Joakim Zander, author of The Swimmer, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Joakim Zander

author of The Swimmer

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 Stockholm but I grew up mostly in a small town called Söderköping on the east coast of Sweden. When I was 15 my father got a job working for the United Nations in the Middle East, so we packed our bags and moved to Damascus, Syria and then on to northern Israel for a year. Moving from the sleepy small town where I grew up to the Middle East was transformational in every way. Some of my memories from that time have also found their way into The Swimmer.

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

I only ever wanted to be a writer. It just took a long time for me to find a story that was mine to tell.

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

I think I had a strong belief that I would be a writer when I was eighteen. But I was not brave enough to give that a go then, so I became a lawyer instead. Now, twenty years later the strongly held belief of the eighteen-year-old has become reality.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

1) John Le Carre’s The Spy Who came in From the Cold

2) William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury

3) J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

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

I love music and art. But not as much as I love books. Reading and writing have always been natural parts of my life, so it doesn’t feel like I ever made a choice on art form. Also, I am terrible at drawing and cannot carry a tune, so my options were limited.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Swimmer is a spy story that is told in multiple voices and which takes place on several continents and in different time periods. The main plot line involves young careerists in Brussles and Sweden that accidentally come into possession of information that finds them chased through a wintery Europe. In parallel, the book tells the story of an ageing American spy who tries to escape his past but finally has no choice but to confront himself and his own choices head on. I have tried very hard to make the story fast paced and filled with action, while at the same time maintaining a reflective or contemplative tone
in certain parts. I hope that I have succeeded…

Grab a copy of Joakim’s latest novel The Swimmer here

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

First of all, I hope that the readers feel entertained and that the story gets their hearts racing. I also hope that it gives an insight to the lives of young, ambitious Europeans in Brussels. If readers leave the book thinking about the larger themes of regret, guilt and redemption that is a huge bonus.

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

There are too many… But in the spy field, I would have to mention Le Carre for his characters and intelligence.

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

Getting published in Sweden seemed an almost unachievable goal to begin with… And now that The Swimmer gets published all around the world it feels entirely surreal. My goal is to keep writing and I really, really hope that readers will find my books and like them.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Creativity is great. Discipline is greater.

Joakim, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Swimmer here


The Swimmer

by Joakim Zander

A lyrical, cinematic thriller that races between Europe’s halls of power, the CIA headquarters in Virginia, Middle Eastern war zones, and the clifftops of the Swedish archipelago.

Klara Walldeen was orphaned as a child and brought up by her grandparents on a remote Swedish archipelago. She is now a political aide in Brussels – and she has just seen something she shouldn’t: something people will kill to keep hidden.

On the other side of the world, an old spy hides from his past. Once, he was a man of action, so dedicated to the cause that he abandoned his baby daughter to keep his cover. Now the only thing he lives for is swimming in the local pool. Then, on Christmas eve, Klara is thrown into a terrifying chase through Europe. Only the Swimmer can save her. But time is running out…

This is an electrifying thriller from a brilliant new talent. Published in twenty-seven countries and already a bestseller in Sweden, The Swimmer is on the cusp of becoming a global phenomenon.

 Grab a copy of The Swimmer here

Sophie Hannah, author of The Monogram Murders, answers Ten Terrifying Questions.

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sophie Hannah

author of The Monogram Murders, The Telling Error and many 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 Manchester, England. Raised and schooled there too! I lived in Manchester until I was 25.  At that point, after publishing a book of poetry, The Hero and the Girl Next Door, I was offered my dream job – Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge.  (This basically meant Writer in Residence.)  Working at Trinity was like a dream come true – such a beautiful place, and I fell in love with Cambridge too.  I now live there, and have no intention of leaving!

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

Twelve: I think I wanted to be a writer. By eighteen, however, I was going through a phase that involved doing and saying nothing my parents could possibly approve of, and they approved a bit too much of my writing, so at eighteen I announced that I was going to give university a miss and train to be a hairdresser instead. By thirty, I was already a writer and wanted to carry on being one.

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

Author: Sophie Hannah

I used to think that in order to be a good person, you had to make an enemy of bad people and fight them and their influence throughout your life.  I later realised that fighting anyone or anything – even those who richly deserve it – cannot have a positive effect.  If you spend your time fighting and hating, you’re only emitting more negative energy and, ultimately, making things worse.  The best way to be happy and make the world a better place is to be kind and compassionate, to everyone, always.  (Of course, I’m not a saint and can’t always manage to put this lofty ideal into practice – and when I can’t, I just shut myself away in the house and swear and chainsmoke until I’m able to be civilised again!)

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?

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
See Jane Run by Joy Fielding
The Memory Game by Nicci French

I love music and paintings too, but books have always come first.

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

Novels are, and have always been, my favourite thing to read – and crime novels/mystery novels in particular.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Monogram Murders is a mystery featuring Agatha Christie’s superstar detective, Hercule Poirot.  It starts with Poirot encountering a distressed young woman in a  coffee house.  The woman, who is obviously terrified, says someone is trying to kill her, but insists that she doesn’t want Poirot to try to save her life, or for her killer to be caught.  Then three guests at an exclusive London hotel are murdered…and, because of something the woman in the coffee house said to him, Poirot suspects a connection and sets out to investigate.

Grab a copy of Sophie’s latest novel The Monogram Murders here

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

More than anything, I want readers to be gripped by the story and desperate to find out the solution to the mystery.  I want them to be unable to guess until all is revealed!

murder-on-the-orient-express8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Agatha Christie.  Because she had all the best ideas, and kept having them, decade after decade. She is and will always be the Queen of Crime.

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

My ambition is that each of my books should be better and more satisfying than the one before it.  I want to become a better writer.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Keep at it. And be very choosy about whose advice you take.  Not everyone is as clever and helpful as everyone else.

Sophie, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Monogram Murders here


The Monogram Murders

by Sophie Hannah

The bestselling novelist of all time.

The world’s most famous detective.

The literary event of the year.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s novels have been sold around the world. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand-new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle sure to baffle and delight both Christie’s fans as well as readers who have not yet read her work. Written with the full backing of Christie’s family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this new novel is a major event for mystery lovers the world over.

 Grab a copy of The Monogram Murders here

Did you win a signed copy of The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling?

During July and August we gave you the chance to win a hardcover edition of The Silkworm signed by J.K.Rowling as Robert Galbraith!

All you needed to do to enter was purchase any of J.K. Rowling’s Adult Fiction titles before August 31st to go in the draw.

And the lucky winner is (drumroll please)…………

S.Burdett from Wonga Park in Victoria!

SilkwormCompetitionNewsletterBanner2107

the-silkwormThe Silkworm

by Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises.

The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

Grab a copy of The Silkworm here


Winners recap:

Framed photograph from the gorgeous book Outback Stations

M.Ellis, North Haven, NSW

Copies of LEGO Mini-Figure Year by Year

A.Burnell, St Ives, NSW
K.Gruber,  Roseville, NSW
J.McVernon, Black Rock, VIC
M.Rook, Carindale, QLD
K.Pigram, Randwick, NSW
L.Wakerley, Calamvale, QLD
A.Cummins, Birchgrove, NSW
E.Chan, Hornsby Westfield, NSW
H. Indorato, North Ryde, NSW
D.Freeman, Taree, NSW

The Ploughmen prize pack…

J.Scott, Neerim Junction, VIC


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

And the winner of The Ploughmen prize pack is…

During July/August we gave you the chance to win a book pack for dad valued at $199.

All you needed to do to enter was buy The Ploughmen by Kim J. Zupan

And the lucky winner is…

J.Scott, Neerim Junction, VIC

 

ThePloughmenNewsletterBanner

9781447247814The Ploughmen

by Kim J. Zupan

The story of two men – a killer awaiting trial, and a troubled young deputy – sitting across from each other in the dark, talking through the bars of a county jail cell.

John Gload, so brutally adept at his craft that only now, at the age of 71, has he faced the prospect of long-term incarceration; and Valentine Millimaki, low man in the Copper County sheriff’s department, who draws the overnight shift after Gload’s arrest, tasked with getting the killer to talk about a string of unsolved murders. With a disintegrating marriage now further collapsing under the strain of his night duty, and his safety threatened from within his own department, Millimaki finds himself seeking counsel from a remorseless criminal. The strange intimacy of their connection takes a startling turn with a brazen act of violence, a manhunt, and a stunning revelation that leave Gload’s past and Millimaki’s future forever entwined.

Grab a copy of The Ploughmen here


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

A Sneak Peek at the Design Process of James Ellroy’s new novel Perfidia

If you’re a book nerd, you’re all in or nothing. That means you don’t just love reading, but everything about books. You love the look, the feel, the smell…

…and especially seeing how they’re made.

We take a step behind the curtain to see the design process of printing posters and covers for James Ellroy’s highly anticipated new novel Perfidia, the first book in his second ‘L.A. Quartet’. The first contained The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential and White Jazz, all of which were critically acclaimed bestsellers.

Order your copy of Perfidia here

perfidiaPerfidia

by James Ellroy

A new novel from Ellroy is always a publishing event. That Perfidia is the first volume of his ‘Second L.A. Quartet’ makes this publication even more exciting.

It is December 6 1941. America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans – but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins.

The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. William H. Parker is a captain on the Los Angeles Police. He’s superbly gifted, corrosively ambitious, liquored-up and consumed by dubious ideology. He is bitterly at odds with Sergeant Dudley Smith – Irish émigré, ex-IRA killer, fledgling war profiteer. Kay Lake is a 21-year-old dilettante looking for adventure. Hideo Ashida is a police chemist and the only Japanese on the L.A. cop payroll. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm centre that brilliantly illuminates these four driven souls – comrades, rivals, lovers, history’s pawns.

Perfidia is a novel of astonishments. It is World War II as you have never seen it, and Los Angeles as James Ellroy has never written it before. Here, he gives us the party at the edge of the abyss and the precipice of America’s ascendance. Perfidia is that moment, spellbindingly captured. It beckons us to solve a great crime that, in its turn, explicates the crime of war itself. It is a great American novel.

Order your copy of Perfidia here

 

Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann, authors of The Marmalade Files and The Mandarin Code, chat to John Purcell

After the runaway success of The Marmalade Files, it was inevitable that Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann would be returning for another healthy dose of political intrigue.

They chat to John Purcell about their latest book The Mandarin Code, the difficulties of co-writing, and how life in Canberra can often be stranger than fiction.

Grab a copy of The Mandarin Code here

Grab a copy of The Mandarin Code here

The Mandarin Code

by Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann

A body pulled from the murky waters of Lake Burley Griffin links Canberra, Beijing and Washington in a titanic struggle where war is just a mouse click away. Veteran reporter Harry Dunkley is chasing the scoop of his career, hunting for his best friend’s killer. Navigating treacherous political waters where a desperate minority government edges ever closer to disaster, he delves into a cyber world where there are no secrets.

Friendship and loyalty give way to betrayal and revenge as Dunkley stumbles into the sights of the mandarins who wield real power – and who’ll stop at nothing to retain it. Political insiders Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann bring biting wit and behind-the-headlines insights to this sharply observed sequel to the bestselling The Marmalade Files, once again lifting the veil on the lust and lies that stain the corridors of power.

Grab a copy of The Mandarin Code here

REVIEW: Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Review by Andrew Cattanach)

There seems to be two types of people in this world. Those who love Michael Robotham, and those who haven’t heard of him yet.

It can be difficult for a crime writer to receive critical acclaim and popularity. Books by design are denser than any cop drama on TV, asking questions designed for reflection rather than ratings. Formulas are examined and broken down, cliches noted, thin characters ridiculed.

What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor.

He’s just a wonderful writer.

Life or Death starts with an intriguing premise. Audie Palmer is on the run, having escaped from jail. 10 years of beatings and torture are behind him. But what’s the twist?

He has escaped just one day before he was due to be released.

RoboIn Audie Palmer, Robotham has created a character we can all root for. Lucky in his unluckiness, stoic, brave, principled. He is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by a crime he swears he didn’t commit. But can we trust him? Can we really trust anyone?

While Audie is the heart of the story,  there is plenty of meat around him, an ensemble cast of crooked politicians, kind-hearted criminals and shady FBI agents, not to mention a missing seven million dollars. The waters are murky, and Robotham revels in it.

Life or Death is for the crime fan who likes a story, not just an account. Brilliantly written, intelligent, funny, sad and meticulously mapped out, it’s easy to understand why there has already been so much interest in a big screen adaptation of the novel.

There is nothing more exciting than an author operating at the peak of their powers. With Life or Death, Robotham is doing just that, further strengthening his hold as one of Australia’s finest crime writers. Find out why Audie is on the run, before it’s too late.

Grab a copy of Michael Robotham’s Life or Death here

___________________________________

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog and was shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat

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