Foreign Soil (More…)

* Emily Bitto – The Strays (More…)

* Luke Carman – An Elegant Young Man (More…)

* Omar Musa – Here Come the Dogs (More…)

* Ellen van Neerven – Heat and Light (More…)

DOUGLAS STEWART PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

* Alan Atkinson – The Europeans in Australia (More…)the-bush

* Philip Dwyer – Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799 ‐ 1815 (More…)

* Helen Garner – This House of Grief (More…)

* Iain McCalman – The Reef: A Passionate History (More…)

* Biff Ward – In My Mother’s Hands (More…)

* Don Watson – The Bush (More…)

PATRICIA WRIGHTSON PRIZE FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

* Allan Baillie – The First Voyage (More…)9780143307679

* Trace Balla – Rivertime (More…)

* Tamsin Janu – Figgy in the World (More…)

* Glenda Millard, Stephen Michael King (Illustrator) – The Duck and the Darklings (More…)

* Catherine Norton – Crossing (More…)

* James O’Loghlin – The Adventures of Sir Roderick, the Not-Very Brave (More…)

ETHEL TURNER PRIZE FOR YOUNG ADULT’S LITERATURE

* K.A. Barker – The Book of Days (More…)9781742614175

* Jackie French – The Road to Gundagai (More…)

* Darren Groth – Are You Seeing Me? (More…)

* Justine Larb alestier – Razorhurst (More…)

* Jaclyn Moriarty – The Cracks in the Kingdom (More…)

* Clare Strahan – Cracked (More…)

 

Monica Dux, author of Mothermorphosis, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

mothermorphosis

 

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Monica Dux

author of Mothermorphosis

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 Sydney. Raised by wolves and schooled in the ways of the jungle.

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

At twelve I wanted to be a nun, an actor, the President of the United States, and a Neurosurgeon. Luckily I was part of the Having it All generation, so I didn’t trouble myself with the logistics of fulfilling my dreams.

At 18, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be.

At 30, I wanted to be able to pay my rent while doing something interesting and meaningful that didn’t involve having to say “have a nice day!”

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Author: Monica Dux

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

That the three black rectangles I got tattooed onto my arm would always delight.

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 husband is a screenwriter and his career had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer. Not so much because I admired his work (although I do), but because I was envious of the fact that he worked from home and so could pop out for a coffee whenever he felt like it.

Being able to make my own hours and not answer to The Man, seemed very attractive. This was before we had kids of course, so sadly it all turned out to be a delusion.

The second big event was having the aforementioned kids. They’ve dictated so much of my career, which isn’t a bad thing at all, and has probably saved me many nights of angsting over choices I don’t now have.

The third thing is all those who’ve continued to publish me. Without a space to publish, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

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

It used to really bug me when people went on about how much they loved the printed book. But I am now one of those people. These days being a writer involves engaging with many different media, and I’m comfortable with that. But the printed book is akin to the wheel – there’s absolutely no need to change it, and I don’t doubt that it will persist, long after various other forms of media have been transformed or become redundant.

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6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Mothermorphosis is a collection of essays about the experience of becoming a mother from some of Australia’s best writers and commentators. It came about as a result of a conversation I had with the commissioning editor Dina Kluska, about how stories of motherhood are not always valued, even though motherhood is such a profound experience. I think it’s crucial that mothers share their stories, in all their variety, and that’s what this book is about.

It’s a gorgeous collection; each contributor has produced something quite special.

We decided to donate part of the royalties to PANDA (the Post and Antenatal Depression Association), an organisation which does amazing work helping new parents.

Grab a copy of Monica’s new book Mothermorphosis here

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

Achieving world peace would be nice. If that’s not going to happen, I’d like to think my work changes ordinary people’s lives for the better, perhaps even in small ways, giving them an insight into other lives and perhaps making them feel less alone. That’s what makes writing worthwhile.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many people I admire. But today I vote for my husband Kris Mrksa. He’s smart and funny and has taught me more about writing than anyone else I know. And he’s been overseas for work, so I’m missing him. He left out a complete clean change of clothes for the kids for every day he was away, which has meant they’ve been able to go to school with clean underwear, and I haven’t had to use the washing machine.

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

I used to put a lot of pressure on myself about what I wanted to achieve. Now I focus more on just moving forward, on being able to continue creating. I set myself goals, but I’m always aware how quickly things can change, so I’m not too hard on myself if they don’t work out.

I do fear going backwards, but writing is a long game, and I’ve become more comfortable with that reality, and so more resigned to all that it entails. As long as people keep reading my work, I’m happy. I couldn’t keep writing if I thought I had no audience.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

You need to be tenacious. So stay tough. But don’t be precious. No one is interested in your navel.

Monica, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here


mothermorphosisMothermorphosis

Australia’s Best Storytellers Write About Becoming a Mother

In Mothermorphosis , some of Australia’s most talented writers and storytellers share their own experiences of motherhood. In telling their stories they articulate the complex internal conflicts, the exhilaration and the absurdity of the transformation that takes place when we become mothers. We read about the yearning for a child, the private and public expressions of maternal love, the questioning, uncertainty and unexpected delight, as well as unfathomable loss.

Mothermorphosis reveals that there is no ‘right’ version of this epic experience and no single tale that could ever speak for all mothers. Yet it is in reading about other women’s experiences and dash;the hard bits, the joyous bits and even the ridiculous bitsandmdash;that we can become more compassionate, not just to other mothers but hopefully to ourselves.

Mothermorphosis includes writing from: Kate Holden, Kathy Lette, Lorelei Vashti, Rebecca Huntley, George McEnroe, Fatima Measham, Jo Case, Hilary Harper, Cordelia Fine, Jane Caro, Hannah Robert, Susan Carland, Kerri Sackville, Catherine Deveny, Lee Kofman and Dee Madigan.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

 

Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

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The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jennifer Niven

author of All the Bright Places

Ten Terrifying Questions
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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 North Carolina, raised mostly in Indiana (after living in Okinawa and then Maryland). My move to Indiana in fourth grade prompted one of my earliest books— My Life in Indiana: I Will Never be Happy Again. I graduated high school there, went to college in New Jersey, and, following that, attended grad school in Los Angeles.

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

When I was twelve, I wanted to be an international rock star detective—kind of like a Charlie’s Angel (i.e. Jaclyn Smith) meets Josie and the Pussycats. This is because I wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel and a rock star—the two most exciting things I could imagine— so I figured why not combine them? When I was eighteen, I wanted to be an actress because it seemed really, really glamorous, even though I was too shy to try out for any plays I didn’t write and direct myself. When I was thirty, I wanted to be a writer because writing has always been—for all my life—the thing I love to do most.

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Author: Jennifer Niven

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

I secretly believed I was charmed, that I was invincible. And then my parents divorced, my grandfather died—the first loss I’d ever known—and I started questioning everything. I’ve since lost my other grandparents, friends, cousins, a boyfriend, my dad, and, most recently, my mom.  Over the years I’ve had to come to terms with how small I am in the scheme of things, but I’ve also learned the ways in which I can make an impact and leave an imprint behind. And, maybe best of all, I know what I’m made of.

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?

Ray Bradbury’s short stories, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” All three taught me that something economical can also be powerful. They taught me the importance of being succinct but expressive, and of saying a great deal in the most straightforward way.

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

Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and the experience was life-changing.  I’d always wanted to write about it—only because it was so personal, I knew I would need to write it as fiction.  All the while I was working on my other books, I was reading YA novels for fun. So much of what’s being produced in YA literature is brilliant and daring and fantastically imaginative.  I always had the thought in the back of my mind: Someday I’ll write a young adult book.  When I decided on this particular idea, I knew in my bones it was time.

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6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

All the Bright Places is about a boy and a girl who meet on the ledge of their high school bell tower as they’re both contemplating jumping. It’s about bright places and dark places, about making it lovely and leaving something behind. It’s about acceptance in spite of everything, and realizing that you are your own bright place in the world.

Grab a copy of Jennifer’s new book All the Bright Places here

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

One early reader emailed me to say that as soon as she read the book, she ran downstairs and hugged her mother. Another reader wrote, “I found after reading this that I wanted to do so much more with my life than just live.” I hope that the book inspires more of those feelings. I hope All the Bright Places will inspire others to look deeper at the people and places around them. And I hope it inspires discussions about teen mental health, so that people feel safe enough to come forward and say, “I have a problem.  I need help.” I want readers to know that help is out there, that it gets better, that high school isn’t forever, and that life is long and vast and full of possibility.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why? something-wicked-this-way-comes

I was lucky enough to grow up with a writer mom, who taught me that I could be or do anything I wanted to be or do. I’m an only child, and when I was a little girl, we used to have “writing time.” From her, I learned to find the story in everything, and I learned never to limit myself or my imagination. I also saw firsthand how difficult and stressful and unpredictable the business was. And I saw the commitment it took. Even during the toughest, saddest times of her life, she wrote. In so many ways, she was my hero. I think many people go into the business of writing with unrealistic expectations—not realizing that it is, in fact, a business, and that you have to be ready and willing to do it in spite of everything else.

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

I want to write many, many more YA books, another nonfiction book for adults, and, down the line, another adult novel or two, including an idea my mom intended on writing but never got the chance to. I’d like to write it for her. I’d like to see my books turned into movies. I’d also love it if one of them was turned into a Broadway musical a la Wicked. If that ever happens, I want a really juicy cameo (one that doesn’t require me to sing).

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write, read, and work hard. Remember to enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on making it perfect, because there’s no such thing. Write the kind of book you’d like to read. Write what inspires you. Write what you love.

Jennifer, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


all-the-bright-placesAll the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of two narrative non-fiction books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack; a high school memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries; and four historical novels for adults: Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on her Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and the forthcoming American Blonde. All the Bright Places is her first book for young adults.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here

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