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

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Naomi Wood

author of Mrs. Hemingway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.     Please tell us about your latest novel…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.   What advice do you give aspiring writers?

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

Naomi, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mrs. Hemingway here

REVIEW: The Raider by Monica McCarty (Review by Hayley Shephard)

the-raiderLooking for an historical book to read, where the actions and emotions of the characters involved are realistic? Where passion is always high, and the atmosphere is so sensual it’s bordering on primal? Then look no further than The Highland Guard series by Monica McCarty, and more recently her new novel, The Raider.

Think of The Highland Guard, after which this gripping series is named, as the ancient equivalent of the FBI or the ASIS. Each member must fight for Scotland’s freedom during the War of Independence.

Robert Boyd, whose warrior name is Raider (you can guess why), helps us to remember that warriors can still be vulnerable to their surroundings and make mistakes. So many authors of historical romance forget this and write about figures of the past that barely seem real – go figure!  Monica McCarty’s warriors, however, are human and thus susceptible to love in whatever form that may come in. And falling in love, as Raider learns, means making sacrifices and accepting that some things cannot be changed, otherwise you risk losing the one you love.

Raider comes to realise this after he takes an English woman hostage. Though he might be the strongest man in Scotland, he is just a man when 821in the presence of this woman, aptly named Rosalin. Rosalin, the sister of a powerful Englishman and seemingly his enemy, forces him to see and acknowledge things that he doesn’t want to- both inside and out.

Rosalin thankfully is not a damsel in distress; she pushes and pushes, never giving up.  Unfortunately, most authors give their characters a happy ending after only the slightest of hiccups; they make their “heroines” do anything and everything for the man they love.

More importantly, the constant upheavals in this story are not softened by unrealistic moments of passion. Some historical romances depict moments of “passion” as a turning point in the story, where the characters come to an understanding and realise everything will be alright. In this story sex is depicted as a way for the two main characters to show their love and frustration at the situation they have been dealt with. Not only that, but it helps them to forget for a while and imagine a happier world.

So as I said before, if you want a more realistic read then pick up The Raider or any other book in the series. The tension can be unbearable, but in the end well satisfying.


Grab a copy of The Raider here

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Final Round of Voting

There is only one more week of voting left to decide who is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

This is the longlist as voted by you, congratulations to all the novelists for making it onto this extraordinary list.

But the job isn’t finished. We need your final vote to decide the order of the top 50.

Vote for all your favourite authors, and spread the word, tell your friends and family to get voting! The poll closes 5pm Saturday.

Next week we’ll announce the Top 50 as voted by you and decide who, in 2014, is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

 

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 5

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

This is it folks. Your last chance to push your favourite authors into next week’s final round of voting. Last year’s winner Kate Morton is also in this heat!

Next week we’ll have the top 100 authors from all the heats for you to vote for!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 4

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Heat 4 is full of some huge names and exciting newcomers. Who will you vote for?

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far, the response has been incredible! And thanks to all the wonderful authors and publishers for spreading the word!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 3

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Today’s list is full of the most popular writers in Australia today, it’s a tough one!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 2

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Yesterday had some big surprises as Australia searched their hearts and bookcases, will today be the same?

A reminder that this is only Heat 2, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the week you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today’s list includes Nobel, Pulitzer, Orange and Miles Franklin Prize-Winners!

Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 1

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

We’ve taken your nominations and today is the day to put your votes forward. You can vote for as many novelists as you like.

A reminder that this is only Heat 1, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the next 5 days you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today we have brilliant bestsellers, acclaimed award-winners and exciting newbies! Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Paullina Simons, author of Bellagrand, The Bronze Horseman and more, answers Six Sharp Questions

bellagrandThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Paullina Simons

author of Bellagrand, The Bronze Horseman, Tully and more, answers

Six Sharp Questions

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1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Bellagrand is a story of a passionate, troubled love affair between Harry and Gina, who are the parents of Alexander, my hero in The Bronze Horseman books. Writing about them allowed me to immerse myself again in one of my favorite types of fiction: a personal and emotional story of real people against the backdrop of transformative historical events such as World War I and the Russian Revolution.
There is another reason: I love going back to the world of Tatiana and Alexander. I sometimes hear from my readers that they have trouble letting go of my characters. To them I say, tell me about it.

Click here to buy Bellagrand from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

2. Times pass. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

Best: My new renovated house.
Worst: Living in our unfinished basement for three months while the house was being renovated. I have a lifelong healthy respect (okay, dread fear) of basements. My husband and kids, of course, love the cave-like atmosphere—and there is my life in a nutshell.
One moment stands out. For Thanksgiving last year I cooked the family dinner on a stove set up in the wreckage of my demolished-to-studs kitchen. We ate on a folding table in the cold basement. Was that the best or the worst? The answer is yes.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

“Oh, what a lucky man he was.” (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

I am a delight to live with. I’m hardly ever home. I spend my days in my studio, with my laptop, my piano, and my coffee machine. Oh, and I like to pretend that I defy all stereotypes.

5. Some writer’s claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

I don’t think in terms of the marketplace, exactly. More in terms of what my readers and I like best. Since I try to write the kind of books that I myself prefer to read, I hope that my readers will want to read the books I like to write.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

The Summer Garden, for the lifelong soul of a marriage.
A Song in the Daylight, for the unfathomable human heart (both of which make great Christmas gifts, by the way).
East of Eden, for the Pandora’s box of good and evil.
Macbeth, because it has the best lines.
The Bible, for everything under the sun.

Paullina, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Bellagrand from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

THE BOOKTOPIA TOP TENS: Top Ten Most Romantic Novels Ever

HeartCurious about which rogue is most full of rascal, which heroine the sharpest, which love scene the steamiest?

Booktopia’s romance guru Haylee Nash rates the Top Ten Most Romantic Novels ever written.

From Mr. Darcy to Noah Calhoun, our Top Ten covers unmissable classics and contemporary hits.

Think the list is spot on? Or did we miss a crucial novel (too few Scottish highlanders)? Let us know what you think and your Top Tens in the comments bellow!

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