GUEST BLOG: Robin Bowles, author of Smoke & Mirrors, on the murder of Stuart Rattle.

smoke-and-mirrorsIn December 2013 the whole of Melbourne was buzzing with the details of a most bizarre murder.  The people most intrigued, far from being the criminal element where murder is often discussed, were the bold and beautiful of the socialite set. Someone many of them knew, others who’d relied on the victim, renowned interior designer Stuart Rattle, to transform their houses into enviable homes, could not believe the gruesome story as it unfolded across the Melbourne media.

The details were scanty at first, some journalists believing there had been a ‘typo’ in police media releases. At first, everyone assumed that Stuart had died in bed in a fire in his apartment, whilst his partner of 16 years, Michael O’Neill and their three pet foxies had made a lucky escape.

But the autopsy didn’t support this scenario. Within days of the fire, police arrested Michael for murder. The charge sheet showed a five-day disparity between a date of probable death and the fire. Police confirmed it was not a ‘typo’, but refused to release more details.

Sorrow and support for Michael changed to anger and more grief, friends realising that they had lost two close friends inRobin Bowels one week instead of one. Clients and customers were incredulous, uncomprehending about how such an outwardly ideal couple could disintegrate into such a sad and sordid ending.

Gradually the bizarre details emerged. Stuart had been dead for 5 days before the fire. After bludgeoning him on the head with a heavy saucepan and then strangling him with a handy dog lead, Michael had wrapped Stuart’s body in a clear plastic sofa bag and brought him a cup of tea. He sat with him, brought him wine and take-away curry, ‘watched’ TV beside him, all the while carrying on a semblance of their normal lives at work downstairs, pretending to all that Stuart was sick in bed.

Eventually the summer heat and the normal biological process forced him to make a decision. He says he set the fire so that Stuart would not be found in the undignified state of advanced decomposition.

Michael pleaded guilty at his trial and is now serving an 18-year sentence for murder and arson.

People often ask me how I make the decision to write about a particular murder, after all many murder trials take place in all the courts around Australia every week. I like to look at a story with ‘layers’ and if possible some psychological or social significance, rather than the story of A kills B, A arrested, tried and sent to prison—The End. The story behind my latest, 11th  book, Smoke and Mirrors had all the elements of things not appearing as they seem. Even Stuart Rattle, the self-confessed smoke and mirrors design expert, was an enigma. Lots published about his public self, but little known about the ‘real’ Stuart Rattle. Michael O’Neill, for reasons that become apparent in the book, also created a web of fiction about himself, too insecure to tell the truth. Here were these two men, both of whom had spaces in their personalities that the other filled, living a life behind the smoke and mirrors of their counterfeit public personas, struggling emotionally, physically and financially in their every-day unseen lifestyle. It was a perfect storm.

This book was not an easy one to write. With every book I have to struggle with ethics—what to include and what to leave out; trying not to extend the pain of the living victims created by a tragedy such as murder; frustration from the police and in this case, the prison system; reluctance of people to share their hurt or inner feelings; and at times being almost overwhelmed myself by the sadness and waste of it all.

Smoke and Mirrors was not the easiest book I’ve written, but I am already being rewarded by the feedback that it’s a riveting read!

Grab a copy of Smoke and Mirrors here


smoke-and-mirrorsSmoke and Mirrors

by Robin Bowles

Stuart Rattle and Michael O’Neill were the perfect couple. Country boys from working-class backgrounds, they became bon vivants and lovers, the envy of all their friends – until tragedy struck.

Stuart Rattle was at the peak of his design career, feted and entertained by hosts whose invitations were gold. His ‘Rattle’ interiors were his ticket into this exclusive lifestyle.

Michael O’Neill, his loyal and loving partner, employee, dogsbody and whipping boy, was always three steps behind, never in the limelight. In the words of Paul Bangay, the international garden designer and Stuart’s former partner, ‘Michael really had to fit into Stuart’s way of life … Stuart had a more…

Grab a copy of Smoke and Mirrors here

Drum roll…. We’re announcing the winners of our June/July Competitions!

In June and July we had a pile of prizes and promotions for you to plunder.

Let’s wrap a few up and announce the winners of these great prizes, shall we?

Izzy_Folau_Competition_Category_Page_BannerAll you had to do to enter was order from The Izzy Folau series by July 31st!

chance-of-a-lifetimeDaniel and Sione have been given the chance of a lifetime to be coached by Australian rugby union star, Israel Folau. But can they make it count? While Daniel and Sione come from very different backgrounds, they both eat, sleep and breathe rugby union. When they are selected for a junior representative rugby team, Daniel and Sione’s worlds collide. At first, the boys are awestruck by Izzy, but soon they see him as a friend. Unfortunately, things on the field don’t go as smoothly. Will Daniel and Sione learn how to adapt to their new team? Or will their big break turn into a missed opportunity?

…and the winner is:

K.Henry, Darwin, NT

Check out The Izzy Folau series here


9781743533116_100_days_of_happiness_large_promo_banner All you had to do to enter was order One Hundred Days of Happiness by July 31st!

What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have – by making every moment countone-hundred-days-of-happiness. Womanizing, imperfect, but loveable, Lucio Battistini has been thrown out of the house by his wife and is sleeping in the stock room of his father-in-law’s bombolini bakery when he learns he has inoperable cancer. So begins the last hundred days of Lucio’s life, as he attempts to care for his family, win back his wife (the love of his life and afterlife), and spend the next three months enjoying every moment with a zest he hasn’t felt in years. From helping his hopelessly romantic, widowed more…

…and the winner is:

W.Shea, Anglesea, VIC

Grab a copy of One Hundred Days of Happiness here


9780000446206_Lindsey_Kelk_Newsletter_bannerAll you had to do to enter was order our exclusive Lindsey Kelk pack by July 31st! 

always-the-bridesmaid-what-a-girl-wants-pack-Always the Bridesmaid Everyone loves a bridesmaid. Except Maddie, who’s perpetually asked to be one. Everyone loves a wedding. Except Maddie’s best friend, who’s getting divorced. And everyone loves the way Maddie’s so happy backstage. Except Maddie herself. One best friend is more…

…and the winner is:

K.Lewis, Kalgoorlie, WA

Check out our Lindsey Kelk pack here


9781401948504_LITNB_Newsletter_Banner_17072015All you had to do to enter was order Light Is the New Black by July 31st! 

Follow what lights you up, and you’ll light up the world.light-is-the-new-black Light Is The New Black is a guidebook for a new breed of women who are here to be bright lights in the world—modern-day lightworks who agreed to be here at this time in history. In order to thrive in this new age, everything we do must. Be an authentic expression of who we truly are. Light Is The New Black will guide you back home to the callings of your soul so that you can light up the world with your presence. Rebecca Campbell had her first awakening when she was a teenager. But more…

…and the winners are:

D.Petrie-Godbolt, Bowral, NSW A.Curran, Ferny Grove, QLD C.Ives, Alcomie, TAS O.Walters, Tannum Sands, QLD B.Dye, North Wollongong, NSW

Grab a copy of Light Is the New Black here


Congratulations to the winners!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page, where you could be a winner every day!

promotions

Have you won tickets to the Bledisloe Cup?

Blindsided. by rugby great Michael Lynagh, is a life-affirming memoir about luck, family, mates and rugby; and a timely reminder of how you play the game of life, as much as rugby, matters…even if you happen to be a Wallaby legend…

To celebrate its release, we offered Booktopian’s something really exciting, the chance to attend the Bledisloe Cup! The winner to receive two Adult Gold tickets to the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney on August 8 and a prize pack, valued at $460!

All you had to do to enter was order Blindsided by August 3rd!

…and the winner is:

P.Morgan, Bangor, NSW

Not the winner? Don’t worry as, for a limited time, we have signed copies Blindsided, hurry before we run out!

9780732299248_Blindsided_Rotating_Homepage_banner

blindsidedBlindsided

By Michael Lynagh

A rugby great confronts his greatest challenge.

It’s the unthinkable – to be blindsided by a life-threatening illness in the prime of life, with no prior warning. We all hope it doesn’t happen, but for some of us, inevitably, life plays out that way.

On an April day like any other in 2012 Michael Lynagh – retired rugby great – set for a successful career in commercial property and rugby analysis was suddenly forced to re evaluate everything. While with friends in Brisbane having a relaxed beer or two, a seemingly fit and healthy Lynagh suffered a stroke and was admitted to the Royal Brisbane Hospital. He was just forty-eight years old and a father of three young boys. Everything more…

Grab your copy of Blindsided here


We’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited edition signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!
Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

promotions

Booktopia’s John Purcell amongst the big names appearing at the 2015 Bendigo Writers Festival

Booktopia’s resident Book Guru and bestselling author John Purcell heads up an all-star lineup at this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival.

John Marsden, Bob Brown, Alice Pung, Graeme Simsion, John Clarke, Cate KennedyRobert Dessaix, Don Watson, Ellie MarneyLatika Bourke, David Astle, David M Henley, Max Gillies, Paddy O’Reilly, Robyn Davidson, Tariq Ali and The Gourmet Farmer’s Matthew Evans are just a few of the big names featuring in this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival.

Now in its fourth year, the Bendigo Writers Festival has become famous for the close access readers can experience with some of literature’s freshest thinkers, taking place in the heart of Bendigo’s View Street arts precinct.

The festival features more than 70 events in five venues across the August 8 and 9 weekend, from 9.30am on Saturday through to 5.30pm on Sunday.

For more details and to see the full program, go to www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au

heading

Understanding Rap: Get down with the Shizzle this Bizzle does Provizzle

understanding-rapAlthough rap music is famous for its ingenuity, double entendres and clever turns of phrase, until now no one has attempted to collect rap lyrics into an organised compendium.

Enter Understand Rap, which precisely explains all the confusing terms and lyrics used in rap songs in a language even the most un-hip person can understand.

“My West Coast shorty push the chrome 740…” – PUFF DADDY

The female I associate with while I am spending time in California is driving a high-end BMW brand automobile, which I may have purchased for or loaned to her, and that has had a special coating applied to give it an extremely bright, silver, mirror-like finish.

 “Hockey players pagin’ me to practice on my wrist…” – NELLY

I have so much diamond jewelry covering the end of my arm near my hand that individuals who enjoy the aforementioned cold-weather contact sport are contacting me on my outdated alphanumeric communication device, having confused my bracelet for an ice rink they would like to use to improve their athletic abilities.

“Flow so cold, chicken soup won’t help…” – LIL WAYNE

The stream of lyrics that travels from my mouth to the microphone is so powerful that if it were a treatable sickness, a common home remedy would have no effect.

“Leave you kinda startled, like the funk off of fritos…” – PAPERBOY

Because you are relatively inexperienced, my actions will surprise you as if you inhaled in pungent aroma from a just-opened bag of a particular brand of strong-smelling corn chips.

“Grindin’ daily to stack my bread…” – PAUL WALL

I work hard every day, earning income by doing whatever I have to do to get by. As a result of my effort, I am able to pile up my money as if it were slices of food made by mixing water with ground flour.

Grab your copy of Understand Rap here

Who is ‘Gudinski’ and why should I buy a book about him?

Who the hell called this Gudinski chap ‘The Godfather of Australian Rock’ and why should you buy a book about him?

gudinski– Michael Gudinski founded Mushroom Records in 1972, a label that would go on to sign and nurture Australian artists Kylie Minogue, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Yothu Yindi, Kate Ceberano, Split Enz, The Saints, Skyhooks and hundreds more.

– The Frontier Touring Company, founded by Gudinski in 1979, has twice been voted the ‘No 1 International Touring Company in the World’. The company has toured some of the world’s finest artists, including Billy Joel, Green Day, Kings Of Leon, Leonard Cohen, Black Eyed Peas and many more.

– Mushroom Records was so influential in Australian music that Gudinski celebrated its 25th birthday with a nine hour concert at the MCG featuring 56 acts that was shown live on Channel 9.

– Gudinski has been awarded every award possible in the Australian music industry, including an ARIA Lifetime Achievement Award when he was only in his early forties. In 2006 he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia medal (AM).

Grab your copy of Gudinski here

gudinskiGudinski

The Godfather of Australian Rock

The real story of the man behind the bands – and a backstage pass to forty years of Australian rock music.

Known to many as GODinski, Michael Gudinski is unquestionably the most powerful and influential figure in the Australian rock’n’roll music business – and has been for the last four decades.

Often referred to as ‘the father of the Australian music industry’, he has nurtured the careers of many artists – Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Skyhooks, Split Enz, Yothu Yindi, to name just a few. But his reach isn’t limited to Australian artists. With his Frontier Touring Company, Gudinski has toured The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Sting … pretty much a who’s who of the arena level international music scene.

A self-made multi-millionaire, Gudinski is the Australian equivalent of Richard Branson or David Geffen, but who is this tough, inspired, flamboyant and impassioned businessman who has shaped Australian popular culture? Where did he come from, and how has he stayed relevant for so long in an industry notorious for its fickleness? Rock journalist Stuart Coupe delves into Gudinski’s life to find the answers – and in doing so gives us a backstage pass to forty years of Australian rock.

Grab your copy of Gudinski here

The Queen of Adult Colouring is Back!

Johanna Basford, the award-winning Scottish illustrator who has taken the publishing world by storm, selling more than a million copies of her books Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest, is back this year with a new Adult Colouring book, Lost Ocean.

With Lost Ocean, Johanna Basford invites colour-inners of all ages to discover an enchanting underwater world hidden within the depths of the sea.

With intricate pen and ink illustrations to complete, colour and embellish, readers will meet shoals of exotic fish, curious octopi and delicately penned seahorses, visit coral reefs and barnacle-studded shipwrecks, and discover intricate shells and pirate treasure. Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest fans and newcomers alike will delight in this creative journey into an inky new world.

Click here to check out all of Johanna Basford’s books

Click here to check out all of Johanna Basford’s books

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