GUEST BLOG: Who’s that Knocking at the Door? by Jandy Nelson

Writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia.—E.L. Doctorow
Some people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading.—Logan Pearsall Smith

Jandy Nelson

Author: Jandy Nelson

It is essential when writing fiction to enter the world of your characters.
But what if they begin to enter yours?

The first time this happened was with Guillermo Garcia, Jude’s sculpture teacher in I’ll Give You the Sun. Guillermo is a tall, imposing man with over-sized features that all clutter together in a wildly expressive face. He has a booming voice with a strong accent (he’s Colombian), a big heart and bigger personality. He carves abstract giants out of granite, and really, at least in my mind, he’s kind of a giant himself. He was one of the first characters in the story to arrive and he did so fully formed and ready to go.

One day, about two years into the writing of the novel, I was having a desperate moment. I felt uncertain about the direction the story was heading and the themes at play just didn’t feel like the right ones. So I lay down to think (much easier for me to think when I’m horizontal—no idea why). The next thing I knew, there was Guillermo towering before me: hands in the air like he was conducting a symphony, hair in his eyes, sweat dripping down his neck (it was that real). “Jandy! You are an idiot!” he said in his big bang of a voice. “You are thinking about this wrong. This is a book about second chances! Second chances. Understand?” I bolted upright. Because I did understand. He was right. It was the exact revelation I needed in that moment except for the fact that it had come out of the seemingly real mouth of an imaginary person! (Even if I fell asleep—indeed possible—it’s still bizarre to see and hear someone in a dream in such detail, someone you’ve never laid eyes on, someone who does not exist.)

Next, months later, I went by myself to see a Richard Diebenkorn exhibit. I walked in and my heart immediately exploded at the beauty. Like Jude says in Sun, there are paintings that color-flood9781406354386 out of two dimensions into three. These were those kind of paintings and my first thought was: “It’s such a shame Noah and Jude couldn’t come with me today.” In that split-second, I’d forgotten that they weren’t real.

I also remember a strange moment while in the middle of writing The Sky Is Everywhere. I was driving to work and reached for my phone because I was feeling an over-powering urge to call my novel. Then I realized what I’d just thought (!!!) and put the phone down.

I’ve had experiences like this as a reader and filmgoer too, with other people’s characters and stories. And maybe it’s a little nuts, but I don’t care. I love that as writers and readers, as story-lovers and fans, we, at times, immerse ourselves so completely in imaginary worlds that characters from those imaginary worlds come knocking on our very real wooden front doors. I love that the mind is that boundless and mysterious and strange, that the bridge between the real and the imagined is so well-travelled, and in both directions.


i-ll-give-you-the-sunI’ll Give You the Sun

by Jandy Neson

From the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying – all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver.

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

About the Author

Jandy Nelson lives in San Francisco, where she divides her time between her proper tree and running loose through the park. Jandy is a literary agent, published poet and perpetual academic with degrees from Brown, Cornell and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s a superstitious sort and devout romantic who’s madly in love with California – how it teeters on the edge of a continent.

Grab a copy of I’ll Give You the Sun here

GUEST BLOG: Ber Carroll on Mother’s Day without the mother

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Author: Ber Carroll

I’m one of those mums who don’t like a fuss on Mother’s Day. An extra hour in bed, a full ‘Irish’ breakfast, no squabbling children in my immediate vicinity, and I’m content. Being a mother is relentless, and all I ask for is a small reduction in pace. Yup, that’s all I want on Mother’s Day (but if there are chocolates and presents on offer too, well, I’m not going to say no!)

I am the CEO of our family. The timetable scheduler (Two places at once? No problem). The chef (School lunches from a bare pantry? Easy peas-y). The training and development person (Miss Ten doesn’t have the first iota when it comes to fractions. Master thirteen doesn’t know how to clip his toenails. Immediate training required on both fronts). I cover both the strategic (that’s the long-term stuff such as public schools versus private etc.) and the operational (that’s the everyday shit . . . like not allowing my children to use bad language).

‘What would you do without me?’ I cry on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
It’s a valid question. There are some things that would never cross my husband’s mind. Children would arrive at school without sunscreen, water bottles and pencil cases. Diet would be compromised: no fish, not enough greens, too many hot chips. I’d have no choice but to haunt him. Yes, if I was gone, I would come back and haunt my husband, poke him in the ribs every time he forgot something or didn’t do it right, leave notes in ghostly handwriting on the kitchen counter: Miss Ten hasn’t practised her clarinet in three weeks, Master Thirteen has been wearing the same pyjamas for a similar period of time. Or maybe I could put my writing skills to use and write a manual – a tome – that covered absolutely everything they’d need to know to survive without me. Section 13: Sickness and ill-health. Subsection 13.1: Common varieties of sickness; 13.2: Sickness and school; 13.3: Sickness and sport; 13.4: Guidelines on doctors and medical centres; 13.5: Prevention of sickness; 13.6: Phantom sicknesses and hypochondria . . .

Yes, I’m quite the medic, on top of everything else: the grocery shopper, the fashion consultant, the homework guru, the clothes washer, the lynchpin of the family. In Once Lost I wanted to explore what happens when that lynchpin is suddenly pulled out. A mother who was there one day, gone the next. A mother who left behind no explanations, no manual, no guidance . . . only questions, suspicions and a terrible, terrible uncertainty about what had actually happened to her. The wider impact on everyone who knew her, not just her family, but her neighbours, her acquaintances, even down to her daughter’s best friend. Who stepped in to take her place. The fact that nobody could, no matter how hard they tried, no matter how good their intentions. The fact that her daughter never got used to her being gone, and never gave up searching for her. Some holes can never be filled. Or should that be some roles?

Sadly, on this Mother’s Day there will be many families in that exact situation. Families who have lost mothers due to illness, due to accidents, or due to other tragic misfortune. I might joke about all that I do for my family and how irreplaceable I am, but that’s a cover for my biggest fear: leaving my children, not being there to guide them on the little things as well as the big, missing out on all their important moments. I probably won’t get a sleep-in on Mother’s Day, and I can be guaranteed there’ll be the usual arguments and fights, but I’m here – I have them and they have me – and that has to be the most important thing of all.


once-lostOnce Lost by Ber Carroll

Are some things better left unfound?

Best friends Louise and Emma grew up next door to each other in a grim inner-city suburb of Dublin.

Now Louise, an art conservator, is thousands of miles away in Sydney, restoring a beautiful old painting. She meets Dan, whose family welcome her as one of their own, but she will always feel lost until she finds her mother who walked out when she was just eight years old.

Back in Dublin, Emma is stuck in a job where she is under-appreciated and underpaid, but her biggest worry is her ex-partner, Jamie. Emma has lost so much because of Jamie: her innocence, her reputation, almost her life. Now she is at risk of losing Isla, her young daughter.

So where is Louise’s mother? Will Emma ever be free of her ex? Both women frantically search for answers, but when the truth finally emerges it is more shattering than they had ever expected.

About the Author

Ber Carroll was born in Blarney, County Cork, and moved to Australia in 1995. She worked as a finance director in the information technology industry until the release of her first novel, Executive Affair. Her second book, Just Business, was published in Ireland and Germany and these novels, plus her third,  High Potential, were released in Australia in 2008 and The Better Woman in 2009. Once Lost is her latest novel.

Grab a copy of Once Lost here

GUEST BLOG: Ber Carroll speaks on Missing Mums and her latest novel ‘Once Lost’

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Author: Ber Carroll

The article in The Australian Women’s Weekly caught my eye straight away. Three smiling vibrant women who each seemed strangely familiar to me. They could have been women I knew from school, or from sport, or from the local neighbourhood, and it seemed incongruous that these happy photographs should be married to the chilling caption: MISSING MUMS.

These women, these ordinary every-day mothers, had vanished, leaving behind a plethora of unanswered questions, a tangle of suspicions and mistrust, and the shattered lives of those who had loved them. I felt quite overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy, for the mothers themselves and everything they had missed out on – birthdays, weddings, grandchildren – and for their family and friends and the debilitating uncertainty that they were still living with, years later. I imagined myself as the missing mother, and then imagined myself as a daughter left behind. I read the article three or four times, trawling for clues as to what might have really happened to these women. In worlds-apartMarion Barter’s story alone, there seemed to be so much conflicting evidence. I tried to rationalise Marion’s odd behaviour before she went missing, and to find some explanation for why she might want to escape, or not be totally honest with her family. Had customs made an error? Who, exactly, did the police speak to that time on the phone? Was the stolen wallet the missing link, the key to everything? What, out of all that contradictory evidence, could be eliminated by some simple explanation? The most disturbing thing was that I couldn’t quite shake the deep-down feeling that Marion Barter was alive.

Every now and then something goes missing in our house. I’m sure this happens in every household, but my reaction can be quite – there’s no other word for it – obsessive. I search every nook and cranny of the house. I wake in the middle of the night, suddenly remembering an obscure location where I have not yet checked, and have been known to jump up then and there – in the middle of the night – to go to investigate. The most significant item I’ve lost is my car keys. I invested hours and hours searching for them (I even went through the rubbish bins!). The keys were never found; I had to pay a lot of money for a replacement set. Ten years on, I still occasionally find myself wondering What, exactly, happened to those keys? The fact that I don’t know, and never will know, is enough to drive me quite mad. Maybe I am a product of my generation. We have resources at our fingertips, answers at the click of a button. We aren’t used to things being grey or unclear or ambiguous. One thing I do know for sure is that if my mother, or my sister, or a friend, vanished like Marion did, I would never be able to let it go. I would never be able to put it behind me and move on. I would be looking for answers, for clues, waking in the middle of the night and conjuring up new explanations, until my dying day.

once-lostIn Once Lost, I tried to capture some of that conflicting backdrop. Louise’s mother was not perfect: she had an unhappy marriage, an abusive partner, and a history of ‘zoning out’. One day, while Louise was at school, she took her purse and some clothes and disappeared. Sixteen years later, Louise is an accomplished young woman, but the only way she can get through the uncertainty that surrounds her mother’s disappearance is to channel all her energy into searching for her. What keeps her going is the deep-down belief that her mother is alive, and that one day she will know the truth of what really happened the day her mother disappeared.

I wrote most of Once Lost in a state of uncertainty myself: I didn’t decide what happened to Louise’s mother until the very end. Because I am an author, and this story isn’t real, I was able to insert some certainty in the ending. Louise does find some answers, some closure, which is something that has been denied to the families of those three beautiful women whose faces have stayed in my head since reading that article in The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Grab a copy of Once Lost here


once-lostOnce Lost by Ber Carroll

Are some things better left unfound?

Best friends Louise and Emma grew up next door to each other in a grim inner-city suburb of Dublin.

Now Louise, an art conservator, is thousands of miles away in Sydney, restoring a beautiful old painting. She meets Dan, whose family welcome her as one of their own, but she will always feel lost until she finds her mother who walked out when she was just eight years old.

Back in Dublin, Emma is stuck in a job where she is under-appreciated and underpaid, but her biggest worry is her ex-partner, Jamie. Emma has lost so much because of Jamie: her innocence, her reputation, almost her life. Now she is at risk of losing Isla, her young daughter.

So where is Louise’s mother? Will Emma ever be free of her ex? Both women frantically search for answers, but when the truth finally emerges it is more shattering than they had ever expected.

About the Author

Ber Carroll was born in Blarney, County Cork, and moved to Australia in 1995. She worked as a finance director in the information technology industry until the release of her first novel, Executive Affair. Her second book, Just Business, was published in Ireland and Germany and these novels, plus her third,  High Potential, were released in Australia in 2008 and The Better Woman in 2009. Once Lost is her latest novel.

Grab a copy of Once Lost here

GUEST BLOG: Caroline Baum on judging the Stella Prize

CaroJudging a literary prize is the one thing that no algorithm, no matter how sophisticated, can do. It is an intensely human and subjective endeavour. Now that the winner of this year’s Stella prize has been announced, I can say with complete honesty that this was the hardest prize I have ever judged: partly because of the sheer volume of books that we five judges had to read, in a relatively tight time frame, and partly because the quality of the books made it such a difficult process.

I spent a lot of this summer reading so intensely that on some days, I simply never got dressed. I taped the three criteria to my bedside table -original, excellent and engaging- and repeated them to myself like a mantra whenever I was unsure.

Some books snuck up on me unexpectedly, including a couple I had missed when they came out. One or two had completely failed to appear on my radar, causing me genuine concern: how could it be that I had overlooked them, when my role at Booktopia gives me the opportunity to see everything that’s out there? Answer: I’m human. An algorithm could come up with a formula that suggests what I might like based on previous preferences, but it won’t necessarily spot the book I failed to notice.

Judging for the Stella introduced me to some voices I will now follow with acute and sustained interest: Sofie Laguna and Biff Ward, I await your next books keenly.

As the process and the summer wore on, emails trickled through in the heat, becoming more urgent as deadlines neared. Oh the relief of realising some of my most fervently held enthusiasms were shared!

I thought of what it takes to do this as a kind of fitness, requiring muscle tone like a long distance athletic challenge. You need reading stamina to stay the course as well as lots of uninterrupted time.

When it came to whittling the longlist down to the shortlist, I read all twelve books again to get to six. There was no way round it. The revelations on re-reading were astounding and sometimes conviction-shaking – which just goes to show how much you miss when you are binge-reading, swallowing a book down without digesting it properly.

Our deliberations, when we finally came together on a warm day in Melbourne, were respectful, polite, fair but intense. Navigating towards the shore of consensus, we avoided the rocks of heated argument, all equally keen to avoid boiling it down to the simple, bald maths of a vote.

Being the first cab off the rank in the sequence of the year’s literary prizes is interesting: when the lists appear for prizes like the Miles Franklin it is surprising to see where you overlap and where you don’t.

I think it’s great for the vigour of the culture if one book does not scoop all the prizes, but it was surprising to see that our winner this year was not even longlisted for The Miles Franklin, given that The Strays certainly ticks the box when it comes to the vexed criterion of depicting an aspect of Australian life.

If Joan London wins it for The Golden Age, that would mean a pair of prestigious wins by two fine women writers who use language with similar precision, delicacy and maturity, despite the fact that one is making her debut, and the other is arguably one of our finest midcareer novelists. Both books about outsiders with heightened sensibilities, and which bring a fresh perspective to complex aspects of our past.

Caroline Baum is Booktopia’s Editorial Director, for which she produces The Booktopia Buzz. She also writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, Qantas in flight magazine, Slow Magazine, SBS Feast and other publications about books, food, travel, the arts, and aspects of contemporary life.

230914carolinebaumbuzzheader616+x123Check out Caroline’s Books of the Month in The Booktopia Buzz

GUEST BLOG: A farewell to Sir Terry Pratchett – by Karen Miller

TerryWhat’s that saying in showbiz? Always leave ‘em wanting more? Well, I guess then it’s mission accomplished. Because I know I’m not the only one who will forever more be wanting more Sam Vimes, more Granny Weatherwax, more Captain Carrot and Lord Vetinari and Susan and Death of Rats and Nanny Ogg and Magrat and … and … and …

When we learned in 2007 that the man who created the Discworld was afflicted with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, we knew we’d been given advance warning that we’d be losing him sooner rather than later. But that doesn’t make this moment any easier to bear. Sometimes being forewarned isn’t being forearmed. Sometimes it’s a really mean trick.

Terry Pratchett wrote extraordinary books. I’d go so far as to say that his was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of imagination and intellect. I’d go so far as to say that in Pratchett we had our own William Shakespeare. Terry Pratchett never wrote comedy, although so much of his work was witty and amusing and often made his readers laugh aloud. No. Terry Pratchett wrote deeply, passionately, sometimes angrily, sometimes kindly, but always with wisdom and keen insight, about the infinitely complicated truths of human nature and human society, about the need for and lack of simple human compassion – and the astonishing impact both the need and lack of it could have on both a single life and the world.

a-slip-of-the-keyboardSince being asked to collect some thoughts on his work, and his passing, of course I’ve been revisiting his books, and my favourites among them. Inevitably there are some I love more than others, some I’ve re-read until the covers are in danger of falling off and others I’ve honestly only read once or twice. Far and away my two favourite subsets are the City Watch series, and the Witches series. No lie, I must be up to at least fifteen re-reads of those books and they never get boring or commonplace or over-familiar. I love them with all my heart and soul and as I think about them I’m overwhelmed by moments I adore: Magrat facing down the elves … Vimes and his egg-and-toast soldiers in Uberwald … Susan and her poker … Nobby Nobbs and Fred Colon and Lord Vetinari in the submarine … Nanny Ogg’s Joy of Snacks … Death and his cats and his curries and his bad fake beard … Granny Weatherwax the chiropractor … Greebo and the vampyres … Lady Sybil and her dragons …

So many wonderful moments and memories. So many characters who became dear friends.

small-godsBefore I became a full-time novelist, I had my own speculative fiction bookshop. That’s why I was given the incredible opportunity to host Terry Pratchett, David Gemmell and Sara Douglass (and I can’t believe they’ve all left us now) at a weekend-long literary convention in Parramatta. Not surprisingly, the event was sold out and standing room only. It was fantastic, in every sense of the word. Three very different writers, three great talents, three gracious guests who gave of themselves without hesitation.

But what I remember best about that weekend is dinner on the Friday night before the convention officially began. It was just me, David Gemmell and Terry Pratchett at a table (Sara was coming in on the Sunday), and over our meal I was entertained by a lively debate between David and Terry on the various merits and pitfalls of Christianity. David was a committed Christian and Terry … wasn’t. He’d been raised in a religious family, though, and as a result he’d formed certain opinions. The Terry Pratchett I listened to and learned from that night was the Pratchett who’d written Small Gods just a few years earlier in 1992. As withering critiques of organised religion and its inherent flaws go, I think that book is the gold standard. I still think it’s one of the best books Pratchett ever wrote. Certainly it should be required reading for theological students everywhere.

the-truthBut oddly enough, at the end of the day it’s not Small Gods that remains with me, lighting a fire in my heart. It’s the ending of another book, written some eight years later: The Truth. That’s the book about journalism, and lies – although perhaps I’m repeating myself. In it we meet two of Terry’s most amazing characters, Mr Tulip and Mr Pin. They’re not nice men. They’re killers for hire. But in taking us on their journey, Terry gives us a uniquely nuanced experience. Tulip and Pin might both be killers, but under that cruel veneer they’re quite different men. As always it’s the humanity of his characters that drives his exploration of them, leading his readers to think hard about the nature of good and evil and What If and, profoundly, the notion of There But For the Grace of God … and second –ing chances.

Terry Pratchett was many things: a philosopher, an historian, a theologian, a social analyst, a raconteur, a wit, an angry man and a humanist. But above all else he was a brilliant entertainer.

Thank you, Terry. You made our world a better place. You showed us humanity in all its different colours and flavours. You made us laugh, you made us cry, and best of all you made us think. And for as long as your books remain in print, you’ll go on doing that

The Turtle moves!

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karen-millar_portthumb1

Karen Miller writes speculative fiction. Mostly of the epic historical kind, but she’s also written Star Wars and Stargate novels and under the pen-name K.E. Mills writes the Rogue Agent series, about a wizard with special skills who works for his government under unusual circumstances.

You can hear more from Karen at her blog The Talkative Writer.

 

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Adrian d’Hage, author of The Alexandria Connection

dhageI’m a keen reader of non-fiction including authors such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which provided an early warning of the coming environmental crisis; Samuel Huntingdon’s The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order; and The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, including an analysis of hidden Christian texts such as the Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene, challenging long-held dogma of the place of women in Christ’s circle and throwing a new light on Mary’s relationship with the Christ.

To be honest, I don’t read many thrillers, because I am wary of unwittingly using other authors’ ideas. The Omega Scroll – a lost biblical scroll hidden in the deserts of Qumran for over 2,000 years contains a terrible warning for humankind (much of which appears to be coming to fruition!) had similarities to Dan Brown‘s The Da Vinci Code – but as I hadn’t read Brown, it was coincidental. In a similar vein, I am told that Daniel Silva and I write on remarkably similar themes and even choose similar locations (his The English Girl is part set on Corsica, as is The Alexandria Connection). This too is coincidental – I haven’t read his books although given our similar but separate thoughts, perhaps one day we should meet.the-inca-prophecy

In my novels, I draw on my time in the military (including as Head Defence Planner for Security at the Sydney Olympics) and my degrees in science and theology to address some of the critical issues facing the world today. The Omega Scroll, The Beijing Conspiracy, The Maya Codex, The Inca Prophecy and The Alexandria Connection, whilst set in fast-moving worlds of Curtis O’Connor and the CIA (along with his attractive and highly intelligent archaeologist accomplice, Aleta Weizman), have warnings embedded. Bike chases in the Alps, diving for hidden artefacts in Lake Como in Italy and Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, and perilous journeys into the jungles of the Amazon are just some of the settings for what we face today: biological terrorism and what might happen if the deadly Ebola virus and the more prevalent smallpox virus are combined; the reality of what is happening at the heavy water reactor and the production of the Iranian nuclear bomb; and closure of the Strait of Hormuz cutting off a major maritime oil trade route, to cite just three.

the-alexandria-connectionThe Alexandria Connection was, in part, inspired by my research into The Bilderberg Group. Until relatively recently, little was known about the secretive annual meetings of the world’s wealthiest CEOs, royalty and political elite. The participants are household names: David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Queen Beatrix, Tony Blair, to name but a few who have attended the heavily guarded meetings. Conspiracy theories abound on the real reason for these gatherings, but whatever the purpose of the Bilderbergers, Alexandria’s Pharos Group contains some of the world’s most powerful individuals and their aim is very clear: nothing less than a New World Order. According to Oxfam, 85 people in the world share a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion – equal to the combined wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion people. Sheldon Crowley, a member of Pharos and the world’s wealthiest industrialist, controls massive coal mines; an oil multinational that dwarfs Exxon-Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell combined; Brazilian timber mills in the Amazon; and a huge arms conglomerate, from which the latest top secret generation of missiles are mysteriously turning up in Afghanistan. O’Connor is tasked with getting into Afghanistan’s notorious Korengal Valley to find out why. The critical Strait of Hormuz – through which 45% of the world’s maritime oil trade flows from one of the world’s largest oil refineries, Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tenura – is under threat. My research took me into the jungles of the Amazon, where O’Connor has also been tasked with investigating whether or not the missiles are being shipped amongst the timber gained from Crowley’s illegal logging of one of the world’s greatest wildernesses.

My research also took me to the pyramids of Giza and Alexandria where O’Connor’s ‘partner-in-crime’, the acclaimed international archaeologist, Aleta Weizman, is searching for an ancient papyrus. The papyrus, said to be authored by Euclid, the father of geometry, might finally reveal the true purpose of the Great Pyramid of Giza and a long forgotten source of energy. But when thieves break into Cairo’s Museum of Antiquities and make off with the priceless mask of Tutankhamun, the threads surrounding the missiles, the mask and the papyrus start to lead back to the Pharos Group, and Aleta’s life and that of O’Connor are placed in very real danger.

I hope this novel is as enjoyable to read as it was to write.


The Alexandria Connectionthe-alexandria-connection

by Adrian d’Hage

A New World Order is upon us . . .

In the shifting desert sands of Egypt, rumours abound of a lost papyrus that will reveal the true purpose of the Pyramids of Giza. Could these ancient monoliths be the source of a new kind of energy, one that comes at no cost to the planet? CIA agent Curtis O’Connor and archaeologist Aleta Weizman are determined to find out.

Close by, a shadowy and powerful group known as Pharos meets in Alexandria, its membership a closely guarded secret. Its first order of business: to orchestrate chaos on international financial markets with a series of spectacular terrorist attacks on the world’s fossil-fuel supplies.

And in Cairo, amid the anarchy of Tahrir Square, thieves have broken into the famed Museum of Antiquities and stolen one of the world’s priceless artifacts: the mask of Tutankhamun. Is the audacious theft linked to the Pharos Group?

Nimbly weaving politics, history and science through a rip-roaring plot, from Afghanistan to Washington, Sydney to London, The Alexandria Connection is a spectacular and stylish ride.

About the Author

Adrian d’Hagé was educated at North Sydney Boys High School and the Royal Military College Duntroon (Applied Science). Graduating into the Intelligence Corps, he served as a platoon commander in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Military Cross. His military service included command of an infantry battalion, director of joint operations and head of defence public relations. In 1994 Adrian was made a Member of the Order of Australia. In his last appointment, he headed defence planning for counter terrorism security for the Sydney Olympics, including security against chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

Adrian holds an honours degree in theology, entering as a committed Christian but graduating ‘with no fixed religion’. In 2009 he completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Dean’s Award) in oenology or wine chemistry at Charles Sturt University, and he has successfully sat the Austrian Government exams for ski instructor, ‘Schilehrer Anwärter’. He is presently a research scholar, tutor and part-time lecturer at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (Middle East and Central Asia) at ANU. His doctorate is entitled ‘The Influence of Religion on US Foreign Policy in the Middle East’.

Grab a copy of The Alexandria Connection here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Why I chose the chef life… by Mr Dan Hong, author of Mr Hong

danhongWriting Mr Hong gave me the opportunity to reminisce about the early stages of my career and think about exactly why I chose a life in food. Putting it all down on paper was a lot of fun and gave me the opportunity to think about the significant moments in my food journey that changed everything for me.

Mr Hong is full of recipes, of course, and stories about my life to date – from growing up in my mum’s Vietnamese restaurant in Cabramatta, to experimenting with supermarket staples while left to my own devices at home during high school, and later my culinary training at some of Australia’s most prestigious restaurants.

My first job was at Longrain, a wonderful place to start my journey in food, and included packing away all the fresh produce every morning, making six different curry pastes and deep-frying shallots – a great learning curve for me at that stage – and I’ve been very fortunate to have wonderful mentors throughout my career ever since Longrain.

Thinking about it, David Chang is one of my greatest food heroes because he was one of the first chefs to dare to throw out all the rules focus on one thing: deliciousness. For me, the best food is delicious, easy and fun. Couldn’t live without fish sauce! I love bold, strong flavours, freshness and balance – and most of all, I see food as something that connects people, makes them happy and can be shared with the people I love.


Mr Hong is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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mr-hong

Mr Hong

by Dan Hong

Eat like you never have before, with Dan Hong at the reins it will be an enjoyable ride. Dan’s appetite for rare sneakers, hip-hop and collecting cookbooks is only surpassed by his passion for food: everything from fast food to fine dining. Growing up in the suburbs of Sydney with a food-obsessed family and a mother who fell into owning a Vietnamese restaurant by chance, Dan has gone on to become a critically acclaimed chef, working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Australia, including Sydney’s Mr Wong, Ms G’s and El Loco.

Dan’s potent mix of proud heritage, technical skill and boundless enthusiasm for experimenting with big, bold, fresh flavours makes his approach to food truly unique. Mr Hong is as much an exploration of Dan’s colourful path through life as it is a beautifully illustrated book of one hundred scintillating recipes – Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, as well as fusions of the three – re-imagined and re-invigorated for a new generation of food obsessives. Feast your eyes and dig in.

About the Author

Dan Hong has worked in some of the most prestigious restaurants in Australia, including Tetsuya’s, Marque and Bentley, and his mentors include Mark Best, Brent Savage and Thomas Johns. He has opened some of Sydney’s most exciting dining destinations, including Ms G’s, El Loco and Mr Wong (honoured with a hat in its first year of business at the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards) and most recently Papi Chulo, a smokehouse and grill at Manly Wharf, Sydney.

Mr Hong is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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