Rochelle Siemienowicz, author of Fallen, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rochelle Siemienowicz

author of Fallen

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 Geelong, Victoria, but my family moved so quickly and so often that I have no memory of it. My parents were Seventh-day Adventist missionaries and we lived in various parts of New Guinea and Fiji until I was 14 and then we moved to Perth where I finished High School. I moved to Melbourne to start University in the early 1990s and have been here ever since.

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

Twelve: A schoolteacher because although I really wanted to be a writer I didn’t think it was possible.
Eighteen: A journalist because it seemed the likeliest way of making a living as a writer. Or an academic, because I was good at writing essays and this seemed a continuation of that.
Thirty: A film journalist and sometime novelist as this combined all my passions – cinema, literature and connecting with communities of likeminded creative people.

Author: Rochelle Siemienowicz

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

I was raised in a strict religious household and believed that the end of the world was imminent – that Jesus Christ was going to return in the clouds and rescue his chosen people while the rest of the earth burned. These days I’m an atheist, though I still harbour apocalyptic fears – now related to environmental destruction.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

1. The huge changes in Australian Higher Education during the late 1990s and early 2000s meant that an academic career seemed too hard and too precarious to pursue. I was surrounded by bitter academics and underpaid sessional staff, so I finished my PhD on Australian cinema and fled academe, never to return.

2. Becoming involved in The Big Issue magazine’s family of writers and editors from 1997 until the present has been life changing. The Big Ish was the first publication to pay me for my words and so many of my closest friends and associates are people I met there.

3. Reading Andrew McGahan’s searingly honest, funny and distinctively Australian Vogel-winning debut novel Praise (1991) changed my life. I fell in love with McGahan’s candor, courage, and skilful blending of autobiography and fiction. This was controlled confessional writing at its most deceptively simple – unafraid to get dirty, but also able to rise above the grime into pure poetry and wry philosophical reflection.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

I was raised on books, especially the Bible, and I always wanted to have my name on the cover of one. I love to hold the physical objects and there’s nothing quite as immersive as a really good book. Also, you can read them during take-off and landing when flying on an aeroplane.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Fallen is my first book. It’s a memoir about sex, religion and marrying too young, and it traces a crucial period in my early twenties when I broke away from everything I’d been raised to believe. Raised as devout Seventh-day Adventists, who believe that the end of the world is near and premarital sex is a terrible sin, my husband and I married at twenty while still at University. But after leaving the parental nest, we started experimenting with all the things that were forbidden to us – alcohol, meat, rock and roll, cinema and literature that stretched the boundaries of ‘decency’. We loved each other sincerely and took our marriage vows very seriously, but part of this experimentation involved having an open marriage. My book is about three weeks at the end of that marriage when I revisited my hometown of Perth and broke the rules of our agreement. It’s a sexual coming of age story, a tale of first love and innocence lost.

Grab a copy of Rochelle’s new book Fallen here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Telling the truth about the variety and detail of female sexual experience is still a radical act – even in our supposedly liberated and highly sexualised culture. If my book could counter some of the shame around sexual desire, and make readers feel less alone, less dysfunctional, and less ‘sinful’, then that would be a huge achievement.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Right now I’m full of admiration for the people close to me who are enduring heartbreak, divorce, unemployment and depression. These are the supposedly ordinary people who keep on doing what they have to do, with kindness and generosity, even when getting out bed in the morning feels like the most courageous and impossible act. Life is tough a lot of the time and there’s a lot of everyday heroism. Being human is hard.

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

I want to be as honest as I can be, in both my life and my work. I also want to spread pleasure. There’s really no higher achievement than writing something people enjoy reading for the pure pleasure of the language, the characters and the rich, beautiful world you’ve created. Pleasure should be an end in itself.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read. Read all the time. Stay off social media long enough to become absorbed in the words of others. Read the great books. Read them aloud. Hear how they work, or don’t work. Read your own work aloud. Feel where it gets boring or sticky. It’s not just that you’re tired of it. The writing is bad when that happens. Good writing is good even when you’ve read it fifty times.

Rochelle, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Fallen here


Fallen: A Memoir About Sex, Religion and Marrying Too Young

by Rochelle Siemienowicz

“Call me Eve. It’s the name I call myself when I think back to that time when I was a young wife – so very young, so very hungry. I picked the fruit and ate and drank until I was drunk with freedom and covered in juice and guilt.”

In this frank, compelling and beautifully written memoir, Rochelle Siemienowicz provides an intimate portrait of the last days of an open marriage.

Raised as devout Seventh-day Adventists, who believe that the end of the world is near and that premarital sex is a terrible sin, Eve and her husband marry young. Rebelling against their upbringing, and in an attempt to overcome problems in their relationship, they enter an agreement that has its own strict rules. But when Eve holidays alone in her hometown of Perth during a hot West Australian summer, she finds her body and heart floating free. Fallen is a true tale of sex, love, religion and getting married too young – and about what it feels like when you can’t keep the promises you once sincerely made.

About the Author

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a writer, film critic and former editor at the AFI | AACTA. She has a PhD in Australian cinema and was the long-time film editor for The Big Issue. She currently reports for Screen Hub, reviews for SBS Film and is Film Columnist for Kill Your Darlings. She very occasionally blogs at It’s Better in the Dark, and is currently working on her first novel, which has nothing at all to do with movies.

Grab a copy of Fallen here

Drum roll…. the winner of our Mark Billingham comp is…

May was our Month of Crime and we celebrated by giving customers the chance to win a book pack filled with awesome crime novels! All you had to do to enter was order Mark Billingham’s brilliant new book, Time of Death.

9781408704820_Mark_Billingham_Competition_Newsletter_Banner


time-of-death-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win- Time of Death

The Tom Thorne Series : Book 13

by Mark Billingham

The Missing

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.

The Accused

When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the more…

…and the winner is:

M.Nicholls, Boambee East, NSW

Grab a copy of Time of Death here


Congratulations to the winner!

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!

promotions

Deb Hunt, author of Australian Farming Families, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Deb Hunt

author of Australian Farming Families

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in England, raised in a small village in Gloucestershire, went to Chipping Sodbury Grammar School (polite student in class, wayward out of it) then University of West England to study French and Spanish, post-grad librarianship course in Leeds, acting course in London, followed by endless short courses and workshops.

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

At 12 I wanted to write stories (I loved escaping into a good book) at 18 I don’t know what I wanted to do (apart from hide) and at 30 I wanted to work in theatre, where I thought I could hide on stage. When I realised there was no money or job security in it I became a writer instead. Out of the frying pan and into the fire …

deb hunt

Author: Deb Hunt

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

At 18 I believed love didn’t need words. Now I know how much words matter.

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?

Any play by Shakespeare has a physical effect on me, like a powerful emotional drum. I remember seeing people like Tom Wilkinson in King Lear, Sir Ian Mckellen in Richard III, Judy Dench, Cate Blanchett, Fiona Shaw – such powerful performances and such outstanding writing. I also read an anthology of poetry in primary school, called Come Play with Me, and was intrigued by what words could do.

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

Why does someone climb a mountain? For years I could see that ‘mountain’ in the distance but it seemed an impossible dream, a challenge of such immeasurable proportions, until I met someone whose life story inspired me. I knew I had to share her story somehow and that’s how I wrote my first book (Dream Wheeler).

6. Please tell us about the book you’re working on…

It’s a story about the internal and external struggles surrounding The Burroughs family in North Georgia. An infamous clan known for bootlegging, running guns, drugs, the works.

Clayton, the youngest son of three generations of outlaws decides to buck his heritage and take a different path by becoming a Sheriff in a small neighbouring valley town, but as anyone around here can tell you, Family doesn’t work that way.

Escaping who you were born to be isn’t as easy as it seems, and things can go south pretty quickly.

Grab a copy of Deb’s new book Australian Farming Families here

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

First and foremost I hope my work is entertaining and I hope it gives people a glimpse into another world, with a sense of our connection and shared humanity.

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

There are so many, many good writers out there, right now I’m loving anything I can read from Helen Garner, who is such an honest, thoughtful, emotionally open writer.

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

I’d like to try my hand at fiction next.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t be afraid to spend time thinking before you start writing, and when a niggle of an idea comes to you, get it down on paper.

Deb, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Australian Farming Families here


Australian Farming Families

by Deb Hunt

‘This is a book about the human aspects of life on the land – the stories of success and failure, life and love, of hardship and celebration – and the passion and gritty determination that characterised every family I interviewed.’

Author Deb Hunt sets out to discover what makes what makes Australian farming families tick. She travels tens of thousands of kilometres to properties at either end of the country, from a vast, dusty cattle run in outback Queensland to the wheat belt of Western Australia and dairy and sheep farms in Tasmania. She introduces us to eight families who survive, even thrive, on the land despite fires, floods, personal hardship and uncertain economic times.

We see a different sort of family life, where the kids are expected to pitch in, the classroom is often the kitchen table, the nearest maternity hospital is a five-hour drive, and generations live and work side by side. We meet the French family, whose connection to the bush goes back seven generations, Philip the Philosopher, who by 29 was managing a property of more than one million hectares carrying 20,000 head of cattle, and the outspoken Roma Brittnell, who was awarded Australian Rural Woman of the Year in 2009.

Inspiring, moving and sometimes challenging, these stories provide a window into a way of life that defines the Australian spirit at its best.

About the Author

Deb Hunt was born in England, where she worked as a librarian, teacher, event manager, PR executive, actress and journalist. She has worked with Shakespeare in the Park in London, Australian House & Garden magazine in Sydney and for the past five years as a writer with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She is the author of Love in the Outback, and Australian Farming Families is her second book.

 Grab a copy of Australian Farming Families here

Drum roll…. the winner of our Avengers pack is…

Because of the awesomeness that is The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we decided to give away an Avengers pack. All you had to do to enter was buy one of our select Avengers titles by May 31st.


avengersAvengers: Rage of Ultron

by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena (Illustrator)

It was another glorious victory for the Mighty Avengers. Good triumphed over evil and Ultron was shot into space, never to be seen again. Or so they thought. Now, years later, the homicidal artificial intelligence – so long devoted to ending life on Earth – has a new world to conquer…one with its own horrific legacy.

When Titan, birthplace of Thanos, falls, Planet Ultron rises in its place! Thanos’ brother Starfox must seek the aid of his former allies – but the Avengers he finds are image1radically different from the ones he once knew.

Among them is Ultron’s creator Giant-Man – and when Hank Pym confronts his now planet-sized “son,” the responsibilities of fatherhood have never loomed so large. Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers) and Jerome Opena (Avengers) unleash the full robotic rage of Ultron on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

 

…and the winner is:

C.Bull, Lesmurdie, WA

Check out our Marvel Avengers: The Age of Ultron series here


Congratulations to the winner!

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!

promotions

 

Steve Strevens, author of The Jungle Dark, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Steve Strevens

author of The Jungle Dark

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 England, in Ely near Cambridge. Emigrated as a family to rural South Australia. A year later moved to Swan Hill in Victoria where I spent a couple of (very bad) years at school before signing up for the RAN two weeks after my 16th birthday.

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

I wanted to be a farmer when I was young but have no idea why. At 18 I just wanted to survive the navy and at 30 only wanted to live a peaceful life.

Steve Strevens copyright Steve Strevens

Author: Steve Strevens

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

No strong beliefs that have changed over time. I’ve become mellower and resigned to the fact that even though ‘they’ say you can do anything you want – even change the world – the reality is you can’t. I’m ok with that. A realist.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

I always liked to read and I reckon I’m just a story teller. This has never been a ‘career path’. As for great effects, I suppose my father writing books and plays influenced me, as did his exposing me to World War 1 poetry. When people say they are influenced or changed by events, I always wonder how. Writing came gradually from an early age and I’ve been lucky to have been published extensively in many ways and in many places.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

Books are tactile. They feel and smell great when they are new – and old – so they’ll never be displaced. They’re totally different from all the other stuff in the question.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It’s the true story behind the iconic song ‘I Was Only 19’. It’s graphic and honest and confronting. But it’s also a story of inspiration in that even though things may not always be as you want them to be, hardship can be overcome, even if only to a certain extent not completely.

Grab a copy of Steve’s new book The Jungle Dark here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Intolerance. Love is not all you need, as someone wrote, kindness is. Oh, and we need to understand that everyone has something to offer. We might not like what they say but we should listen because there just might be something there. You never know.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I admire most the people who overcome difficulties without complaint. Those who suffer the slings and arrows without losing perspective. Those who work their way through what life deals them.

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

To live peacefully and happily and to be kind to others. That’s it.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

To write. People who paint are happy to have their paintings on the wall so writers should simply write and share their stories with others. Publication shouldn’t the reason for writing. Also, talk to the keyboard. Write as you speak. Don’t try to ‘write’ Just tell the keyboard the story as you would the person next door.

Steve, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Jungle Dark here


The Jungle Dark

by Steve Strevens

The powerful true story behind the classic Aussie song I Was Only Nineteen.

On 21 July 1969, the soldiers of 3 Platoon crouched in the scrubby Vietnamese landscape listening to the news on the radio: Neil Armstrong had just stepped onto the moon.

Moments later, Platoon Commander Lieutenant Peter Hines stepped on a mine and the platoon was engulfed in a maelstrom of dirt, smoke and blood.

This is the true story of Frank ‘Frankie’ Hunt and the other soldiers of 3 Platoon, A Company, 6 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment who became the inspiration for Redgum’s 1983 hit song I Was Only Nineteen – the anthem for the veterans of the Vietnam War.

The Jungle Dark traverses the deep unhealed wounds of Vietnam soldiers and the song that finally brought them home.

About the Author

Steve Strevens emigrated from England in 1959, and joined the Navy two weeks after his 16th birthday. He served in Vietnam, Malay and Borneo and then became a freelance writer. He was a regular contributor to The Age and has been published in many major newspapers and magazines, both here and overseas. He is an award-winning journalist and has edited two regional newspapers. Steve’s eight books include Slow River and the critically acclaimed biography of Bob Rose.

He lives on the far south coast of NSW with his partner and their two ageing, loveable, but quite mad, dogs.

 Grab a copy of The Jungle Dark here

Jamie Oliver is back with Everyday Super Food!

Jamie Oliver returns in 2015 with a new book, sure to take the world by storm.

And the name?

JO EVERYDAYSUPERFOOD PACKSHOT FINALEveryday Super Food

Recipes for a Healthier Happier You

Jamie’s Everyday Super Food makes eating well exciting, delicious, easy and fun.

No matter how busy you are, you’ll find that healthy eating the Jamie way is both straightforward and achievable, making it super easy to choose exactly the kind of meals that suit you.

The book is divided into breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and every tasty meal is nutritionally balanced so that any combination over the day will bring you in under your recommended daily allowance of calories, allowing you to enjoy snacks and drinks on the side. You can eat Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts for breakfast, Tasty Fish Tacos with Game-Changing Kiwi, Lime and Chilli Salsa for lunch and Griddled Steak and Peppers with Herby-Jewelled Tabbouleh Rice for dinner, and still be healthy! Whether you dip in and out of it, eat from the book Monday to Friday or use it faithfully every day for a month, it’s totally up to you.

In Everyday Super Food, Jamie’s done all the hard work for you – all you need to do is choose a delicious recipe, cook it up and, most importantly, enjoy it.

Every meal in this book is a good choice and will bring you a step closer to a healthier, happier you.

Pre-order your copy of Jamie’s Everyday Super Food here

Drum roll…. We’re announcing the winners of our April Competitions!

In April we had a myriad of prizes and promotions for you to sink your teeth into.

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


Dennis-Jones-Competition-616x150NewsletterBanner-v3

All you had to do to enter was order The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song by April 30th!

the-anzacs-100-years-on-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song

by Ted Egan

The Anzacs 100 Years On: In Story and Song is a unique contribution to the commemoration of the centenary of the Anzacs. Ted Egan weaves personal stories and songs into a highly readable history of the Anzacs and the two nations, with amusing anecdotes and tales of great courage and ingenuity serving to leaven somewhat the brutal truth exposed, of a tragic and senseless war.

The soldiers, nurses, politicians, wives, and the mothers who lost their sons, or welcomed them home severely damaged, all feature in this book and its songs.

Egan’s stories and poignant songs infuse the facts with the more…

…and the winner is:

P.Hawkins, Exeter, TAS

Grab a copy of The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song here


Bolinda-Anzac-Day-Collection-Rotating-Homepage-Banner

All you had to do to enter was buy anything in our Bolinda Anzac Day collection by April 30th!

1914 : The Year the World Ended – Re Issue

1914-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Author: Paul Ham
Read by: Robert Meldrum

Few years can justly be said to have transformed the earth: 1914 did.

In July that year, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain and France were poised to plunge the world into a war that would kill or wound 37 million people, tear down the fabric of society, uproot ancient political systems and set the course for the bloodiest century in human history.

In the longer run, the events of 1914 set the world on the path toward the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of more…

…and the winner is:

A.Poad, Northampton, WA

Check out our Bolinda Anzac Day collection here


9781921383595- Sujet-Saenkham- Rotating-Homepage-Banner

To celebrate the release of Spice I Am, a book of recipes from Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham, we gave customers the chance to win a prize, worth $255!

The pack includes to dinner for two at any of Sydney’s Spice I Am restaurants, valued at $150 and the opportunity to attend a Spice I Am cooking class, valued at $105.

spice-i-am

Spice I Am

by Sujet Saenkham

In this much anticipated cookbook Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham shares his family recipes for the fresh flavours of regional Thai cooking so you can enjoy authentic Thai food at home.

Leave the Thai takeaway menus in your kitchen drawer, as you learn how to make restaurant favourites such as Sujet’s signature stir-fried crispy pork belly with basil, roasted red duck curry with eggplant, tomato and pineapple and crispy prawn and lemongrass salad, as well as traditional classics like pad Thai, fishcakes and a massaman beef curry from scratch. Throughout, Sujet offers practical advice on finding the ingredients and mastering the cooking techniques you need to create your own Thai feasts at home.

…and the winner is:

P.Chen Matraville, NSW

Check out Spice I Am 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

 

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