Scott Blackwood, author of See How Small, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Scott Blackwood

author of See How Small

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 the state of Arkasas, in the same small town, El Dorado, where Charles Portis, who wrote True Grit and a number of other great books, was born. My family moved around quite a bit. Memphis, Tennessee, Oklahoma. But I lived much of my life in Texas—first the Dallas area and later Austin, where I found a real home. I remember thinking that I’d been looking for this place all along, where it was okay to be a little different, to even aspire to be a writer or musician. I’m not sure it would have happened had I not moved there to go to school at the University of Texas in the mid-eighties. It was liberating to be around other people who’d take chances and pursue things that weren’t at all lucrative or safe. People who were willing to pursue an improvisational life, of sorts. That was very new to me and had a profound effect, even if my talents hadn’t really sufaced yet.

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

When I was nine, I read a lot of Marvel Comics and suspected I had super powers that simply hadn’t surfaced yet—incredible reflexes, strength, eyesight, something. I was waiting patiently. So I practiced super heroing in the woods, beating on old tires, swinging on ropes. Just readying myself to defend suburban Dallas,Texas from petty criminals.

But by the time I was twelve, it occurred to me that girls would think I was even stranger than I was if I kept this thing up. So I became fixated, instead, on being a professional baseball player (more socially acceptable yet equally as far fetched).

Finally, in college, having failed at those things, I turned to something maybe even more impractical, writing fiction. I wasn’t very good at it at first. But being a glutton for punishment, I kept at it until it would have me.

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

Author: Scott Blackwood

Love conquers all.

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?

Works of fiction—Hemingway’s stories from In Our Time, Alice Munro’s The Progress of Love and Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From and years later One Hundred Years of Solitude, Moby Dick, Light In August, Marilynnn Robinson’s Housekeeping.

Music—I listened to a lot of traditional Texas music and innovative music when I was in Austin in the 80s and early 90s, inspiring stuff mostly made by people roughly my own age.  Film—Richard Linklater’s first film, Slacker, which was set in Austin, Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire. Jarmusch’s early films.

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

To be honest, I don’t think I had numerous avenues—it’s the rare person who has multiple talents. I grew into a novelist because I fooled myself long enough, incrementally enough, about my abilities, so that my confidence grew proportional to the task. The novel form intimidated me for the longest time—it seemed so unwieldy. I struggled at first because I thought a novel in stories was the same thing, that I could stay in my comfort zone but then I hit a wall. I realized a novel is about rhythms (because we are about rhythms too), and what affects us as readers are the rhythms of  interweaving story threads. And the weave gets tighter and tighter and vibrates more and more.

I once heard the Kentucky writer James Still describe, when he was a boy, hearing this wonderful music from a basement window that he thought was Bach but but when he looked through the window, it was coming from a giant mechanical loom. It’s archaic but it still works as metaphor because we think in story threads, through lines. So when I figured out  how this great weave works—and could see this overlaying, hear the rhythms of all that coming together in other people’s novels—I was finally able to take what I was doing in the shorter form  for a larger cumulative effect, a momentous push, a thrumming rhythm, as in a novel. It was a revelation to me.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s a heartbreaker, I think, this book, See How Small. But I mean this in the best way. It’s about the aftermath of the brutal murder of three teenage girls in an Austin, Texas ice cream shop— the deep sense of loss but also the ways we make emotional sense of that loss, to transend it. How evil acts—atrocities—can strip us of this sense-making if we allow them to. These kinds of random acts are more with us now than ever—for instance, the Newtown massacre two years ago at the school in New York—and hit at the heart of who we are and want to be. My characters struggle against this, try to tell their own stories in the face of it, including the girls themselves, whose stories have been taken from them by the killers and even inadvertently by the community itself, which now only remember them as victims. I should say that See How Small was inspired by an actual murder in 1991 in Austin, Texas that remains unsolved, a crime I’ve been haunted by for many years. 

Grab a copy of Scott’s new novel See How Small here

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

I want them to be changed by it, to feel, a sense of wonder about things, about life, and a sense of terror, too, at times. That all of this together—wonder and terror—is in the world and that’s as it should be, as it’s always been. It’s not a comfort book but I do think it’s a book that celebrates life and its mystery, which is intimately tied to loss and death.

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

My favourite living writer is Denis Johnson. If you haven’t read it, I can’t tell you how great a book like Train Dreams is. He gives us so little—the book isn’t much more than a 100 pages—yet the whole world’s inside it. It reaches back, as E.M. Forster said about truly great books.

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

To link all of my work together as Faulkner tried to do so that they are parts of one great weave. And like every writer worth his or her salt, I’d like my writing to have some kind of half-life. Somewhere in his amazing (and very long) novel 2666, the Chilean writer Roberto Bolano has one of his characters say that we forget sometimes that really great works are not easy, not symmetrical, that they even fight their authors. It’s always the heavyweight bouts that bring back the news from that other world. The writing that readers will to turn to again and again. Moby Dick, say, or A Hundred Years of Solitude. The rest are only sparring.  

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Well, one of the accidental advantages I had as a young writer was having children early: When I was 25. I had to make all my writerly choices count because there really couldn’t be any backtracking—there was no time for that. So I began to think about how all my work could fit together, how characters, if they were interesting enough, might be brought back in another work, broaden the scope of what I was trying to do. How a sense of place fits into this. How I was always writing out of the same themes—what separates us also draws us together. It only occurred to me later that this is how to create a fictional universe that resonates, make the sum worth more than its parts. This is a writer’s vision and it’s at least as important as talent. Maybe more so.

There are a lot of talented writers out there. But if you know where you are, what you’re working towards, how to fit it together, then no matter what happens around you—the publishing world in flux, personal setbacks—you’re still connected to your life’s work, which for me was trying to make something beautiful and lasting. In other words, don’t chase after the market, “what’s selling,” because that’s totally ephemeral. Ask maybe instead: if someone had a gun to my head, what would I write? The gun to all of our heads is time, of course. And there’s always less of it than you think.

Scott, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of See How Small


See How Small

by Scott Blackwood

Virgin Suicides meets Lovely Bones.

It begins one summer evening in a small Texas town. Two men walk into an ice cream shop shortly before it closes. They bind the three teenager girls working behind the counter. They set fire to the shop. They disappear. This horrific, mysterious crime is the subject of Scott Blackwood’s new novel.

Loosely based on the 1991 Yogurt Shop Murders in Austin, Texas, See How Small explores a community’s reactions to the brutal and seemingly random murder of these three girls. It is told through the perspectives of the community’s survivors, witnesses, suspects, and yes, the deceased girls. Among the people we meet is Jack Dewey, the fireman who ran into the burning building and discovered the girls’ bodies, and whose life becomes haunted by the girls’ memory. We see Kate Ulrich, the mother of two murdered girls, who finds that in fighting the community’s need to narrate her life in light of the murders, she’s also losing her connection to the girls’ lives. A suspect in the murders, Michael Greer, now with a daughter of his own, is haunted by his inadvertent participation in it and his brother’s earlier tragic death. And Rosa Heller, an investigative journalist who tries to piece together the mystery by interviewing involved people, becomes lost in the community’s false memories and lies and regrets. Above everything else is the girls’ shared narration as they watch over the community during the five years following their deaths, as they attempt to comfort their town.

See How Small will remind readers of the paradoxical promises of security and belonging, remembering and forgetting, and our collective need to both obscure and name evil. It is a short, powerful novel.

About the Author

Scott Blackwood is the author of three books of fiction, including the forthcoming novel See How Small. Blackwood was a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award recipient and his first novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, set in the Deep Eddy Neighborhood of Austin, Texas, won the AWP Prize for the Novel, Texas Institute of Letters Award for best work of fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. His first book was the award-winning story collection, In the Shadows of Our House, published in 2001.

 Grab a copy of See How Small

VIDEO: John Flanagan tells us the difference between Vikings and Skandians

scorpion-mountain-order-your-signed-copy-Scorpion Mountain: Brotherband Series Book 5

by John Flanagan

When the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband cross over, action and adventure are guaranteed!

King Duncan of Araluen has an urgent mission for Hal and the Heron Brotherband. One assassination attempt on Princess Cassandra was foiled. But the killers won’t be satisfied until they have fulfilled their honour-bound duty.

The Herons, along with Ranger Gilan, set off for Arrida. There they must track the cult of killers across the desert, and infiltrate the cult’s mountain lair to find their leader – and stop him. But the giant assassin isn’t the only threat they will face. There is a seaside battle looming, and the Herons are called upon to help an old friend of Araluen in his fight.

Trapped in an unfamiliar land, their forces split between searing hot land and treacherous seas, can the Herons complete their mission – before the killers find their royal target?

Click here to grab a copy of Scorpion Mountain here

Sally Murphy, author of Roses are Blue, answers Ten Terrifying Questions.

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sally Murphy

author of Roses are Blue, Pearl Versus the World 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 and raised in Western Australia, spending most of my childhood in the Southwest town of Collie. I spent my last two years of schooling at boarding school in Perth, which I hated at the time, because I was terribly homesick, but where I had some wonderful moments in the library, which was my salvation.

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

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. When I was twelve, my plan was to write kids’ books. How wonderful it would be to write books that other people loved as much as the one I was reading. In the school holidays I wrote novels, stories and poems on an old typewriter, some of which I still have.

By the time I was 18 I’d realised that I might need another job apart from being an author, though that was still my dream. So I thought I’d become a journalist, because that would enable to me to make a living from writing.

When I was 30 I was a full time mum also pursuing my writing dreams. By then I’d had my first educational books published, but I was yet to have my first trade title published, so was desperately trying to figure out how and why.

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

Author: Sally Murphy

I am ashamed to admit that I remember proudly proclaiming that I was not a feminist. I had been fed the crock that feminism was a dirty word and not the same thing as believing women had the right to be equal. Instead, feminists were radical, man-hating and doing women a disservice.

Gosh how naïve I was, and how sad I am that there are still women who think feminism is something negative.

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?

While I love music and art, for me the biggest impact by far has been from books. Not surprisingly, because I write for children, the biggest impact has come from books for young people. There was a book called Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards (who, I later realised, was THE Julie Andrews), which I read when I was quite young and absolutely adored. It’s the first novel I remember reading and loving so much that I wished I’d written it. So, as a 7 year old, I wrote my own version of this story, which I called Tereasa. I still have my own version, and a few years ago tracked down a copy of Mandy.

Even before Mandy, I absolutely adored Horton Hatches an Egg, a Dr Seuss story, and knew it by heart. Later it was one of the first books I tracked down for my first child. I loved the playfulness and rhythm, but I think the sense of justice also appealed to me. As a writer, I want children and adults alike to smile when they read my work, even when I’m addressing really serious issues.

Like many many readers To Kill a Mockingbird is a book which moved me incredibly. Again, there is that sense of justice and wisdom as well as wonderful character development and weaving of a powerful story. The fact that it also gets better on rereading is also a testament to the quality of the writing. I studied it several times at school, taught it as a teacher, and yet have never tired of it. As a writer I want to create books which do those things: entertain and move people, stay with them, and also inspire them to read and reread.

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

Writing is my thing. The other arts have never captured me in the same way as writing, which I’ve been doing since before I could actually form legible words.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Roses are Blue is a verse novel about a young girl coping with the fallout of her mother’s terrible car accident. Everything in Amber’s life has changed, but nothing so much as her mother, who has been left badly disabled.  Whilst this sounds pretty grim, the aim of the story is to show that even in such a terrible set of circumstances there can be hope, and means of coping.

Grab a copy of Sally’s latest novel Roses are Blue here

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

Hope. I want readers, of whatever age, to see that although life can throw pretty big curveballs, there is always hope. My verse novels often move people to tears, but I want them to smile, too.

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

Glenda Millard. She is an Australian writer of the most amazingly moving and uplifting children’s books. Her talent is amazing, and she’s a lovely person, warm and generous. When I grow up, I want to be Glenda.

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

Gosh. Ambitious goals? Now the pressure’s on! I just want to always keep improving. I want to make my writing better and better and keep surprising myself with new things to try. Of course, stemming from this, I want to keep finding readers enjoy my work.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Love what you do. Write the stuff you love to read, be true to yourself and have fun. Also, though, don’t expect it to be easy. You will be rejected and, when you’re accepted, editors will make you change stuff, reviewers won’t always like your work and your sales are never as much as you’d like them to be. Take these things as a challenge to keep working, keep improving, rather than a sign of some terrible plot against you. Because, when you love what you are doing, and you keep doing it, then you stick at it until the magic day when you are both published AND read.

Sally, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Roses are Blue here


Roses are Blue

by Sally Murphy

From the award-winning author of Pearl Verses the World and Toppling comes a story about resilience and the importance of family.

“I have not got used to my new mum, even though I love her (I absolutely love her), I miss my happy, painting, dancing, gardening, smiling mum.” Amber Rose and her family are dealing with tragedy and change. But sometimes hope suddenly blooms

About the Author

Sally Murphy is a mother, wife, teacher, speaker, website manager, reviewer, and, of course, author. She was born in Perth and now lives in Dalyellup, Western Australia. Her first illustrated verse novel with Walker Books Australia, Pearl Verses the World (illustrated by Heather Potter) won the children’s book category for the Indie Book of the Year awards, 2009; was awarded Honour Book in the Younger Readers category, Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, 2010; and won the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards, 2010, Best Book for Language Development, Upper Primary (8-12 years). Toppling (illustrated by Rhian Nest James) has won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, Children’s Book – Mary Ryan’s Award, 2010 and the Children’s Book for the 2010 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.

 Grab a copy of Roses are Blue here

7PM INTERVIEW: Monica McInerney on writing, family, and the joys of a middle childhood

Warm, witty, fun and clever, author Monica McInerney would be a great best friend to have. How nice to be able to turn to Monica for advice about family, love, life and friendship whenever we needed it! She is so heart smart!

Alas, we can’t all have Monica in our life. Thank goodness we have her novels. They are the next best thing to having a 24hr on call Monica… and they have sold hundreds of thousands of copies here and in the UK.

On her recent Australian tour, Monica sat down with John Purcell to talk about her new novel, Hello from the Gillespies…

Click here for more details or to buy Hello from the GillespiesHello from the Gillespies

By Monica McInerney

For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth.

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping poorly with retirement. Her 32-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways.

7PM INTERVIEW: Peter Fitzsimons and Andrew Cattanach discuss Peter’s new book Gallipoli

Some interviews are easier than others. While one could be like two old friends reuniting and having a chat over a beer. Another could be like stepping into a lion’s den. Taming the enthusiastic and exuberant red banner wearing Peter Fitzsimons was always going to be a challenge. He’s so passionate about his subject. So we sent in our most genial of interviewers, Mr Andrew Cattanach. And what do you know, the plucky little guy did the job.

Click here for more details or to buy Gallipoli

Gallipoli

By Peter Fitzsimons

On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail.

Turkey regards the victory to this day as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the nation’s Ottoman Empire. But, counter-intuitively, it would signify something perhaps even greater for the defeated Australians and New Zealanders involved: the birth of their countries’ sense of nationhood.

Now approaching its centenary, the Gallipoli campaign, commemorated each year on Anzac Day, reverberates with importance as the origin and symbol of Australian and New Zealand identity. As such, the facts of the battle – which was minor against the scale of the First World War and cost less than a sixth of the Australian deaths on the Western Front – are often forgotten or obscured. Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disaster as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.

Order your copy of Gallipoli here

A one size fits all definition for Australian fiction? Nup.

A one size fits all definition for Australian fiction? Nup. Australian imaginations cross borders and time as easily as those from elsewhere. There is no rule that all Australian fiction must deal with the bush, or the surf or gritty inner city crime. Within the short selection below you’ll find Medieval Europe, Chinese dragons, Antarctica, Texas, CIA conspiracies and, from Christos Tsiolkas’ new set of short stories alone, love, sex, death, family, friendship, betrayal, tenderness, sacrifice and revelation… These holidays, let an Australian imagination choose your destination.

Amnesia

by Peter Carey

‘Love comes out of nowhere for most of us, when we least expect it . . . this young man has flown into your heart and made a nest.’

Amidst the carnage of Gallipoli, British nurse Claire Nightingale meets Australian Light Horseman Jamie Wren. Despite all odds, they fall deeply in love. Their flame burns bright and carries them through their darkest hours, even when war tears them apart.

Jamie’s chance meeting with Turkish soldier Açar Shahin on the blood-stained battlefield forges an unforgettable bond between the men. It also leaves a precious clue to Jamie’s whereabouts for Claire to follow.

Come peacetime, Claire’s desperate search to find Jamie takes her all the way to Istanbul, and deep into the heart of Açar’s family, where she attracts the unexpected attention of a charismatic and brooding scholar.

In the name of forgiveness, cultures come together, enemies embrace and forbidden passions ignite – but by the breathtaking conclusion, who will be left standing to capture Nurse Nightingale’s heart?

A heart-soaring novel of heartbreak and heroism, love and longing by a powerhouse Australian storyteller.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


When the Night Comes

by Favel Parrett

The hauntingly beautiful story of a young girl transformed by the power of kindness from award-winning author Favel Parrett.

Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything.

Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life onboard. Like the snow white petrels that survive in the harshest coldest place, this lonely girl at the bottom of the world will learn that it is possible to go anywhere, be anything. But she will also find out that it is just as easy to lose it all.

For Isla, those two long summers will change everything.

Favel Parrett delivers an evocative and gently told story about the power fear and kindness have to change lives.

In 2011, Favel Parrett’s career was launched with the critically-acclaimed and award-winning debut Past the Shallows. A heart-breaking novel, it was sold internationally, shortlisted in the prestigious Miles Franklin Award and won the Dobbie Literary Award. Favel herself won the ABIA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2012.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Great Zoo of China

by Matthew Reilly

GET READY FOR ACTION ON A GIGANTIC SCALE

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong…

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Lion Rampant-
The Lion Series: Book 2

by Blanche d’Alpuget

The second novel in the compelling series about two of medieval history’s most fascinating characters, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

It is 1154 and Henry Plantagenet avenges his family honour by taking back the English throne from Stephen the Usurper. The kingdom he inherits is impoverished, lawless and broken by years of civil war. By his side is the beautiful, wealthy and indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine. Combining forces, this golden couple use their charisma and shrewd diplomacy to crush rebellious barons and restore England’s prestige and glory.

However, an equally ambitious financial magician is needed to restore the royal treasury. Opportunistic Thomas Becket answers the call, using his appointment of Chancellor to fill not only the King’s coffers but also his own. In a dance of ambition, vengeance and forbidden passions, Henry, his Queen and the Chancellor fight for political power and control against forces seen and imagined, each with their own agenda, each determined to hide their own shameful secrets.

Josephine Blanche d’Alpuget is an Australian writer and the second wife of the longest-serving Australian Labor Party Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Great Plains

by Nicole Alexander

From the American Wild West to the wilds of outback Queensland, from the Civil War to the Depression of the 1930s, The Great Plains is an epic story about two conflicting cultures and one divided family.

It is Dallas 1886, and the Wade Family is going from strength to strength: from a thriving newspaper and retail business in Texas to a sprawling sheep station half a world away in Queensland.

Yet money and power cannot compensate for the tragedy that struck twenty-three years ago, when Joseph Wade was slaughtered and his seven-year-old daughter Philomena abducted by Apache Indians.

Only her uncle, Aloysius, remains convinced that one day Philomena will return. So when news reaches him that the legendary Geronimo has been captured, and a beautiful white woman discovered with him, he believes his prayers have been answered.

Little does he know that the seeds of disaster have just been sown. Over the coming years three generations of Wade men will succumb to an obsession with three generations of mixed-blood Wade women: the courageous Philomena, her hot-headed granddaughter Serena, and her gutsy great-granddaughter Abelena – a young woman destined for freedom in a distant red land. But at what price . . . ?

In the course of her career Nicole Alexander has worked both in Australia and Singapore in financial services, fashion, corporate publishing and agriculture. A fourth-generation grazier, Nicole returned to her family’s property in the late 1990s. She is currently the business manager there and has a hands-on role in the running of the property. Nicole has a Master of Letters in creative writing and her novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, Germany, America and Singapore. She is the author of five novels: The Bark Cutters, A Changing Land, Absolution Creek, Sunset Ridge and The Great Plains (to be released in November 2014).

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


South of Darkness

by John Marsden

My name, then, is Barnaby Fletch. To the best of my knowledge I have no middle name and cannot say of whom I am the son, or of whom my father’s father’s father was the son. Alas, my origins are shrouded in mystery.

Thirteen-year-old Barnaby Fletch is a bag-and-bones orphan in London in the late 1700s.

Barnaby lives on his wits and ill-gotten gains, on streets seething with the press of the throng and shadowed by sinister figures. Life is a precarious business.

When he hears of a paradise on the other side of the world – a place called Botany Bay – he decides to commit a crime and get himself transported to a new life, a better life.

To succeed, he must survive the trials of Newgate Prison, the stinking hull of a prison ship and the unknown terrors of a journey across the world.

And Botany Bay is far from the paradise Barnaby has imagined. When his past and present suddenly collide, he is soon fleeing for his life – once again.

A riveting story of courage, hope and extraordinary adventure.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Road Back

by Di Morrissey

Is it ever too late to change your life?

From the mountains to the valleys, from big cities to tiny towns, to the outback and our islands, Di Morrissey knows this country. She’s been there.

In The Road Back, Di weaves a tale of reconnection and starting over.

Journalist Chris Baxter is at a crossroads. Returning with his teenage daughter to his mother’s house in the beautiful township of Neverend, Chris hopes to pick up the pieces after his life takes an unexpected turn.

Sometimes taking the road back is the start of a journey forward.

 

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Springtime

by Michelle de Kretser

A rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story from the Miles Franklin Award winning author.

Picking up her pace, Frances saw a woman in the leaf-hung depths of the garden. She wore a long pink dress and a wide hat, and her skin was a creamy white. There came upon Frances a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stood still.

When Frances met Charlie at a party in Melbourne he was married with a young son.

Now she and Charlie live in Sydney with her rescue dog Rod and an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis. They are still getting their bearings – of each other and of their adopted city. Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic: haunting, even.

Worlds of meaning spin out of perfectly chosen words in this rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story by Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning writer Michelle de Kretser.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Wife on the Run

by Fiona Higgins

When social media and a mobile phone expose a high school scandal and a husband’s shameful secrets the only thing left to do is … run. In the remarkable new novel from the bestselling author ofThe Mothers’ Group a beleaguered wife and mother escapes it all on a family road trip – without technology – to reclaim her life and rebuild her family.

A mother’s greatest fear… A wife’s worst nightmare… What would you do?

When two technology-related disasters hit within days of each other, Paula knows her comfortable suburban life has been irrevocably blown apart. One involves the public shaming of her teenage daughter, the other is a discovery about her husband that shocks her to her core. With her world unravelling around her, Paula does the only thing that makes any sense to her: she runs away from it all.

She pulls her children out of school and takes off on a trip across Australia with her elderly father and his caravan. The only rule is No Technology – no phones, no Facebook, no Instagram, no tablets, games or computers. It’s time to get back to basics and learn how to be a family again.

It all sounds so simple – and for a while, it is. But along the way Paula will meet new, exciting complications, and realise that running away is only a temporary solution. The past has to be faced before the future can begin.

A thrilling, tender and hugely entertaining story of loss, love and discovery from the bestselling author of The Mothers’ Group.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local


Can You Keep a Secret?

by Caroline Overington

How well do you really know the one you love? With her customary page-turning style and potent themes, this is Caroline Overington at her thought-provoking best.

‘Why do some people decide to get married when everyone around them would seem to agree that marriage, at least for the two people in question, is a terrifically bad idea?’

The year is 1999, and Lachlan Colbert – Colby – has the world at his feet. He’s got a big job on Wall Street and a sleek bachelor pad in the heart of Manhattan.

With money no object, he and his friends take a trip to Australia to see in the new millennium. And it’s there, on a hired yacht sailing the Whitsundays, that he meets Caitlin.

Caitlin Hourigan has got wild hair and torn shorts – and has barely ever left the small patch of Queensland where she grew up. But Colby is smitten and for Caitlin, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, a blissful future awaits – marriage, a big house, a beautiful little boy.

But nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. And for Lachlan and Caitlin the nightmare is only just beginning…

Caroline Overington is a bestselling author and journalist who has worked for The Sydney Morning Heraldand The Australian. She is the mother of delightful 13-year-old twins and lives in Bondi with her family, a blue dog and a lizard.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local

 


Merciless Gods

by Christos Tsiolkas

A collection of thrilling, original and imaginative stories from the award-winning, bestselling author of The Slap and Barracuda – a showcase all of his immense and unique story-telling talents.

Love, sex, death, family, friendship, betrayal, tenderness, sacrifice and revelation…..

This incendiary collection of stories from acclaimed bestselling international writer Christos Tsiolkas takes you deep into worlds both strange and familiar, and characters that will never let you go…

Christos Tsiolkas was born in Melbourne in 1965. Loaded, his first novel, was published in 1995 and later made into the award-winning film Head On. In 1996 he collaborated with Sasha Soldatow on the dialogue Jump Cuts. His novel The Jesus Man was published in 1999.

His critically acclaimed novel Dead Europe was published in 2005 and in 2008 he reached bestselling status with the bold The Slap which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

He is also the author of several plays including Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? and Dead Caucasians and Non Parlo di Salo, co-written with Spiro Economopoulos.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local


Hello from the Gillespies

by Monica McInerney

For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth.

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping poorly with retirement. Her 32-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways.

One of the stars of Australian fiction, Monica McInerney is the author of the internationally bestselling novels, A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, Those Faraday Girls and At Home with the Templetons. Those Faraday Girls was the winner of the General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards. Her collection of short fiction, All Together Now, was shortlisted for the same award in 2009. At Home with the Templetons was shortlisted in the Popular Fiction category of the 2010 Irish Book Awards and in the Romantic Elements category of the 2011 Australian Romantic Book of the Year Awards. In 2006 she was the ambassador for the Australian Government initiative Books Alive, with her novella Odd One Out. Her new novel, Lola’s Secret, was published in October 2011.

Monica grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley of South Australia and has been living between Australia and Ireland for twenty years. She and her Irish husband currently live in Dublin.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local


The Rosie Effect

by Graeme Simsion

‘We’ve got something to celebrate,’ Rosie said.

I am not fond of surprises, especially if they disrupt plans already in place. I assumed that she had achieved some important milestone with her thesis. Or perhaps she had been offered a place in the psychiatry-training programme. This would be extremely good news, and I estimated the probability of sex at greater than 80%.

‘We’re pregnant,’ she said.

The Rosie Project was an international publishing phenomenon, with more than a million copies sold in over forty countries around the world. Now Graeme Simsion returns with the highly anticipated sequel, The Rosie Effect.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are now married and living in New York. Don has been teaching while Rosie completes her second year at Columbia Medical School. Just as Don is about to announce that Gene, his philandering best friend from Australia, is coming to stay, Rosie drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant.

In true Tillman style, Don instantly becomes an expert on all things obstetric. But in between immersing himself in a new research study on parenting and implementing the Standardised Meal System (pregnancy version), Don’s old weaknesses resurface. And while he strives to get the technicalities right, he gets the emotions all wrong, and risks losing Rosie when she needs him most.

The Rosie Effect is the charming and hilarious romantic comedy of the year.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local

 


Nightingale

by Fiona McIntosh

‘Love comes out of nowhere for most of us, when we least expect it . . . this young man has flown into your heart and made a nest.’

Amidst the carnage of Gallipoli, British nurse Claire Nightingale meets Australian Light Horseman Jamie Wren. Despite all odds, they fall deeply in love. Their flame burns bright and carries them through their darkest hours, even when war tears them apart.

Jamie’s chance meeting with Turkish soldier Açar Shahin on the blood-stained battlefield forges an unforgettable bond between the men. It also leaves a precious clue to Jamie’s whereabouts for Claire to follow.

Come peacetime, Claire’s desperate search to find Jamie takes her all the way to Istanbul, and deep into the heart of Açar’s family, where she attracts the unexpected attention of a charismatic and brooding scholar.

In the name of forgiveness, cultures come together, enemies embrace and forbidden passions ignite – but by the breathtaking conclusion, who will be left standing to capture Nurse Nightingale’s heart?

A heart-soaring novel of heartbreak and heroism, love and longing by a powerhouse Australian storyteller.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Narrow Road to the Deep North

by Richard Flanagan

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

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

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

Descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed Tasmania) during the Great Famine, Richard Flanagan was born in his native island in 1961, the fifth of six children. He spent his childhood in the mining town of Rosebery and left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. His first novel is the much celebrated Death of a River Guide (available from Grove Press), which won major Australian literary prizes including the 1996 National Fiction Award and was described by the Times Literary Supplement as “one of the most auspicious debuts in Australian writing.”

His second novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (available from Grove Press), was similarly critically acclaimed and has sold over 150,000 copies in Australia, an unprecedented figure there for a literary novel. It won the Australian Booksellers Book of the Year Award and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Flanagan’s first two novels, declared Kirkus Reviews, “rank with the finest fiction out of Australia since the heyday of Patrick White.” Gould’s Book of Fish, his third novel, won Best Book for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize in the South East Asia & South Pacific Region.

In addition to Australia and the USA, his novels are being published in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Germany, Holland, and France. He directed an acclaimed feature film based on The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which had its world premiere in competition at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear for best film. He lives in Tasmania with his wife and three children.

Order a copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

7PM INTERVIEW: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki on his brilliant new book, climate science, and the big questions

Now there’s a reason why we call Dr Karl, Dr Karl. Taking on his last name is, well, fraught with danger. We are not all SBS news readers. Some of us stumble when faced with complex surnames. And Kruszelnicki is a doozy. But when John Purcell sat across from Dr Karl and prepared to pronounce Karl’s full name, the ever helpful educator leant forward and walked him through it. Think you know how to say Dr Karl Kruszelnicki? Think again.

house-of-karlsHouse of Karls

by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Australia’s favourite popular scientist returns with a new book of scintillating science. His latest book is packed with fun facts and breakthrough science to thrill, amuse and entertain. Dazzling and daring, the inimitable Dr Karl has all the answers to the questions you never thought to ask!

Prepare to discover the truth about Green Tea; why crime pays (but not very well); how you can out-run a deer; the world of Big Data; why Space is the Hostile Frontier; and just what takes the title of the world’s most expensive book.

Click here to grab a copy of House of Karls 

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