Caroline Baum Wrap-Up: All About Me

Caroline Baum’s author interviews have been one of the biggest highlights of our year at Booktopia. Join us as we revisit the best interviews of 2013, and perhaps discover a new favourite author along the way.

Writing a memoir is something of a balancing act; trying to reveal as much as possible, without oversharing or overexposing those involved. It also requires a great deal of vulnerability and a knack for picking up on the small details which make day-to-day events interesting. Each of the authors in this post share their thoughts on that process with sincerity and self-awareness, which makes for seriously fascinating viewing.

all-good-thingsSarah Turnbull- “All Good Things”

I grew up in a French-speaking suburb of Sydney, and Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French was something of a bible for parents navigating cross-cultural relationships. Sarah is back with All Good Things, which recounts Sarah and Frédéric’s move from Paris to idyllic Tahiti. It takes something very special to be able to recount your own personal story in a way that makes for good reading, and Sarah has perfected that art. She opens up with characteristic candor in our interview below.

Best quote:  “I didn’t want to write another personal book, or I thought I didn’t want to write another personal book. So I did fight this book… I’ve it heard said that it’s the book that you fight the most that you most need to write.”

Click here for more details

Check out Caroline’s interview below:

Pick up a copy of All Good Things today

a-history-of-silenceLloyd Jones- “A History of Silence”

Lloyd Jones is a simply phenomenal writer, and this interview demonstrates exactly why. In his earnest, softly-spoken sentences you can see the bare bones of his beautiful prose. Similiarly to Sarah and Brendan, he holds nothing back from Caroline’s questions and answers very personal questions with honesty and insight. A must-see interview from a must-read author.     

Best quote - “It could be just a face filled with gloom standing on a railway train platform, and it’ll have an echoing sense of recognition for me, I’ll think ‘I know that feeling, that look.’ Actually, in the case of Wales it always seemed to be gloom and a kind of a… vacancy.”

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Check out Caroline’s interview below:

Pick up a copy of A History of Silence today

Brendan Ward – “The Beethoven Obsession”the-beethoven-obsession

What is the difference between a personal experience and an engaging tale? In this interview, Brendan explains that timing and luck are the necessary ingredients, both of which were present in his quest to record Beethoven’s music in Australia for the first time.

Best quote - “That’s what makes such an amazing story because of all these serendipitous events that happened in the nineties in the lead up to the Olympics. Had it not been for the Olympics… it may not have had the same gloss, because everything around Sydney had cachet.”

Click here for more details

Check out Caroline’s interview below:

Pick up a copy of The Beethoven Obsession today

Have a Bookish Boxing Day with our massive sale and holiday collections

imageIf you love a sale, then Boxing Day is for you, and with Booktopia you can get a great deal from the comfort of your couch and a plate of Christmas leftovers.

Our massive Christmas to New Year Sale is now on, with thousands of books at up to 95% off. Don’t miss out on huge discounts on big names like Bryce Courtenay, James Patterson and Danielle Steel.

Looking for your next great read? Look no further than our Summer Reading collection, full of the most acclaimed novels of 2013 for you to enjoy.

Our Holiday Haven is the perfect destination for a bookish Boxing Day, with our Boredom Busters and Back to School sections overflowing with great titles for the kids while our Beach Reads collection is packed with brilliant page-turners.

And finally, our Australia Wide collection is a tribute to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Australian Landscape, with hundreds of gorgeous coffee table books and travel guides.

So this Boxing Day sit back, enjoy that turkey sandwich, and check out some great books with Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore.

Click here to check out our Christmas to New Year Sale


Walter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Walter Mason

author of Destination Cambodia and Destination Saigon

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 and raised in a small town in North Queensland – Ingham. I don’t get back there very often, but most of my family is still there. Most people are surprised to discover I am a boy from the bush, but that shy and unsophisticated little boy still lurks deep within me.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

Twelve – an actor – I excelled in character parts in the local theatre group. At twelve I had already produced my primary school’s first ever drag act – it was fabulous.

Eighteen – still an actor – I was attending theatre school by this time.

By thirty I already had firm plans to become a writer. I was a bookseller, but compulsively attending writing classes and writing down writing goals (instead of actually writing).

3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?

Oh dear – how to answer this one without losing friends? Oh, I know – I think that human sexuality is much more fluid, flexible and complex than I had imagined at eighteen. I was an angry young Queer then, at the height of ACT UP and the AIDS crisis – I was outing people and attending protests. Now I know that people are all on different journeys, especially with something as personal and psychologically fraught as sex and intimacy.

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?

You will laugh, but seeing Boy George on TV for the first time when I was a kid was an incredible moment. I took one look at him, did some quick calculations re. gender, and said to myself: “Wow, there is someone else like me out there in the world.” He really transformed the way a whole generation thought about themselves – an incredibly influential figure, I think.

Then came reading the works of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh in my 20s – he encouraged me to “come out” as a spiritual person.

The third is probably reading Marianne Williamson and studying A Course in Miracles and learning to be less judgemental and more loving.

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 am a devout bibliophile. I have collected books since I was a teenager. I grew up surrounded by books and had a writer grandfather who gave me books constantly. I love them as objects, and I don’t think they are obsolete. That said, I think the industry will continue to undergo tremendous changes, and I think that writers should be thinking ahead, instead of sticking their heads in the sand. I blog, I am a social media maniac, I am very interested in new forms of transmission and distribution. I think I can handle any changes.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Destination Cambodia is the end result of a sixteen year obsession with Cambodia. I have visited the place many times, and I always wanted to write about it, almost as much as I wanted to write about Vietnam, the subject of my first book. It is an affectionate and quirky journey through a place that can be difficult, especially if you spend a lot of time there. And ultimately it is my attempt to come to terms with the magic and mysticism that informs everything in Cambodia. I am testing to see if I possibly have any place in the complex system of mystical beliefs that dominate people’s lives there.

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

That people might travel seeking to make connections with other people, not just to visit exotic locations for rest and relaxation. I think that the world is changed one relationship at a time, and it is quite rare and difficult for travellers to make real connections at the places they visit. My books hopefully convince them that it is worth trying.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Oscar Wilde – he had so much style, was so outrageous and he just confounded the haters. His name has lived across centuries now.destination-saigon

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

I’d very much like to make films or TV shows similar in theme to my books. Odd travel to odd places in search of small moments of enlightenment, meeting lots of fabulous people along the way.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Get involved in the industry in any way you can, meet everybody, go to everything and work out how you can be of use. Read like crazy, promote other writers. And just produce work and submit it. Don’t dream about it for 20 years like I did. You don’t have plenty of time.

Walter, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Walter’s wonderful new book Destination Cambodia here

REVIEW: Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough (review by Haylee Nash)

Romance Specialist Haylee Nash has her first taste of Colleen McCullough in Bittersweet…and finds herself going back for more.

I must confess something – prior to Bittersweet, I had never read a Colleen McCullough (I know, I know,  take away my romance specialist badge). So when the review copy for Bittersweet landed on my desk, I approached the book with an equal mix of excitement and trepidation. Continue reading

Emma Sutherland & Michelle Thrift, authors of 50 Foods That Will Change Your Life, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

50-foods-that-will-change-your-lifeThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Emma Sutherland & Michelle Thrift

Co-authors of 50 Foods That Will Change Your Life

Ten Terrifying Questions


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

EMMA: I was born and raised in Melbourne. After finishing high school in Melbourne I completed my naturopathy and science degrees in Sydney.

-I was born in Sydney Australia.

-Raised in South West Suburbs of Sydney.

-Schooled in Catholic schools in South West suburbs of Sydney.

-Trained in commercial cookery and home economics in some of Sydney’s Top Culinary Colleges.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

Continue reading

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Conference: Top 10 moments

Recently our Romance Specialist Haylee Nash flew the flag for Booktopia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle. These are her stories.

dancing up a stormFor those of you who have never been to a Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Conference, or indeed any kind of romance conference, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a modestly sized room, filled with women. Hundreds of women. Each of these women are writers, romance writers, who spend their day behind a computer (if they’re lucky enough to be able to live from their writing) and in the rest of society are often derided for writing “those books”. So it’s fair to say that these women don’t often get the pleasure of speaking about romance, certainly not with fellow enthusiasts. Now to this joyous scene add oodles of champagne, a nautical theme and a conference venue that  is far enough away from most attendees to require staying at the hotel, sans husbands, significant others, kids, pets or any other responsibilities. Into this melee I walked, and, rather than wincing at the noise and leavig, I grabbed a champagne and, with stupidly big grin on my face, entered the fray. Continue reading

Dianne Blacklock answers Romance at Booktopia’s ‘Firsts’

Australian author of contemporary women’s fiction, and of new release The Best Man, Dianne Blacklock answers Romance at Booktopia’s ‘firsts’.

1. Who was your first crush?
Hutch, the blond one from the TV show, Starsky and Hutch. I was almost debilitatingly obsessed. Is there anything more overwhelming than those adolescent crushes? Continue reading


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