2010 Miles Franklin Award Shortlisters Answer Ten Terrifying Questions

On the eve of the announcement of the winner of the 2010 Miles Franklin Award we are delighted to be able to offer readers an insight into the minds of some of those shortlisted.

The following four shortlisted authors have answered our

Ten Terrifying Questions.

Here is a taste – one question and answer each – click on ‘More…‘ or the author’s photo to be taken through to their answers to the full Ten Terrifying Questions.

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ALEX MILLER – award winning author of Lovesong, The Ancestor Game, Journey to the Stone Country

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

At eighteen I believed in the moral progress of our species. More…

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CRAIG SILVEY – author of Jasper Jones, Rhubarb and The World According to Warren

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

Because a knee injury prevented me from a promising career in interpretive dance. More…

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DEBORAH FORSTER –  author of The Book of Emmett

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

I hope they get confused about love because I think if it’s not confusing, it’s not real. I hope the characters are so alive you think about them for a very long time. I hope they are memorable. More…

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Photograph of Brian Castro by Susan Gordon-BrownBRIAN CASTRO – author of Birds of Passage, Shanghai Dancing, The Bath Fugues and more

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

At eighteen I believed I could read all the books in the university library shelved between 820 and 900. Now, with failing eyesight, I think of Borges and dream imaginary libraries. More…

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Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions have been answered by a wide variety of authors, from Jackie Collins and Lee Child to Tara Moss and Michael Koryta – from Rodney Hall to Peter Allison! – And we’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all for participating!

Click here to view our full list of participating authors.

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Here are the 2010 Miles Franklin Award shortlisted novels:

Lovesong

by Alex Miller

Chez Dom – a small, rundown Tunisian cafe in Paris run by the widow Houria and her niece Sabiha – offers a home away from home for the North African immigrants working at the abattoirs of Vaugiraud.

One day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm. John is like no one Sabiha has met before – his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage, and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.

Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. Lovesong is the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven. Buy Now

The Bath Fugues

by Brian Castro

The Bath Fugues is a meditation on melancholy and art, in the form of three interwoven novellas, centred respectively on an aging art forger; a Portuguese poet, opium addict and art collector; and a doctor, who has built an art gallery in tropical Queensland.

These characters are tied by more than their art, each dealing with questions of deception and discovery, counterfeiting and rewriting, transmission and identity and each stretching the bonds of trust and friendship. Buy Now

Jasper Jones

by Craig Silvey

Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie.

So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. Buy Now

The Book of Emmett

by Deborah Forster

A stunning first novel from a Melbourne author. The story of the Brown family will wrench at your heart and make you hug those you love ever tighter.

Emmett Brown is as dark as Heathcliff, and as unpredictable. Sometimes he’s an inspiration, but not often. He’s a man of booze and obsessions: one of them is his ‘System’, an attempt to bend the laws of probability. But when the lottery numbers and horses fail him, so do love and reason, and he becomes an ogre to his wife and children.

For the innocents – Louisa, Rob, Peter, Daniel and Jessie – the bonds formed hiding in hedges at the end of the street, waiting for the maelstroms to pass, are complex and unbreakable. Over the years, the consequences of Emmett’s rages shape both their spirits and psyches, but as he lies dying they discover that love – however imperfect – is the best defence against pain. Buy Now

Truth

by Peter Temple

At the close of a long day, Inspector Stephen Villani stands in the bathroom of a luxury apartment high above the city. In the glass bath, a young woman lies dead, a panic button within reach.

So begins the sequel to Peter Temple’s bestselling masterpiece, The Broken Shore, winner of the Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel.

Villani’s life is his work. It is his identity, his calling, his touchstone. But now, over a few sweltering summer days, as fires burn across the state and his superiors and colleagues scheme and jostle, he finds all the certainties of his life are crumbling. Truth is a novel about a man, a family, a city. It is about violence, murder, love, corruption, honour and deceit. And it is about truth. Buy Now

Butterfly

by Sonya Hartnett

On the verge of her fourteenth birthday, Plum knows her life will change. But she has no idea how.Over the coming weeks, her beautiful neighbour Maureen will show her how she might fly. Her adored older brothers will court catastrophe in worlds that she barely knows exist. And her friends – her worst enemies – will tease and test, smelling weakness. They will try to lead her on and take her down.Who ever forgets what happens when you’re fourteen? Buy Now


Deborah Forster, author of The Book of Emmett, Answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Deborah Forster,

author of

The Book of Emmett

Shortlisted for the 2010 Miles Franklin

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 Seddon in the western suburbs of Melbourne. I grew up largely in Braybrook and then Footscray. Went to school at various state schools around there.

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

When I was twelve I wanted to be a doctor because I had the urge to help but then I discovered I couldn’t actually do maths ( I was okay up to the five times tables, after that it was a charade). At eighteen I wanted to a write but money was an issue so I became a journalist. At thirty I still wanted to be write but I also wanted to be a mother so I wrote a bad novel (unpublished) and had a baby. Writing has been the most consistent thing in my life.

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

At eighteen I thought it wasn’t really possible for me to be a writer, it seemed to be for others so I kept finding ways to stop myself. Now I disagree. I reckon a bit of quiet determination gets you further than a whole lot of wishful thinking.

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?

Books have always been my main influences but I like anything that makes me feel. When I read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, I was about seventeen and it felt like waking up. Joni Mitchell’s album Blue moves me. All paintings by the Melbourne painter Clarice Beckett are beautiful. The film Midnight Cowboy. I wrote ‘Emmett’ listening to music from Leonard Cohen (Ten New Songs) to Bird York to Los Lobos. Music helps me write.

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

Writers create worlds out of words and that’s magic. Besides – can’t sing, can’t draw, can’t dance.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Book of Emmett is the story of a family whose father is a moody, violent bully. He gambles and he drinks, but somehow he loves the Arts. He inspires and terrorises. The children who survive their father are bonded like soldiers; they lived through the trenches together. Some forgive him, some don’t. What is love when you hold it up to the light?

(BBGuru: From the publisher – A stunning first novel from a Melbourne author. The story of the Brown family will wrench at your heart and make you hug those you love ever tighter.

Emmett Brown is as dark as Heathcliff, and as unpredictable. Sometimes he’s an inspiration, but not often. He’s a man of booze and obsessions: one of them is his ‘System’, an attempt to bend the laws of probability. But when the lottery numbers and horses fail him, so do love and reason, and he becomes an ogre to his wife and children.

For the innocents – Louisa, Rob, Peter, Daniel and Jessie – the bonds formed hiding in hedges at the end of the street, waiting for the maelstroms to pass, are complex and unbreakable. Over the years, the consequences of Emmett’s rages shape both their spirits and psyches, but as he lies dying they discover that love – however imperfect – is the best defence against pain.)

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

I hope they get confused about love because I think if it’s not confusing, it’s not real. I hope the characters are so alive you think about them for a very long time. I hope they are memorable. I hope you love them and hate them and forgive them. I hope you cry with them and laugh at their daggy jokes. I hope you never forget them. I hope they come to live in your heart.

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

So many incredible writers have given us so much. I’ll begin with Christina Stead because her masterpiece The Man Who Loved Children was a revelation; so real to me I could barely hold it in my hands. A book about a family that’s off, that doesn’t work but still loves. The book is perfection. I also admire the southern American gothic writers, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee and Carson McCullers. Also Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Safran Foer, Lorrie Moore, Elizabeth Strout and Alice Munro. I like novels that are surprising, well-written and memorable. I hate bland, hate pretentious.

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

I really only want to write books I’m proud of. My goals are just to keep writing, trouble is, I’m easily distracted so I’m considering nailing my bum to the chair.

10.What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I’m so newly launched in all this, it seems presumptuous to offer advice but anyway here goes, the best I’ve got is to believe in yourself. After that, it’s like that old sign they put up in the London Underground during the war: Keep Calm and Carry On. Treat the reader as your friend, remember they don’t have to read your book. Don’t dwell on knockbacks, just listen to the reader within and give that reader the truth in an authentic voice. That’s what readers want.

Deborah, thank you for playing.

Click here to view The 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist.

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