A Wuthering Heights inspired tale: Debra Adelaide, author of The Women’s Pages answers Six Sharp Questions

Debra AdelaideThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Debra Adelaide

author of The Women’s Pages

Six Sharp Questions


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

My novel The Women’s Pages is based on a short story of mine that introduced two characters in a multilayered story about loss, silences, relationships between mothers and daughters, and above all about the power of the written word.

It’s based loosely on Wuthering Heights, which presents numerous themes big and small, but particularly for me is very much about storytelling, given the novel’s many intriguing narrative layers. I’ve not rewritten that extraordinary novel by any means, but simply responded to its elements and especially leapt into some of its most compelling imagined spaces, such as the unspoken, untold, age-old story of the mother and daughter dynamic. Wuthering Heights features only absent, silent, missing, dead or dying mothers: The Women’s Pages is partly about finding or restoring mothers to a narrative.

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

In the past year I have had two books published and as a writer with a full time job (at a university) I can’t hope for better than that. My last book was the collection The Simple Act of Reading, which was done in collaboration and for the Sydney Story Factory. Being able to present essays by authors on the topic of what reading means to them, and with the support of organisations like CA’s cultural fund and Random House publishers, all for the cause of fostering reading and writing in children, was a total pleasure and privilege. It’s been a very satisfying moment of my wDebra Adelaideriting life in every way.

Having a novel come next, especially one that’s so much about the act of reading – I must have a bit of a theme or obsession here! – only consolidates this pleasure. The day your publisher rings and says she loves your manuscript, the one you wrote in desperation, for yourself alone, and wants to publish it, is a unique joy, one you cherish forever.

The worst moments in recent times have involved the serious illness of two friends and the terrible swift death of one and the ongoing illness of one of my closest family members: not being able to help or heal someone you love is just devastating. But on that note, love always offers the very best moments, and I am blessed with an abundance of that in my life.

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.

My home email address signature includes this quotation from Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary: ‘Human language is like a cracked kettledrum on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when what we long to do is make music that will move the stars to pity.’

I love this quotation because it reminds me almost every day what my job as a writer is, and how big the challenge is, that is, to take language that is tired and worn out, or lowly, cliched and undistinguished in every way, and turn it into something moving and beautiful and uniquely mine. I don’t achieve this all the time of course, but at least I am reminded to aspire to it.

MB quote

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.

My writing life itself is messy, ad hoc, organic and irregular in every way. However once I am engaged in a writing project, a story, or a novel, once I am ‘in the zone’ I become very disciplined and write to a schedule that I set myself (and deadlines that I always meet).

Despite this I think I am supremely easy to live with! At least, I still do the household tasks and meet my family obligations and certainly never disappear into my study with bottles of whisky or boxes of chocolate biscuits, muttering or ranting when I do emerge. However I know I become distracted when I’m in the zone, and am really thinking deeply only about the work, so perhaps those I live with would differ on this.

5. Some writers 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!).

The only time I have tried to think about and respond to the marketplace the writing has failed. The marketplace is a terrible distraction: if I were a genre writer, say of crime or speculative fiction, this probably wouldn’t be the case. But for me I have learned I cannot hope to second guess the market or my readers. I write for myself first: everything I write I have assumed no one else in the world would want to read (but of course at the same time have secretly hoped that millions would). the-household-guide-to-dying

When I completed my last novel, The Household Guide to Dying, I gave the manuscript to my agent and without a trace of irony told her that if she didn’t like it I would just go away and bury it because I had another novel underway. Perhaps I am always preparing myself for rejection: that might imply some bleakness in my background, but in fact I think this is healthy for a writer. You need rejection, and you need failure, so confronting it yourself right from the start is helpful.

The market is far too protean and slippery to grasp with confidence: it can make you unconsciously censor the work, or stop you from concentrating on what the story might need.

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?

Wuthering Heights, of course: this is a no-brainer given the context of my new book, but also because it is one of those novels that can bear endless re-readings, and one that for all its mysteries and even frustrations, has the capacity to speak across the generations. And then the characters are so bold and wild and wilful and out there, which I imagine might strike a chord. And finally because it can and should be read aloud, so I imagine sitting down reading this novel to commence the civilising process with some sense of community and even ritual.

The Little PrinWuthering Heightsce, because it is exquisitely beautiful and wise and clever and delightful, and would remind adolescents, who are always pretending to be so much more grown up than they are, of the importance of child-like wonder and imagination.

If the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is cheating (three novels) then definitely The Hobbit, mainly because I loved it when I was a child but have loved it and re-read it forever since; but also because it was a real breakthrough for so-called children’s literature, coming from that vast and intricate and complete fantasy world that Tolkien created.

Thea Astley’s A Descant for Gossips, which I have recently re-read, because it demonstrates the terrible consequences of prejudice and alienation in the way a vulnerable schoolgirl is picked on and ostracised. I think it would touch these readers in sensitive emotional spots. And because readers always learn a new word or two reading an Astley novel.

Definitely cheating, but The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which of course would be read aloud and performed with plenty of roles for the 20 adolescents; it would be marvellously civilising in every way. And they would also learn many new words.

Debra, thank you for playing!

Grab your copy of The Women’s Pages here!

The Women’s Pages

Debra Adelaide

Debra AdelaideEllis, an ordinary suburban young woman of the 1960s, is troubled by secrets and gaps in her past that become more puzzling as her creator, Dove, writes her story fifty years later. Having read Wuthering Heights to her dying mother, Dove finds she cannot shake off the influence of that singular novel: it has infected her like a disease. Instead of returning to her normal life she follows the story it has inspired to discover more about Ellis, who has emerged from the pages of fiction herself – or has she? – to become a modern successful career woman.

The Women’s Pages is about the choices and compromises women must make, their griefs and losses, and their need to fill in the absent spaces where other women … Read More.

Grab your copy of The Women’s Pages here!


Di Morrissey visits Booktopia + win her entire book collection – signed!

We’ve all either read one of her 23 books, have a few decorating our bookshelves or heard someone we know rave about how great her books are. Who am I talking about? Di Morrissey, of course.

Fans of this legendary Australian writer – you’re in for a treat. Ms Morrissey visited us at Booktopia HQ to chat and sign copies of her new book, Rain Music … and for one lucky reader who purchases this book before December 31st – they could WIN Di Morrissey’s ENTIRE COLLECTIONall signed!

Di Morrissey signing copies of Rain Music for some very lucky fans!

Di Morrissey signing copies of Rain Music for some very lucky fans!

Time to grab those headphones, this is one podcast you don’t want to miss…


Grab your signed copy of Rain Music here!

Rain Music

Di Morrissey

Rain MusicDi writes about the Australia she knows, she loves, she’s explored.

Rain Music is inspired by her adventures in far north Queensland – its characters, its forgotten history, its modern dilemmas.

A brother and sister, Ned and Bella Chisolm, are struggling with a family tragedy that has set them on opposite paths. After Ned takes off to pursue his musical dreams in far north Queensland, he disappears. When Bella goes in search of her brother, she ends up in remote Cooktown and both their lives are dramatically changed in the isolated, little-known far north of Australia.

One story through two sets of eyes …


Di Morrrisey

Di Morrissey’s entire book collection – signed! Purchase Rain Music for your chance to win

Grab your signed copy of Rain Music here!

Judy Nunn comes to Booktopia!

One of Australia’s most loved authors, Judy Nunn, came to Booktopia HQ to sign copies of her new book Spirits of the Ghan!

Judy signed A LOT of copies, but as she’s also one of Australia’s bestselling authors make sure you place your order now to secure your signed copy!


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Grab your signed copy of Spirits of the Ghan here!

Spirits of the Ghan

by Judy Nunn

spirits-of-the-ghanMaster storyteller Judy Nunn has now sold over 1 million books worldwide. In her spellbinding new bestseller she takes us on a breathtaking journey deep into the red heart of Australia.

It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End.

But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land … Read more.

GUEST BLOG: Lauren Kate talks about her 5th Fallen novel, Unforgiven.

UnforgivenMy first vision of Unforgiven came to me accompanied by music: a stunning redhead strums a lyre beside an ancient river, making up a song about a boy whose existence she only senses. The fierce dreaminess of the music makes it clear she was always already in love.

I didn’t know Lilith when I wrote her briefly into Passion, but I knew her affair with Cam had determined much of his fate. She was the key to understanding him. When I met her again in Unforgiven, three thousand years had passed, but she was still singing the same mesmerizing song. An electric guitar and synthesizer added new texture, a rock band was now backing her, but the lyrics and the melody hadn’t changed.

Her song is called “Exile,” though Cam will always know it as “Lilith’s Song.” The song is real, as is Cam and Lilith’s band Revenge.

I’ve long wanted to tell Cam’s side of the story. The love expressed through Revenge’s music makes the release of Unforgiven especially exciting. I hope the story thrills you, and that you listen to Revenge’s music with someone you always already loved.

Grab your copy of Unforgiven here!


Lauren Kate

Unforgiven“High school can be hell.”

Cam knows what it’s like to be haunted. He’s spent more time in Hell than any angel ever should. And his freshest Hell is high school, where Lilith, the girl he can’t stop loving, is serving out a punishment for his crimes.

Cam made a bet with Lucifer: he has fifteen days to convince the only girl who really matters to him to love him again. If he succeeds, Lilith will be allowed back into the world, and they can live their lives together. But if he fails . . . there’s a special place in Hell just for him. Tick-tock.

The long-awaited new novel in the global bestselling Fallen series.

Grab your copy of Unforgiven here!

Watch the Book Trailer:

Grab your copy of Unforgiven here!

About the Author

Lauren KateThe author of several pseudonymous novels for Alloy’s Inside Girl series, as well as The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, and the bestselling Fallen series, Lauren Kate grew up in Dallas, Texas. She received her Bachelor’s degree in the deep South at Emory University, then went to New York for a brief stint in publishing, before enrolling in the University of California’s Davis Master of Arts Creative Writing program. She finished her degree at UC Davis, where she also teaches. She lives and writes from an old farm house in Winters, California.

Visit Lauren Kate’s Booktopia author page

Taylor Swift Partners With Scholastic to Donate 25,000 Books to New York schools

You may hear that Taylor Swift stays out too late, has nothing in her brain, or that she goes on too many dates and can’t make them stay. But that’s just what people say.

What is more important (and a fact) is that she will be partnering with Scholastic in donating 25,000 books to New York City-based schools in 2016, in support of the Open a World of Possible initiative.


Twenty-five schools will each receive 1,000 new children’s books through the Scholastic Possible Fund as a result of Taylor’s support. As a long-time literacy advocate, Taylor hosted a webcast for classrooms during which she shared how books, reading and writing have influenced her and opened her world.

Scholastic said in a press release yesterday:

The importance of increasing access to books in schools was highlighted in the most recent Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report which found that children ages 6–17 from lower-income households are more likely to read books for fun in school and far less likely to read books outside of school than their higher-income peers.

Further, having a selection of texts for independent reading can be a powerful tool to encourage kids to pick up a book. The same report revealed that nine in ten kids agree their favorite books – and the ones they are the most likely to finish – are the ones they pick out themselves.

Big props to both Taylor Swift and Scholastic for supporting such a wonderful endeavour.

Children’s literacy levels are a growing concern throughout many parts of the US (as they are in Australia), with the correlation between lower income households and poor literacy levels simply impossible to shake off.

You can’t shake that data off.

Shake it off.


Okay, we’ll stop there. But seriously, awesome stuff Tay Tay…



Heartache. Failure. Success. Sporting legend Chris Judd chats to Booktopia TV about his insightful new memoir, Inside.

How does a man end up captaining two of the greatest footy clubs in the league? Win a Brownlow Medal twice? Be selected as an All Australian six times? Find out how Chris Judd did exactly that and cemented his status as an Australian sporting legend in his new memoir, Inside. We’ve got signed copies for fans, so get in quick. Only limited numbers left!

Grab your signed copy of Chris Judd: Inside here!
Please note: very limited stock left

Chris Judd: Inside

The Autobiography

Chris JuddIntelligent, surprising, and head and shoulders above its competition – the autobiography of Chris Judd is the football book of the decade. A rare and intimate look inside the world of the elite sportsman.

Few people know Australian Rules football better than Chris Judd. He’s one of the game’s out-and-out champions, having captained two of the greatest clubs in the league – the West Coast Eagles and Carlton – and taken the Eagles to premiership victory in 2006. He’s won the Brownlow Medal twice, been a dual Leigh Matthews trophy winner – awarded to the AFL’s MVP as voted by the players – and selected as an All Australian six times.

His autobiography is a unique journey into the game, describing with … Read more.

Grab your signed copy of Chris Judd: Inside here!
Please note: very limited stock left

We play our favourite PJ Harvey tracks to celebrate our exclusive signed copies of her book The Hollow of the Hand!

CaptureWe’re kind of obsessed with PJ Harvey in the Booktopia office, so it doesn’t take much to make us spread the good word of PJ.

But wowee, do we have big news…

We have an Australian Exclusive. The only signed copies of The Hollow of the Hand, PJ Harvey’s beautiful collaboration with artist Seamus Murphy!

Step One: Listen to these tasty licks.

Step Two: Order your signed copy of The Hollow of the Hand.

Step Three: Feel pure joy wash over you. Then repeat Step One for the rest of the day.

Grab your copy of The Hollow of the Hand here

the-hollow-of-the-handThe Hollow of the Hand

Signed Copy – Exclusive to Booktopia in Australia

The debut book by artist and writer PJ Harvey, in collaboration with film-maker and photographer Seamus Murphy, emerges as a one-of-a-kind collection of poetry and images.

Between 2011 and 2014 PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy set out on a series of journeys together to Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington, D.C.

Harvey collected words, Murphy collected pictures, and together they have created an extraordinary chronicle of our life and times.

The Hollow of the Hand marks the first publication of Harvey’s powerful poetry, in conversation with Murphy’s indelible images.

About the Author

PJ Harvey has released eight critically acclaimed albums, been nominated for six Grammy Awards, and is the only artist to have been awarded the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize twice (for her albums Stories from the City, Stories From The Sea and Let England Shake). In 2013, she was awarded an MBE for services to music. The Hollow of the Hand is her first published collection of poetry.

Seamus Murphy has documented life and change around the world. He has won seven World Press Photo awards for work from Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Gaza, Lebanon, Peru, Ireland and England. His depiction of Afghanistan and the Afghans over more than a decade was published as a book, A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan.

Grab your copy of The Hollow of the Hand here


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