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

BOOK REVIEW: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (Reviewed by Andrew Cattanach)

Andrew Cattanach dives into the deep end of Jon Ronson’s latest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

so-you-ve-been-publicly-shamedI’ve always been a fan of Jon Ronson’s work, his penchant for exposing the strange, often unsettling, pockets of society. With So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson plays to his strengths, reporting dutifully with thick shards of humour, injecting himself into the narrative where needed. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed begins as many of Ronson’s books do, with a eureka moment, the inspiration that would lead him down the yellow brick road.

Ronson, an avid tweeter, began to notice a parody twitter handle – @jon_ronson – popping up in his feed. The account posted some tweets about food and his love of a good time, particularly of a…homoerotic nature.

Ronson contacted the creators of the account asking for its removal. They refused, calling it a social experiment, although eventually agreeing to meet Ronson in person to discuss why they were so compelled to tweet about goat’s cheese and male genitalia under his name.

Ronson recorded the interaction and posted it on YouTube with their permission, the video went viral and was met which extreme condemnation from Ronson’s fans. The creators of the twitter account, in the wake of the public shame elicited by Ronson’s video, agreed to delete the twitter account.

Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson

This jolts Ronson into the world of Public Shaming, now an everyday occurrence in the world of social media. Reflecting on his own experiences, he tracks down others who have felt the wrath of the mob.

We have Jonah Lehrer, the infamous bestselling pop psychology author, who was caught out inventing a Bob Dylan quote. PR executive Justine Sacco, who wrote a tweet while boarding a plane to South Africa about not catching AIDS because she’s white and was denounced by millions before she hit the ground. Max Mosley, the Formula One supremo outed by the News of the World for a ‘Nazi orgy’, ultimately exposing his parent’s fascist past.

These are moments in time that you will remember, even if your memory, like mine, needs a quick jolt on Google. Ronson’s investigations into these tales, those who shamed and were shamed alike, are utterly absorbing. He examines just how viable the world of extreme honesty is, itself a constant barrage of public shaming if perhaps not on quite as grand a scale.

This is Ronson at his finest. Funny, intriguing and, in some places, downright shocking. A book not to be missed.

Grab your copy of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed here

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat

Fiona McArthur, author of The Homestead Girls, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fiona McArthur

author of The Homestead Girls

Six Sharp Questions

——————————-

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

Five women, a sheep station in drought and the 22-year-old granddaughter’s last ditch measure to keep the farm after her grandad is seriously injured. A flying doctor, a flight nurse, an 80-year-old ex-bush nurse and 16-year-old diva meld into The Homestead Girls and become a family in the harshness of a desolately beautiful landscape.

2.    Time passes. Things change. What would be the best and worst moments you’ve experienced in the past year or so?

We’re talking books and writing here –right?
So the best had to be seeing Red Sand Sunrise up on the shelves and selling well. Crazy fabulous reviews, people telling me that was just how it was, and the fun of getting out there to research in an area I knew too little about.

My worst is nothing compared to some people. I’m just happy to be here.

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

It was raining in Adelaide, they’d called off the cricket, and that was only four hours away. It looked promising all day but the dry electrical storms set everyone’s teeth on edge.

An hour and half across the boarder they had a deluge. None at Blue Hills. The heat increased the pall of anxiety in the homestead and the air palpated with tension.

Soretta chewed her nails as she watched the sky because the house water tank was almost empty. Lachlan had gone into town to order another tank just in case the heavens opened and Klaus had started up the old bulldozer and scraped the empty dam another few feet deeper in case they had a downpour they could capture.

Billie had offered to pay the water carrier to bring a load for the house, but it wasn’t just the house that needed water. Soretta was praying the water table they were using from the bores to keep the stock alive would hold up. Everyone felt it so close to rain that the waiting was torture, made worse by hearing of rain everywhere else. It had passed them by before.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

red-sand-sunrise4.    Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life…

I write when everyone else is asleep. So I get up at 4am to write before I get ready for work at 6. Nobody talks to me then. Please don’t talk to me when I’m writing. On writing-at-home days I’m vague, my eyes are constantly flicking from place to place as my brain lives in two worlds. My husband just shakes his head. I guess that would be interesting to live with – or not.

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

I love writing stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. It’s my theme. The upsurge of  interest in rural romance and rural comtempory fiction allowed me to write my medical version of the big books I put off writing. Current marketplace is an incredibly exciting time for someone like me so it influenced me to take a gamble, stop my three small books a year of steady income, and write one big book. Great satisfaction in that.

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?tomorrow-when-the-war-began

Tomorrow When The War Began. Because I want them to actually read and if they are ill-educated they probably need to be enticed into falling in love with reading. The Tomorrow series started one of my son’s reading.

Harry Potter for the same reason. And Harry was out of his comfort zone and had to make friends.

The Old Man and The Sea – because simple can be incredible.

Pride and Prejudice – because we don’t need that much civilising and other people had to do it harder.

Kings In Grass Castles – because some people did it really tough and we need to honour them. I think of the women in this book.

Fiona, thanks for playing!

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls


The Homestead Girls

by Fiona McArthur

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and in desperation has opened her station house to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.

The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .

About the Author

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

 

Sofie Laguna wins 2015 Miles Franklin Award for The Eye of the Sheep

Sofie Laguna’s acclaimed novel The Eye of the Sheep has won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

sofie_lagunaLaguna beat four other authors — Sonya Hartnett, Joan London, Christine Piper and Craig Sherborneto take home the $60,000 prize, presented each year to a novel which “presents Australian life in any of its phases”.

2015 is the second straight year where heavy favourites where beaten by an outsider, with Hartnett and London widely believed to be the two main contenders leading into tonight’s announcement. Last year Evie Wyld’s All The Birds, Singing won out over Richard Flanagan, his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North famously going on to win the Man Booker Prize.

The Eye of the Sheep is Laguna’s second novel, and her first to be short-listed for the Miles Franklin award.

The judges said the book, which is told through the eyes of a young boy Jimmy Flick, “impressively examined domestic violence through Jimmy’s non-judgmental perceptions”.

“Hints of his parents’ challenging upbringings adds to the gravity of the story of these working-class people trying their hardest to build a family, capable of both proud love and sickening violence,” the judges’ notes said.

“Gavin’s battle with alcohol, and Paula’s with her health, are related through Jimmy’s skewed interpretations.

“The power of this finely crafted novel lies in its coruscating language, inventive and imaginative, reflecting Jimmy’s vivid inner world of light and connections and pulsing energy.

“Laguna has a true ear for the rhythms of everyday dialogue, and her compassionate rendering of the frustrations – and compensations – of dealing with a child of sideways abilities, makes this novel an impressively eloquent achievement.”

Grab your copy of The Eye of the Sheep here

the-eye-of-the-sheepThe Eye of the Sheep

by Sofie Laguna

Winner the 2015 Miles Franklin Award

Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know.

Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.

Sofie Laguna’s first novel One Foot Wrong received rave reviews, sold all over the world and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. In The Eye of the Sheep, her great originality and talent will again amaze and move readers. In the tradition of Room and The Lovely Bones, here is a surprising and brilliant novel from one of our finest writers.

Grab your copy of The Eye of the Sheep 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

Critics Praise Far from the Madding Crowd Film Adaptation

Whenever a new film adaptation of a classic novel is released, you can hear readers’ whispers on the wind.

Please, please please please, let it be good…

But according to critics, Far from the Madding Crowd isn’t good. It’s great.

Starring the incredible Carey Mulligan and directed by Thomas Vinterberg from a screenplay by David Nicholls (yes, that David Nicholls) the latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s seminal novel is perhaps the most impressive.

Great news for readers and filmlovers alike!

Grab your copy of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd here

far-from-the-madding-crowdFar from the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy

A special edition of Hardy’s brilliant novel to tie in with the major new film starring Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts, based on David Nicholls’ screenplay.

Hardy’s powerful novel of swift sexual passion and slow-burning loyalty centres on Bathsheba Everdene, a proud working woman whose life is complicated by three different men – respectable farmer Boldwood, seductive Sergeant Troy and devoted Gabriel – making her the object of scandal and betrayal.

Vividly portraying the superstitions and traditions of a small rural community, Far from the Madding Crowd shows the precarious position of a woman in a man’s world.

Grab your copy of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd here

Grab your copy of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd heree

Grey : Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian by E. L. James (Reviewed by Shikha Shah)

Shikha Shah, Booktopia’s biggest Fifty Shades fan, has been up all night reading E.L. James’ latest offering. The review we’ve all been waiting for is finally here!

Miss Shah will see you now…

greyTo all Fifty Shades Fans – the book that we have been waiting for is finally here!

In Grey we delve into the mind of Christian, what he thinks, how he thinks, how he feels (especially when he is physically touched) and what motivates him.

Let’s face it fans, we all want to know what makes Christian tick.

This is the kind of book that readers will devour as quickly as possible. Even though we already know the story, there is just something about reading it from a different perspective that adds a new dimension, giving us a clearer picture of this divisive character we have come to know so well.

When we read Anastasia’s point of view in the Fifty Shades trilogy, she is painted primarily as a character with low self-esteem. From Christian’s view, however, she is a beautiful and intelligent woman. After their initial meeting all he can do is think about her. It is here that Grey provides us with some real bonus material! We get to read the file that Christian keeps on Anastasia – as well as getting to peek into his mind and finally grasp the true depth of his jealousy and obsession. (Christian gives Edward Cullen some serious competition when it comes to stalking!)

fifty-shades-of-greyReaders are given more details of Christian’s traumatic childhood and how it still tortures him (manifested in his fixation on food and stunted emotional development). We also gain a better understanding of how Elena influenced the sexual lifestyle he is now accustomed to.

Unlike the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which was self-published, Grey has been professionally edited. While I really enjoyed the trilogy, I have to admit that the writing occasionally seemed a bit weak. Luckily this is not an issue with Grey. The writing is very fluid, which allows the story to flow smoothly.

Basically, this book everything fans of Fifty Shades would want.

Click here to grab your copy of Grey


Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian

by E. L. James

greySee the world of Fifty Shades of Grey anew through the eyes of Christian Grey.

In Christian’s own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Grab your copy of Grey here

Click here to see the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy

 

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